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SCHLADMING IN SUMMER

Mountains, lakes, a 700-year-old town, fantastic food, music….. PlanetSKI packs it in on a summer trip to Styria in Austria.

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Here at PlanetSKI we are looking forward to the summer months in the mountains and beyond.

We’re starting off by revisiting some of our experiences and adventures of last summer, including a very watery visit to Schladming in Austria.

This is one of the most water-rich regions in the Alps.

It’s why Schladming-Dachstein is known as The Valley of a Thousand Springs and Lakes.

It’s under-selling itself.

Someone has counted:

  • 1,000 springs
  • 300 tarns, or mountain lakes
  • 100 waterfalls

On this short trip, I’ve seen a few of each.

I can confirm that when you’ve seen one you certainly haven’t seen them all.

If you love your watery alpine landscapes you can get your fill here in the mid-Austrian region of Styria.

I started off at Steirischer Bodensee, a small lake that’s known as the Styrian Lake Constance.

Bodensee

Bodensee

The word lush could have been invented for it.

The fresh trout from the lake I ate for dinner was pretty special too.

On day two, it was the Sölktäler Nature Park, a 20km drive from the town of Schladming.

Sölktäler Nature Park

Sölktäler Nature Park

The Nature Park covers an area of 228 square kilometres and is home to 1,500 people.

I suspect there are more cows than humans.

I learnt a bit about cows and alpine farming while there:

A hike led to Schwarzensee – the Black Lake.

Schwarzensee

Schwarzensee

I’m surprised to find out that it’s privately owned – along with a big tranche of land – by a family that has a summer home on the lakeside.

I wonder if they’d let me waterski here….

Perhaps not. It would ruin the calm.

I’ve saved the best bit of water till last.

I’m partial to a decent waterfall.

I ooh and aah at them like most people do to fireworks.

But there are waterfalls…..

Waterfall in Sölktäler Nature Park

Waterfall in Sölktäler Nature Park

….. and there are waterfalls

This is the aptly-named Wild Waters, a sort of natural theme park, where a steep path takes you alongside the Riesach Falls.

They’re the highest in the region, plunging 140 metres into the Untertal valley below.

Get up close and you will get wet – very wet.

At the Riesach falls

Getting very very wet

But there’s something I like more than lakes and waterfalls and that’s mountains.

Schladming is a famous ski town and it has lots of them.

Schladming

Schladming

In the winter, Schladming is part of the Ski Amade ski area, which claims to have 760km of pistes.

Fewer visitors come here in the summer than winter and those that do are overwhelmingly Austrian or German, though Thomson Lakes and Mountains now have Schladming in their summer brochure.

There is one excursion that should be on every tourist’s agenda in both winter and summer: a trip up the super-quick gondola to the Dachstein glacier.

The Dachstein gondola

The Dachstein gondola

At an altitude of 2,996 metres, it’s the easternmost glacier in the Alps and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In 2013, a suspension bridge and The Stairway to Nothingness – a glass viewing platform hanging over the face of the Dachstein massif – was opened to the public.

In good visibility I am assured that you can see the Triglav mountains in Slovenia to the south and the Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic to the north.

I’ll have to take that on faith.

Dachstein suspension bridge

Dachstein suspension bridge

Dachstein suspension bridge

The end of the bridge is somewhere back there

The Stairway to Nothingness

I’m over here! On The Stairway to Nothingness

I guess it’s an excuse for me to return in better weather.

It was just as cold but definitely brighter inside the Ice Palace that’s been built inside the glacier.

In the Ice Palace

In the Ice Palace

On the ice throne

Ice Queen

It’s been here for 10 years and it’s covered with a white fleece to protect it from melting, a technique used on other glacial terrain:

Exit from the fleece-covered Ice Palace

Exit from the fleece-covered Ice Palace

It’s only about 4 degrees Celsius up here on this July day, and there are a few light snow flurries as the ploughs go about their business shifting the snow around.

Snow plough on the Dachstein glacier

Shifting snow

It’s possible to ski some backcountry routes from here from around February to April.

In the summer, there are numerous popular walks from the bottom of the Dachstein gondola station.

At least there was something for me to see below the clouds.

Hiking at Dachstein

Hiking at Dachstein

Hiking at Dachstein

Hiking at Dachstein

Hiking at Dachstein

Hiking at Dachstein

The small town of Schladming itself is a convenient summer base and has plenty going on.

My visit coincided with an international brass music festival that I both enjoyed and endured:

Schladming

Schladming

There are public buses to get you from Schladming to all the main tourist destinations.

And if you book accommodation in the Schladming-Dachstein area, a Summer Card is included.

It gives free transport and entry to more than 100 attractions and 50 per cent off a load of others.

Schladming is only an hour’s transfer from Salzburg airport and –  best of all  – it’s cheap.

Food and drink is a lot more affordable than in many alpine resorts.

So it’s as good a place as any to get your fix of Knödel and Kaiserschmarrn and wash it down with some Schnapps.

Prost!

Schladming

Schladming

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