High altitude racer
Top of the world maker
We experienced the Grossglockner High Alpine Road on the second attempt. The first had been aborted because of heavy rain, which falling at high altitude became snow and the road was shut. It was late May. Therefore be warned, high altitude means unpredictable weather. We came back in late July and this time were successful. It was well worth the wait.
One does not travel the Grossglockner Road to get from point A to point B, one takes the road for the thrill of the journey. We had travelled up from Slovenia earlier in the day, crossing the boarder into Austria close to Villach and rather than carry on north and head towards Saltzburg, we turned left towards Lienz. Just before Lienz we turned into the mountains towards Heiligenblut and the start of the Grossglockner Road.
This early pre Grossglockner road is bounded by typical meadow fields, full of glorious wild flowers set against a backdrop of imposing snow covered mountains. As you climb higher the air cools, which is a welcome relief from the summer temperatures of 30 C + at sea level and leads to the novelty of having your picture taken in shorts and a T-shirt standing on snow. Don’t worry a picture of me in shorts is not going on public display, even though my pasty, white english legs do disappear against the snowy background.
One option on the route, that cannot be missed, is to turn up to Kaiser-Franz_Josefs_Höhe. There is a good visitor’s centre and plenty of parking, so its easy to take a stroll around and view the mountain that the road is named after – the Grossglockner all 3,798 m of it and down below the ever receeding Pasterze glacier. There are lots of opportunities for a serious hike into the mountains, if that is your pleasure, but not for me on this occasion. I was proudly, if a little chilly, wearing my shorts, so travelling through the mountains by car was my preferred option. Having strolled around, we pressed on descending down the other side of the mountain pass to head towards the Gastein Valley. A much warmer place for those with a desire to keep their shorts on!