Hohe Tauern, Austria and Italy

The Hohe Tauern or High Tauern (pl.) (Italian: Alti Tauri) are a mountain range on the main chain of the Central Eastern Alps, comprising the highest peaks east of the Brenner Pass. The crest forms the southern border of the Austrian state of Salzburg with Carinthia and East Tyrol, while a small part in the southwest belongs to the Italian province of South Tyrol. The range includes Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner.

According to the Alpine Club classification of the Eastern Alps, the range is bounded by the Salzach valley to the north (separating it from the Kitzbühel Alps), the Mur valley and the Murtörl Pass to the east (separating it from the Niedere Tauern), the Drava valley to the south (separating it from the Southern Limestone Alps), and the Birnlücke Pass to the west (separating it from the Zillertal Alps).

Its most important parts are (from West to East):

  • Venediger Group (including the Großvenediger, 3,666 meters (12,028 ft), and Lasörling, 3,098 meters (10,164 ft))
  • Granatspitze Group (including the Großer Muntanitz, 3,232 meters (10,604 ft), and Granatspitze, 3,086 meters (10,125 ft))
  • Glockner Group (including the Grossglockner, 3,798 meters (12,461 ft))
  • Goldberg Group including the Hoher Sonnblick (3106 m)
  • Ankogel Group (including the Hochalmspitze, 3,360 meters (11,020 ft), Ankogel, 3,246 meters (10,650 ft) and Reißeck, 2,965 meters (9,728 ft))

The eastern end of the Hohe Tauern is formed by the Hafner subgroup of the Ankogel range, which includes the easternmost peaks above 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) in the Alpine chain.

Further parts of the Hohe Tauern south of the main crest of the Alps are (from West to East):

  • Rieserferner Group (Hochgall, 3,436 meters (11,273 ft))
  • Villgraten Mountains (Weiße Spitze, 2,962 meters (9,718 ft))
  • Schober Group (including the Petzeck, 3,283 meters (10,771 ft) and Hochschober, 3,240 meters (10,630 ft))
  • Kreuzeck Group (Mölltaler Polinik, 2,784 meters (9,134 ft))

High Tauern National Park

Along 100 kilometers (62 mi) of the main chain stretches the High Tauern National Park (Nationalpark Hohe Tauern), to which the Austrian Alpine Club as freeholder and the three states of Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol have contributed territory. With an area of about 1,834 square kilometers (708 sq mi), it is by far the largest of Austria’s seven national parks as well as the largest nature reserve in the Alps. It is divided into a core zone including the Grossglockner and Grossvenediger massifs, with complete prohibition of agricultural use, and a fringe zone used for forestry and alpine-meadow farming. Five special nature sanctuaries are protected from any human disturbance.

The park of the IUCN II category comprises the Pasterze and numerous further glaciers, the Krimml Waterfalls, several glacial valleys and alluvial fans, as well as extended tundra areas and forests. Among the flora of the Alps, especially Swiss Pines grow along the tree line; above subshrub, mainly alpenrose but also the endemic saxifraga rudolphiana, up to nival level at about 2,800 m (9,200 ft). The fauna includes chamois, Alpine ibex and red deer, as well as griffon vulture and the golden eagle. The former extinct bearded vulture and the Alpine marmot have been successfully reintroduced.

The park was established according to a 1971 declaration signed by the participating states at Heiligenblut, it nevertheless took until 1981, when the first parts around Großglockner and Hochschober in Carinthia were put under protection. The adjacent area in Salzburg followed two years later, and Tyrol finally joined in 1992. Tourism only increased marginally since the creation of the national park, but has become less harmful to the environment. A particular emphasis is put on environmental protection and the maintenance of traditional ways of life in the Alps.

Main peaks of the Hohe Tauern:

Hohe Tauern

Tunnels and Passes:

The Hohe Tauern are crossed by three tunnels:

  • Tauern Railway Tunnel between Bad Gastein and Mallnitz, finished in 1906
  • Katschberg Tunnel on A10 Tauern Autobahn (European route E55) leading from Sankt Michael im Lungau and the Tauern Road Tunnel to Rennweg
  • Felbertauerntunnel on B108 Felbertauern Straße highway, between Mittersill and Matrei in Osttirol

The best-known mountain pass road of the Hohe Tauern is the scenic Grossglockner High Alpine Road inaugurated in 1935, including a tunnel at an elevation of 2,505 meters (8,219 ft) under the Hochtor Pass (2,573 meters (8,442 ft)). East of it, the Katschberg Pass (1,641 meters (5,384 ft)) on B 99 Katschberg Straße highway parallel to the Katschberg Tunnel links Sankt Michael and Rennweg. Another road crosses the Staller Sattel between Sankt Jakob in Defereggen and Rasen-Antholz at 2,052 meters (6,732 ft).

Beside there are numerous bridle and foot paths, in part used since ancient times:

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

Hohe Tauern

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