Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, Austria in July.
Woke up after a good night’s sleep at Edelweißhütte Berggasthof at Grossglockner Edelweißspitze. Last night we arrived in thick fog and drizzle, when the evening was turning cooler.
At the parking area just below the last ascent to the Edelweißhütte, one could not see the other side of the area and I had to carefully circle the empty car park to find the small cobblestone road leading further up towards the Edelweißhütte gasthof, which I knew was on the top. Just was not sure if this was the right car park in the fog. I remembered the route from memory and just was not sure.
After some circling, I managed to find the cobblestone track. We could only see a few meters, but we took the path. Once you take this narrow track, you commit to it. It is virtually not possible to turn back on the narrow, steep and slippery cobblestone road. Not on our heavy Harleys, nor really on any touring bike.
Upon arrival, I guess we took the host family by surprise as they were not expecting anyone to come through the weather and there were no other guests. Regardless, we got a very warm welcome, beer, good food and garage for our bikes and a room for us to stay.
In the morning looking at the window expecting to see the mountain view, I noticed the window being covered with fog after the night’s heavy sleep. Still tired, I opened the window and to my surprise the view did not change – still foggy. Looking more carefully, it was SNOWING! In JULY!
The drizzle had turned into snow during night and we had about a foot of snow on the ground with more coming. The stay at the Edelweißhütte turned out to be one of the most memorable days of our trip. Lazy morning, snowfights and general amazement about the unexpected turn of the events.
The snow is not uncommon even during July and I have now been stuck at Edelweißspitze twice due to snow in July.
Even though the snow was as thick as 20 – 50 cm, the summer snow only covers the mountain top and as one descents just a few hundred meters, the snow quickly melts away. The key difference to winter is that the ground under the snow is not frozen and once the snow is cleared, the ground is only wet, not icy. Well, the cobblestones still were slippery and the ride down from Edelweißhütte was exiting. The snow was cleared by using a broom sweeping a narrow path down the track for us to ride.
And once at Edelweißhütte, it was 25c warm with the place busy with biker groups and vintage cars, etc. I must say I prefer the snow and the forced lazy mornings in the beauty of the snowy mountains in July.