On an alpine hut tour in Salzburger Land. Spread over 3 days, the Stoneman Taurista offers mountain bikers not just pure nature, but panoramic views galore and a trophy in bronze. There’s also plenty of time for culinary and alpine delights whilst traversing the Niedere Tauern mountains.
Kaiserschmarrn (chopped pancake dish). Fluffy and golden-brown Kaiserschmarrn covered in icing sugar. Served with two sorts of pureed fruit and a mug of coffee. How I’ve looked forward to this moment.
Since I visited the Stoneman Taurista homepage for the first time, the image of three bikers in the gentle light of the evening sun sharing a plate of this filling sweet dish, has followed me. And now I’m sitting here myself under the jutting eaves of the Sattelbauer, feeling the sizzling heat of the declining summer’s day in the walls behind me and I realise with great satisfaction – the Kaiserschmarrn looks exactly like in the photo! With just one exception, however, that’s fine by me after 1,700 m elevation gain – I cycled all alone to the idyllically situated mountain inn, therefore I don’t have to share my sweet sin with anyone else… Plus, in comparison to lunchtime today and the days before, I don’t have to think about what’s to come. Because I’ve already finished. After three stages, two peaks and actually crossing the Tauern mountains, my start card has been punched eight times and my proof of collection is complete. As of now, I am a successful finisher of the Stoneman Taurista.
This continuously marked mountain bike tour in the Radstädter and Schladminger Tauern mountains covers a total of 4,500 m elevation gain spread over 123 km. Impressive figures. However, no one is forced to undertake this quota in one go – quite the opposite. Pleasure-seekers such as myself, who take three whole days for the tour, are also classed as “finishers” and are listed by name in the official statistics. And there’s more – your hedonistic but just as sporty endeavours are rewarded with a Stoneman in bronze. Others strive to achieve the award in silver (two-day tour) or even in gold (one-day tour), I’m cherishing my well-earned refreshment stop – which has been on the cards from the very beginning.
From the old town into the mountains
Originally I wasn’t sure, where I should lay my head, in order to split the tour into three equal parts as possible. After studying the online suggestions I finally decide to take little luggage and to make use of the Enns Cycle Path as a connecting road back to my accommodation, with base camp in Radstadt.
The “Old Town in the Mountains“ would make a suitable backdrop for my holiday evenings with its medieval flair and its grand Town Square. The additional kilometres were kept to a minimum and on the last day I headed straight up the Griessenkar and to the Edelweiss Alm and then finally onto the Sattelbauer, so I could avoid the burning afternoon sun on the Flachau ski mountain and also fulfill my dream of a final Kaiserschmarrn.
No sooner said than done. As chance would have it, I had company from Altenmarkt up to the Rossabrand from Heli, “mountain flea” and traditional mountain biker. Throughout the day I came to realise, that the wiry chap from Filzmoos was not just a mountain biking guide, ski instructor and climber and knew every single stone along the route by name, but the sun worshipper had also achieved the Stoneman Taurista in gold!
I pedalled swiftly behind him on tarmac towards the Reitlehenalm, then onward along gravel and a romantic forest path including a challenging marsh trails to the peak of the Rossbrand. From there I marvelled at the view – mountains all around, nothing but mountains! The majority which lying in front of me, opening up to create a spectacular panorama! Along varied nature trails and speedy forest roads we whizzed then mainly downhill to the Mandlberg, and that was the first part completed.
Relaxing Kings‘ stage
Day 2 purged Ernst Kainz into my hands on the way to Mandling. He professionally leads bike tours through the Salzburger Sportwelt under the name of TauernBikeTours, plus worked on the creation of the Stoneman route, was therefore predestined to accompany me from Forstau via the Seekarscharte to Obertauern. His life motto is “biking is my hobby, eating my passion“, making the story perfect.
Embellished with Ernst‘s anecdotes, the relentless steep passage to the Oberhütte loses its sting, and the long carrying passage via the 2,110 m highest point becomes a minor point and the return route to Radstadt along the Obertauerner trails and the Taurach Valley cycle path pass by quickly. In comparison, the guest gardens and sun terraces of the alpine huts are even more inviting. Thanks to his alpine knowledge, the breathtaking surroundings transform from anonymous beauties to distinctive landmarks à la Lungau Kalkspitze, Mosermandl or Oberhüttensee Lake. And at the impressive Johannes Waterfall school classes of my childhood exercised in my mind’s eye over the trails, steps and stairs behind the 60 m high, gushing curtain of water.
The highlight of day 3 is the Griessenkar. At the end of this 950 m elevation gain forest road fantastic views await me too. This time though, not just in the Salzburger Mountain World. The 3.7 km long Hard Rock Trail through the whole of the Bikepark Wagrain promised descent fun of a special kind – over each individual wave, root and step.
Then here and there a few hills and metres of elevation gain and thus now my well-earned finisher meal…
Hut hopping and more
Whilst I devote myself to my long awaited Kaiserschmarrn with fabulous views of the Dachstein and Bischofsmütze, I recall the other refreshment stops of the past few hours and days. For example, the renaissance-jewel Schloss Höch which appeared quite by surprise; or the farm museum at the Edelweiss Alm, which authentically conveys the traditional way of life in the region. Plus, the schnaps and whiskey distillery Mandlberggut, where in addition to panoramic coffee and cake, a taster from the Dachstein distillery is an absolute must.
Once again the cow bells ring and the children laugh in the high alpine Oberhütte idyll and I see the owner practically grinning, when she comments on the topic of the Stoneman rush:”oh yes, it’s blown a few in.” I recall the delicate mozzarella slices and the spicy Radstadt cheese at the Steinalm and with these pictures I recollect the accompanying noises and feelings too and mull – the dark creaking as the weather-worn hut wall stretches in the sunshine. The sweet-smelling floral decoration on the table. The pleasant gibberish of clinking glasses and other guests’ conversation. You could nod off here, full up and satisfied with your achievement – just for a little while…
Photo credits: Lisi Hager, TauernBikeTours