Our second excursion took us into the high Alpine pastures of Eastern Styria, the so-called “Almenland” region, the largest contiguous mountain pasture region in the Alps. The region is most well-known for its great hiking and skiing opportunities, and every year in early summer mountain cattle are driven up onto the mountain to start their long outdoor grazing season. The region has even developed its own brand of organically raised beef called ALMO. Various restaurants in the area dedicate themselves to serving local organic beef specialties in addition to providing traditional Austrian fare.
Approaching the summit of the Rote Wand on a foggy day
We went even higher than these Alpine meadows and started a hike up the “Rote Wand” (literally translated “Red Wall”), a 1,505 m high mountain whose characteristic is a vertical rock wall whose name is derived from the red-called limestone rock that gives it its unique colouring. Usually the Rote Wand offers a phenomenal mountain panorama, but today we had caught a foggy day and we had no scenic views at all.
Here’s the whole gang after reaching the summit
After entering our name into the summit book we started our descent and came by a large herd of ibexes, large wild mountain goats that were grazing calmly beside a pond. Dozens of these large stocky animals with their impressive round horns were fascinating the hikers and my brother’s dog admired them from afar.
Huge mountain goats on top of the Rote Wand mountain
After our equally foggy hike down from the summit we stopped at the Tyrnauer Almhütte, a typical rustic Austrian mountain hut that offers drinks and simple fare to hungry hikers. The sun was finally coming out and we enjoyed a nice hot Fritattensuppe (pancake strip soup) and rye bread with cheese.
The mountain hut where we took refuge
In the early afternoon we headed down from the mountain and my brother, a gifted professional chef, cooked us a delicious rosemary chicken with vegetable rice and salad. To burn off some calories we went on a second hour and a half long hike from my home town of Weiz to the Kleine Raabklamm (the “Small Raab River Gorge”), a popular local hiking destination.
Panorama shot of my home town
Municipalities throughout Styria and Austria in general have invested great effort into expanding and signposting their system of hiking and biking trails. When I was a child, places like the Kleine Raabklamm were known mostly by local hiking enthusiasts with insider knowledge, while today all sorts of hiking paths are signposted and have been made accessible and are promoted to the wider population. Finally, after all this physical exertion we capped the day off with a delicious icecream at Gelateria Claudia, a popular Sunday hangout for icecream lovers in my home town of Weiz.
Delicious ice cream