Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves

Today (Tuesday) we traveled south from Salzburg by train to the town of Werfen to visit the largest ice cave in the world.

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Stormy views from half way up, luckily it only snowed a little bit, no major rain

The town is also known for its cliff mounted fortress which we admired from a far.

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Werfern’s fortress

 

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Snow greeted us when we got off the gondola.

The ice cave complex, which is 42 kilometers long forms huge seas of ice over the winter when wet cold air blows through the cave and moisture is deposited, some of the formations have built up over 100+ years.

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View of the cave entrance and the covered path cut into the mountain for the last bit of the hike.

 

It was 5000 feet above sea level on the face of a mountain in the Alps.  It took trains, cabs, trams, a gondola and 1.5 hours of hiking to make the trip but it was well worth it.  We were above the snow and treeline and the views were amazing as we hiked up.

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Ice growing up

 

After the hike the guided tour took us 1 kilometer into the depth of the cave, covering 1,400 stairs.  It is hard to describe the awesomeness of the space and atmosphere but is was unlike anything else we have done.

 

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Ice growing down

The complex has no lighting inside.  Every 4-6 people are given 1 oil lamp and the guide uses burning magnesium strips to illuminate major features.  So to recap, dark, cold, vast and humbling.

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Looking out from the gathering point at the cave mouth.