Climbing Mount Untersberg
Whilst visiting Salzburg I had read online that the cable car ride up Mount Untersberg was a “must do” and it sounded pretty fab so I just had to go for it.
In Salzburg they have a ticket for 25 Euros which gives you 24 hour passes to most of the wonderful sights, museums and public transport in Salzburg, (there is so much more to Salzburg than the “Sound of Music” tour which the locals don’t get anyway as it’s a British made film).
I bought the 24 hour ticket on the day of arrival and kept the Untersberg visit for the following morning with a view to taking the cable car, looking at the views, taking some pics and then coming back down and making my way to the Hohensalzburg Fortress to finish my 24 hour period (unlike other cards in other cities, the Salzburg card is valid for 24 hours from the time of first use, others are valid only during the day of purchase). I bought my ticket at about 1pm but as I said I saved my trip to Untersberg until the second day and left on the first available bus in the morning which would get me to the cable car at opening time of 9am. The bus trip there took about 40 minutes and the views on route are pretty spectacular of snowy mountain scenery and wonderful green valleys with pretty little towns interspersed between the green valley landscapes.
The Untersberg cable car is the last stop on the bus, there is a little walk to the cable car entrance and on the bus I met someone who, like me was looking for the cable car entrance, we chatted, his name was Brice and we enjoyed the cable car ride chatting about our travels and looking out at the disappearing valley floor and up at the magnificent mountain skyline, he was from America and studying in Germany with some time off for travel.
The views from the cable car are pretty spectacular! Have I mentioned before how I love cable cars? At the bottom of the mountain the weather was pretty warm for an early spring day, the sun was shining and I would say it was about 20 degrees but as we approached the top we could see huge changes in the weather, when we got off the cable car and headed toward the peak of the mountain, we were knee deep in snow and there was a snowy blizzard going down!!! Good job I wore my snow boots (the only boots I had taken, in anticipation of loads of snow but actually only the second time to use them to their full capacity lol).
Mount Untersberg is one of the most popular hiking destinations in and around Salzburg because of its spectacular views, as you step off the cable car you are faced with an incredible view of Salzburg city as well as a full 360 degree panoramic view of the Dachstein Massif and the awe inspiring Hoh Tauern mountain range. While on a clear day you can see all the way out to the Salzkamergut lakes where the famous opening scene from “The Sound of Music” was filmed, Berchtesgadener Land in Germany and Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria.
The cable car takes you as far as 1320 metres up but the peak can be seen in the distance at 1973 metres, there is a restaurant at the cable car station with toilets and a viewing platform and if you walk through the covered area it brings you out on to the path which leads toward the summit. I love to climb mountains so with the blizzard swirling snow all around, I made my way toward the summit to see if there was a way through the snow where I could get to the top, Brice was also trying to do the same and further along the path we met Tommy from Norway and Eh from Estonia who had both met on the couchsurfing website in one of the hangouts and decided to climb the mountain together. We all made our way through the deep snow, following a path used by some skiers which had steep downs and equally steep uphills, we could see the summit marked by a large wooden cross but the way up was very craggy and rocky but not all visible due to the snow, luckily after we had been walking for about an hour the blizzard stopped and the sky cleared to the most magnificent views. I bought a panoramic information brochure back at the cable car station which gave you more of an idea about which mountain was which and how to orientate yourself at the top, needless to say we stopped and took many, many pictures, the sheer beauty of the snow-capped mountains and alpine landscape was just jaw dropping.
We reached the summit after a very arduous climb with all the others going ahead of me, leading the way, I was still walking with one crutch after my leg breaking in Thailand so it was difficult for me, plus they were all much younger and faster than me, but to be fair, we worked as a team and they helped me every step of the way, especially when we were on the way back down and I realised my phone was not in my pocket!!! Shock horror, I knew that if it was lying in the snow that was it, all my photos would be gone along with all the information I use my phone for, I was in a very huge panic, close to tears, but they offered to go back and look for it and thankfully found it hanging by the charger lead, which had been in my pocket, from the top branches of a tree which we had had to use to help us slide down a particularly tough section.
The views at the top were so beautiful we spent a long time just taking it all in, absorbing the scene before us in awe, looking out over the huge ranges ahead of us and behind us and at every turn, the purity of the snow covered peaks was just awesome, it was just so beautiful and unspoilt, we were at the highest point for miles, it was so serene and peaceful with just the birds for company and the four of us enthralled by what we were seeing. The photos we took don’t really do justice to the actual amazing sight but it will remain in my memory forever.
If I hadn’t met my new friends I would not have attempted the climb on my own while using a crutch, it just wouldn’t have happened, I was so grateful for meeting these people who shared this special memory with me. Needless to say my original plan of just being up there for an hour tops, was completely scuppered and by the time we came back down to the cable car station it was lunch time and we were all hungry so we ate together in the restaurant, delicious local traditional fayre, while exchanging travel stories. One of the most valuable experiences of traveling, for me, are the people you meet who share your passion and share the special moments with you. The people you meet, mostly really enhance the experience.
Wow what a morning, I didn’t make the Fortress as my time was up on my pass card so I decided to take a walk through the old town instead which was wonderful and full of traditional craft shops and pretty eateries while horse drawn carriages transported tourists through the cobbled streets. One of these streets was also used in the filming of “The Sound of Music”. My visit to Salzburg was far better than anticipated and a place I would love to come back to one day.