June 29, 2019 in Destinations, Europe by Sunny Jansen

Exploring the Dachstein massif in Austria

June 29, 2019

If it’s your dream to hike on a glacier surrounded by impressive mountains in a winter wonder land, you have to visit the Dachstein massif in Austria. A small cable car brings you up to 2100 meters altitude and suddenly you enter a white fairytale world. There is a lot to see and do, depending the time of year you choose to visit. There are caves, stunning views and many hiking opportunities. I was there mid-May, but there was still alot of snow and hiking was only possible with crampons, an adventure on its own!

Caves

The giant Mammut Cave is one of the largest karst caves in the world and impresses with its size, variety of shapes and artistic installations. More than 70 kilometers of these passageways have been explored, but only around 1 kilometer is accessible for tourists during a guided tour. The near-by Dachstein Giant Ice Cave offers a 30 meter depth robe bridge and a light en sound show taking you on an adventure through rock and ice. Here you can see stalactites.

The World Heritage Spiral

The second section of the cable car ends on Krippenstein peak at 2100 meters altitude. Here everything is about stunning views. The World Heritage Spiral, or the Welterbespirale on the 2,100 meters peak of the Krippenstein is just a few minutes away from the mountain station of the Dachstein Krippenstein cable car. The viewing platform offers a panoramic view to the Dachstein, the glacier and surrounding mountain panorama.

Five Fingers viewing platform

The Five Fingers viewing platform is the most spectacular viewing platform in the Alps and reaches out like a hand over a 400 meters drop. You can enjoy an unique view down over Hallstatt, the Hallstättersee and the Salzkammergut region. One of the platforms is made entirely from glass and another enables visitors to gain their own personal view of the Hallstatt World Heritage site through a large Baroque picture frame. The Five Fingers are illuminated and can be seen from far and wide, even at night.

Dachstein shark

Who expects a shark in the mountains? Well you’ll find one in Dachstein. The 8 meter Dachstein shark provides visitors with a glimpse into the pre-historic past of the Dachstein massif. In days long gone by this glacier was the sharks hunting area. The whole Dachstein massif was covered by sea water millions of years ago and there was even a pre-historic shark at that time, the ice shark. You can climb inside of the shark and get a fantastic view of the fossilised primeval seabed, at least when there isn’t about 5 meters of snow.

Heilbronner Circular Trail

The Heilbronner Circular Trail is often called the most beautiful walk in the Salzkammergut. When I visited the site this trail was closed due to extreme snow conditions. The hike goes from the Dachstein shark to the Heilbronner cross and leads towards the Hirzkarkogel, past a wide range of vegetation species to the valley station of the cable car section III and the Gjaid Alm hut.

What I loved about visiting the Dachstein massif is the fact that you can still find a lot of fossils, fossilised crustaceans and deposits in the rocks from the primordial ocean. You get a glimpse into the pre-historic past of Dachstein and how it came into being. And suddenly it feels very natural to encounter a shark in the snow!

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