The Dachstein-Rieseneishöhle (Dachstein Giant Ice Cave) is famous for large caverns filled with ice. The ice grew in the past 500 years, when the climate became colder after a warm period during the middle ages.
If the ice still grew, the cave would very soon be filled with ice. But the ice grows in the winter and about the same amount melts during the year. This is a rather fragile balance and the next change in climate conditions may affect the cave.
The average temperature at this altitude is slightly below zero, so the temperature in the cave is also below zero. If you visit the cave in summer remember to take warm clothes with you!
|The first chambers of the cave are devoid of ice but still very cold with no speleothems. The floor is covered with huge limestone blocks which have fallen from the roof, some as big as houses. Soon, one enters King Arthur’s Dome a one of the largest chambers in the cave, 120m long, 50m wide and 20 m high.
Next the passage ascends into Parsifal’s Dome with a massive ice stalagmite called Gralsburg or the Castle of the Holy Grail. After this the ice accompanies the visitor for the rest of the tour. The ice formations are really magnificent, and they are set in such vast surroundings. Huge pillars reach from floor to ceiling and the whole floor is one shining sheet of green ice. There are wonderful flower like crystals on the roof which occasionally fall with a softy tinkling sound onto the ice floor beneath. InTristan’s Dome the descent to the Large Ice Chapel represents the climax of the trip. The floors, ceiling and walls of this room are all covered in a dazzling display of sheets of ice which create an enchanting fairy tale scene.
From here it is only a short distance to the second entrance and the end of the trip. A new addition to the tour is a sonic artwork by Hubert von Goisern. He is a famous local musician, who makes a combination of modern rock music with traditional Austrian folk music. He beacame very popular with a rather trashy remake of an old traditional.