|Image: view from the Spannagelhaus to the north.|
|Location:||A12 Exit 39 Wiesing/Achensee/Zillertal, 169 south, turn right in Mayerhofen into Tuxer Tal. From Hintertux at the end of the road take the Hintertuxer Gletscherbahn to the Ferner Gletscherhaus. The Spannagelhaus is 10 min downhill.|
|Open:||All year daily.|
|Fee:||Adults 150 ATS, Children (10-16) 75 ATS, Groups (15+) Adults 130 ATS, Children (10-16), school children 45 ATS.|
|Classification:||Karst cave river cave marble. (Jurassic Hochstegenkalkmarmor).|
|Dimension:||A=2,521m asl, L=4,144m, D=25m.|
Ernest Jacoby, Günter Krejci (1992):
Die Höhle beim Spannagelhaus und ihre Umgebung,
Tuxer Alpen (Tirol)
Wissenschaftliche Beihefte zur Zeitschrift "Die Höhle", 26, Verband österreichischer Höhlenforscher, Wien 1992 ()
|Address:||Hüttenpächter Josef Klausner, A-6293 Tux 223, Tel: +43-5287-87707, Fax: +43-5287-86162|
|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.
|02-JUL-1994||opened to the public.|
|1995||visitors part expanded.|
|Image: a dolly tub with the typical shape: circular with vertical rims. The rock in the dolly tub was turned around by the water forming the tub and becoming roud itself.|
The Spannagel Cave is the highest show cave of Austria. It was developed by Josef Klausner the landlord of the Spannagelhaus.
A trip to the Spannagel cave is either strenuous or expensive: this cave is located at the glacier of Hintertux high up the mountain, 2,521m asl. So you have two possibilities: either you walk up to the cave or you take the cable car. This cable car is mainly for the skiers, who have an ideal situation here. In winter there are several ski routes down into the valley, in summer skiing is still possible on the glacier. At the lower rim of the glacier is the Spannagelhaus, a typical alpine hut. To get there you must take the lower two of three subsequent cable cars. The Spannagelhaus is 150m below the station.
|Image: This dolly tub shows the structure of the marble very well.|
There is no ticket office for the cave, you just buy your tickets from the waitress in the hut. The tours start every hour, and you can efficiently use the waiting time for a snack. Then the visitors are taken to a small room with some equipment. All visitors get helmets, lamps and a special raincoat with the logo of the cave on the back. Skiers who want to visit the cave get also wellingtons, as it is not a good idea to visit the cave in skiing boots.
Now the tour starts, and after a few steps we reach the entrance to the cave, which is just 20m below the hut in the cliff face. An iron bar gate locks the cave. We enter, the cave, and from the very first moment we see the typical nature of the cave. A rather narrow, wild and wrinkled passage through dark grey, striped marble.
The tour goes down the main passage, which is comparably spacious, the path is a little rough, more like a trail in the mountains, not as expected from a show cave. We cross two or three small rooms, which are just widenings of the passage. In one room is a bridge to cross a now dry ravine. The whole cave feels like walking through a Klamm, which is the local name for a slot canyon, a narrow and deep ravine.
The tour is now reaching its deepest point. A drop makes it impossible for the tourists to follow the main passage further on. Cavers have continued and explored four more kilometers, which go down the hill. There are two more exits, one in the middle of a cliff face and one right at the lower station of the cable car.
But the tour has to go backwards now. We take another passage which goes sideways, twisted and mazelike, to reunite with the main passage close to the cave entrance. The first part is called Dünndarm (small intestine), and as I am a bit heavy, the guide wonders if I will fit through. To be honest, with my belly and my photo bag its a bit tricky, but I enjoy the squeeze. A really narrow but high passage, meandering like a snake, and only a few meters long.
Now we follow some low side passages, climb up iron ladders and duck under low ceilings, until we reach a passage which runs more or less parallel to the main passage, and is only a bit smaller. We follow this passage upwards, nearly to the surface, but the exit is blocked by debris. Through another side passage we reach the main passage close to the exit and leave the cave.
|Image: a cave passage.|
This description of a visit may have convinced you, that this cave is only suitable for cavers. But that is not true, the cave is developed and has electric light. There are some narrow and low passages, and some iron ladders, so it is definitely not suitable for people which are physically not able to hike some distance and climb a bit. Caving or climbing experience is not needed for this cave. And the most interesting experience of a visit outweighs the strenuousness.
This cave is exceptional in many ways, and extremely interesting. First of all: this cave is not in the typical alpine karst, which are two broad bands of limestone or dolostone mountains along the northern and southern rim of the Alps. The center of the alps is formed of crystalline rocks, granite, gneiss, slate, and so on. This are not soluble rocks, and there are no caves in the central Alps. This cave is the big exception. It is located right in the middle of this area, in a thin layer of marble. The crystalline rocks are formed by plutonic processes deep inside the earth, and heat and pressure transformed a thin layer of limestone into dark marble. Then it was folded and uplifted, until it was 2,500 meters high.
Now the glacier started its eroding work. and the covering rocks were removed. The folded band was truncated and so it runs through the flank of the mountain in an irregular shape. In warmer times, like today, the glaicier stops above this band. Melting water runs down on the surface of the impermeable rocks, until it reaches the marble. Here it enters the cracks and fills them until it finds an exit, much deeper where the marble layer again reaches the surface. So the marble was used by the water for thousands of years and it reappeared in resurgences far below. This is how the cave was formed.
Several remains of the cave forming processes were found inside the cave, which helps us to understand, how it developed. There are rubbles of crystalline rock in the cave, which were transported, rounded and brought into the cave by running water. We can imagine how big the force of the water was to transport those head sized boulders.
The cave has numerous dolly tubs. They are typical for a river cave. This cave is a river cave, despite the lack of a river nowadays. The reason why there is no river any more is easy: the glacier became much smaller in this warm period we are in, so it melts at another point and the melting water uses another way to flow down into the valley.