Crossing Rax 18.8.2006

Today´s weather report says temperatures up to 33 C. So the strategy is clear: Get up early and ascent via western slopes. So I depart from Winzendorf at 5 a.m., drop my Mountainbike in Hoellental and finally drive to Hinternaszwald (711 m), where I start at 6 a.m. The ascent leads me via Naszkamm and Gamseck route to Heukuppe (2.007 m). After a short "Brunch" in Karl Ludwig - House I walk further over the Rax plateau: Predigtstuhl (1.902 m), Trinkstein saddle, Dreimarkstein (1.948 m), Scheibwaldhoehe (1.943 m). Now the descent begins via Klobentoerl and finally Rudolf´s route  into Hoellental, from where I ride back to Hinternaszwald with my mountain bike. All in all a 9 hour´s walk plus one hour on the bike, 1.600 m ascent on walking and 150 m with the bike.

Still rather dark now. The beginning of the path passes several big springs (hence the name "Naszwald" = "Wet Forest") being used for the first Vienna´s High Spring Water conduit (constructed in the second half of 19th century!). The spring reserve areas are fenced.

A bit further the valley gets broader giving view to Kahlmaeuer, comprising the western outskirts of the Rax plateau in this area. My path branches to the right near the trees in the meadow, leading up to the ridge, then turning to the left and leading to the top behind the right end of Kahlmaeuer, through an area named "zahmes ("tame") Gamseck" as a route called Gamsecksteig (the Gamseck route, Gams = chamois)

First glimpse of sunshine upside the slope.

Arrived on Naszkamm ("Wet ridge"), with a view to Ameisbuehel, as part of Schneealpe, the next big mountain massive like Rax

The private Gamseck house at the beginning of Gamsecksteig

This route is part of a far distance route all along Austria, from eastern end to the western one, more than 600 km.

Getting a bit more rocky now ...

"What are you doing here, you unskillful biped?"

Scrambling areas are perfectly secured with steel ropes ...

 ... or ladders. However, the areas are not difficult all in all ...

 ... but a bit exposed in places.

Easy scramble, which could be done without the rope. However, it is much safer and much more comfortable to have a good grip all time.

At the exit of Gamsecksteig, arrived on the plateau at least. View in direction of the Muerz valley.


Once more a bit of the way to do.

Alpine Wall Pepper (Sedum alpestre)

Heukuppe summit. The building is a memory chapel for the victims of both world wars, erected in 1956

Due to the chapel, the summit panorama must be parted: northern part with further destinations of the tour, Schneeberg behind. Click into the picture for a larger version.

Southern panorama from Heukuppe. To the left the mountains of the Wechsel region. Click into the picture for a larger version.

View over Rax plateau. To the left Scheibwaldhoehe, Schneeberg behind.

Zooming in on Goeller (1.766 m)

The war memorial as seen from the eastern side

View down to Karl Ludwig House, with the dale of Payerbach/Reichenau behind.

Chamois are grazing here like cattle - and don´t let them disturb.


View over Baerengraben to Habsburg - House

Predigtstuhl, with Preinerwand (1.783 m) behind, a scrambler´s paradise with several ferrata´s.

Rock roses (Helianthemum sp.) and Alpine carnation (Dianthus alpinus)

Lots of Rock roses in some places.

Alpine carnation

Schneegraben, an area covered with snow nearly the whole year,  ...

 ... on its bottom ending in a big doline.

Eyebright (Euphrasia rostkoviana) covers big areas.

Alpine carnations

"Normally, I don´t like you watching me in this situation ..."

Blue aconite (Aconitum napellus) near Karl Ludwig House

The steep rocky escarpments of Predigtstuhl with a glimpse of Preinerwand behind.

Karl Ludwig House

Zooming in on Habsburg House

Heukuppe in panoramic shot, far left is Karl Ludwig - House. Click into the picture for a larger version.

Alpine aster (Aster alpinus)

View from Predigtstuhl over Trinksteinsattel (with the Raxgmoa - rescue hut) to Schneeberg


Summit cairn of Dreimarkstein, with Scheibwaldhoehe and Schneeberg behind

Huge doline between Dreimarkstein and Scheibwaldhoehe

Summit cairn of Scheibwaldhoehe, Schneeberg behind

Preinerwand looks unspectacular from this side.

Summit panorama of Scheibwaldhoehe. Click into the picture for a larger version.

Interesting cloud formation over Schneealpe. The sharp rocky break is Kahlmaeuer, now in a completely different perspektive as compared to the second picture

Now the descent begins. From now on Schneeberg comes nearer and dominates the view.

View over the crooked plateau in western direction

The northeastern end of the plateau with Jakobskogel (1.737 m) far right, hiding Otto - house in behind. To the left, hidden in the forest, the summit station of the Rax cablecar.

Pannonic Gentian (Gentiana pannonica) on Klobentoerl

Masses of blue aconite at the beginning of Rudolfsteig

A clearing on Rudolfsteig with Schneeberg behind. Apart from blue aconite here also grows Fuchs´s ragwort (Senecio nemorensis ssp. fuchsii) ...

 ... and, on places in great amounts, Austrian gentian (Gentiana austriaca), ...

 ... here together with grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris)

This celaring has been a large wind-break area one or two decades ago, now being regrown with larches.

The further descent leads via extremely steep slopes on slippery screes, at times very exposed. After a long walk I don´t like something like this, especially on descent, and I felt much better on the compact rocks of Gamsecksteig, despite the scrambling. This picture was composed of three single pictures in panorama mode!

Rocks near the descent and a view across the great Hoellental to Loswand

Rock wall with an interesting view through across the great Hoellental ("hell´s dale") to Loswand ("Los walls").

In Hoellental, and on the bike at least. The river Schwarza is meandering through the rocks

Between Naszwald and Hinternaszwald the valley is so narrow as to give room only for a road, ...

 ... the beck has been forced into an artificial tunnel.

Tired to death I arrive in Hinternaszwald at 4 p.m., after 10 hours out, and am glad to sit down in the car.