Dachstein Krippenstein – snowshoeing in the Alps next to Hallstatt
April 30, 2019
If you are visiting Hallstatt, you may want to spend some time outside the village too. During our short 2 day visit, besides the village, the Unesco World Heritage Viewpoint and the salt mine we also conquered the top of Krippenstein, although I admit that we took it very slow and easy everywhere.
Krippenstein is basically one of the peaks of the Dachstein mountain range, and it can be reached from Obertraun, the small village next to Hallstatt. The car park is approximately 6-7 km from the center of Hallstatt.
How do we reach the top of the mountain?
Mostly by cable car. At least I wouldn’t hit the way up on feet (I don’t even know if it’s allowed), the ones who would, must be very fit, willing and vicious. Actually I believe it is physically possible because skiers have slid from the top all the way to the parking lot, so there is sure a regular road that has no cliffs. But it might take a whole day to climb up. And anyways, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking on the top so it makes sense to save some energy for that. So just choose the lift.
If approaching by vehicle the cable car, it’s hard to get lost as the direction for Dachstein – Krippenstein in Obertraun is well outlined.
From Hallstatt bus 542 takes us all the way to the parking. It runs approximately every 1-1,5 hours between 8:30 and 16:30 and it costs 2,50 EUR one-way.
Snowshoeing or walking to the sites
In order to reach the top of Krippenstein, we have to use 2 lifts, that run every 15 minutes each. From the first one just follow the crowd to the second and it starts immediately everyone moves in and in a few minutes it will fly us to the hilltop.
The top of the mountain can be visited all year around. During wintertime, when the mountains are covered in snow, it is advisable to rent snowshoes, not only because it’s fun to walk with a jeti-sized sole on our feet in the knee-high snow, but also because it will make things easier. For the snowshoes they charge an extra 5 EUR fee to the lift ticket.
There are 3 paths that are nicely and very visibly marked every 30-40 meters on yellow boards.
On the bottom of the mountain, when we got into the ski lift, we had a beautiful, sunny weather with a temperature of around 10 degrees. When we got out on the top, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Snow clouds covered the sky, it was snowing and strong wind was blowing the ice crystals into our faces so much that we couldn’t see anything without sunglasses. I don’t even understand how my fellow traveler was able to absolve this without an eye-cover.
Immediately the Delta TV show’s (it was the fourth documentary series in the history of Hungarian television and it was shown from the 1960s, My dad used to watch it in the 80s and 90s, and for some reason it burned in my retina) first pictures jumped in my mind: a small group of man pulling a sled, walking with snowshoes and visibly struggling with a snowstorm. Well, that’s how I felt we struggled with the circumstances, the only difference was that we didn’t pull a sled and we weren’t park of an Arctic expedition. We just escaped to the neighboring Austria.
Though the Welterbespirale World Heritage Site is not as famous as the 5-fingers, it is worth stopping by on the way to 5-fingers, as it is really not a long detour and from there we can continue straight to the fingers. On the way, a small chapel glorifies the hills.
We couldn’t see much from here because of the snow blowing into our eyes, but it was still (and because of that probably9 a unique experience. Specifically, the wind was so strong that it almost blew our phones out of our hands. And I honestly confess that I was a little disappointed, because in that weather we had no chance of a nice view from 5-fingers, nor because of the strong wind or because of bad visibility. Also I didn’t really feel too safe continuing out hike towards the fingers, but there was a group of local Austrians so we decided to follow them.
Distance from the ski lift: kb. 450 m
Timing: 40 minutes (2-ways) + the time spending at the viewing platform and taking pictures on the way
2) 5 Fingers viewpoint
And as we moved on I couldn’t believe what happened:the strong wind blew the clouds away, it silenced and let the sun take over the sky again. By the time we got to the 5-fingers platform, there was no soul there (we took the Austrians over), so we could enjoy the breathtaking sight only for ourselves for a few minutes.
The name of the 5-fingers came from the fact that the platform built into the rock is essentially shaped as a hand. Each “finger” has a different length and provides a variety of different experiences. At one’s end is a binocular, at another a photo frame, the middle’s bottom is made out of glass. There is also a “jump-board” that serves paragliders.
Hike up to the cross on the right from the fingers too and admire the view of the valley and the lake from another angle.
Distance from the ski lift: 1 km approximately
Timing: 1 hour (2-ways) + the time you spend there
3) Dachstein Hai (The shark)
This is the 3rd attraction here on the mountain. You have to start the hike in a completely other direction as for the other two. We’ve started off the hike but after going down a steep slope and having the feeling that the road to the shark is pretty endless (though it looked very near) we decided to turn back after about 400 meters (no snowshoes here). On one hand, we were already tired (not even mentioning how we felt after the 400 meters backwards…) and on the other hand we didn’t have too much time left as the last cable car starts the journey down at 16:40.
Distance from the ski-lift: 3,4 km approximately
Timing: 2-2,5 hours (2-ways) +the time you spend there
In addition to snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing are also available here in the winter, and the ones who require higher doses of adrenaline can enjoy ice-climbing and/or paragliding in the area.
In summer except hiking there are 2 caves that can be visited. Both are at the 1st station of the lift, one is the Ice Cave and the other the Mammoth Cave. On the border of Obertraun there is a 3rd one, the Koppenbrüller, that lures the admirers of the rock caverns. I have no personal experience of these, as they were still closed at the beginning of March, at the time of our visit. You can get more info about them on their website.
Tickets can be purchased in the ticket office at the bottom of the cable car and they accept cards or cash. The staff is super helpful and kind to everyone, sharing any information with those interested. The most popular tickets are the one below, for other options visit the website of Dachstein Krippenstein.