Kitzbuhel Day 6 – Glossglockner

With my trip to Kitzbuhel and the Austrian Alps coming to an end I thought I should do at least one sightseeing tour in order to take in some of the scenery outside of Kitzbuhel. The weather forecast for today wasn’t great either so I thought if I was out and about, even if on a coach I’d at least be doing something rather than just hanging around the hotel. With this in mind I booked onto a trip to Glossglockner with Thomson.

The Glossglockner is Austria’s highest mountain at 3798 and the alpine road that leads to it is supposed to be quite a feat of engineering and a road well worth driving.

I met my fellow excursionist at the bus stop in Kitzbuhel in the pouring rain and we all boarded our coach and set off at 8:30am. The first part of the drive took up up over the Jochberg pass out of Kitzbuhel and the province of Tirol into the Salzburg Land Province. It was still misty and murky out there but good to be seeing some other parts of Austria and I was already thinking of nice cycle routes with good hills and fast descents.

We then continued on our way through the valleys of Salzburg Land through Kaprun and it’s hydro electric power stations and on into Carinthia, another province of Austria. From here we started on the amazing Glossglockner High Alpine Road.

This famous alpine road was built between 1930 and 1935 and take you across the main alpine ridge. Covering a distance of 48 kilometers the high mountain road goes up the mountain from Bruck at Salzachtal, through the Hochtor Pass and into the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park. At it’s highest point over the Hochtor Pass it reaches 2,504 m then descends again to a mountain hut and cafe alongside a small lake which is supposed to be the coldest lake in the Alps. From here it descends for a while then climbs again towards the Pasterze Glacier and it’s associated visitor centres and shops from where you can see views of the Grossglockner which at 3,798 m is Austria’s highest mountain.

Each of the 36 hairpin bends on the ascent are named and numbered, and by number 2 I was already wishing I could cycle up this beast of a hill. I’ll have to come back one day as it certianly looks like a challenge and on a nice day would be an amazing experience. Today wasn’t a nice day though and we spent much of it driving through mist and murk so the views weren’t as good as they could have been. We drove out of the tree line and then into snowfields. We stopped for coffee and cake at the Glocknerhaus mountain hut and the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe visitors’ centre where we took a few photos and then continued on our way to the glacier.

We stopped here for a couple of hours and had chance to take photos, wander around the various visitor centres and tacky souvenir shops and general enjoy the surrounding. Once again it was fairly grey and damp, but still a nice place to be. We could see the glacier in the valley below us and had some nice views down to the forests below. I saw some of the marmots that inhabit these high alpine slopes and Ibex too, but unfortunately the peaks of the mountains and the Glossglockner itself remaining shrouded in cloud.

It was then back onto the coach for the drive back to Kitzbuhel with a stop at the lakeside town of Zell am see where I had more coffee and cake.

Once back at the hotel there was just enough time for a soak in the pool and a laze in the sauna and wellness centre before my last 5 course gourmet meal of the week. Today it was a buffet dinner with a selection of Austrian delicacies. All of which were delicious and yes, I ate far too much once again!

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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