Sunday, August 12, 2012

Eisentalhöhe - Nockalmstrasse

Nockalmstrasse is a scenic mountain road in Austria through Nockberg National Park.  These are large grassy dome mountains of karst stone, with beautiful pastoral valleys,  forests of larch and spruce, and tumbling whitewater streams.  I decided to try climbing the highest of the domes, Eisentalhöhe, whose road reaches 2049m (where you can start a hike to the summit over 2400m).

At 0700 I found a spot to park at Eisentratten (800m), a village on B99 between Gmünd and Krembrucke in the shadow of the autobahn high bridge connecting Italy with Salzburg.  It was overcast and chilly.  I warmed up on the easy gradient to Krembrucke, then turned right and climbed up a lovely gorge along whitewater to Innerkrems (1500m).   Here you begin the actual climb, passing through a tollbooth where cars and motorbikes must pay.  The road is well-paved with excellent switchbacks clambering up the slopes.  It climbs first through forest, then onto the open grassy bald.    I was quite warm from the exertion when I reached the trailhead for Eisentalhöhe and the morning sun was shining brightly, so I thought I'd continue down the short descent to Steigerhütte (1481m) in my short sleeves.  Felt great but when I reached the low spot I was cold.   I turned around and warmed somewhat climbing back up to Eisentalhöhe.  There were many cows along the road/in the road/walking from one pasture to another, so I had to stop climbing a few times, cooling off again.  Back up at Eisentalhöhe I donned my windjacket and headed rapidly downhill toward Eisentratten.  Very fun descent, though tourist traffic was now picking-up.

I'd like to return and climb the opposite side from Ebene Reichenau (1095m) up to Glockenhütte (2004m), then down to Steigerhütte, or maybe up to Eisentalhöhe again.  A loop along the shore of Millstäter See looks possible, though I'd try it in off-season when tourist traffic lessens.

Cows enjoying the sun on the summit high above

The view west from Eisentalhöhe

More Nockberg peaks to the south

Looking down toward the meadows at Steigerhütte,
with Schiestlscharte (2024m) in background

Looking west again, with the Mölltaler glacier (3122m)
now shining in the sunlight

The complete ride

Climb from Innerkrems

Descent to Steigerhütte meadows

8.8% average early section of Eisentalhöhe climb

Reclimbing from Steigerhütte meadows up 9% average grade

1 comment:

  1. Ciao Pasta...
    I'm Mauro Thuciat and, non sapendo bene l'inglese, ti chiedo come mai hai levato l'immagine in alto sul blog, che era sempre dirompente per la vastità e la bellezza del panorama.
    Visto che, dopo quello che mi è accaduto, sono ancora qua, più avanti farò una SECOND LIFE DINNER: perchè non vieni anche tu? SEI INVITATO!