400 km competently maintained hiking trails and climbing
Hiking is a pleasure for your body, spirit and soul. Saalfelden Leogang, located in the heart of Salzburg's mountains, has a big variety of appealing hiking offers ready for its guests. You won't find a similar landscape - the contrastive nature of the massiv Leoganger Steinberge or the Steinernes Meer and the gentle hills of the Grasberge - anywhere else in the Salzburger Land.
There are not many leisure activities which are that simple, but at the same time as multifaceted as hiking. The transitions from a leisurley walk to a long Power Walking tour, up to a challenging mountain experience are often very smooth. There is a network of 400 kilometer long, marked hiking paths which are maintained regularly. Thats why the holiday region in the middle of Salzburg's mountains is one of the biggest and most popular hiking areas in Austria.
The Journey is the Reward - A Story about Hiking
Hiking is a boon for body and mind. Decelerated movement in nature is an ideal compensation to a bustling everyday routine. Quietness is amazingly deep here - there's only the singing of birds, the gurgling of a streamlet and the crackling of branches. I walk uphill slowly and every now and then skilled hikers overtake me, passing with a friendly "Griass di".
However, the ambition of hiking is not to reach an end - the journey is the reward. Soon I reach the mountain hut. Dairyman Tom, who is always good for a witty repartee, is serving the snack I've ordered. This year Tom is spending his eighth season on the Steinalm - one of the last mountain pastures which are only accessible by foot. Only a material ropeway is making Tom's work a little bit easier.
I take a little break and as I leave I fell like I have completely arrived in my vacations finally. Suddenly one last question pops into my mind: "What does 'Grias di' mean? Everybody seems to say that up here." Tom laughs and explains: "'Grias di' means 'Grüss dich' which is a very personal way of saying 'hello'. People in Austria feel very familiar to each other on the mountains higher than 1.000 metres" - and the Steinalm is located at an altitude of 1.268 metres above sea level.
120 years first ascent of the Fahnenköpfl
2165 m in the Leogang Steinberge Mountains
The first ascent of the Fahnenköpfl was in 1893 by the mountain guides Josef Oberlader (Priesteregger) and Sock, via the ascent known as the Priestereggkamin.
Josef Oberlader had an alpenstock with him on his ascent, planted it at the summit and tied a cloth to it, hence the name Fahnenköpfl (flag head). The iron flag currently located on the Fahnenköpfl was created in 1921 by the Christian German Gymnastics Federation. The four F ‘s in the middle was their symbol and in German stand for “Frisch – Fromm – Fröhlich – Frei“ (Fresh - Devout - Cheerful – Free).
At that time the twenty-eight year-old Oberlader was the first mountain hut keeper of the newly built Passau mountain hut nearby. He was a popular mountain guide in his time and initially travelled a lot in the Berchtesgaden Alps and the Kaiserbirge Mountains. Later, he also guided in the Dachstein area and in the Dolomites.
According to records in his guidebooks that are exhibited in the Mining Museum, he was appreciated by his guests and described as very good guide and an excellent climber. His guests included the famous mountain painter Edward Theodore Cotton.
In later years, the Fahnenköpfl was a popular mountain for climbing. The south ridge is arguably the most famous route among extreme climbers. It was first climbed as late as 1924 and mentioned by Letten Bauer and companions. This route has long been considered the most difficult in the Eastern Alps.
Albert Herzog of Leogang has this climbed this route a hundred times to date, one that even today is rated a Grade VI for difficulty.
The west wall was climbed for the first time in 1957 by Ignaz Spitzer and Helmut Hagenauer and in 1958 by Leo Steiner and Hans Hammerschmied accessed by other routes. Today several routes up to Grade VIII run through this wall.
The ridge traverse from the Fahnenköpfl to Mitterhorn is a rewarding tour for easy climbing. It was crossed for the first time in 1894 by the Hilzensauer brothers and Mr Mayrhofer from Passau.