Snow trekking in the Hochkönig Mountain Range
At the beginning of March we decided to go on fun trip – trekking with snowshoes into the mountains.
We’d heard a lot about this particular kind of activity. Plus, for us, a family with a small child, it was a great way to spend a day out in the mountains together.
Generally speaking, hiking in snowshoes is a great alternative to the summer option. This kind of activity is really developed in Austria, which the clearly marked routes speak volumes about, as well as the the places to buy and/or rent snowshoes and associated paraphernalia.
I read up on several regions in the area open for winter hikes. In essence, there are two types of routes: regular winter hiking routes (Germ. Winterwanderwege) and snowshoe hiking routes (Germ. Schneeschuhwanderwege). The first are wide, well-trodden routes which have been pre-prepared, that you can walk along with normal winter footwear, that do not require any special physical training and have clearly marked boundaries. Sometimes, they are located next to cross-country skiing routes and, in the majority of cases, with little height difference. The snowshoes routes are essentially on virgin snow. These kind of routes can go through forest, along mountains and even across mountains up to the peak. The level of the terrain’s difficulty affects the choice of snowshoe, since a flat landscape and soft snow is one thing, but slopes and drops covered in ice or glacier snow is something else entirely. You can’t get around those kind of places without crampons and sometimes without a guide who knows the area.
Our trip went along the bottom of the Hochkönig Mountain Range. We chose Arthurhaus, the Alpine hotel, as our starting point, where it’s possible to rent snowshoes and find out more about the routes. (see Information»)
An easy route was recommended to us, but we immediately started to find it difficult because of the deep snow and a steep slope at the beginning. This was especially the case for my husband who was carrying around twenty kilos on his back. Without snowshoes we’d have sunk up to our waists in snow, which would have put an end to our trip. Thanks to these amazing little contraptions, we could keep going (although admittedly not very quickly). Incidentally, snowshoeing works best with depths of a minimum of thirty centimetres of snow, otherwise they would just get worn out quickly.
Our little explorer also had a great time. You bet!
The nice thing about snowshoeing is that it lets you appreciate nature away from the bustle of everyday life. Pristine snow, beautiful views and silence. It’s in these kind of places where you really understand what “peace of mind” means.
Another special thing about snowshoe trekking is that you’re the first people to set foot there and that you can lay down your own route.
How would I rate this kind of outdoor activity? 5 out of 5. After you make a start there are other routes just around the corner.
Photos from this post and others on hikes can be seen in the album: open»
The Arthurhaus hotel and restaurant are at an altitude of 1500 and 7 km from the mountain village of Mühlbach am Hochkönig.
The hotel’s website: www.arthurhaus.at»
Up-to-date offers and prices can be found on Preise & Angebote».
Snowshoes can be rented on-site for a cheaper price than in sport shops in the local area (We paid for example €5 for half a day, compared to the minimum of €10 which was offered in the shops.
Display route to Arthurhaus» (opens in a new window)
By car, it’s south from Salzburg along the A10 and will take you just under an hour. Leave the autobahn at Pongau in the direction of Bischofshofen. Following the signs (or your satnav) takes you to the village of Mühlbach am Hochkönig, at which point you go straight up to the hotel (the turn is marked by a large sign which says “ARTHURHAUS”). The way up is quite wide and is also in use during the winter, so there shouldn’t be any problems getting through.