The most famous alpine route in Austria, the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, has been the mecca for bikers and cyclists for years. Some of them are discouraged by its commercial dimension, sealed with ticket gates and attractions map enclosed to the tourist package given at the entrance. However, while standing in front of enormous tongue of the Pasterze glacier, after victorious forcing your own way through the atmospheric see-saw: in turns the sun, the wind and the fog governing in the 36 eminent bends, the route and the experienced emotions become well worth the price. It is said that you must be there at least once in your lifetime. And there is something true about it.
The Grossglockner, towering over Alpine crown at the height of 3 798 m above the sea level, is the highest peak in Austria. It is said that the historical beginning of this 48-km long route is in the centre of Bruck and Grossglocknerstrasse, by the Lukashansi hotel on the Salzachbrucke bridge. By the descent of B311 road, there is even a stone symbolizing its first kilometre. That is why it is worth going from the north to the south. Winding, picturesque route will take you at the height of 2 571 m above the sea level if after about 28 km, you will turn off to Edelweissspitze. At the top you will enjoy the view of more than 30 picks over 3 000 m high and the impressive road, creeping the hillside like a giant snake. This place is marked as ‘Bikers Point’. There is a parking dedicated to the two-wheeled vehicles and a view-tower. Buses are not allowed there.
The ticket on Grossglockner – what do we pay for?
The tickets are all-day. The cost of reaching the Grossglockner by car is EUR 34,50 and by motorbike – EUR 24,50. It is also possible to buy a monthly or seasonal ticket. The detailed price list is on the official website of the route.
There are not only ticket offices at the entrance, but also the information point, where you are given guide books, attraction maps and can see the weather conditions of the route on the screen.
The attractions on the road, included in the ticket price, seem to be inessential, especially for those people, who are thirsty for a contact with nature most of all. And indeed, the nature demonstrates itself in beautiful way in the heart of the High Tauern National Park. It is also vital to admit that the prepared tourist infrastructure provides the all-day entertainment for the newly-arrived guests (who arrived by every mean of transport and at every age), for families and the youngest. It offers the access to the artistic-educational exhibitions run on the really high level, with great technological base and multimedia support. Also, you will find restaurants, theme playgrounds, the entertainment-educational paths, the view points, lockers for motorcyclists for helmets and clothes, and of course impeccable carriageway and tidy car parks with the grass cut around.
But there is always something for something. We would more appreciate smaller commerce of this place, even by the cost of bushes along the shoulder of road and the lack of museums. Just not to be distracted from the majesty of mountains, the land of marmots and mountain goats. To feel the spirit of the explorer, which didn’t leave us on the Alpine routes in Romania, happily still free (Hurry up!).
The power in nature
Well, we may complain about the commerce of Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, but luckily, the spaces on this heights govern their own rights and despite the good road, they are not always easy to cope with. From time to time, they condemn you to exhausting and dangerous battles with the elements. And so the two of us were going enthusiastically towards the glacier, when suddenly we run into terrible wind, which in the moment of greater strength, tossed our motorcycle, so that we couldn’t hold it properly. We were too afraid to look to the side, into the abyss. When we finally broke out of this air current, suddenly we were travelling across the world of greenness and murmuring creeks. After a while, we jumped into the tunnels and the webs of fogs, which successfully slowed us down and added a bit of adrenaline. But we were calm at the same time. We weren’t there alone. Many motorcyclists, scooter drivers and cyclists, who also were trying to overcome the weather surprises were always around. We were really impressed with the last ones because they were experiencing all Alpine charms and dreads literally on their own skin.
And the glacier. The longest one in Eastern Alps, 10 km. For the first time we have been so close to the glacier’s tongue. It is known that the thing that we experience for the first time is always best remembered. If Joki hadn’t have problems with his foot, we would have attempted to go to its base.
The landscape was changing all the time. But, while riding those 50 km, we were overcoming the level difference of 1 766 meters. Such route is a trip through the natural kaleidoscope, in which everything can happen, the composition of colours changes diametrically and once you enter the metal gate, you become a spontaneous element of the subtle composition and have to unite with it. I believe this is the experience that we come for to the Grossglockner from all around the world.
Info about the Grossglockner
|Start / finish||Bruck ad Grossglocknerstrasse by the Lukashansl hotel on the Salzachbrücke bridge / Heiligenblut am Grossglockner|
|Surface||Asphalt of a very good quality|
|Accessibility||It is usually open from May to the beginning of November|
|Hazards||The winding road over the cliffs, sheep|
|Attractions on the way||The Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe observation deck, Tourist Center with exhibitions and gastronomy, the Wilhelm Swarovski’s Observatory, from where you can observe alpine goats and mountaineers, Alpine Nature Museum, the Fush Gate, the “Pass Sanctuary” exhibition at the High Gate, themed play-grounds at the Piffkar, the Fusch Lake and Schoneck, theme trails (e.g. the Piffkar Nature Trail), towns: Bruck and Fusch|
|Max altitude||2 571 m a.s.l.|