Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Road in the Clouds

I have vivid memories of driving on the cliff side of narrow mountain roads, without the visual benefit of guardrails, trying to maneuver skinny hairpin turns, hoping to squeeze between trucks or buses (that took way more than their half of the road) and the edge of the cliff. I never thought that was a good idea.

Those memories interfered with any desire to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Highway in Hohe Tauren National Park. But, after three and a half years of living in Austria, last weekend we finally drove it— twice—and although it was raining and we spent much of the time driving in the clouds, never even seeing the peaks of most of the mountains, it was a fabulous experience. Completed in 1935, the road was modern, paved, wide enough and not scary. I now feel a trip to Austria is incomplete without driving the Grossglocknerstrasse—even in the clouds and rain and being unable to see the mountaintops!

The designers of the road have done a great job by providing lots of pullouts so you can stop to enjoy the views. (It seemed we stopped every 50 feet!) Park staff have placed many log tables near these pullouts so bring a picnic lunch!

I like the patchy patterns of the remaining snow. It looks like art (or a gigantic cow).

I didn't notice the face in the mountain until I downloaded this photo:

The road is only open from May through September due to heavy snowfalls.

The Pasterze Glacier extended much farther only 10 years ago:

Grossglockner, Austria's highest peak, is somewhere on the left. This could be a great place to enjoy a coffee with your views.

Heidi, are you there?

Overlooking the pristine village of Heiligenblut:

I used to do some volunteer work for Vienna's Natural History Museum. The former director there thought that the concept of national parks was America's best idea.


  1. what a great road. I'm guessing you didn't have the roof down for this one!

  2. Hi, Aidan,
    Actually, when the sun peeked out (see the last few photos) we did put the roof down. Then it started raining again....

  3. Hello Aidan

    Very beautiful pictures, I really like the one of the tree on the side of the mountain in clouds. It reflects the natural beauty in it's simplicity. I would appreciate it if I could use this photograph to illustrate my poetry over the years.

    Thank you, Brian



    She walks with crystal drifters
    Light shines in a midnight sky
    In sentiment and emotion seas waves in passing by
    The silver mist on mountains cascades into ice alight
    Where a forest dreams with the mountain streams
    Reflects waves with crystal light
    In timeless drift it spins and lifts
    Draws a breeze with ice and sky
    If nothing else she smiles to herself
    It’s simply clouds they’re drifting by

    1. Hi Brian, you may use that photo if you give credit to marthasvienna. Thanks. Nice poem. BTW my name is not Aidan.