12-Sep-2004 -- Having completed a marathon CP visit in August (see
I decided to try and visit another CP before the winter sets in. So which one to do? After looking at what was left in Austria I decided on N47 E13, mainly because it was the easiest to get to; but by all accounts the most difficult to reach.
Another reason was that as I plan to climb (well actually walk really) Kilimandscharo over christmas/new-year I could treat N47 E13 as a training session.
Three weeks prior I had hired an MX5 for the day as a late birthday present for my son Michael
(his actual birthday is the 23rd December, but as this is not a good time for children to have a birthday so he also has an official birthday on the 23rd June - a bit like the Queen does) and driven him over the Grossglockner mountain pass, down the other side into Carinthia, along the Zirknitztal road
to the entrance of the Klein Zirknitztal road.
As the barrier was open I took the opportunity to drive (in the sunshine with the top down) up to the Kegelsee and a few hundred metres further. We got within 1.4 km of the CP but did not attempt to get closer as we wanted to get back up the Grossgockner pass and visit the Franz Josefs Hohe and do a short walk.
I decided on the 11th September (the weather forecast was good) but for various reasons couldn't go so decided I would go the next day. As the weather forecast for the Sunday was for rain in the afternoon I would make an early start and try to be back off the mountain before the rain arrived. I asked Michael if he wanted to come along but he said no. I was glad he did.
So I was up before 4 a.m and drove off taking the same route over the Grossgockner pass as 3 weeks before. The difference was that the weather was clear and at that time in the morning cool. 3 weeks earlier it had been snowing at the top of the Glockner pass and the snow ploughs had been out. I reached the Kleiner-Zirknitztal entrance, where the barrier was down, and parked the car
about 400 metres further along the road at the officially designated parking area. A few minutes donning boots and then I was off back to the extrance. It was now 7 a.m.
I decided to follow the road past the Kegelsee (see picture) to the 1.4 km point and head directly to the CP from there. 75 minutes later I had reached this point and was on my way. Initially quite steep (but not difficult) it flattened out a bit and progress to the CP was rapid. Surely to good to be true I thought. Not wrong!
The terrain changed from green stuff (mainly grass) to rocks and shale which was unpleasant to walk over. At about 300 metres distance to the CP I came to a rock face and had to make a decision - left around it or right? Left looked ok for some distance but higher up there were more rock-bands and although it looked like there was a way through, at this distance I could not be sure. I did not want to climb up a few hundred metres only to have to relinquish my hard earned height because there was no way through. So to the right it was.
I first had to lose a few metres (cursing as I did - what a waste of energy!) and emerged to the right of the rock face. Looking up, the route looked good, though eventually there was another rock face, but there was what looked like a way to the left which matched with where I thought the CP was. So up I went. At this point I only had about 200 metres height to gain, normally even in steep terrain a matter of 15 minutes. But not today.
The slope consisted of rocks small and large, and shale, so it was difficult to make progress without occasionally sipping back, all the while trying to pick a way through with least resistance. I reached the rock face and with great joy found a way off to the left, leading on to a grassy area before very quickly turning back into stones and shale again. About 60-70 metres to go in steep terrain, I overshot (another waste of energy!) and had to traverse across and down to the CP.
Well I was finally there. Relieved to have made it (uncertainties of route and weather do worry me) I enjoyed the great view to the east then took the usual photos. I had planned to have breakfast (it was almost 10 a.m. by this time) but the terrain was so steep I had visions of me (bad!) and my breakfast (very bad!) sliding off down the mountain. I packed my gear and headed down - cautiously at first but later with more speed as I got used to using the small stones and shale to slide down.
Progress to the point I had started up the slope was rapid. I had noticed at the CP and on the way down that there were 3 small lakes which on the map (marked as 1 lake) were not far from the road. I decided at this point to head to the lakes and head to the road from there. My location was N46 59'58.0 E 12 59'46.3, height 2493m (just over 200 metres below the CP)
From here the going was easy even where it got steep, as it was mostly grass at this point. Near the lakes I found a rock outcrop like a mini Ayers rock which I sat on top of to have breakfast. The view towards the CP showed the rock laden slope I had gone up and I would have photographed it but I broke my digital camera. Don't ask me how. I had photographed myself on Ayers rock with a tripod and in unscrewing the tripod had opened the battery compartment by mistake. So what you might be thinking. Me to! But that was it. The camera
was not happy - not even with new batteries (I had hoped ....). The location of Ayers rock was N47 00'03.1 E 12 59'05.1, height 2214 m.
At this point I noticed that a dirt track led up to the lakes so followed this down which eventually took me to the main road. On the way up I had noticed a road before Kegelsee off to the right, and had followed it for a few metres observing that it turned to a dirt track. Thinking it was going in the wrong direction I had ignored it. Now it seemed a better route up to the CP, i.e. the dirt track to the lakes, and straight up the slope to the CP. Next time (maybe next spring while there is still snow, with Michael) I will take this route.
I cadged a lift a few hundred metres back towards the car from a farmer out looking for a lost cow (I had not seen it) and walked the rest of the way to the road entrance with a certain lightness in my feet. I had managed to do the most difficult CP in Austia safely and before the weather turned bad.
Which it did.
Driving back up the Glocknerstrasse from Heiligenblut, the top of the pass was aready in cloud, and when I got there it was thick fog and raining. Driving at a snails pace I wondered how the motorcyclists were able to cope - there was nothing to use for orientation and having to balance is a different kettle of fish to sitting in a car and turning a steering wheel. Once out the fog on the Salzburg side it was raining all the way back to Salzburg. The early start had been worth it!