Monday, 27 July 2015

Glossglockner mountain (Nathanial)

Our next stop is the Grossglockner mountain which holds the Pasterze glacier. I never thought I would see an actual glacier, I thought I would only ever see these on the telly, so I'm pretty excited by this one.

We arrive at our next campsite which is in the 'Hohe Tauern' national park. The roads have been breathtaking, and to finish off the scene, the campsite owner was wearing lederhosen!

The next day we drive forty four kilometers over the mountain to a maximum of 2500 meters in altitude, the peak itself is 3800 meters, but can only be done on foot.

The Glossglockner High Alpine Road

As we are passing lots of areas covered in snow, it's all too much for Tom, and he makes us pull in so he can have a play. We stop by a small group of waterfalls and a lake surrounded by what's left of the winter snow. It's surprisingly soft, soft enough infact for Alfie to make snowballs and terrorise us. To Tom's disappointment though, it wasn't quite snowman material.

Five minutes later, one of these were in tears "it was only a snowball"
It might be sunny, but it was getting chilly here

He got over it, Alf didn't


                                          After our frolics in the snow, we reached the car park where the glacier is. The mountains are all still covered in snow on the peaks and are stunning.

Although the glacier is the largest in the east of the Alps, I couldn't help but think it was a bit small. There are comparison pictures in the information centre showing what it looked like over the years, I think I was expecting it to look like it did a hundred years ago. With global warming, it is shrinking at an alarming rate. Nevertheless, it was still extremely impressive and I was well chuffed to see it.

In its day, the valley was filled with the glacier
All we need is a sled now

The magnificent Pasterze glacier
Now for the descent. Instead of just driving down the other side of the mountain, the road went through the whole mountain range. One minute we were driving down steep descents, then up inclines.

Twisty roads were challenging the brakes
But beautiful to look at
As lovely as it was to drive through snowy mountains, the brakes were starting to make some nasty noises, and give off even nastier smells. We decided to pull in and have dinner on the mountain to give the brakes time to cool down. As I inspected them, tremendous heat was being pumped out through the holes in the wheels. I only put the brake pads on two months ago so I was thinking the pads were just over heating and would be alright once they cooled down.

And through the mountains we go
It was now getting early evening so we decided the brakes had long enough to cool down and set off. The grinding noise coming from the brakes sounded like metal on metal, but this was impossible as the brake pads were new. Regardless of what I thought, I definitely recognised the noise. We drove in second gear all the way down, having the equivalent of Snowdon to go in descent (1000 meters).

We got to the bottom of the mountain and thankfully only had about ten kilometers left to drive to the campsite, but at this point the brakes were grinding even without them being used, as if they were sticking on. This was not good! We limped all the way to the campsite with the hazard lights on in third gear. It was now getting dark and the relief of making it to the campsite was great.

Feeling vulnerable limping through these roads to a campsite 
There is a large element of vulnerability carrying not only all your belongings in your home on wheels, but also your family. When something goes wrong with said home on wheels, one is boggered.

The next day the brakes were still no better. I'm not sure why they would be, but I was hoping a rest overnight and they would have miraculously fixed themselves. It wasn't to be.

We called the breakdown people out to inspect. The very nice man took one look at them and not only said he couldn't fix them, but he had never seen brakes in this state before, so off to the garage it was then.

The van needed new discs and pads all round, even needing new calipers on the front as the "boiling" brake fluid had fried them. The actual discs had split with the heat inflicted on them, and the pads were down to metal again after only eight weeks of wear!@>?

Luckily the garage could do the work the following day and let us camp on their premises, so at least we didn't have the hassle of finding somewhere to stay as we did in France when we lost fourth gear.
Twenty four hours and two thousand euros later and we were back on the road. A very expensive day but the brakes sure do feel good.


  1. Aggghhhhh!!! The glacier looks out of this world, but what on Earth happened to those brake pads? Good to see you're all in good running order, €2000 is nothing compared with an uncontrolled descent off a mountain... Cheers, J

    1. Still not sure what happened there, although we suspect a warped disc had something to do with it. Only after we were safely back on the road again did Nathanial admit how worried he was!

  2. He's tougher than me, I've had bawled my way off the hill. :-)


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