Austria, Dachstein: Hoher Dachstein – Climbing the Highest Summit
Going to reach the summit you need to carry the equipment fitting for crossing a glacier and know how to operate it (a helmet, rope, crampons). You need this equipment if you leave the upper cable car station up to reach the area under the summit. Altogether this is a 40 minute walk on the glacier. Between the upper cable car station and Seethalerhütte, the only mountain cabin with a restaurant, there is a "glacier highway" - everyday a snowcat shovels of the snow to create a walkable path. Still, you will probably pass by large cracks in ice. It is not 100% safe there.
Five minutes of walk from Seethalerhütte gets you below the eastern section of Hoher Dachstein's summit. There is a steel rope securing the trail ther. There are two options of how you can climb it up (there is now pathway going up to the top). You need a ferrate equipment here on the eastern side (at 2 750 m). This will allow you to continue along the so called Schulteranstieg. This klettersteig is very easy, B difficulty (the second easiest one). However, it looks more adventurous at some sections. The rope splits into after 40 minutes of walk. One section of the rope goes uphill, the other one downhill.
Randkluft Anstieg starts at the bottom. It is the second option how to climb up the mountain. You don't start it in the east (the diretion where the cabin is). The start of the trail is more northwards. You get there by crossing the glacier. You need to go in a group, be tied to a rope and know the rules for moving on a glacier. There are large cracks at this part of the glacier. There is a start of another trail going from the north at 2 900 m. It meets our trail at the already mentioned area. Here can snow quite complicate any advance for it can almost cover the rope and particular sections can be very dangerous even though the terrain is not difficult. This is partially the reason why some use glacier equipment (crampons) to climb the ferrata along the roc. Rocks have scratches made by crampons. I have not seen it anywhere else.
It takes about 25 minutes of climbing with the rope to the summit cross situated on Hoher Dacshtein. There is the summit book of records in a box. The area for moving around is very limited on the summit. So be careful. Many are rather disappointed when reaching the top for it is usually veiled in clouds in the afternoon. If the clouds part at least a bit, you can enjoy a splendid vista over Mitterspitz, a mountain 2000 meters high on Gosausee southern bank. You will also see the entire Gosausee, Hinterer Gosausee which is a smaller lake, btotwh two white glaciers below you and the vista over the landscape. Sit down and enjoy it while it lasts.
The options for a return journey are the same- eaither follow ferratas all the way to the east or choose the B option - in the eastward direction part along a ferrata and then along the mountain across a glacier. Keep in mind that in case you park your car at cable car's bottom station you need to reach it somehow. There is no road for pedestrians to the south. The last cable car leaves at 5:30 p.m. Enjoy this wonderful trip. Hopefully, you will experience good weather.
Text and photos: Martina Brožková
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