Grossglockner - the ultimate 3.000m experience
For many it is a lifelong dream, for everyone who has made it, it is an unforgettable experience that will not be surpassed so quickly.
We take you on a very personal Glockner tour!
I have been preparing for months and now the time has come. The ascent of the Grossglockner is just around the corner. 3798 meters of altitude are waiting for me and the tension is written on my face. Hopefully the many hours of jogging or cycling will pay off. The equipment is not yet complete. I get the missing parts in Heiligenblut at Intersport Großglockner, because they have everything it takes to climb the Grossglockner.
Condition fits, balance fits, equipment fits - then you can start.
The adventure begins
The journey to the National Park Lodge Großglockner flies by and the crossing over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road leaves a lasting impression on me. Even if my attention to the upcoming event does not let me perceive everything.
When I arrive at the lodge in Heiligenblut, I feel in good hands. In all people around me, experience is written on the face in the mountains. Check in, move into the room and drop on the bed. Wonderful - I am in Heiligenblut and the Großglockner can be seen directly from my bed. There you are now, you big mountain with all your strength, which, when you are angry, only turns us into toys. But you meant well with me, because the weather should be good the next few days.
Strengthen & motivate is the motto
But I still take a little time. Tomorrow I'll do a little acclimatization exploration. The people at the lodge recommended the sand head, a gentle mountain. It is perfect for exploring the area and adjusting my body to the height. Over the Apriacher Almen up to the mountain. My gaze extends from the Großglockner to the Carnic Alps to the border of Carinthia and Italy. A dream and the anticipation for my big day rises to the immeasurable.
Back at the hotel I let myself be spoiled again. A light massage is needed. This massage makes me doze off and sink completely into my thoughts.
At around 7:00 p.m. I meet my Heiligenblut mountain guide - the "Mathias". As he imagined, he will surely take me to the mountain. With a lot of calm and serenity, he explains to me again the tour that the people from the lodge really organized for me. We will leave tomorrow around noon and hike over the Stockerscharte towards Salmhütte.
Eating well and going to bed early is the motto for today.
The big day has come
To be honest, I didn't sleep well that night. The excitement and anticipation was too great to sleep soundly. I went through the equipment again: crampon-resistant mountain shoes, gaiters, a second set of underwear, sunscreen, first aid package, and much more. The people from the hotel sent me a checklist when I registered, which was really helpful during the preparation.
10 a.m. - now it starts. Mathias is already there and we load all the equipment into the car. We drive up the Grossglockner High Alpine Road to the Glocknerhaus, where we leave our car behind, as we will come back here.
As Mathias described it, we start towards Stockerscharte. The climb is very easy to manage and we walk very slowly. For me, this pace is still very unusual, but as I will see later, it is worth its weight in gold. Once at the top of the notch, we take a short break and enjoy the view, down into the Mölltal and the Leitertal. Simply impressive and we are only at the beginning of our ascent to Glockner. We hike comfortably over the Wiener Höhenweg, further towards the Salmhütte. Halfway we meet two hunters from the national park. Mathias obviously knows her. Markus and Hias are out and watch the ibex, which was resettled here 60 years ago. "It's good together, our ibex," says Markus with a happy face. After a short chat we march on. Mathias tells me that Hans Pichler - the founder of the National Park Lodge (formerly Hotel Glocknerhof) - brought the ibex from Switzerland and reinstated it here on the Grossglockner. He must have been a real pioneer. And I already thought in the lodge that they have something to do with this noble game, because the ibex is everywhere in the hotel.
The night camp
After about 3 hours we arrived at the Salm hut. We will set up our night camp here and tackle the Großglockner early in the morning. The Salmhütte lies at 2.644 m and is the ideal starting point. Mathias tells me that he prefers to spend the night here. "The Stüdelhütte is constantly overcrowded and there is no peace at the Erzherzog Johann Hütte (Adlersruh) either," he says. The sun is shining and I explore the area around the hut again in the late afternoon. Lush alpine pastures surround us and the Großglockner is now very close. I don't mind the altitude and I can acclimatize really well.
In the evening things are still pretty good in the hut. Some other mountaineering groups with their mountain guides are also there. There will be singing and playing until the hut host calls the curfew so that the hut can rest and everyone can sleep well. The night is getting short, because we start our ascent to the summit at 3:00 a.m.
The grandiose climb
It's still dark, but I've never seen such an impressive starry sky in my life. I was not aware that there was such a thing. It sparkles and glitters, like in the Swarovski crystal world - only much more impressive. Just because of the starry sky, it paid off to come here. With the headlamp on your head, head towards Hohenwartscharte. Our tour goes along the path of the first climbers, from Heiligenblut Graf Salm climbed the Grossglockner for the first time in 1800. We put on our crampons because a short snow field begins under the Hohenwartscharte. Slightly unfamiliar, but my mountain guide shows me how to do it and after a few steps I get on well. Seat belt and rope are now our life insurance. We won't put them down until we get back here. After two or three hairpin bends in the snow we come to the rock face that leads up to the Hohenwartscharte. I love climbing in the rock and the wall is well equipped with hooks and steel cables. When you reach the top of the gap, you can already tell that the daylight is getting stronger and that we will no longer need our headlamps. Towards the north-west you can see the lights of the Adlerlersruhe - our stopover to the summit of Austria's highest mountain. The way there leads over rock, snow and ice and I am happy to have reached the top. I am beginning to feel that the air is getting thinner and thinner and that the slow pace was chosen very well. Mathias congratulates me on my first stage win and we take a short break in the Erzherzog Johann Hütte. The hut is looked after by the Austrian Alpine Club, since most of the mountaineers who have stayed up here are already heading for the summit, so it is pretty quiet here. There are only a few other mountaineers who came up from Kals via the Stüdlhütte. "They look a bit plucked out," Mathias remarks with a smile. "They probably have a lot to do in the stressful Stüdlhütt'n."
A coffee and a good bread gives us the strength we will need now with the last 344 meters to the summit.
My nervousness is increasing and I can't wait to finally get to the top of Austria's highest mountain. I am curious about many stories and pictures as to whether the climb from Kleinglockner to Großglockner is really so exposed and steep. We march off with trembling knees. Mathias calms me down a bit with his calm voice. "Des pock 'ma already" and let's go. First across the station - a gently flanking ice flank, which then becomes increasingly steep - up to the Eisleitl. The first climbers from today are already coming back and their radiant faces tell me their satisfaction.
With the goal in mind
From the exit in the Eisleitl, it continues over rock and ice. Iron bars give us security. The first mountain guides installed these poles on the Glockner to safely overcome this difficult passage. Always up to the small bell. I notice how slowly the fear drives into my limbs. It is much steeper than expected and the north face has over 1000 meters of altitude. I don't really dare to look down and if it weren't for Mathias, this would be the end for me. My heart is racing. Time and space no longer seem to matter, but with small steps and full concentration I can overcome the key point. From the Kleinglockner down to the Schartele an approx. 10m long and 30cm wide snow gap that connects the Kleinglockner and Großglockner and which plunges vertically into the depths left and right over 1000m, takes my breath away. "Nice and slow, I raised you and you can do it," Mathias says calmly and actually, I'm over there! It doesn't matter to me at the moment that I have to go back there. Now it is only a few meters to the summit.
After a couple of steep meters in altitude, the summit becomes a bit flatter and Mathias lets me walk the last few meters to the summit. "Today is your day - the tour of a lifetime!" He says.
"I'm the king of the world"
I can not believe it: I am at the summit of the Grossglockner - the highest mountain in Austria. On the mountain that I've trained so hard for and that I've dreamed of for so long. My heart beats wildly and tears come with joy. The view is breathtaking. There is pure freedom in all directions. To be up here is pure joie de vivre and humility at the same time. The saying on the famous Glockner cross testifies to the deep reverence for God's creation. After the usual mountain Heil and the summit photos, we still have a really long time to let our gaze wander into the distance. We are up there alone and Mathias, who has been up so many times, becomes very quiet and reverent. Every time it's different, the mountain does something to you that won't let you go. It tells you: "Be mindful - you are part of the whole, nothing more but nothing less."
I could still spend hours up here, but it is time to descend back down to the Salm hut, we still have to make it today.
The descent: victory in your luggage
On the descent we meet two other three groups who want to conquer the summit. Now I have the smile of satisfaction on my face. Somehow my fear has evaporated and the descent is very easy for me. Obviously I got used to the steepness and the abyss. We follow the same path into the valley that we came. Past the Adler rest over the Hohenwartscharte to the Salm hut. We were able to celebrate with two other groups that made it to the summit today. The mountain guides Toni and Martin were also there and so the hut host extended the curfew a little with a wink. However, our summit party didn't last forever, because I couldn't keep my eyes open long and fell asleep happily and happily in my camp.
The first rays of sun have woken me and the last stage of my ascent to Glockner is still to come. The descent from the Salmhütte to the Glocknerhaus. Only now that I have reached the summit and my nervousness has evaporated do I really notice the beauty of this high valley. The marmots whistle and troll around in the meadows. "Look there," says Mathias, "there is the majesty of the Alps, the Capricorn." I can hardly believe it, he stands impressively on a ledge and looks down on us with his imposing horns. His look as if he would remind us again "Be careful - you are part of the whole, nothing more but nothing less!"
We left Heiligenblut two days ago to climb the Großglockner and now I'm back at the National Park Lodge Großglockner. "Berg Heil" comes to me from a friendly voice at the reception and now I know that I really managed to climb the highest mountain in Austria. Exhausted but thankful for this experience. With this feeling I go to bed after a massage and a really good meal and a glass of wine from South Styria. I will stay in Heiligenblut for a few more days and enjoy the peace and quiet here before starting my journey home.
The tour of my life is done.