Icerisenvelt – the biggest ice cave in the world
Eisriesenwelt – Natural Limestone Ice Cave, located in Austrian Verfen, approximately 40 km south of Salzburg, in Mount Hochkel. This is the largest ice cave in the world, leaving more than 42 km deep into the Alps. Every year, Icerisenvett visits about 200,000 tourists.
Mountain chain of Tennengebirge, one of the mountain ranges in the Austrian Alps, is the largest karst plateau in the Salzburg Alps, and the icerisenvelt is located on the very edge of this plateau. Although the cave in length reaches 42 km, only its first kilometer is covered with ice – to this part of the cave and travelers. The rest of the cave is formed from limestone.
The icerisenvett was created by the River Olsa, which proceeded through mountain passes for 100 million years, eroding them. Due to erosion, the gap and cracks in limestone became more and more. In winter, when the air in the cave is warmer than outside, cold air flows reduce the temperature in the lower parts of the cave to the freezing point. Spring water from melting snow leaks through the cracks in a rock, and when the cave cold lower departments reaches, freezes and gradually turns into amazing ice formations.
Although the cave has a length of 42 km, Ice is covered only by the first kilometer, the rest of the cave consists of limestone. Since the entrance to the cave is open all year round, the cold wind blows in the cave and freezes water inside. In the summer, the cold wind in the cave blows back towards the entrance and prevents melting.
For the first time, the icerisenvett cave was officially opened with Salzburg naturalist Anton Anstelt, in 1879, although he explored only the first two hundred meters of cave. Before his discovery of the cave was known only to local residents who were afraid to enter it, considering her entrance to the devil’s abode. In 1880, the Specialt published the results of his research in the climbing journal, but he quickly forgot about this message.
Alexander von Merk, a speleologist from Salzburg, was one of the few people who remembered the opening of the post. He spent several expeditions to the cave, starting from 1912, which soon attracted other researchers. When in the First World War in 1914, the background of Merka killed, the urn with his ashes was placed in a niche in the icerisenvelt cave.
In 1920, Furonerate was built – the first base for researchers, and the first routes were installed on the mountain. Soon, tourists raised to arrive, attracted by the sudden popularity of the cave. Later, another base was built and ways were laid from Verphen and Tennec.
In 1955, a cable car was built, which had reduced a 90-minute rise to 3 minutes. Today, the Icerisenvelt cave belongs to the National Austrian Forest Commission, which has been rented by the Salzburg Association for the Cave Research Association since 1928. The Forest Commission still gets the percentage of entrance fees.
The cave is open to visits from May 1 to October 26 every year. Temperature inside is usually below zero, so for visiting warm clothes required. Raints and strong hiking shoes will not interfere. Tour and back on the cave Aisrisenvelt takes an average of one hour and 15 minutes.
Tour begins at the entrance to the cave and continues inside of the post of posts, a large room with stalagmitomit named Tower of Plait in the center. After the Tower of Assolete, everyone faces an ashes on the wall of the cave, marking the farthest item of research Anton Anstelt. From there you can see a large ice embankment – massive formation of a 25-meter height. Next is the Castle of the Chemor, named after the giant in Norwegian mythology. Here is the stalactite formation, called the curtain of friggy, or an icy authority.
Next, there is a Cathedral of Alexander von Merka, one of the largest rooms in the cave and the place where the dust of the Austrian speleologist was finishes. The final attraction of the cave – an ice palace located in a kilometer from the entrance and 400 meters under the ground. Here visitors will have to turn around and go back to the entrance.
You can get to the cave from Salzburg by train station to Verfen (Werfen), then on foot and a half hours or on a local bus (departure every 2 hours from 8.20 to 14.20) to parking, from where 20 minutes walk to the cable car station. Rising on the funicular, you need to go through another 20 minutes on foot before entering the cave (1641 m).
You can also rent a car and reach the autobahn to Vefena and then climb the mountain road to Parking. From Salzburg daily at 13.00 The bus tour of the local guide duration is about 5.5 hours.