The Dachstein Sky Walk to Nothingness..
We first saw a picture in the newspaper; the Dachstein Glacier Stairway to Nothingness. It was almost on our route through Europe, on our way to the start of our Balkans adventure. A high mountain. A glacier. A suspension bridge. And a series of 14 steps, leading into the void. Steps that apparently required nerves of steel. The gauntlet was laid…..
First the Panoramic Cable Car
We simply had to do it. So we made the detour, got the tickets, went up in the impressive new panoramic glass gondola cable car to the Austria’s Dachstein top station at 2,700 metres.
Up to chilled air and sheer rock
As the cable car reached the summit, we could almost touch the grey and pink rock, and then stepped out into the cool summit air. And barely able to contain the excitement that a walk into nothingness inevitably brings, headed straight for the new Dachstein Suspension Bridge.
Onto the suspension bridge
We could hardly wait to walk out over 400 metres of sheer rock that forms the Austria Massif into nothing at all. On the suspension bridge, the views were outstanding and the feeling heady. But where was the stairway to nowhere?
Nowhere to be seen
It was nowhere! But it came (or rather didn’t come) with a lesson. Don’t believe what you read in the Daily Mail. The Mail’s story of how the bridge was installed and what it is like to walk on even came with pictures showing the staircase with its 14 steps. But could we find it? No!
Where’s the skywalk?
It wasn’t total fabrication; the steps are on their way, but not due to be installed until 29th July. Never mind, the bridge was worth a walk. And half way along was the entrance to a quirky ice palace.
Ice art in an Ice Palace
In a dark cavern, dug out of the glacier, in an Ice Palace, the work of five Chinese ice sculptors is on display. Some, like the speed skater, you might expect to find in an ice cave carved into a ski resort.
Ice cool Simpsons
Others, like the wonders of Egypt, and Homer Simpson, you might not. Illuminated by fibre lighting, the ice palace is as interactive as you want it to be, as well as cool and atmospheric. We slip into a sarcophagus. We crouch like a skater. We try to turn the pages of an icy book. And pose with the Simpsons
The end of the day on the mountain
When we emerge into daylight, the skiers and snowboarders are making their way down. The lifts are shut and the day is beginning to fade on Dachstein.
The snow plough sweeps the mountain. We head off for a walk away from the bridge, away from the stairway to nothingness that is nowhere to be found. Into the silent snow.
Luckily you can’t miss a glacier. Although with climatic changes perhaps we cannot be so sure of even that for long.
The attractions on Austria’s Dachstein Glacier, the most easterly of the Alps, are open till 5.30 every day in summer. You can buy a ticket for each of the individual attractions if you don’t want to do them all.
If you go after 1pm tickets are cheaper. We suggest going early or late in the day as queues for the panoramic gondola are huge once the skiers start to head back down.
The new Stairway to Nothingness will be open from 29th July. At the moment you can still have a thrill from the glass Skywalk attraction that looks down over 250 metres of sheer drop but I think the Stairway will be more of a thrill. Just make sure it’s really there before you make the journey!
Disclosure Note: Thanks to the Dachstein Glacier for providing entry to enable us to visit the Ice Palace and Suspension Bridge to bring you this story. The experience, views and opinions expressed are, as ever, entirely our own.