Hahntennjoch Pass, a dangerous road through the Lechtal Alps

Facts

Location: State of Tyrol, Austria

Length: 30 km

Built: in the late 1960s, opened in 1969

Wide: 5 m standard, 2 lanes

Surface: asphalt

Surface quality (out of 10): 8 – 9

Highest point: 1.894 m

Operating times: April – November

Lehngasse Straße, Rastbühel Straße, Hahntennjoch Straße L246, Bschlaber Landesstraße

Route: Imst – Hahntennjoch – Elmen

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Description

The Hahntennjoch is a high mountain pass reaching an altitude of 1.894 m, located in the state of Tyrol, Austria. It connects the town of Imst in the upper valley of the Inn river with the small village of Elmen, in the Lechtal valley.

The Hahntennjoch Pass is situated in the middle of the majestic Lechtal Alps, known for their diverse rock structure and great number of high peaks and glaciers. With a total of 395 km of slopes, 125 ski lifts and no less than 13 modern ski resorts, some of them reaching up to 2.811 m, this region of the Lechtal Alps is a favorite among winter sports lovers.

An important fact to mention is that the road to the pass is prone to rock falls, avalanches and mudslides, even during the summer months and can be closed in case of severe weather conditions. Especially during storms, there is an acute danger of mudding and debris falls from the gravel slopes along the route. To make this drive safer, in 2004 the Austrian authorities installed an automated system with two meteorological measuring points and radio-controlled traffic lights that stop the vehicles in case of any danger.

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The route to Hahntennjoch follows an eastwards direction towards Elmen and has the starting point in Imst, a very old settlement that has become one of the largest towns in the state of Tyrol. Well worth a visit, the historic center of Imst features many fine examples of baroque architecture: charming townhouses, the “Kloster der Barmherzigen Schwestern” convent and a former courthouse dating back from the 13th century.

In winter time you can visit the nearby Hoch-Imst ski resort, popular with beginners and families, while those looking for a challenge can head to the Pitztal Glacier ski slope, located at the end of the valley. Furthermore, during the warm summer months, you can explore the picturesque Rosengartenschlucht gorge and the Blaue Grotte, a one-of-a-kind cave made by the Schinderbach stream.

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Leaving Imst behind, the winding, narrow road passes through densely wooded areas and meadows that soon give way to glacier-carved valleys and giant snow covered summits.  With an average gradient of 6.8% and a maximum of 18.9% on some areas, the Hahntennjoch is very popular with motorcyclists and driving enthusiasts. In addition, vehicles over 14 tons and trailers are not allowed, clearing the road for a truly enjoyable driving experience.

Finally, after a series of steep curves and hairpins, the pass summit is reached. Here you will find a small crest, with no restaurants or souvenir shops. Nevertheless, you can rest and take some pictures while enjoying the remarkable view and the fresh alpine air. However, this extraordinary drive isn’t over yet: on your way to the village of Elmen, you will encounter another 20 incredibly tight turns along a small stretch of only 2 km.


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Photos: hirschen-imst.com, s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com, upload.wikimedia.org, speedhunters-wp-production.s3.amazonaws.com, static.panoramio.com, motorrad-filme.de

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