One of the reasons we wanted to come back to Austria, was this alpine road…..We again started the ascent from Heiligenblut but it was a very different view that presented itself compared with last time…the global warming has its effects here as well.
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road, the most famous alpine road, leads into the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, to the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner (3,798m) and its glacier, the Pasterze. It’s a driving and nature experience of a special kind on 48 kilometres of high alpine road with 36 bends, and an altitude ascent to 2,504 metres. With nearly 900,000 visitors per season the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is one of the most highly frequented sites in Austria. The development of sightseeing facilities along the road increased the time visitors spent on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, making it a significant source of inspiration for the region. It is much more than just a road, it’s part of Austria’s cultural history, one of Austria’s main tourist attractions and an internationally acclaimed feat of construction.
The Edelweißspitze is the highest point on the Road with a majestic panoramic view to more than thirty 3,000m peaks (coaches are prohibited on the about 2km Edelweiss Road). The Hochtor, at the highest point of the through road is also the provincial border between Salzburg and Carinthia. A hiking trail over the main alpine crest begins, respectively, ends at the portals of the 311m tunnel, the so-called “Celts, Pack-animal and Romans Trail”.
Here is our bike on the terrace of the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe Visitors’ Centre. Upon arriving here you stand directly before Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner (3,798m), with a view of the longest glacier in the eastern Alps, the Pasterze. Dozens of marmots frolic in the immediate vicinity of visitors, and with a little luck you will also see the mighty ibex. (we just saw lots of marmots). The Centre provides all kinds of informations about the surrounding mountains, the construction of the road, the glaciers and has a very interesting space for children.
The descent was stunning as always, even if the lack of snow made the view less surrealistic…..
The Fuscher Törl, a memorial designed by the internationally renowned architect Clemens Holzmeister, reminds us of the workers who died during the building of the road. The vantage-point terrace, with a view of the Grossglockner, is also one of the loveliest locations for photographs
At the end of the descent, still in the Hohe Tauern National Park, we enjoyed a quick lunch in a place that’s a well know meeting point for all the bikers around here.
After lunch we had a nice conversation with a couple coming from south Wales….I got compliments for my english, their e-mail address, and an invitation to make a bike trip to Wales….maybe one day, who knows?
We enjoyed the view on the Tauern mountains back towards the valley…
Down in the valley it was so much warmer than in altitude, so we had a pit-stop in the village of Winklern “the Gate of the National Park Hohe Tauern” and therefore an ideal starting point for walks and mountain bike tours. The ice-cream was good, as well as the view….