Eisriesenwelt

The World of the Ice Giants


Useful Information

Location: Near Werfen (Salzburg). From Werfen use the Eisriesenwelt road (only cars, taxi from Werfen centre) to the parking lot. 10 min comfortable walk to the restaurant Wimmerhütte (1080 m) and the station of the Eisriesenwelt cableway. It takes 4 min to the Dr. Friedrich Oedl-Haus on top of the Achselkopf (1575 m asl), starting point of the guided tours.
Open: MAY-JUN daily 9-15:30, tours every two hours.
JUL-AUG daily 9-16:30, tours every hour.
SEP-OCT daily 9-15:30, tours every two hours.
[2012]
Fee: Cable car plus cave: Adults EUR 20, Children (4-14) EUR 10, Cavers EUR 18, Mountaineers EUR 18.
Groups (15+) Adults EUR 18.
[2012]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Speleologyice cave.
Light: Carbide lamps and magnesium ribbon.
Dimension: VR=-407 m, L=42,000 m, A=1,641 m asl.
Portal: H=18 m, W=20 m.
Guided tours: D=120 min, 15 min walk to the cave entrance included. L=800 m. V=200,000/a
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Nikolaus Schaffer (1987): Alexander Von Mörk 1887-1914, Der Entdecker der Eisriesenwelt als Maler
27 pp 19 B&W 20 colour photos. HB In German.
This is a luxurious book, printed on art paper, to commemorate the birth of Alexander von Mörk, the discoverer of the Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave, near Salzburg in Austria. Alexander von Mörk was a noted artist and many of his paintings illustrating local caves are reproduced herein. Complete with potted biography, this is an interesting account of a famous Austrian caver, tragically killed in the first months of the Great War.
O. Lehmann (1922): Die große Eishöhle im Tennengebirge (Salzburg). (Eisriesenwelt)
[The Great Ice Cave in Tennengebirge (Salzburg). (Eisriesenwelt)]
in: Speläologisches Jahrbuch [Vol] III. Jahrgang, Heft [Part] 3/4 1922. [Speleological Year Book published in Vienna by the Speleological Institute.] 51-168 pp 27 plates 75 figs etc.
R. Oedl (1922): Die Vermessung der grossen Eishöhle im Tennengebirge (Salzburg), in: Speläologisches Jahrbuch [Vol] III, S. 5-30, Salzburg.
Address: Eisriesenwelt Gesellschaftm.b.H., Getreidegasse 21, A-5020 Salzburg.
Dr. Friedrich Oedl-Haus, Tel: +43-6468/248. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1849 discovered.
1912 first expedition into the cave.
1920 developed as show cave.

Description

the mountains near Werfen from the valley. The Eisriesenwelt is located in this mountain face, but not visible on this picture.
photography
View from inside the entrance.

The Eisriesenwelt is the largest ice cave of the world. The halls are decorated with all kinds of ice formations, gigantic columns and towers of ice, ice waterfalls and glaciers. Huge chambers totally bare of any speleothems with several meters of ice on the floor, passages almost completely filled with ice, and passages which are completely filled with ice. Sometimes it is necessary to cut a tunnel through the ice for the path. At certain locations the ice melts and refreezes and forms icicles.

This cave is a so-called dynamic ice cave, it is located in a height above sea level where the average temperature is below zero. Several entrances to the cave allow chilly air currents to flow in and out. So it is not a cold trap like most other ice caves, the climate here is actually so cold and the average temperature outside is slightly below 0 °C. So the ice formations change slightly every year, because warmer air during late summer causes them to melt and fresh water freezes on top in spring. The changing ice makes it impossible to build trails or electric light inside the cave. The paths move with the ice, and must be replaced regularly. They are constructed of wooden planks, which can be disassembled and then reassembled for the new paths. The light system would be quite difficult because there is no electricity, some kind of generator would be needed. But the main problem is that the lamps and the wires would be destroyed after some time by the moving ice. Visitors are equipped with carbide lamps and the most spectacular sights are illuminated by the guide by burning magnesium ribbon.

The Eisriesenwelt is located in the west wall of the Hochkogel in theTennengebirge. On days with good weather there is a spectacular view of the surrounding mountain ranges of the Hohe Tauern from the huge cave entrance. The trail to the cave goes up in serpentines through the steep limestone wall. The part of the trail at risk of rock fall is covered by a concrete roof. In front of the entrance there is a cave toilet in a small natural cave, use it because there is no other possibility on the two hour tour.

The caves were formed during the late Tertiary. They were formed before the alps were formed and the lifted with the surrounding limestone rocks. Obviously some parts of the cave, especially the area around the entrance were massively modified by the climate. But the main processes are mechanical, primarily caused by the freezing and melting of water.

The entrance to the caves is not visible from the valley. Since this steep, tricky rock was very hard to climb in former times, the cave was not discovered until 1849. Even though an enthusiastic report was published about the exploration, the world did not take notice of the caves for another 30 years. This has changed completely, currently about 200,000 tourists come here every year, and be aware that the season here is mostly July and August. A mountain road from Werfen leads up to the cable car station. But it is only allowed to drive up to the ticket office, and on Weekends and during summer holidays you must park at Werfen. We strongly recommend to visit the cave in spring or autumn, or at least very early in the morning. You should be aware, that a visit to this natural monument takes about 5-6 hours, including:

  1. finding a parking lot
  2. the ride up to the ticket office from Werfen with a shuttle bus
  3. purchasing a ticket
  4. walking to the cable car
  5. waiting for the next cable car
  6. the walk to the entrance of the cave
  7. a guided tour of two hours
  8. and of course the same for the way back in opposite order.

Also the temperature is quite low, below 0 °C, and there might be a strong wind at some points. So we strongly recommend to take this trip serious. Pack a backpack with a warm jacket and a wind resistant jacket, a warm cap and probably gloves. Take some food and something to drink with you. You can skip this if you intend a visit to the Dr. Oedl Haus, which we can recommend. Nevertheless, functional clothes and mountain approved walking shoes are absolutely necessary. If you want to avoid wearing a carbide lamp, for example if you plan to take pictures, we recommend to bring a headlamp. If you have a lamp the guides do not insist you take a carbide lamp.


Eisriesenwelt Gallery