Photo from the World: Terror

Looking Down a Mountain

Looking Down a Mountain

I’m terrified of heights. Cable cars, ferris wheels, ladders, mountains, chairs, multi-story shopping malls, open escalators…just writing that list clenches my stomach. But I also love beautiful views, hiking, seeing the world and having functioning light bulbs, so I choke it down and go places that scare the beejezus out of me. The hike, cable car, and second hike up to Eisreisenwelt, the world’s largest explored ice cave, near Salzburg, Austria was full of gorgeous, sickening views like this one.

Completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, or even the photo, the guidebooks grossly underestimate the need to discuss getting to the cave. It’s work. The sort of work that on the climb down, you realize that your taxed muscles are vibrating. I’m a distance runner, and it was hard work. You drive up the mountain to the parking lot, then you walk uphill, about 3/4 mile, uphill (in case I didn’t mention that) to the cable car. You take a harrowing (if you’re me, apparently quite enjoyable if you’re everyone else) 3 minute ride up the mountain (that shaves off about 2-3 hours of more hiking up the mountain). And then, you hike another 3/4 mile or so uphill to the ice cave. At the ice cave, you have more than 700 stairs to climb up through the cave. That’s approximately a 50-story building. It’s well worth all the work, but the guide books say that you have a 20-minute walk to the cable car, and a 20-minute walk to the cave.

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