Close to nature

Naturpark Weißbach in the Salzburger Saalachtal

We have often driven past the big climbing wall in the middle of Weißbach but today we are actually going to stop in the mountain climbers’ village. We would like to find out more about the Weißbach Naturpark and the many opportunities this scenic treasure offers in winter. 

In 2007 the Naturpark Weißbach was officially opened. Since then, locals as well as guests have been visiting this beautiful cultural landscape with its different types of traditional landscapes. In the summer you can walk through the impressive Seisenbergklamm and forget everything else in the roaring of the wild, primal stream. Or you can hike right in the heart of the Naturpark – to the three communal alpine pastures, Kallbrunnalm, Litzlalm and Kammerlingalm. As a guest of the Naturpark Weißbach you can also stroll along themed trails; find out background information at info points; take part in guided walks; attend Naturpark workshops and much more besides. We are amazed at the numerous and diverse possibilities offered to us here. Great!

Welcome to the Sporting Winter Wonderland

Even in winter the Naturpark Weißbach is definitely worth a visit. The mountain climbers’ village Weißbach is particularly rich in mountains and is encircled by five massifs: the Leoganger and Loferer Steinberge, the Steinernes Meer, the Hochkalter and the Reiter Alp. So it is no surprise that Weißbach is the starting point for many interesting, high-alpine ski tours: to the popular Seehorn north of the Dießbach Reservoir, where you can enjoy a glorious view at a height of 2,300m or to the 2,484 metre high Kammerlinghorn – an imposing panoramic mountain belonging to the Berchtesgadener Alps which attracts experienced ski tourers.  The tour via the Ebersbergkar to the Birnhorn is particularly rewarding. At 2,634 metres, the Birnhorn is the highest peak in the Leoganger Steinberge and offers fantastic views into the distance. We talked to Eva Schider, a trained mountain guide. She told us about her favourite ski tour and gave us an interesting insight into the life of a mountain guide. But more about that later.

Everything your Heart Desires: from Snowshowing to Ice-Climbing

First we would like to know what is on offer in the Naturpark in winter – and that’s actually quite a lot, as we soon discover. For example, you can hire snowshoes in the Naturpark centre and experience the Weißbach alms as a snowy winter wonderland, where flowers bloom and cows graze in summer. Those who would rather walk in a group can simply join one of the snowshoe hikes. Cross-country skiers are well provided for with the trails in the valley and in Hintertal. There is a skating rink directly at the Klamm forecourt and there is a toboggan run behind the church – both are illuminated at night. A further highlight are the ice-climbing walls. The thin ice bands and frozen waterfalls, which form on the extensive rock walls, freeze in winter to create bizarre, beautiful ice formations, which attract more ice-climbers each year.  Depending on weather, Weißbach itself offers gorges and smaller waterfalls, such as Dießbach, Mühlbach, Buchweißbach.

Proud of this Gem of Nature

There are so many possibilities in one Naturpark – we are enthused. And the Weißbachers themselves are proud of this gem which they cultivate. We have the impression that the locals are aware of the responsibilities the Naturpark brings – a sustainable use and further development of this little paradise. An inhabitant of Weißbach, who enjoys the Naturpark and its possibilities day-to-day, is Eva Schider. The trained mountain guide expertly guides interested people through the natural world – in summer as well as winter. We talked to her about the mountains in general and the Naturpark in particular.

Interview with Eva Schider, Mountain Guide

“You Feel Yourself and Nature“ Eva Schider is a “native of Weißbach“ – her parents were born here. She grew up in Weißbach herself and after ten years in “exile“ in Salzburg, has returned here again. “My parents took me up into the mountains from a very early age and even as a child I wanted to walk everywhere“, says Eva and smiles. “That cost my parents a lot of patience.“ As a teenager she began to climb with her father. Even then ski touring was her hobby. “Becoming a mountain guide was just coincidence – a friend took me along to the entrance exam“, Eva explains. “When I passed that, I thought – ok then, I’ll do it.“ After completing her training she quit her profession as a teacher and has been a professional mountain, ski and canyoning guide ever since.

Eva, why do you like to go to the mountains?
The mountains ground you, they ground my guests too. Suddenly, everything that’s down below doesn’t matter anymore. You have to be focused on the here and now. Everything else is somehow always different – you have to think about how to do something and react to what nature and the mountain throw at you. You feel yourself and the nature, the wind, the cold, the sun. You can go to and beyond your limits and you are entirely responsible for your actions and the consequences.

What is your favourite ski tour in the Naturpark Weißbach?
The Kühkranz.

Why this route – what makes it so special for you? It is a very varied ski tour – short but great: you don’t go that far but it has a tremendous view. I have been up there so often, yet it looks different every time. The wind always makes such beautiful, exciting formations.

Why are you fascinated by ski touring in general? The peace. I love it! First you go up at a leisurely pace – in winter it is quiet as never before. You go slowly, everything takes a long time. Then when you start to ski down it’s suddenly fast – the contrast is wonderful! The ever-changing conditions which you have to be prepared for are also very appealing. These conditions allow a lot but you have to be ready to recognize dangers in time and react to them – otherwise it can become dangerous very quickly. It’s very special when you have the honour to create a new track. Everything looks so pristine white and there you can draw a trail.  Fantastic!

Do you have a tip for anyone who is planning a ski tour in the Naturpark Weißbach?
Yes: think of your living partners in the habitat – because even when you think you are completely alone, there are many animals around about and it is their home we are walking through. And we should respect that.

In addition, your own vigilance is important. If you pay attention to the environment, you can see what is going on in the snow – recognize signs of danger and wind – and thus correctly assess the dangers of avalanches.

Ready for your new adventure?

Did you know that …

  • a Golden Eagle pair lives in the Naturpark Weißbach?   In late winter when the mating season begins, they put on impressive flying displays in the Naturpark.
  • the Seisenbergklamm was formed around 12,000 years ago?  Towards the end of the last ice-age, the masses of ice began to melt. Particularly beautiful are the erosion potholes which have formed over the millenia due to the power of the water.
  • the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden with its spectacular high alpine touring destinations shares a border with the Naturpark Weißbach? A tour to the Hocheisspitzer or the Große Reibe is particularly rewarding.

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