From the Ice Caves [*]

From the Ice Caves [*]

at161027.jpg 600x450

On Monday we went to the Ice Caves with Bob's Special Tours.  The caves themselves are poor places for pictures because they are large (so flash is useless) and dark (so not much 'available light'), but the trip up provided some good shots (including Schloss Werfen).  At one point, I could look almost straight down the side of the mountain and see the same Autobahn I had snapped a picture of a little earlier.  There it is, lancing through the Austrian countryside, four lanes wide, and from here, over a mile high, it looks like a pencil line (click it).

Getting up to the Ice Caves was very strenuous.  The van took us up to the parking lot, but from there it's a two-kilometer hike up a 10% grade to the cablecar.  The cablecar gives you another 200 meters or so, then dumps you at the end of another two-kilometer 10% grade.  All of this gives you another 600 meters of altitude before you arrive at the mouth of the Eisriesenwelt, the Ice Giant World, their theatrical name for this attraction.  Once inside, you will climb 700 steps (314 meters) up, and 700 steps down. 

The ice caves change from year-to-year; each year they are different.  At the end of the season a crew goes through the cave and dismantles all the stairs, railings, and electrical wiring, bringing them down to a central spot.  In the Spring after Nature has finished renovating the caves the stairs and railings are moved back into the cave and reimplanted. 

Every other person on the tour gets a carbide lantern and this is your only illumination inside the cave.  At around step# 250 I started to develop a charley-horse in my left foot but at that point you can't go back -- if your lamp blows out you're alone in the dark until they come to get you.  The rest of the trip was sheer torture.