Tuesday 29th July: Tux
Up early and so excited with what today has in store. We turned Homer upside down to get hiking boots, bob hats, gloves, jackets and of course, Craig’s jumper. He wont go anywhere slightly cool with his diving jumper.
Once kitted up off we set off and purchased our ski lift passes before embarking upon ski lift no 1. The ski resort is open all year round, so quite unique and the only one in Austria and seems strange for skiers and hikers all mixed together on one slope (in equal quantities). The 1st lift took up to Sommerbergalm at 2100 m with a temperature of 10.
The ice palace was discovered by chance in 2007. It is basically an little world underneath and inside the Huntertuxer Glacier. Lying deep underneath the ski slops this natural wonder is both beautiful and intriguing (and bloody cold). Only accessible from the top of Gefrorene Wand. The glacier is a sheet of ice that is trapped between two mountains and due to height and altitude the glacier keeps on growing. basically more frozen moisture falls that melts hence the growth (ignoring climate change).
After a walk around we took the 2nd ski lift to Tuxer Fernerhaus at 2660 meters and temperature of 6. The lift got steeper and steep and the waterfalls underneath go bigger and faster, the view was breath taking. At the second point they had just finished a new restaurant and lodging. It was pretty impressive with state of the art facilities. We watched the skiers and boarders come down the slope and then decided to have a hot chocolate and cinnamon roll. After a bit of brunch we walked around including a peak at the rather smelly bat cave. Once again, we got Michele some rock! It was getting rather cold so time to bring out the bob hats!
The we went up in the 3rd lift to Gefrorene Wand at 3250 meters and a temperature of 1, it was blinking freezing. Craig’s face says it all. The cloud was pretty think, so we couldn’t really take any photo’s for the cable car.
After putting on our hard hats we waiting for the guide. It was a fair old jaunt down the slope, which we didn’t expect. The weather wasn’t the best and you couldn’t see more than 20ft in front, so we had no idea where we were going. At the entrance, we dropped to the back and let everyone else go first. This way we could take our time rather than rush around. Inside the glacier tunnels were very small and they just smaller and smaller. Then every so often we had to climb up and down step ladders to reach the next level. Ice on aluminium ladders is pretty slippy, so we had to have our wits about us. If you were slightly claustrophobic then you would have freak out in this place. At times I had no idea if I was going up or down, it was like an icy rabbit warren. Inside it lovely. Glacier lakes, holes, crystal ceiling & walls, frozen waterfalls and plenty stalactites. Every so often they had pink or blue lights to light up a cheesy kinda of object like a hand or cross. Other than the cheesy bits it was really good and it was a lot more challenging that we imagined. Not sure how deep we actually went but guess it was around 30 metes, as that was the location of the glacier lake.
In England the health and safety officers would have a field day, but here they don’t have the same regulations which allows things to be ‘at your own risk’ which is much better. Once out of the glacier we had the hike up to the top of the mountain. I was physically shattered at the end and ready for hot drink to warm my cold tootsies.
Back out the Glacier and the weather was getting worse, so we hopped on the ski lift and made our was down to Homer. On the way down Craig did some fab poses…bono style. We had a bloody good laugh and lots of fun, which feels great especially after a few crap weeks.
Oh we also passed Team GB under 16 ski team.
Keeping the best until last…Inside the glacier I placed my hand on the glacier wall. I always carry a little bit of Russell where ever I go, so if I see a special place then I can sprinkle and share. I placed a little bit of Russell in my hand and press him in to the glacier, so he will be around for millions of years.