Published: August 8th 2009June 1st 2009
Cuts its way in the snowy mountains
One of the good things about one of my recent business trips to Munich was that I knew about it ½ a year in advance so I could coordinate with my friend Ohad to join me at the end of the week for a few days in Austria.
make the man. At the end of the last day of the trade-show, with all the visitors already leaving the grounds and Ohad already on the way in the car, I went into a small closet. I took off my suit and tie and put on a worn out T-shirt. I replaced my dress pants with old travel pants. I changed my black shoes for hiking boots. I washed of the gel in my hair to let it expand in all directions. I was transformed from a respectable exhibitor in a large show to a raggedy traveler, looked at strangely by the security people, waiting for an adventure..
On the 3rd day of our travel Ohad and me had an “adventure”. Unsurprisingly, the only difference between anadventure and a disaster is a bit of luck….
If you ever read a good
travel adventure book (or seen a bad “disaster movie”) than you probably know the general outline of them all. They usually contain more than a few of the following elements. Someone decides to do something that no one did before him (“How about…I will dare to cross the Atlantic in a bucket!”) or do it in an original way (“hay - I will walk through the tiger filled jungle with my eyes closed. Isn’t that neat?”). Usually, there is a good reason that no-one tried it before for and in retrospect it is generally a stupid idea to start the attempt in the first place.
After deciding to start, the hero doesn’t do enough planning. He especially forgets one of the critical things to making a successful attempt. He is either not well equipped, doesn’t know the location, doesn’t come prepared for a dangerous situation. Typically, he doesn’t estimate correctly the time needed for the expedition and is challenged by the elements.
After some time he realizes he made a mistake. It is then too late, too difficult or too embarrassing to go back so he continues on, only to make things worse. If all goes well, the brave man
will have some good luck. He will then triumph, earn world publicity, write a successful book on his ordeal and make lots of money. In the more-likely event he doesn’t make it, someone else gets to write a small newspaper item on page 27 regarding a discovery of a body and the whole thing gets forgotten.
Now…let’s roll back the seconds on our 3rd day in Austria. See if you can spot the analogies:
We started that day with a walk in the steep Liechtensteinklamm gorge
. Although the travel book promised an “off-the-beaten track” location, the walking was easy and had lots of children on the path. Ohad, seeing so many children, decided this walk is not masculine enough for us and was all charged up for a long, difficult walk. We then drove a few hours on the wonderfully beautiful Grossglockner road
. The views were inspiring but being in the car for a distance made both of us want to climb something. We arrived at the Pasterze Glacier late in the afternoon
- too late to do any long walk. We walked into the tourist station and asked…”what long walk
can we do?”
Pinzguer Spaziergang walk
the path on the ridge for 8hr on our first day
The man in the station said most of the trails are closed due to snow and he recommends walking only up to the glacier. Me and Ohad had a look in the map and saw a trail heading down from the glacier to a lake. After a short inquiry (with the replay “no one has done this walk yet since the beginning of the season because of the snow. If you go be careful
…”), a look at the watch (“only 4:30pm - the sun sets late…”), checking our equipment (1 liter of water for the both of us and sun-screen…what can go wrong?) and an extensive 3-minute
memorization of the map we decided to go for it!
After walking to the glacier we found the trail head and started the walk. 10 min after starting we lost the trail because it was covered with snow. Being the first to walk the trail since the last snow we did not even have footprints in the snow to guide us. But the general location of the lake was clear by the high mountains surrounding us we decided to go on. The going was slow because of the snow and for
us having to guess the right path so by the time we arrived at the lake it was quite late. Remembering from the map we knew that the lake is crossed from the north and that we were on the south bank. We made a long circumvention through some mud, boulders and then crossed a snow field. The snow field was especially exciting because we were not sure it will hold our weight on the crossing and we were pretty sure the river was beneath it.
We then arrived at our largest challenge yet. A short slanted ice patch. It slanted towards a large drop. On the other side was a cliff.
The only other option besides going back was on the ice-waterfall! And the ice was only 10 meters across. True, it looked a long way down if we slipped. And true, the ice was slanted downward. And true, we were not sure it would hold our weight. But at the time it seemed the right thing to do.
occur to us that we might not need to continue and that we should go back but it seemed faster to go on rather than to
has shrunk in half in the last 100 years and expected to disappear in the next 100
hull ourselves all the way back up to the glacier.
Ohad and I had a short discussion what path was the right one for crossing. Ohad was for a short line (15 steps) just on the edge. I was for a longer one (20 steps) a few meters upward. I crossed first - no rope for safety. Ohad followed the same way.
After crossing we found a dangling wire. We held on to it and walked 30 meters more on the side of the cliff. We then looked back. If I had this view before crossing I would have walked all the way back up and not tried crossing
We still had 1 hr of walking ahead of us. We walked quietly. Disregarding all the dangers on the way because we knew that returning the same way is now NOT possible. Having still not found the right way we walked beneath a large snow patch just waiting to avalanche on top of us . We then passed a natural snow bridge hanging over a strong running river waiting to collapse under our feet. We passed a closed gate onto a large dam eerily holding back the lake water
Pasterze Glacier to Glocknerhaus walk
the trail statrs from above Pasterze Glacier. we did not see anouther sign on the way
We were the last one to return to the car park that day. We had a good adventure and have a good story to tell. It was almost sunset. We felt we accomplished something that day
we can’t wait to do something similar again
you can see the photos of the walk below….
Between my travels I like reading travel adventure books since they keep my travel ember glowing.
If you are unfamiliar with the genre or have a hard time relating to our escapade then I recommend starting with these to get the imagination turned on : Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage Into Thin Air Adrift Into Africa Touching the void Over the edge of the world
There are more photos below