Austria 2010

How long does outdoors apparel last? That’s a question being studied by RED (Re-use, Explore, Discover), a project running in conjunction with the University of Leeds. I am one of the Trail readers asked to wear and use stuff over the next 18 months. I have Paramo clothing, Scarpa boots, and a Vaude sleeping bag. Whenever I use the gear, I will blog about my trips here at Headlife.


Look down the Traunsee in Austria’s Salzkammergut and you’ll see a little blob of rock rising above the village of Traunkirchen. Dwarfed by the surrounding peaks it may be, but as a first “mountain” for my children (10, 6, 5) it did nicely. Trudging up the steps into the forest, J. thought he was climbing up to the Jade Palace in Kung Fu Panda. Despite the trudge, I counted only three whines coming from M., my youngest. Her little legs barely managed to step over most of the logs and roots, but with daddy’s help we made it to the ridge from where the views of the Traunsee spurred us merrily on to the top. Of course, this being Austria we found a cosy little hütte near the summit where we drank Cokes and played a game called warum immer ich? Plenty of ‘ach! so tüchtig’ (oh, so brave!) greeted my children from passing Austrians.

A little less pleasant — well, a lot less pleasant actually — is the grim reminder of Nazi crimes one finds in Ebensee just below our hike. In 1943 the Nazis established a satellite camp of Mauthasen in Ebensee. The inmates were tasked with blasting massive rock caverns to house the German rocket programme. Nearly 9000 people died. For me, the sight of the Traunstein is a happy memory. For others, it stood guard over their suffering.

Next to Erlakogel, the Traunstein’s slightly smaller sister. No hütte nor via ferrata, just a plod. Normally the views would make it worth it. Alas, it chucked it down and we got totally soaked. In Snowdonia I would have packed more stuff. Turns out that downpours in Austria also make you wet and cold. Who would have thought? I discovered that Paramo windproof jackets aren’t that waterproof and that my Scarpa boots would have benefitted from some gaiters.

Away from the Salzkammergut for a day, I decided to march the family part way up Hochkönig in the Berchtesgaden Alps near Salzburg. Our aim was the Bertgenhütte which I had reached in 2008 but M.’s legs gave up before we could reach it. Still, we enjoyed the marvellous views and an hour frolicking in the stream.

Finally, Traunstein, the watchman of the Salzkammergut. With two young boys in tow, I decided to take the “easy” route (Mairalmsteig), but it still represents a steep, 1200m scramble. The boys were marvellous, thoroughly deserving their appellation of “mountain goats.”

From Austria 2010


  1. Wow! This place looks incredible. Our family is currently planning a trip to Austria next year. We have friends that live in Vienna.


  2. I am, once again, insanely jealous at your casual trompings about in mountain paradise. I’ve spent a few days in the alps around the French/Italian/Swiss meeting (particularly Lauterbrunnen, love that place) but haven’t made it to Austria yet.


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