Sunday, August 06, 2006
Hiking in Austria (Schwalbenwand)
As regular readers of this blog know, Ellen and I recently were in Austria. Lots of exciting stuff happened. In fact, so much so that I didn't have time to blog about them all. Here's something that is even worth blogging about a few weeks after the fact:
Right from our home in Austria, we can see lots of mountains, as we are really surrounded by mountains 360 degrees. One of them looks fairly gentle and appears to be a leisurely hike, so we decided it would make for a nice 5 or 6 our hiking trip. Here is the mountain as seen from our home:
It is a grassy and "tree-y" sort of mountain, unlike most of the other mountains there that are rugged and rocky, which makes it a much easier climb.
We didn't walk all the way from home though. Instead, we drove to Thumersbach (across the lake from Zell am See) and up the mountain a little, to cut out the first 2 hours of boring hike. We thus only hiked the remaining 2 or so hours, which was plenty on a very hot day. The actual route took us up the right "edge" of the mountain as seen in this picture (or perhaps even a little bit from behind). If you are familiar with the area: Drive to Thumersback and into the valey, then up the mountain on the left-hand side. There is a restaurant and organized parking there. (This is also a good mountain-biking route for good bikers). Doing this turns the entire trip into a 5 hour affair, so it can be done relatively easily in an afternoon. (I am not much of a morning-hiker...)
It ended up being a great hike actually, first through the forest, then up over alpine meadows, and finally all the way to the summit. It wasn't overly steep, although a very good exercise. Perfect for people used to hiking. We like to hike, but are not much about climbing with ropes and such. For someone who has never hiked in the alps at all, I would recommend to take it a bit easier for the first hike though.
Here is a picture Ellen took of myself at the summit:
It is amazing how mountains are always a lot pointier at the top than they look from below.
Here's a picture I took of Ellen:
How is that for mountaineering?
BTW: This is a great mountain for taking these sorts of pictures, because the way the terrain is, you can actually walk away from the summit a little bit and still get a good view of it from a similar elevation level. So it is possible to take pictures that almost look as if they were taken from a helicopter passing by...
We had great fun that day. On the way down, we stopped at the lake in Zell am See for a refreshing swim and some ice cream, before we drove back the 10 miles to Saalfelden to marvel at "our mountain" from our terrace...
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