09/19/2017 Gearing up for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Tuesday 19th & Wednesday 20th September

Travelled through more rain today so decided to take the motorway.  Low cloud at times caused a few issues with visibility.  We have been climbing quite rapidly and the scenery continues to be spectacular.

Our camp for 2 nights:  Kellerbauer Wohnmobile Site, Altenmarkt Im Pongau

This place is highly rated and only a short km from centre of Altenmarkt.  A rural setting with great facilities, though no shower which is not a problem with us as we prefer to shower in Ziggy.  Internet was excellent.  Decided to stay until the rain cleared as we are keen to put another tick against our bucket list and hit the Grossglockner high alpine road but only on a fine day with good visibility.

Had a huge dump of snow on surrounding mountains overnight so the temperatures came down to single figures.  Have not been connected to electricity to fully top up the batteries for over 3 weeks now but the cold snap caused some concern with our batteries so opted to use electricity on night two to give the batteries a good deep charge.  Ziggy’s electronics panel gave us a warning and on checking the manual were informed that it is normal to get this type of warning if the batteries have not been fully charged in the last 20 days.

They have lovely fresh farm eggs and wine (either red or white) one of each to choose from so bought a bottle of the house red – 1 ltr for the huge sum of €4.  Was very young but no sharp edges.  Didn’t buy a second bottle to take with us!!!!!

Still think New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs are some of the best whites anywhere in the world and are finding it difficult to find reds that we really like.

Piggy bumped in to Ziggy and she rocked back and forth

Tried to make friends with the local pet black rabbit (scared as a rabbit) and tried to feed the pet pig – blind in one eye.  He ran into Ziggy a couple of times and refused to eat the lettuce and carrot we offered him but he did scare the old lady in the Moho next to us – who ran when he blindly made advances in her direction.

Took time out on day two to visit downtown (took Ziggy for a run as the weather was horrid).  Really great little town – bought two pairs of warm outdoor/snow boots – one for driver and one for the navigator.  Forgot to pack these in Oz and have been suffering with cold feet for a while now.  Still looking for the illusive pair of slippers for indoors – don’t have a KMart or Target here so have not been able to find reasonable pair for under $100.  Still angry we didn’t buy these in Poland. 

Thursday 21st September

Still raining when we left, however, the long range forecast for Grossglockner was some sun on Friday and Saturday so opted to get as close as possible until the weather cleared.

Bought a new vignette as ours ran out today – another 10 days in Austria – crying shame – just love it here.  Arrived in town of Bruck at the northern end of Grossglockner and weather was just clearing.  Decided to head towards the toll gates at the start of the road for more information – only a few kms away.  There is a huge carpark at the entry where fellow travellers have parked for the night so hoped to stay there for the night.

I have a huge amount of still and video images of the Grossglockner and have published just a few.  When I have more time and more Sim Card Data I hope to publish the videos on You Tube and will provide a link for my You Tube Channel

Because of the huge dump of snow the night before, the pass had been closed but reopened just before we got there.  With the help and information of the beautiful lady at the info counter, we decided to take a day ticket for€35 and do the road today.  The road is only 48kms long and for a day pass you can do it as many times as you want.  We left from the northern end with the hope of being able to get to the bottom and return in the same day. 

A couple of the 36 hairpin bends

We took advantage of so many places along the way to stop and take photos and extended the trip by going to Franz Josef Glacier along the way – really, really worth the extra mileage.

Franz Jozef Glacier

Words and photos can’t explain the beauty of this region.  The numerous hairpin bends left the driver totally focused on getting us around each corner whilst I enjoyed the view though the eye of the camera – absolutely stunning!.

Snow plough on the job in mid September???

So much snow the night before kept the snow ploughs busy and they were still operating on different parts of the pass during our adventure.  A white snowy fairy wonderland, mile after mile.  The camera just didn’t stop trying to capture every moment.

The road does a loop around the rock

We didn’t have enough time to do the return trip today, so found a great stop for the night just outside the southern end of the Grossglockner toll gates.  A return trip on any consecutive day is only €11 or you can take a monthly pass for €55.  They certainly get you for the day pass only but it is really so worth it.

Navigator and Driver – below zero at midday in mid September

Our campsite for the night:  Gasthaus Schwaiger – Mortschach

 Half way between the toll gates and Lienz, we stopped at this Gasthaus.  There is no cost to stay in the carpark which allows for 4 motorhomes.  Really great little place so just had to have a night off cooking – great menu at a very reasonable price.  So much food, we waddled back to Ziggy and sadly went to bed on a full stomach – very uncomfortable and really bad for the waistline – disappearing quickly now!!!!

Friday 22nd September

Had to fill up on auto gas so continued down to Lienz.  Not many spots in Austria to get auto gas and they are hard to find as not available in most service stations.

Straight back up the mountain and back through the toll gates to do a south to north run at Grossglockner.

The beautiful lady at the northern end of the pass informed us of an Oldtimers Car Race being held late afternoon today. A large section of this road would be closed from 3.30 to 5.30 pm so we were eager to find a good viewing area to watch the race before the crowds arrived.

Deep snow in some places

Certainly steeper going up from south to north but both ways were just as spectacular.  South to north necessitated a lot of second gear driving whilst north to south required much engine braking to give the brakes a breather.

Perfect blue skies today and we were just so pleased we opted to stay the extra day.

Stopped at the finish line at the top of the pass and parked Ziggy so we had a full view of all the cars coming toward the finish line and a good section of hairpin bends.  Massive carpark and restaurant here and it filled up quickly.

There were 65 cars due to start including the following marques :- Bugatti, Lagonda, Alvis, Bentley, Marmon, Veritas, Borgward, MG, and of course my favourite marque – Porsche as well as many others.

The Navigator with a sky blue Porsche

There were also 2 Audi Auto Union 2 silver arrows one of which had a 16 cylinders rear mounted engine with dual rear wheels.

16 cylinder, rear engine, dual wheeled Audi Auto Union Silver Arrow

Moved out of Ziggy to get a better viewing point and sat in our deck chairs rugged up in three layers – plus coats, beanies, gloves and rugs – it was so cold out there.  The closer to the start of the race, the colder it got as the blue skies disappeared and the clouds came over and then the wind.

A few more hairpin bends

Everyone braved the cold to see the race but quickly left when the roads re opened to allow us all to get back down the mountain.