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Published: September 15th 2015
The ice cave
An amazing experience to view lovely ice shapes inside an existing calcite cave high above the valley at Obertraun.
The weather was looking a bit dicey today so we weren’t sure what we would get up around Lake Halstatt where we were headed to visit the main attractions – the Ice Cave, Krippenstein the Five Finger Platform and Halstatt. We had biked in this area in 2013 and figured that Irvahn would love these sites so we bought a ticket that would take us on the Seilbahn to the Ice Cave and to the top of the mountain at Krippenstein. The Ice Cave is at the mid station where we got off, signed in for a tour, then walked slowly up the steep track to the cave entrance which takes about 15 minutes. We put on warm clothes and started the tour into the dry part of the cave which is part of a vast network of caves in the area. ThNe first part of the cave system was made up of huge caverns of pink and grey calcite with large boulders strewn about but with not a lot of stalactites and ‘mites. The rest of the caves have flows of ice and huge thicknesses of ice shaped by the water flow or drips. They don’t stack as stalactites would
A beautiful view across the lake
but form beautiful natural sculptures in ice. This is caused by the flow of cold air coming into the caves and freezing the water rather than it dripping through the calcite rocks. It makes a much more interesting cave visit since the ice lights up and is so much more luminous. It is extremely cold in the cave and there are hundreds of steps down and back up to the surface.
Next we wanted to go to the Krippenstein and walk to the Five Finger platform which juts off the top of the mountain with nothing below except the valley which is at least 1000m below. However, on arriving at the top it was completely in cloud and pointless going anywhere because nothing was visible. We went back down to the middle station and had lunch then back down to the bottom to the car and on to Halstatt, the iconic town on the lakeside not far from Obertraun.
Halstatt is often seen on poster pictures for this area of Austria. It is a very old town dating back to early mankind and also Roman times when it was important for the production of salt, hence the name
Salzberg and Salzkammergut (the area name). It is very picturesque and has a narrow band of houses stacked between the water and the steep hillside. The houses are quaint, alleys narrow, and everything is close to everything else through lack of room which gives it it’s character. The old church against the cliff has a macabre room with decorated skulls with family names written on each one all stacked together to make a very strange picture. Underneath the skulls in a separate area are stacks of leg bones.
High above the town is the funicular, the salt mine and an aerial viewing platform ( a single version of the five finger one up on the mountain). We have been to the salt mine on a previous trip and it’s worth a visit. It’s a fascinating place and generally packed with tourists but now (mid September), kids are back in school, holidays are over and it was Monday so a much better time to visit. The only downside was that it was overcast and lacked the vibrancy that sunshine gives a place but we did get some nice pictures.
On arriving back in Ebensee we found yet another excellent
restaurant for dinner. I am amazed, that in all the weeks we have been away the best food we have eaten has been the past three meals at three different restaurants in Ebensee. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because they cater more to locals than to tourists here so there is less of the same fare in the more popular towns.
After two days with our neice, she returns to Schafthausen in Switzerland tomorrow. We have enjoyed having her with us and she has enjoyed her time here.
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