Austria 2010 Holiday ... 3 ... Schneeberg
Date & Time: Friday 28th May 2010.
Location : Puchberg am Schneeberg in Austria.
Places visited : Winzendorf, Puchberg, Klosterwappen, Fischerhutte, Hochsneeberg and back down on the train.
Walk details : 950ft of ascent, 6.5 miles, 4 hr 15 for the walk, 7hrs 40 including the train.Highest point : Schneeberg Summit 6747 ft - 2076 m.
With : Ann and Helmut.
Weather : Sunshine and blue skies with mountain clouds, ending in heavy rain.
Today we decided it was the best day for a climb of the 2076m Schneeberg mountain in Austria.
This is the last major peak in Lower Austria before the Alps gives way to the Danube valley.
The climb is eased by taking the train about to about 1800 m which makes the remaining climb just short of a thousand feet !
First we had to get up, have breakfast and drive over to Winzendorf to meet up with Helmut.
We head out of Weikersdorf by car, passing somebody's lovely Austrian chalet home.
As we leave our village we get our first full view of the mountains.
Yes ! There it is . . . with a small cap of white cloud. It looks as if we shall make the summit today.
The station is at Puchberg, about half an hour's drive from Winzendorf.
We end up parking in the overflow car park because the main one is booked for a vintage car rally.
The sign at the start of the Schneebergbahn . . . the rack railway up onto the Schneeberg plateau.
Helmut and Ann in front of our train.
On special days the old steam engines still run, but most services are now done using modern diesel trains.
The climb begins . . .
Part way up, the passing loop as we wait for the down train to pass.
We didn't really need to stop here on the way up but traditionally the steam trains have done so in order to take on water.
When the diesel trains started, the halt was discontinued but the station master lost all the business from his cafe
so they have re-instated the stop in order to maintain the tradition of mid-way refreshment and profits !
The stop is definitely maintained by public demand.
Ready to go again.
Some folk have decided to climb the mountain themselves.
The summit station is brand new.
For the first hundred years or so the train stopped at the terminus nearer the Church building.
We head out on the start of our walk to the summit.
The oversized track has been created to allow vehicle to travel to the two mountain huts on the plateau.
Round the corner and we get our first close up view of the summit, covered with quite a bit of snow.
Alongside the path the first of a small number of mountain gentian.
The cold Spring has delayed the snow melt and consequently the flowers are slow to bloom this year.
The summit is getting gradually closer.
The other track goes across to Damboeckhaus . . . we would return this way later.
The place looked a bit like a builders yard as they are upgrading the waste water and sewage system. This area is one of the main water catchment areas for the city of Vienna and they are trying to protect the water quality of supplies gathered from the region.
In winter these posts are high enough to show throuigh the thick lying snow.
Ann walks up the ridge high above the valley.
Nearly at the summit,
it's somewhere up there next to all that steel work and electronics.
Helmut and I reach the top but Ann has obviously beaten us to it.
[ Usually it's the dogs that are first but they are enjoying their holiday back at home with Angie ]
Ann takes a moment or two to enjoy the view.
While we are on the top a slightly lower cloud envelopes us
but it moved quickly on in the gentle breeze and we were soon in clear air again.
The central peak of the three that make up the summit ridge.
Helmut points out a distant hill but I seem to be busy doing something else !
The view Helmut points out includes other high peaks to the East.
[ We would be driving these valleys tomorrow on a day out in the car ]
The ever changing clouds make for an interesting sky.
Looking down from the ridge, the colder air is rising up the eastern slopes, forming clouds
and is being blown from the escarpment by the warmer, westerly summit breeze.
Fischer Hut, the second and highest of the mountain huts on the plateau of Schneeberg.
We pass by for now in order to reach the eastern summit.
The path up from the head of the cable car
climbs up this sunny ridge from Edelweisshutte.
The cloud effect we saw below is happening on our ridge too
and the effect is stunning.
Ann looks down on the cloud as it rises up the rock face.
This would be prime Broken Spectre conditions
but unfortunately the sun is too high in the sky and our shadow outline falls on the ground not on the clouds.
Helmut making his way round from the Keiser Stein.
On the wall, a delightful set of children's clothing.
Two photos from mid winter . . . the hut and the Cross under heavy layers of ice.
We get chatting to Michl and Kathi, the hut wardens.
They have a limited vocabulary of English, but considerably more than mine or Ann's of German.
We notice several other photos round the room of Australia and New Zealand and talk about their visits there when the hut is closed over the winter.
I also notice the Fischer Tee Shirt that's on sale . . . and I fit a medium size !
Helmut has ordered a local, sweet pancake delicacy for lunch which was served hot with a cold plum compote (cooked fruit in its sauce).
The dish is called “Kaiserschmarrn” a simple farmhouse recipe served during the visit of the Austrian Emperor (Keiser).
( Recipe on the web-link ! )
As we leave, Michl also pops out to see the view and have a cigarette.
[ We've seen a lot more smoking in Austria than back home in our part of the Uk. ]
We descend from the hut by crossing the summit snow field, passing a fellow walker making his way up.
No crampons required as the snow is soft enough to kick steps.
We make for the road below . . . you can just see the size of the small truck that the hut uses for supplies. It is parked by the edge of the snow.
At this time of year the hut uses a sledge and winch to haul supplies up the last part of the climb when the snow blocks the trackway.
This is Limestone country
and the rock is more reminiscent of south Cumbria or our old home area of the Gower Coast in South Wales.
Violets in between the rocks again.
The back ends of two Botanists !
[ My thanks to Helmut for assistance with identification and with the web-links ]
Leaving the summit behind now . . . as we make our way back down the track.
The Chamois again
possibly one of the small group we saw on the snow bank near here on our way up.
By the time we got back to the station the cloud was down . . .
butt no tso bad that we couldn't tell the difference between this playground and the real mountain train !
Back at the Church and the old station buildings and it is starting to rain quite heavily.
Just in time we make it back to Hochschneebergh .
The " Schneeberg Hotel " was built at the same time as the railway and has played host to tourists for over a century.
The main dining room.
The large green ceramic tiled fireplace manages to keep the room cosy
and we indulge ourselves with extra refreshments while we wait for the next train down.
Time for a little walk around to sample the atmosphere of this old mountain hut.
Old photos adorn the walls.
The bottom left is the original Fischer Hut when it was first served refreshments on the summit.
Dodging the rain, we run across to the station and board our train.
The cloud is down so low that Baumgartner Station that we stopped at on the way up
is lacking the fine view we enjoyed at the start of today's climb up this mountain
that we had seen so many times in Helmut's web site over the last few years.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon 75 or my Canon G10 digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . . a new tee-shirt.