On August 1st, 2017, I visited Eisriesenwelt.
A labyrinth of ice caves and cathedral-like caverns, Eisriesenwelt is the largest network of ice galleries in Europe. It was Alexander von Mork in 1912 who discovered the “world of the ice giants” that extends at least 25 miles underground. The cave are at such an elevation—over 5,000 ft. above sea level—that any meltwater or rain seeping into the caves freezes instantly. (Pictured above), The entrance is enormous and can be seen from some distance away. The hike required to the entrance, takes a couple of hours, after a spectacular gondola ride.
Instead of the usual formation of calcite stalagmites and stalactites, the Eisriesenwelt contains unusual ice formations, such as the “ice organ” and “ice chapel”, (picture below).
Icy drafts blow through the caves, ensuring the walls are covered with a layer of glittering hoar frost.
Nearby I explored a slot canyon called Liechtensteinklamm.
Legend has it that the Liechtenstein Gorge in the heart of Austria’s Salzburg state was created by the Devil when he was in a rage at being cheated out of a pact with a local blacksmith. Over many thousands of years the Grobarl River, fed by glacial meltwaters, has carved its way 900 ft. in the ground to form the canyon. As the water makes its tortuous descent, it pounds and swirls against the rock, creating incredible shapes and patterns. A footpath links a series of small bridges to allow visitors to experience the untamed cascades: at times the rock walls of the gorge are so closely juxtaposed that only the merest glimpse of the sky above is possible.