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Mariazell "Via Sacra"
Mariazell is the most important pilgrims place in Austria and end point of many pilgrim routes like the Via Sacra from Vienna to Mariazell. 1980 the Austrian Alpine Club gave all trails, leading to Mariazell the number 06. The pilgrims way from Vienna to Mariazell starts in Rodaun or rather in Perchtoldsdorf, south of Vienna. From there the trail leads you through Heiligenkreuz (Monastery), Hafnerberg (pilgrims church), Kaumberg, Kieneck, Unterberg (pilgrims church), Rohr im Gebirge, Kalte Kuchl, St. Aegyd am Neuwalde, Gscheid, Hubertussee to Mariazell. Further pilgrim ways are starting in the capitals of some of the Austrian regions, like St. Pölten, Eisenstadt, Graz, Linz and Klagenfurt.
But now to our intentions go on pilgrimage and to our route:
In Winter, during a not very difficult Alpine skiing tour, a friend of mine nearly fell down a rock. Traude, one of the group swore that she will make a pilgrimage - doesn't matter how this story would end. So she decided to join a group of pilgrims of the Katholische Jugend (Catholic youth organisation) which went to the "Central European Catholic Day" (Mitteleuropäischer Katholikentag (22.5.-23.5.2004)). Together with youth from Slovakia and Hungary we went three days from Weissenbach an der Triesting to Mariazell.
Day 1, Weißenbach an der Triesting - Furth - Kieneck - Unterberg - Rohr im Gebirge:
The first day is in my opinion the nicest section of this hiking trip. We started at Weißenbach an der Triesting and through Kieneck and Unterberg (two mountains, one 1100m high and one 1300m high) to the small town of Rohr im Gebirge (about 35km and more than 1000m of altitude difference). The way is on many parts on forest roads only the section Furth an der Triesting - Kieneck is on foot paths.
Day 2, Rohr im Gebirge - Kalte Kuchl - St. Aegyd am Neuwalde - Kernhofer Gscheid:
On the second day we made about 30 kilometres and 800 metres of altitude difference. From Rohr im Gebirge we had to walk about one mile on the road, later the Via Sacra turns to the right and form there we had to went on forest roads and foot paths until we reached the small settlement of Kalte Kuchl (cold kitchen). From there you have to go to Ochsensattel (ox saddle) and further on forest roads to Hochreith.
At a small chapel we went steep down to St. Aegyd, from where we had to go on small roads to the end of the Unrecht Traisen valley. In the last hour we had to climb 300 metres up until we reached the high plateau of Gscheid.
Day 3, Kernhofer Gscheid - Krumbachsattel - Hubertus see - Kreuzberg - Mariazell:
With only 20 kilometres and not even 100 metres of altitude difference the last section was in fact the shortest. The enervating thing about this day is, that you have to walk most of the time on roads. From Gscheid you have to walk to Krumbachsattel (Saddle) and from there to Hubertussee (Lake). From the lake you have to follow a small road until you reach the main road to Mariazell.
If you are not willing (and I would understand this) to go all the time on roads, you have to possibilities to avoid long hikes on concrete:
Version 1: About one Mile after Hubertussee there is the begin of a hiking trail (forest road) to Habertheuersattel (saddle, 200m altitude difference from the crossing). From the saddle there is a steep path down to the valley and later a small road to St. Sebastian, a neighbour village of Mariazell.
Version 2: At Habertheuersattel you have to turn right in order to climb Bürgeralpe (1270m), which is a mountain East of Mariazell (+200 metres altitude difference from Habertheuersattel). From the summit there is a hiking trail which leads you directly to the city centre of Mariazell.
You see, that the Via Sacra is most of the time a hike on roads, so as an alpinist I would suggest a more Alpine pilgrims route. Next time I will make the following tour:
Alpine Version of the Via Sacra:
Mödling (railway station) - Anninger - Lindkogel - Pottenstein (railway station, possible starting point) - Hoher Mandling - Piestingtal (railway station, starting point) - Dürre Wand - Schneeberg - Schwarzau im Gebirge (bus) - Obersberg - Gippel - Göller - Gscheid - Hubertussee - Bürgeralpe - Mariazell.
You would need approximately one week for this tour, but the awesome scenery will let you forget the strain. But now to the pictures of this trip.
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