The Val Senales Glacier, Hochjochferner, is set between Val Senales in South Tyrol and the Venter Valley in Austria, in the Oetztal Alps. It ranges across 185 acres and is three kilometers long. The ski area takes up approximately one-sixth of the glacier’s surface. Glaciologists confirm that the Hochjochferner glacier is ialso n fact retreating. However, the receding of the glacier’s tongue is less noticeable in comparison with other central Alpine glaciers.

On September 19, 1991, the mountain climbing couple Mr. and Mrs. Simon made the discovery of the Glacier Mummy “Oetzi”, also known as the “Ice Man”, on the Val Senales Glacier. The Ice Man, along with some of his equipment, a copper axe and leather shoes, had been preserved in the ice for 5300 years. Scientists consider this discovery in the area beneath the Similaun mountain on Tisenjoch to be a landmark find of the early Stone Age. This amazing discovery confirms that the Alpine pass at the Val Senales Glacier has served as a link between the cultures of the Alps since earliest human history. The active museum archeoPark in Val Senales features an outdoor recreation of “Oetzi’s” habitat. On the Oetzi Glacier Tour, mountain climbers can follow the Ice Man’s footsteps right up to his discovery place at the Tisenjoch mountain area.

This find also confirms the ancient theory that Val Senales was a known transit valley. The people there even today continue to use the area for traditional Alpine transit. Every year in the middle of June, shepherds drive thousands of sheep and goats over the Hochjoch and Niederjoch area to the mountain meadows in the Venter Valley in neighboring Austria for grazing, as has been done for hundreds of years. In the middle of September, the shepherds return with their flocks back to the valley. This tradition is celebrated with an annual festival held in the towns Maso Corto/Kurzras and Vernago/Vernagt. The sheep-driving hikes on the Val Senales Glacier, also known as transhumance, are recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Center as part of the intangible cultural heritage of Austria.