Grossglockner Alpine Pass, Hallstatt
114 days away
94 miles / 151 km since last post
6,426 miles / 10,342 km total
This morning (Tuesday) was to be our day driving the Glossglockner High Alpine Pass - the route through the highest mountain range in Austria. We set an alarm to be up earlier than normal, as the break in the weather was supposed to be in the morning, with it clouding over in the afternoon. However, at 8:30am it was looking more foggy than it has been the last few days! Stu went to check the weather report again for today, but was met by the campsite owner who said that today probably wouldn't be a great day for weather on the Grossglockner Pass. Despite his warning however, the forecast found on the internet begged to differ, so we soon set off on our drive.
When we first began to ascend up the winding, slow road road to the Grossglockner Pass, we weren't feeling too hopeful. The fog was thick, and we were having to drive at a snails pace in second gear due to the insanely steep incline and poor visibility. We passed a few lookouts along the way, but there was little point in stopping as we weren't going to see anything but thick fog.
I was beginning to wonder if the guy back at the site was right and this wasn't going to be a good day for us. However, after about 20 or so minutes on the road, we started to see some bright light behind the fog. Then almost instantly the fog disappeared and we had complete visibility across the pass and of the huge mountain range ahead of us! It was absolutely stunning and something which is better left to Stu photographs to describe.
The road continued to be very winding and slow, but thankfully there didn't seem to be many other vehicles coming the same way as us. They must have all been put off by the thick fog at lower ground. It was nice to not have to worry about cars backing up behind me. We made quite a few stops to look out over the mountains and valley, and for Stu to take pictures. Despite the sun shining brightly the air was very cold at the higher altitude and the wind quite biting.
The drive took us to a height of around 2,500 metres (8,200ft in old money), before we began to slowly decend. Stu was complaining about the altitude - he is quite sensitive to altitudes over 5,000-6,000ft. I assured him it would be fine and if he remembered Mauna Kea we were at the base camp at 9,000ft and he was OK!
It seemed like we had timed our arrival at the highest point of the pass just right, as on our descent we could see some thicker clouds starting to cover the mountain peaks. As we began to approach the bottom of this steep road we could start to smell the brakes on our motorhome. The descent down is 10 miles of 12% gradient! As soon as we reached the bottom we pulled over for an extended lunch stop, just to make sure that the brakes cooled down properly. Overheating brakes do not smell very nice and are dangerous to drive with.
After lunch we continued on, through more jaw-dropping scenery, until we reached the town of Hallstatt, where we found a place to stay for the night. A lovely looking town, but the site we're staying sure likes to cash in on it at €27 a night! However, it has been a fantastic day today, an amazing drive viewing some awesome Austrian scenery. A real highlight of our travels.
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