Showing posts with label Austria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Austria. Show all posts

Friday, July 12, 2013

Grossglockner from Heiligenblut

Today I drove up to Austria and rode the southern side of Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse from Heiligenblut.  Stunning scenery and perfect weather.  The 15km  from Heiligenblut to Hohe Tauern is unrelentingly steep, gaining 1236 meters, with an average gradient of 9.1%.  My Garmin seemed to dither from 10%-13% except for the little dip down to the turnoff for Frans Josef glacier.  Luckily it stayed cool, with even a cold, gusting wind higher up.

After the high point at Hohe Tauern (which would be even higher if they hadn't bored a tunnel under the pass)  I cruised down and then back up to Fuscher Törl (2425m), my endpoint last year when I rode up Grossglockner from the north.  Luckily Edelweiss Spitze was socked in with a cloud hovering over it, so I didn't feel obliged to punish my legs any further.

Beautiful descent and drive home over Plockenpass to Paluzza.  Stopped at Oberdrauburg and got Marilyn some fresh strudel as a bribe to let me ride again soon.

Jungfernsprung waterfall on right

Close up of the lovely waterfall

Side view showing how the water arcs away from the cliff

The valley below Heiligenblut

The side road to left leads to Franz Josef glacier,
 another ride for next time

From Hohe Tauren toward Fuscher Törl

View of big peaks to west from Hohe Tauern

Close up of snowmelt waterfall

Pretty church at Heiligenblut

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dobratsch - Villacher Alpenstrasse

Another climb unknown (to me) until I saw it while researching Grossglockner.  The climb starts right on the outskirts of Villach, a city on the Austrian border with Italy.  Almost immediately it turns steep, so I rode downhill from the Alpenarena ski jump ramp to some lovely horse farms below.  After warming up I began the ascent at around 550 meters.

This side of Dobratsch (2167m) is covered with dense spruce forest.  The road switchbacks upslope, passing the top of the ski jump ramp and continuing up the seemingly endless wooded mountainside. After the switchbacks the long constant 10% straight stretches begin.  There's a bit of variation between 9-12% but the gradient continues unabated.  A brief dip at the Alpengarten(1403m) and then more constant 10%.  You come out of the forest into alpine meadows around 1650m and reach end of pavement at 1730m.  

From here there is a dirt road/hiking trail to the top of the peak.  I took a few pictures and then headed downhill.  Wonderful descent, the pavement is smooth and wide, traffic was light early in the morning, an absolute blast.   I'll be returning here, maybe with Marilyn to see the Alpengarten.  

Note: the south side of the Dobratsch is a very long, high vertical cliff which you see for miles while driving toward Villach.  I did not get a picture while driving but you can see it here   

The top of the ski jump ramp

Ski jump ramp from below (astroturf instead of snow)

Monte Canin (2587m) center, Jof Fuart (2666m) near Altopiano Montasio, right

Jalouc (2645m) left and Mangart (2677m) right, in Slovenia

Hiking trail to Dobratsch summit (2167m)

The warm-up and the climb

Remarkably constant gradient for 16.5 km

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

Monday, July 23, 2012


I arrived at Bruck (near Zell am See) after 4.5 hour drive and started riding at 0800.  It was quite nippy at Bruck so I tried to warm up as quickly as possible up the gorgeous green valley of roiling Fuscher River.  This valley has more waterfalls than anywhere I've been, mind-boggling quantities of waterfalls.  Just past the small town of Fusch the Hochalpenstrasse starts, and immediately the road begins climbing.  A bit later it levels out briefly at a toll plaza and kid's nature park.  Luckily bicycles are now exempt from the toll (though they were originally included).  After the toll plaza the gradient steepens again, and mostly stays that way.  The low and middle portions of this climb have very few switchbacks, so there is not much chance to catch your breath.  The middle 13.5 kilometers have an average gradient of 9.5%, which is quite strenuous.  Higher up, more-frequent switchbacks give you a little chance to breathe at the bends.  Luckily the cool temps kept my radiator from boiling over, and the spectacular views made it difficult to dwell on the suffering.

At the top I was confused about which of the 2 summits to climb, so I continued up the main road to Hochter, a viewing area at 2504m.  Then I rode back downhill slightly, and began the hard climb up to Edelweisspitze (also signed Bikers' Point).  This is a 12%-average-gradient stack of switchbacks, paved in porphyry-block, ending at 2571m.  Panoramas here are unbelievable.

I put on arm and leg warmers for the descent (it was slightly above freezing up there, though sunny). The switchbacks were fun, as well as a few of the long straight plummets where there wasn't too much traffic.  But for the most part it was too congested to descend at full speed.  Not only cars, buses and motorcycles but quite a horde of bicycles, mostly mountain bikes and hybrids, a few fully-loaded tourers and some road bikes.

I want to return and do the climb up the south side, from Heiligenblut to the glacier at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe, then roll back down to the main road and continue to Edilwesspitze.  Definitely recommend the Hochalpenstrasse- you've got to see it to believe it.

Grosse Wiesbachhorn (3564m) with fresh blanket of snow 

Snowy Hohe Dock (3348m)

Grossglockner (3798m)

Hochter with Hochalpenstrasse looping around it prior to descending the other side

Some of the upper switchbacks, with natural history museum lower right

Glacier below Grosse Wiesbachhorn

One of many glorious waterfalls

The valley below Hohe Dock

Pretty wildflower

Looking back up the valley from below

Another noisy waterfall

The warm-up

The upper climb

13km of 9.5%
Garmin reading about 95 meters low

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monte Croce Carnico - Nassfeldpass

Passo di Monte Croce Carnico and Nassfeldpass are two Austrian border crossings north of here.  I thought I'd connect the two of them with a brief ride in Austria and make a loop of the two climbs.

I drove to Tolmezzo, arriving about 7 AM.  From here you follow the main road along Torrente But through Arta Terma and Paluzza.  Now the gradient steepens a bit as you follow the gorge to Timau.  See pictures of this area I previously took at Pian delle Streghe.  Timau is a pretty town, though a bit frightening because of the huge rock faces towering over the houses.  It's been here for centuries though so maybe I'm being silly.

After more gentle climbing you reach a very well-engineered scala of 12 switchbacks up the cliffs to the pass, with great views of the valley below and surrounding mountains.  The pass itself was windy and cold, shaded by a tall peak on either side- Creta delle Collinetta (2238m) on the left and Pal Piccolo (1866m) on the right.  

Now you enter a steep downhill tunnel with poor pavement- luckily there wasn't much traffic.  You exit into a lovely hanging meadow with a little lake and nice views of the mountains above.  The road continues steeply downward, with buckled asphalt and sharp curves.  There are a few flat and gently ascending stretches to keep you from getting too frozen.

At the bottom you arrive in Mauthen, and turn onto a country road through Würmlach.  Lovely country houses here, with impossible quantities of flowers tumbling from their window boxes.  After crossing the Gail River you reach Dellach and join the main road which is rather busy.  I saw some bike paths on the other side of the Gail which might actually save you time by avoiding the ride to the main road, but I had no map and didn't want to get lost. 

This stretch in Austria seemed longer than I expected, but was very gently rolling and not difficult.  At Tröpolach you turn toward Nassfeldpass.  I started out spinning up the beautiful twisty road through dense fir forest, by waterfalls and the tumbling white water of Tröglbach.  Soon the gradient steepens- above 13-14% I stood in the pedals, panting like a freight train.  This steepness doesn't abate- continuing for kilometers.  Overall it averages 8.6% over 11km, including the easy first kilometer and the easy last 2 km. 

For some pictures of the lovely pass, please see my previous climb from the Italian side- Passo di Pramollo.  Now for the descent- I was happy to see fresh asphalt as I started, then realized it was a short stretch and for the next 2-3 km the road was either stripped of its old pavement in preparation for paving, or so freshly paved that asphalt was sticking to the tires, frame etc.  This is bad because the sticky tar catches bits of glass, sharp stones etc which can cause a flat.  Fortunately I escaped that fate, the road work ended, and it was smooth sailing down to Pontebbe.  Can't wait to try this again once the paving's finished- it will be a wonderful plummet. 

Now began the longest stretch of the ride- slightly downhill (with occasional steep descents) for an hour or two along Torrente Fella then Torrente Tagliamento.  It's a wonderful road, wide and smooth with most of the traffic opting for the adjacent autostrada.  Toward the end it flattens and even has slight uphill grades from Carnia up to Tolmezzo.  I was so tired driving home it seemed the car was on autopilot- luckily it knew exactly where to go.

San Pietro di Carnia above Zuglio,
 Torrente But

Creta di Timau (2217m) cliffs above Timau

Close up of Gamspitz (1847m) above Timau

Monte Coglians (2780m) highest peak in Friuli

Looking down the scala climbing
Passo di Monte Croce Carnico

Monte Terzo (2034m) south of the pass

Monte Pezzacul (2178) with Monte Crotis peeking over the ridge

Monte Floriz (2184m)

From Austria, Creta di Collinetta (2238m)

Close up of Creta di Collinetta

Gamskofel (2526m)

From Gailtal bridge, the range between Austria and Italy

From Gailtal bridge, Schaatzbühl (2090m)

Dellach below Reisskofel (2369m)

GPS track running clockwise

Easy climb up Passo di Monte Croce Carnico

Hard climb up Nassfeldpass