Part 1: The day before
September 23rd 2016
I’ve decided to hike the Untersberg mountain tomorrow. The hike is supposed to take four hours, so my plan is to leave early in the morning, by seven at the latest. The goal is to reach the summit before noon. Untersberg isn’t too far from my dorm, so I’ve decided to bike to the trail head. The trail I’ve chosen is the Dopplersteig, a popular and exciting hike to the top.
Finding out a bit more about Untersberg:
- Elevation: There are several different peaks:
- Berchtesgadener Hochtron – 1973 M
- Salzburger Hochtron – 1853 M
- Raubeck – 1892 M
- Gamsalpkopf – 1888 M
- Mitterberg – 1840 M
- Geiereck – 1805 M
- 1850 Meters is about 6070 feet, so these peaks are not very high compared to many of the Rocky Mountain peaks, but the hiking only starts at 400 meters (~1000 feet).
- My goal is to reach the Berchtesgadener Hochtron. It’s in Germany, so this may end up being an international hiking trip. The northern third of Untersberg is in Austria, and the rest is in Germany.
- Like almost everything in Salzburg, Untersberg has a connection to the movie, The Sound of Music. It is featured in the opening and closing scenes of the film, and the scene with “The Hills are Alive” was filmed somewhere on the German side of Untersberg.
- There’s a Cable Car, the Untersbergbahn, that’s been there since 1961, but I’m not using it. I figure I’ll feel more accomplished after hiking four hours to the top rather than taking a 10 minute ride up in the cable car.
- There’s an ice cave and a lake within the mountain, and the cave’s lowest point has yet to be discovered!
- The façade of the Salzburger Dom (cathedral) is made from Untersberg marble.
The view of Untersberg on my way to the trail head
Part 2: On the Summit
September 24th 2016
I actually made it to the top! I left at 7:30 this morning, later than I wanted to, and biked on some backroads to the base of Untersberg. I started the hike at 8:10, and I made it to the Salzburger Hochtron at around 11 am. The hike didn’t start out too well when I made a wrong turn right at the beginning, but I only walked a quarter mile before I realized my mistake. The Dopplersteig was amazing. I’m so glad I went up it, but I’m probably going to take an easier path down. Hiking on my own was quite peaceful too. I wasn’t ever that alone though, which was probably for the better on such a tricky path. It seemed that there was always someone within a hundred meters of me. The trail was steep, and I was sweating a lot, but it is quite satisfying up here looking down at Salzburg knowing that I carried myself all the way up this mountain. What I didn’t know is that the Berchtesgadener Hochtron is another 3 hours of hiking from the Salzburger Hochtron. I’ve decided that the Salzburger peak is enough. The path was beautiful, though. Almost half of it was made up of wooden stairs/ladders and stairs carved into the mountain. There were waterfalls and trees everywhere. The path was narrow, and
That’s when I made it to the Salzburger Hochtron peak!
Part 3: Back Home
September 24th 2016
You might be wondering why I ended part two in the middle of a sentence. Nothing crazy happened, but I had been sitting on a bench near the Geiereck peak writing when and older man sat down next to me. We started having a conversation in German. He had taken the cable car up with a group of people who were hiking around the Untersberg. He said that his lungs weren’t strong enough to go with them, so he was just going to hang out around the restaurant near the cable car station for the afternoon. He was from Bamberg, Germany, and he told me about how he used to be in the German military 50 years ago. He was based in Bad Reichenhall, which is really close to Salzburg and Untersberg. There, he said, they were always hiking and running in the mountains. We talked a while longer, and then I left to hike back down Untersberg. He wished me “Viel Erfolg” with my studies in Salzburg, and we parted ways. For some reason this man reminded me of my Opa (grandpa). Maybe it was just because he was an old German man like my Opa was, but it was just enjoyable to talk with him and his sense of humor reminded me of my Opa’s. We never exchanged names, but I kind of like it that way.
Another highlight from the hike:
There was a mother holding her baby in a backpack carrier hiking back to the cable car station from the Salzburger Hochtron, and the baby was the most social baby I’ve ever met. She said hi to me three times when I was hiking past them, and every time someone new walked by I could hear her greet them, too!
The way back down:
It took just two and a half hours to get from the Geiereck peak back down to my bicycle. It was definitely more work going up the mountain, but it seemed to take more concentration on the way back down. I ended up just going down the Dopplersteig anyway, and it was worth it. The path is like no other hiking trail that I’ve seen before.
View of the Cable Car Station and the Geiereck Peak from the Salzburger Hochtron. The Salzburg Fortress can also be seen in the background
Narrow, steep, and winding paths: not so easy going up or down