Kaltes Loch

Useful Information

Location: Halbengrund, 01848 Hohnstein.
(50.976913, 14.105559)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyErosional Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: W=40 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Gautschgrotte
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1881 cave named Gautschgrotte after Karl Gautsch by the Gebirgsverein für die Sächsische Schweiz (Mountain Club for Saxon Switzerland).


Gautschgrotte is quite an unusual cave, actually it is an amphitheater of vertical sandstone walls, with the peculiarity that at the foot of this sandstone wall a softer layer is eroded, forming a grotto that surrounds the entire semicircle. A cut is probably the bed of a brook, from above a small gorge, from which a brook 18 m deep falls as a waterfall over the edge. But it is not only a brook, the water emerges here directly in a spring from a water-bearing spring horizon. However, the stream seems to have little water most of the time, except perhaps in the spring when the snow melts, or right after heavy rain. At least enough water comes in to create a nice ice waterfall in cold years. It seems the Gautschgrotte was formed by retrograde erosion of the waterfall, but considering today's pouring rates, it was probably at a different time, probably at the end of the last ice age.

The path to the Gautschgrotte starts in Hohnstein and is suitable for children. You start on the Hohnstein nature trail until you reach the turnoff to the Gautschgrotte, then you take a narrow path into the rock cauldron.

As early as June 1881, the Gebirgsverein für die Sächsische Schweiz (Mountain Club for Saxon Switzerland) placed a commemorative plaque in the grotto to honour one of its deserving members. The cave was named after the local historian and lawyer Karl Gautsch. Carl Friedrich Constantin Gautsch was born in 1810 near Döbeln. The lawyer worked as a court director and was engaged in local history research. In 1848/49 he took part in the revolutionary uprisings, which earned him a twenty-year prison sentence in Waldheim. Thanks to a pardon and amnesty, he only had to serve seven years. His work Älteste Geschichte der Sächsischen Schweiz nebst den frühesten topographischen Nachrichten was published posthumously in 1880. Why the Gebirgsverein named the cave after him is unclear; he had no special connection to the place, except that he once described it in an article in the association's journal.

They put up a massive stone memorial plaque, but already in the 1970s the sandstone began to crumble. By 2000, half of the plaque had already fallen off, and soon it was completely illegible. In the meantime, the sculptor Mathias Kajer from Berggießhübel has installed a new memorial plaque made of Posta sandstone, which is harder and should last longer.

The hike to the Gautschgrotte is short and very easy. If you want to go a little further, you can visit the through-cave Kleiner Kuhstall and the Diebshöhle, which are located on the main hiking trail Halbengrund. Of course, as always in Saxon Switzerland, there are a variety of trails and everyone can pick a route that suits their preferences.