“I grew up on a farm, but I never wanted to be a farmer. Once a friend of the family took me climbing with him. At the time he was training to become a mountain guide. I thought to myself, ‘That’s something I would like to do.’ It has now been my job since I was 22 years old. In the beginning my clients were a bit sceptical because I looked so young.
If you look at the Main Alpine Ridge from the south then you can immediately see which mountain is the Großglockner. Its shape is unmistakeable. If the weather is good you can climb at almost 3,800 metres above sea level wearing just a T-shirt. Most people head to the southern ridge. Sometimes it can get a bit too much, especially if the weather is set fair. We have rescued more than a few people from that part of the mountain over the years. If you have been up there before then you know how exposed the ridge is.
In 2016 a friend and I became the first people to climb a difficult route on the Großglockner, up through a narrow couloir separating the Stüdlgrat ridge from the southern ridge. It was a great feeling when we finally reached the top. But, if I’m honest, in climbing and mountaineering you are never truly at the top.”
Matthias Wurzer – mountain guide
From the village of Kals in East Tirol it is a two-day hike to the top of the Großglockner. Day one takes climbers from the Lucknerhaus to the Stüdlhütte. On day two comes the final push, accompanied by a guide, to the top of Austria’s highest mountain – and back down into the valley.