Grossglockner – when winter comes at night

Mid October I went for a quick weekend trip to the highest peak of Austria – Grossglockner. After a sleepless night driving we arrived at the parking lot of Luckerhaus (1918 m) It costs 14 EUR per car for staying between 2 and 7 days. We repacked, had breakfast and around 10 AM started our trek. Beautiful autumn scenery and warm sun was encouraging. We were moving up fast despite heavy backpacks. We were not sure if winter shelters rooms are open with mountain huts closed already after season so we packed accordingly for a winter bivouac.  

After crossing Ködnitzkees glacier at around 3000 m and moving up a via ferrata we got to Erzherzog-Johann-Hütte (3451 m) before 3 PM. With favourable weather forecast we did not want to risk climbing the summit in one day and descending at night. We enjoyed the warm weather, blue sky. Shelter was open so we took 2 out of 4 available beds and went to sleep resting before Sunday.

Unfortunately the night brought very strong wind which we could hear outside. Much to our surprise when it got bright the scenery around us was completely transformed – there was a raging blizzard outside and heavy clouds. You could hardly see anything. Fresh snow was everywhere. We tried to wait for 2 hours hoping for an improvement but to no avail.

We had but one choice – to go down and return home empty-handed this time. Still I was happy to spend more time in the Alps.

A short video clip from the trip.


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