Dead Mountains

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Dead Mountains
View of the southeast side of the Prielgruppe above the Stodertal

View of the southeast side of the Prielgruppe above the Stodertal

Highest peak Großer Priel ( 2515  m above sea level )
location Styria , Upper Austria
part of Northern Limestone Alps
Dead Mountains (Austria)
Dead Mountains
Coordinates 47 ° 43 '  N , 14 ° 4'  E Coordinates: 47 ° 43 '  N , 14 ° 4'  E
Type Kalkkarststock, plateau mountains
rock Dachstein Limestone
surface 1,125 km²

The Dead Mountains are a group of mountains in the Northern Limestone Alps in northern Styria and southern Upper Austria . It reaches its highest point in the Großer Priel at 2515  m above sea level. A. The heavily karst mountains consist mainly of Dachstein limestone and are considered to be the largest limestone karst area in Central Europe. The area drains mostly underground and is criss-crossed by several large caves, including the longest cave in Austria, the Schönberg cave system with a length of over 149 kilometers. The Dead Mountains are open to tourism thanks to Alpine club huts , a large network of trails and several winter sports areas . The name is derived from the lack of water due to the lack of springs or above-ground channels and the extensive lack of vegetation in the central plateau.


Topographic map of the Dead Mountains

The Dead Mountains have a maximum extension between Bad Ischl in the west and the Pyhrnpass in the east of 55 kilometers and from north to south of 28 kilometers; it covers a total area of ​​about 1125 km² with a boundary length of 153 km. In terms of area, the Dead Mountains are the largest limestone karst area in Central Europe.

The boundary runs from the Steinkogel near Ebensee along the Traun via Bad Ischl to Bad Goisern , over the Pötschenhöhe to Bad Aussee , further over the Hinterbergtal and through the Untergrimming gorge to the Enns . This forms the border to Liezen . From there the eastern border runs over the Pyhrn Pass to the Teichl and its confluence with the Steyr . The northern border results from the line Steyrbrücke - Öd Seen - Almsee - Offensee and Steinkogel near Ebensee. Politically, the area is divided into the districts of Gmunden , Kirchdorf an der Krems and Liezen .

The Pyhrn Autobahn (A 9) runs in the northeast in the Steyr and Teichtal valleys , and the Dead Mountains can be accessed via the connections at Roßleithen and Spital am Pyhrn. The Pyhrnpass Straße and the Pyhrnbahn run parallel to the A 9 . In the west and southwest, the Salzkammergutstraße runs from Ebensee to Trautenfels , where it joins the Ennstal Straße and leads to Liezen. The Salzkammergutbahn runs largely parallel to the Salzkammergutstrasse and joins the Ennstalbahn at Stainach - Irdning , which leads to Liezen. Several toll roads lead from the valley to the plateau, from Altaussee the Loser Panorama Road up to 1600 m altitude near the Augstsee , from Bad Mitterndorf the Tauplitz Alpenstraße to the Tauplitzalm and from Hinterstoder the Höss toll road to the Hutterer Boden.

Outline and summit

The main mass of the mountain range is divided into three groups. In the west is the Schönberg group , which is separated from the central tidal group by a geologically determined deep depression . This tectonic fault, known as the Wildensee line, runs from the Altausseer See over the Hochklapfsattel to the Wildensee and on over the Rinnerboden to the Offensee. In the east, the Warscheneck group is also separated from the Priel group by a tectonic fault, the so-called salt path line. This runs from the Tauplitzalm over the Salzsteigjoch through the Stodertal.

Peaks of the Dead Mountains accessible through marked paths (selection):

Schoenberg group
summit Altitude [m above sea level] A.]
Schoenberg 2093
Rinnerkogel 2012
Browning tines 1899
High scrap 1839
Loser 1837
Creek group
summit Altitude [m above sea level] A.]
Great creek 2515
Pointed wall 2446
Schermberg 2396
Red dishes 2270
Large tragl 2179
Warscheneck Group
summit Altitude [m above sea level] A.]
Warscheneck 2388
Hochmölbing 2336
Almkogel 2116
Angerkogel 2114
Red wall 1872
View from the Spitzmauer on the low vegetation plateau of the Prielgruppe. From left to right: Feuertalberg, Temlberg, Schermberg and Großer Priel.


The 1400 m high Schermberg north face, Prielgruppe

Typical of the Dead Mountains is the huge limestone karst plateau with high mountain and low mountain character. The mountains rise steeply in the west from the Traun Valley from around 500  m above sea level. A. to the summit of the Schrottkamm ( 1839  m above sea level ) and continues to the east like a plateau. The north falls are very steep, rocky and exceed 2000  m above sea level for the first time in Schönberg . A. The peaks of the northern edge get higher to the east and the wall heights at the Almtaler sundial already reach more than 1000 meters. The northbound Hetzaukamm separates the In der Röll and Hetzau valleys. The head of the Hetzau valley is formed by the central priel group with the three highest peaks of the Dead Mountains: Großer Priel 2515  m above sea level. A. , Spitzmauer 2446  m above sea level. A. and Schermberg 2396  m above sea level. A. At 1400 m, the north face of the Schermberg is the second highest face in the Eastern Alps after the Watzmann east face . The Great Priel sends the Prielkamm to the east, which with the Kleiner Priel 2136  m above sea level. A. ends. To the south runs the approximately 15 km long Stoderkamm, which breaks off with more than 1000 m high wall lines into the Stodertal and ends at the Salzsteigjoch . There the Warscheneck group begins east, whose ridge-like ridge in Warscheneck 2388  m above sea level. A. has the highest point. The southern roof of the Warscheneck group is less exposed and partly interrupted by secondary plateaus. To the west, the plateau continues to the Tauplitzalm . In the southwest, the Dead Mountains are bounded by the Augst and Grundleseekamm ridge, the steep walls of which slope down to the Ausseer basin and the Grundlsee basin. The west wall of the Trisselwand 1754  m above sea level. A. reaches a height of 600 m. An alpine cart and sinkhole landscape is formed on the entire plateau .


Wildensee with Rinnerkogel , Schönberg group

Most of the Dead Mountains drain north and west via the Traun and the Steyr . Both rivers arise in the Dead Mountains, the Traun in the Traun origin above the Kammersee and the Steyr in the valley head of the Stodertal. The area from the Salzabach to the Pyhrnpass drains south into the Enns . Grimming and Teichl are among the few high-altitude streams that carry water all year round.

At the northern foot of the mountains are the Almsee , Offensee and Gleinkersee , in the south in the valley the Altausseer See , Grundlsee and Toplitzsee . In the high areas there are several trough lakes without drainage, such as the Wildensee , the Vordere and Hintere Lahngangsee and the Elmsee . There are six mountain lakes on the Tauplitzalm lake plateau.



Tectonically , the Dead Mountains consist of mighty, north-vergent folds of the Dead Mountains ceiling and the Warscheneck ceiling, with the hanging leg rising at an angle between 20 and 40 degrees in the southeast and ending in a slightly tilted forehead crease on the northern edge. The mountains were broken up into several blocks during the Alpidian Orogeny and are criss-crossed by several tectonic faults. The most important is the Salzsteig line, which runs from Vorderstoder via Hinterstoder to the Salzsteigjoch and further south-west to the Tauplitz plateau . Along the Salzsteig line, the Dead Mountains ceiling of the Tyrolean ceiling unit (Tirolikum) was pushed over by the Warscheneck ceiling, which is included in the Juvavian ceiling unit (Juvavikum). It thus also separates the Prielgruppe from the Warscheneckgruppe. Further disturbances are the Elmlinie, along the Lahngangseen and the Wildensee line, from the Altausseer See over the Wildensee to the Offensee. The latter separates the Schönberg group from the Priel group. The so-called Toplitzsee Fault runs from Grundlsee over Toplitzsee into the Dead Mountains.


Gebankter Dachstein limestone of Ramesch , Warscheneck

Lithostratigraphically , the rocks of the Dead Mountains consist mainly of Mesozoic limestone and dolomites from the Triassic and Jurassic , which were deposited around 210 to 135 million years ago. Leading salt Haselgebirge ( Perm ) and subjecting formation (Lower Triassic) form the base of the mountain. They occur in Vorder- and Hinterstoder and especially in the Salzkammergut , where the Altaussee salt mine and the Bad Ischler Salzberg are also located.

The Gutenstein formation ( anise ) can be found at the northern foot of the mountains in the Almtal as well as in the south on the Teltschenalm am Kampl or thevorsandlingalm. The Wetterstein dolomite ( Ladin ) forms the lower wall parts of the northern slopes of the Prielgruppe and the western area of ​​the Warscheneckgruppe. Above the Wettersteindolomit there are water- retaining layers of Lunzer ( Karn ), which are pronounced at the Hagsteinalm (Hochsteinalm) and Bärenalm in the Warscheneck group. The Lunz strata basically separate the main dolomite from the Wetterstein dolomite, but these are tectonically overprinted in such a way that it is not possible to differentiate between the two types of dolomite. The main dolomite ( Nor ) forms the base of Schermberg and the Almtaler sundial . In the Warscheneck group, the main dolomite forms the serrated ridge of the Sneslitz, but also the wide alpine pasture area in the area of ​​the Hochmölbinghütte . The main dolomite merges into the banked Dachstein limestone (Nor to Rhaet ), which forms the main mass of the Totengebirge and Warscheneck cover . The Dachstein limestone reaches a thickness of up to 1000 m and builds up all the walls and plateaus of the Prielgruppe with the exception of the southwest plateau, as well as the northern part of the Schönbergruppe and the eastern part of the Warscheneckgruppe. The Dachstein reef limestone plays a subordinate role in the Dead Mountains. The fall cock and the traweng are made of reef limestone.

In places reddish, fossil-rich Hierlatzkalk ( Lower Jurassic ) lies on top of the Dachstein limestone, for example on the Wurzeralm or in the vicinity of the Pühringerhütte . Limes from the Jura form the southwest plateau of the Prielgruppe. The Oberalm formation ( Kimmeridgium ) lies on the Dachstein limestone and not only forms rugged walls from the Loserkamm to the salt furnace , but also the large alpine pastures in this area. The Plassenkalk (Kimmeridgium) is very similar to the Oberalm Formation, but forms landscape-forming, smooth slab walls like on the Trisselwand and Backenstein . In the Warscheneck group, Rote Wand and Stubwieswipfel are made of Plassenkalk.

Geological profile through the priel group (simplified, greatly exaggerated)

Former glaciation

View of the eastern slope of the Prielgruppe to the Stodertal and the former glacier runoff at the end of the trough of the Dietlhöll

The Dead Mountains were always glaciated during the Ice Ages , with the plateau serving as a breeding ground for extensive ice flows. At the height of the respective glaciation, large ice masses filled the valleys and repeatedly reached up to around 1700  m above sea level. A. the highest peaks only rose as Nunatakker out of the ice streams. The ice carved out cirques and trough valleys on the flanks . In the valleys there were deep pools, which today are filled by lakes and their deposits. These are, for example, the tongue basins of the Altausseer See and the Grundlsee .

The glaciers flowing to the west and south-west merged with the mighty Traungletscher , which flowed north from the Dachstein through the Traun Valley. On the northern slope of the Dead Mountains, coming from Offensee , a side branch of the Traungletscher flowed west to the Plankau. The area from the Großer Woising over the Almtaler Sonnenuhr to the Großer Priel was the nutrient area of ​​the Alm glacier, which carved out the trough valleys In der Röll and Hetzau. In the Stodertal, the Steyr Glacier was fed by at least eight glacier tongues of the steep and high eastern slope of the Prielgruppe. They left deeply sunk high cirques with subsequent steeply sloping glacier lanes marked by round humps . These are for example the side valleys Sigistal, Schobertal, Wassertal, Turmtal and the Weitgrube, which drops into the Trogtal Dietlhöll. A glacier flowed between the Spitzmauer and the Great Priel, which was connected to the Plateau glacier via the Klinserschlucht gorge. This formed the trough closure of the cushion gap. Today there is a permanent firn field in Kühkar below the Brotfallscharte, which has a deep ice base. A noticeable movement of the mass, which would justify a description as a glacier, has not yet been observed. The glacier tongues on the northern slope of the Warscheneck Group flowed through the Rottal to the Steyr Glacier in the west and through Loigistal and Glöcklkar to the Teichl Fern Glacier in the east. The latter was mainly fed by the Ennstal glacier, which penetrated into the Teichl valley via the Pyhrn pass . The glaciers of the southeastern Dead Mountains merged with the Ennstal glacier.


The Pießling origin at the northern foot of the Warscheneck

The deep karst limestone drains mostly underground. There are no major surface runoffs in the high areas. Most of the rainwater and meltwater seeps into the crevices and sinkholes of the limestone and collects in extensive cave systems. The limestones are underlain by the Werfen layers and Hasel mountains that hold up groundwater . These clayey-mergly deposit rocks force numerous spring outflows and are responsible for sealing many lake basins. At high altitudes, this becomes evident on the Tauplitzalm lake plateau, where six small high-mountain lakes have formed along the salt path. In the valleys, this stratification leads to numerous large karst springs such as the Waller spring in the Almsee with an average flow rate of 1000 to 1500 l / s. The karst stock of the Warscheneck drains mainly to the north via the Pießling-Ursprung large spring with an average flow rate of 2,200 l / s. In the area of ​​the Wurzeralm lies the Polje of the Teichlboden. The upper reaches of the Teichl meander on the valley floor of this karst basin . At the edge of the Polje, where the water-impermeable Werfener layers of the tub end, the pond disappears in a ponor and only reappears at the foot of the mountain range.


The Feuertal ice cave is an entrance to the Schönberg cave system

The well-karstifying Dachstein limestone, in cooperation with the rest of the interface structure, offers particularly favorable conditions for cave formation. As of 2019, more than 2000 objects are listed in the Austrian cave directory. Most of the cave entrances are in the plateau area of ​​the Dead Mountains. With a measured 149,123 m, the Schönberg cave system (cat. No. 1626/300) is the longest cave in Austria. The Salzofenhöhle (Cat.No. 1624/31) and the Ramesch Bone Cave (Cat.No. 1636 / 08a) are of particular historical importance , as stone tools of the Moustérien culture were found in them , dating from the Würm glaciation between 65,000 and 31,000 BC Come from BC. There are also several important ice caves in the Dead Mountains. The snow volcano hall in the Schwarzmooskogel cave system is considered the largest known ice-filled hall on earth. The Tiefenbronnerhalle in the north wall shaft (cat. No. 1625/141) is the largest known cave space in Austria with a deficit of 800,000 m³.

The five longest caves in the Dead Mountains
Surname Cat.-No. Measurement length [m] Vertical extension [m]
Schönberg cave system 1626/300 149123 1061
Schwarzmooskogel cave system 1623/40 135159 1125
Hidden cave 1616/110 30342 365
Grießkar cave system 1627/126 25987 636
DÖF solar conductor cave system 1625/379 24172 249


For paleontologists , the Feuerkogel site is one of the world's most interesting ammonite discovery sites from the Triassic period . Several levels from the late Ladinian to the early Norian are exposed in an approximately 40 m thick Hallstatt lime layer sequence . Almost 600 ammonite species are known from this site. In order to preserve this geotope for posterity, the place was declared a natural monument in 1981. The richest sites for ammonites from the earlier Jurassic in the Northern Limestone Alps can be found southeast of Lake Toplitz . In the north of Lupitsch , in the Zlambach layers of the so-called Fischerwiese, there is the world's most species-rich coral site from the Late Triassic. In the early 1980s, well-preserved bones of the crocodile-like phytosaur Mystriosuchus planirostris were found on a layer of the banked Dachstein limestone on Hochweiß . The find can be viewed in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.

The Dead Mountains are of supraregional importance for research into cave bears . Of the 40 or so large bear caves in the Alps, 7 are in the Dead Mountains. The finds of the Salzofenhöhle are well known , where remains of all stages of development, from newborns to senile individuals with advanced spinal stiffening, were present.


Inversion weather situation with lower frost line in the Ennstal, Hinteregger Alm , Warscheneck group

The climatic data show a temperature and precipitation distribution typical for the mountains of the Northern Limestone Alps: cool, precipitation-rich summers and low-precipitation winters. Annual precipitation ranges from 1200 to over 2500 mm, with precipitation decreasing from west to east and increasing significantly with increasing sea level. Maximum values ​​are reached in the area of ​​the Großer Priel ( 2515  m above sea level ). In free higher areas, westerly and northwesterly winds dominate, which are often accompanied by precipitation. Due to the frequent cloud jams on the northern edge, an above-average amount of precipitation falls in the area of ​​the Prielgruppe. A comparison of the annual precipitation of 1681 mm on the Almsee ( 589  m above sea level ) on the northwest side of the Dead Mountains with 1277 mm in Hinterstoder ( 591  m above sea level ) on the east side shows at almost the same altitude and a distance of only 16 km clearly the barrier effect of the Dead Mountains. The duration of winter snow cover is around 180 days at an altitude of 1500 m and 300 days at an altitude of 2500 m. The average maximum snow depth in winter is 66 cm in Hinterstoder and 222 cm on the Wurzeralm ( 1400  m above sea level ) in the Warscheneck group. Due to the difference in altitude of over 2000 meters, there are significant temperature differences between the valley locations and the summit regions of the Dead Mountains. The average annual temperature in low areas is between 8.3 ° C near Bad Ischl ( 469  m above sea level ) in the north-west and 5.9 ° C in Bad Mitterndorf ( 803  m above sea level ) in the south, in the high areas 2, 1 ° C on the Great Priel. The inversion weather conditions in the valley areas such as in the Trauntal , Ennstal , Windischgarstner Basin and even in the hollow forms of the extensive plateaus of the Dead Mountains are of great importance . For this reason, comparatively mild temperatures often prevail in autumn above the inversion fog. In the cold season, the inversion layer has a reverse effect on the temperatures in the valley.

Monthly average temperatures and precipitation for the Hutterer Soil ( 1370  m above sea level )
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Temperature ( ° C ) −4.0 −3.8 −1.6 0.8 6.7 9.7 11.6 11.6 8.1 3.8 −0.8 −3.3 O 3.3
Precipitation ( mm ) 94.0 79.0 95.0 125.0 111.0 165.0 176.0 132.0 99.0 70.0 117.0 118.0 Σ 1,381
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Flora and vegetation

The larch forms the tree line. Extensive fields of mountain pine above it. In the background the Hirscheck and Hochmölbing , Warscheneck group

Due to the great differences in altitude from the valley to the summit regions, a corresponding vegetation forms at each altitude level . The montane level corresponds to the area of ​​the spruce-fir-beech forests as climax vegetation , which extends from the valley floor to about 1400  m above sea level. A. extends. On extremely shallow soils above Wetterstein dolomite, on which the montane deciduous forest vegetation cannot develop, the south to east exposed locations are populated by red pines ( Pinus sylvestris ). In the cushion gap at the southern foot of the Öttlberg, limestone grasslands and light snow heather and red pine forests thrive. From about 1400  m above sea level. A. the forests are characterized by increasing clearing and mosaic-like composition: mixed stands of spruce and larch, mountain pine bushes, tall herbaceous meadows and lawns alternate and are increasingly interspersed with alpine vegetation with increasing altitude. In the area of ​​the Albert-Appel-Haus there is the Henarwald, a large larch-spruce-stone pine forest. This is also formed over a large area on the southern roof of the Warscheneck. The tree line is around 1800  m above sea level. A. On the predominantly rocky slopes of the Prielkette, the mountain pine ( Pinus mugo ) forms the crooked wood belt typical of eastern Alpine limestone mountains, which increasingly dissolves with increasing altitude and is criss-crossed by dwarf shrub heaths and alpine lawns. In the upper alpine level, fragmented upholstered sedge lawns dominate . The highest rising plant species include the Swiss man's shield ( Androsace helvetica ) and single-flowered hornwort ( Cerastium uniflorum ), which is entirely restricted to the summit plateau of the Großer Priel. On the Wurzeralm there are two mountain pine raised bogs, the Lower and Upper Filzmoos, which are considered to be the highest in the Northern Alps. The proportion of mountain pine ( Pinus mugo ) is around 50 percent, the remainder is used by Kleinseggenried. Helmut Gams therefore counted them among the most valuable in the entire Eastern Alpine region.

Most of the endemic plant species of the Northeast Alps grow in the Dead Mountains. As a selection are mentioned:


Minnows in the Wildensee , Schönberg Group

The Dead Mountains are rich in game species. Especially the eastern, barren karst plateau of the Prielgruppe is a retreat for chamois ( Rupicapra rupicapra ); the animals occur in high densities. Red deer ( Cervus elaphus ) find good living conditions in the area of ​​large alpine pastures . Deer ( Capreolus capreolus ) also live there , albeit in a lower density. Among the carnivores , ermine ( Mustela erminea ) and weasel ( Mustela nivalis ) as well as red fox ( Vulpes vulpes ) are present. The brown bear population ( Ursus arctos ) has been considered extinct since 2011. Even mountain hares ( Lepus timidus ) live in the area.

Alpine salamanders ( Salamandra atra ) and mountain newts ( Ichthyosaura alpestris ) have good populations in the Dead Mountains. The fire salamander ( Salamandra salamandra ) also occurs in the lower elevations . The yellow-bellied toad ( Bombina variegata ) is widespread, typical habitats are, for example, alpine pastures with pasture pools, where it often occurs together with the mountain newt. The common toad ( Bufo bufo ) and the common frog ( Rana temporaria ) also rise with larger populations up to the tree line. Of the reptile species, the mountain lizard ( Zootoca vivipara ) is the most common, but the slow worm ( Anguis fragilis ) is also more widespread in the high-montane zone. Particularly in the area of Almtümpel one often finds the grass snake ( Natrix natrix ), which benefits from amphibians wealth. The adder ( Vipera berus ) is widespread, but only more common locally.

The lakes in the highlands were populated with char ( Salvelinus alpinus ). These form slender forms of hunger and vigorous predatory forms in the same lake. The minnow ( Phoxinus phoxinus ) forms large populations in the Wildensee and Elmsee lakes.

Alpine choughs ( Pyrrhocorax graculus ) and common ravens ( Corvus corax ) are common. With Ptarmigan ( Lagopus muta ), black grouse ( Lyrurus tetrix ), hazel grouse ( Tetrastes bonasia ) and capercaillie ( Tetrao urogallus ) four grouse species in the area are indigenous. Alpenbraunelle ( Prunella collaris ) and snow finch ( Montifringilla nivalis ) were also detected. The Dead Mountains are also the distribution area of ​​the golden eagle ( Aquila chrysaetos ).

The pseudoscorpion Neobisium aueri was only described from the Dead Mountains at the beginning of the 1960s, although only finds in caves in the Dead Mountains are known to this day. This endemic species is a tertiary relic that survived glaciation during the Ice Ages in the depths of the caves.

natural reserve

Large parts of the Dead Mountains are under nature protection . In 1991 in Styria the area of ​​the Dead Mountains West (NSG-a16) with 154.6 km² and the Dead Mountains East (NSG-a17) with 78.17 km² were designated as nature reserves. The two protected areas cover a large part of the Dead Mountains on the Styrian side and extend to the state border with Upper Austria.

In 2006, the Dead Mountains European Protected Area with Altausseer See European Protected Area No. 35, slightly larger than the integrated nature reserves, was prescribed as part of the Natura 2000 network in accordance with the Habitats and Birds Directive .

In Upper Austria, large parts of the Warscheneck Group are protected. The following nature reserves were decreed there between 2000 and 2008: Warscheneck Nord (n134) with 27 km², Warscheneck Süd-Purgstall-Brunnsteiner Kar (n110) with 12 km², Warscheneck-Süd-Stubwies (n096) with 767.6 hectares and Warscheneck-Süd -Wurzeralm (n093) with 50.09 ha.

Name customer

The name of the mountain Ostrawitz (center) in Hinterstoder is derived from the Slavic ostru , pointed

The name "Dead Mountains" originally referred mainly to the eastern central plateau south of the Great Priel. This innermost area is known by the locals as "Boandlland" (leg or bone land) because of its lack of water due to the lack of springs or above-ground channels and extensive plant poverty, alluding to the white limestone banks, popularly known as "Stoabreda" (stone boards), that protrude like ribs from the barren landscape. Site names like "s'Aufghackat", Hochbrett or Hochplattenkogel refer to it. At the beginning of the 19th century the name "Freygebirg" was also in use, as free hunting was allowed or at least tolerated in the most remote karst areas.

Many field names are of Slavic origin. Southern Upper Austria and the Ennstal were the settlements of the Alpine Slavs . There the tribe of the Stoderaner (Stodoranci - from Slavic studor, shallow, barren arable soil) was resident. Field names such as the Stodertal, Toplitz (Slavic toplica, warm spring water) and in particular the highest mountain in the Dead Mountains, the Great Priel (Slavic priela, stone mass), point to this. Dead man comes from the Celtic Tota magos . Tota / Teuto means people and magos field and thus refers to a meeting place. There are several field names with the same name in Austria and Germany. There are always wide, flat hilltops with a wide panoramic view that can be reached relatively easily from many sides. They are located a little away from the villages in the open country.

The caves are called Ofen, such as Gamsofen, Salzofen , Ofenkogel and Ofenlochkogel. Many names can be explained by the alpine farming, such as Schafbühel, Breitwiesen, Augstwiesen, Brunnwiesen and hunting (Hirschkar, Vulture's nest). Field names such as Feuertal, Rote Kögel or Rotgschirr refer to the occurrence of the reddish Hierlatz Kalk .

Mountain sports


The first Loser hut in 1894

One of the first developers was Archduke Johann , who, as a hunter and enthusiastic mountaineer, carried out a multi-day ascent of the western Dead Mountains in 1810. He traveled from the Grundlsee over the Lahngangseen to the Elmgrube, where the quarters were. From there, excursions to the Hochbrett and the Rabenstein followed. The famous Dachstein researcher Friedrich Simony was also active in the Dead Mountains, he published the first scientific treatise on the area in 1846. The alpinist and geologist Georg Geyer was the most important pioneer of geological research in the Dead Mountains. As a 21-year-old, he published his 200-page monograph Das Todte Gebirge in 1878 . Geyer climbed the Rotgschirr in 1875 and the Schermberg for the first time as a tourist in 1879. In the following decades he researched the geology of the area from his villa in Obertressen and systematically inspected and determined the exact height of almost all peaks. As a result, the Dead Mountains received attention from the Austrian Alpine Association (ÖAV) founded in 1862 .

In 1874 the ÖAV section Aussee was founded, which began with the first markings of the paths and a search for a suitable place for a refuge. 1882 was at the eastern end of the Augstalm at 1498  m above sea level. A. opened the first refuge in the Dead Mountains with the Loserhütte . In the Prielgruppe, the Karl-Krahl-Schutzhaus, today's Prielschutzhaus , was opened in 1884 . In the Warscheneck Group, the Windischgarsten section of the Austrian Tourist Club built the Dümlerhütte in 1894 . For a long time, the highest peaks of the Prielgruppe were only accessible from the south or from the Stodertal in the east. In the north, the unfavorable traffic situation and the huge forests of large landowners, which were closed to hunting, had an inhibiting effect. In 1920 the first Welser hut at 1726  m above sea level. A. be opened. In 1921 a hunting lodge, today's Almtalerhaus , was leased by the Baron Herring forest administration. By 1930 the development of the area was largely complete.

Signs on path 201, Prielgruppe

The marked and signposted network of trails in the Dead Mountains is largely maintained by the PES. Path 201 crosses the Dead Mountains from east to west and has its highest point at Warscheneck. It is part of the Austrian long-distance hiking trail 01 , the European long-distance hiking trail E4 and the violet path of the Via Alpina . Route: Spital am Pyhrn - Linzer Haus - Zellerhütte - Vorderstoder - Hinterstoder - Prielschutzhaus - Pühringerhütte - Albert-Appel-Haus - Loserhütte - Lambacher Hütte - Bad Goisern .

Since 2020, a crossing of the Priel and Schönberg groups has been designated with the Welser Höhenweg . The route is largely identical to route 201, but leads from the Albert-Appel-Haus over the Ischler Hütte to Bad Ischl.

There are climbs to the plateau from all directions. The most well-known are:

  • 212: Offensee - Rinnerhütte - Wildensee - Altaussee
  • 213: Almsee - Pühringer Hut - Gößl
  • 215: From the Almtaler Haus to the Welser Hut
  • 216: From Hinterstoder over the Salzsteigjoch to Tauplitz
  • 218: Bad Mitterndorf - Tauplitzalm - Liezener Hütte - Linzerhaus - Dümlerhütte - Windischgarsten
  • 235: From the Grundlsee to the Albert-Appel-Haus

There are many refuges in the Dead Mountains, most of which are run by the Alpine Club. In addition, huts run by the Friends of Nature , the Austrian Tourist Club and private accommodation offer overnight accommodation for hikers.

Shelters of the Dead Mountains (selection):

Schoenberg group
hut Altitude [m above sea level] A.]
Ischler Hut 1369
Lambacher Hut 1438
Loserhütte 1498
Ebenseer Hochkogelhaus 1558
Rinnerhütte 1473
Wildenseehütte 1525
Creek group
hut Altitude [m above sea level] A.]
Albert Appel House 1660
Pühringerhütte 1638
Almtalerhaus 0714
Welser hut 1726
Prielschutzhaus 1420
Holl house 1621
Warscheneck Group
hut Altitude [m above sea level] A.]
Hochmölbinghütte 1684
Liezener Hut 1762
Zellerhütte 1575
Dümlerhütte 1495
Linz house 1371
Spechtensee hut 1060


The technical development began around 1910. The first passages are made especially in the large walls of the Spitzmauer, the Schermberg and the Großer Priel. Today, especially in the climbing gardens and sport climbing areas , there are many routes up to the XI. Level of difficulty . There are several via ferratas in the Toten Gebirge and with the Bert Rinesch via ferrata on the Großer Priel, Austria's longest via ferrata since 2019. Other well-known via ferratas are the Stodertal via ferrata on the Spitzmauer, the Tassilo via ferrata on the Schermberg and the Loser panorama via ferrata "Sisi" on the Loser.

Winter sports

There are four ski areas in the Dead Mountains. In the Loser / Altaussee ski area there are 8 lifts with 35 km of slopes. The Tauplitz  / Bad Mitterndorf ski area offers 15 lifts with 43 slopes. The Hinterstoder-Höss and Wurzeralm ski areas are located in Upper Austria and offer 12 lifts with 40 kilometers of slopes and 6 lifts with 22 kilometers of slopes. The mountains are also suitable for snowshoe and ski tours. The winter-marked crossing from Loser to Prielschutzhaus is the longest ski tour in the area.



Winter and summer tourism are important sources of added value for the economy in the region. The multi-municipality Pyhrn-Priel tourism association comprises 9 municipalities, Ebensee am Traunsee is part of the Traunsee holiday region and Bad Goisern is part of the Inneres Salzkammergut tourism association . Bad Ischl and Grünau im Almtal have one-municipality tourism associations. In Styria, the four communities Altaussee , Bad Aussee , Grundlsee and Bad Mitterndorf form the Ausseerland – Salzkammergut tourist association . In the Pyhrn-Priel region, winter tourism is the main attraction. The Hinterstoder municipality recorded around 86,000 overnight stays in the 2005/06 winter season, compared to only around 51,700 in the summer of 2006. With the exception of Hinterstoder, all the other municipalities have around a third more overnight stays in summer than in winter. A shift can also be seen in the spectrum of guests: the proportion of domestic guests is 70% in summer and 50% in winter. Compared to the tourist-intensive years 1994 to 1999, the number of guests in the tourist regions has since declined significantly. Spital am Pyhrn, for example, recorded a total of 168,323 overnight stays in 1995. In 2006 there were 111,262 overnight stays, which corresponds to a decrease of 34 percent.


Wildenseealm, Schönberg Group

With a few exceptions, agriculture in the Dead Mountains is limited to the pasture use of the alpine pastures. Most of the time, dairy cows are no longer kept on alpine pastures, only Galt cattle . The keeping of the primeval and easy-care Scottish Highland cattle , such as on the Gameringalm or the Wildenseealm, is also increasing. Horses and sheep are rarely kept on the mountain pastures. The number and the area of ​​the managed alpine pastures were significantly larger in the 19th century than today. In an inventory from 1843, 21 Niederalmen, 25 Hochalmen, grazing rights for 2535 cattle and 2349 sheep and 532 huts were given for the Ausseerland. In some cases, attempts are being made to make former alpine pastures usable again through alpine revitalization, as in the case of the Spintriegel Alm and Poppen Alm near Hinterstoder. There are currently 22 alpine pastures with around 720 cattle in the Upper Austrian part of the Dead Mountains. In the Styrian Salzkammergut, 26 of the 51 alpine pastures are farmed with around 830 cattle.


Trift Canal between Kammersee and Toplitzsee

The forests of the Dead Mountains, especially the Salzkammergut , are characterized by centuries of intensive cultivation. For a long time, the driving force was salt production , which has been documented in Altaussee since the 12th century. Around 400 cubic meters of wood were required in the brewing pans per week  . In order to protect the forests from overexploitation in the face of this great need , the so-called Auseer Hallamtsordnung was written down as early as 1523 . Strict rules have been set for the extraction (amount, type and location) of wood. In particular, the extraction of spruce and fir wood was given high priority, as only this could generate the necessary large flame and not too hot fire. The beech wood flames were too hot for that and could damage the bottom of the pan. Larch trees were needed for the pipes of the brine pipes . With the construction of the salt works in Ebensee am Traunsee in 1604, the entire timber industry in the area was geared towards producing firewood for the brewhouse . Many valleys were opened up for timber transport; a sophisticated system of clauses was created. In the Rettenbach valley, where the brine pipeline runs from Altaussee to Bad Ischl today, wood was lifted across the border. In some cases, artificial channels were also built. In 1549 a 97 m long, 2 m wide and 6 m deep canal between Kammersee and Toplitzsee was completed to transport the wood into the Traun. In 1877, the commissioning of the Salzkammergut Railway enabled the transport of cheap lignite from the Hausruck districts , which led to the suspension of timber transport to Ebensee.

Today the majority of the forest area is owned by the Austrian Federal Forests . The two companies Inneres Salzkammergut and Steyrtal manage the western Dead Mountains (Ebensee and Bad Ischl) as well as large areas of the Warscheneck. The eastern Dead Mountains and parts of the Warscheneck are mainly owned by large private landowners. The largest operations are the forest administration of the Cumberland Foundation in Grünau: the Schaumburg-Lippsche forest enterprise in Steyrling, the Duke of Württemberg forest administration in Hinterstoder and the Ullersperger forest administration.


The predominant game species in the spatial unit are roe deer, red deer and chamois. Before the salt pans were operated with coal, the intensive felling of the forests did not allow large populations of roe deer and red deer. The predatory game was hunted intensively. The lynx was extinct by the middle of the 18th century and the bear by the beginning of the 19th century. Chamois hunting, however, was very popular and could only be carried out by a few authorized people. Saline officials, for example, who also received Wildpret as deputy wages , were among those authorized . On the occasion of a hunt in the Dead Mountains in 1858, the German princely couple Hohenlohe came to Altaussee for the first time. Marie zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst was an enthusiastic hunter who shaped the hunt in the area for around four decades. She leased hunting grounds and had a number of hunting lodges built. The first private hunter in the Grundlsee area was Count Koloman Hunyadi, followed by Ferdinand Bonaventura Kinsky von Wchinitz and Tettau and Imperial Count Franz-Eugen von Kesselstatt. Today the Austrian Federal Forests and private forest administrations have their own hunts and assign a large part of their hunting grounds to external hunting tenants. Today, hunting is very important to the large landowners in the communities of Grünau im Almtal, Steyerling and Hinterstoder.


The Altaussee salt mine is located in Sandling near Altaussee . It is the largest salt production  facility in Austria and is operated by Salinen Austria AG.

The open- cast gypsum and anhydrite open-cast mine Wienern is located on the southeast bank of the Grundlsee . The company Saint-Gobain Rigips Austria operates the dismantling of this largest gypsum deposit in the Eastern Alps and also the modern plasterboard plant in Bad Aussee-Unterkainisch. An 8.4 km long material ropeway leads from the open pit mine to the plant. At the Hintersteiner Alm near the Pyhrnpass there is a former gypsum floor mine. The Knauf Group had to stop dismantling at the end of the 1990s due to exhaustion of the warehouse.

A limestone quarry from the Bernegger company is located near the north portal of the Bosruck tunnel . The Dachstein lime obtained there is used to manufacture concrete .

Use of drinking water

The Dead Mountains are one of the largest and most water-rich karst massifs in Austria. The surrounding communities get their drinking water partly or entirely from the open and hidden karst springs or from the karst water- fed groundwater bodies of the adjacent valleys. In order to protect and preserve these important water resources, the entire Dead Mountains were designated as a water conservation area in 1984 . Hut settlements such as on the Wurzeralm are connected to the sewer system of the respective community via long sewer pipes.


The high elevations of the Dead Mountains are largely outside the permanent settlement area, so settlement is limited to a few isolated mountain farms, alpine pastures and mountain huts. The names of the remote individual farms often end with -reith or -reuth and are reminiscent of the clearing of the mountain forest in the course of opening up the mountains. In the winter sports areas, huts, hotels and other buildings form a kind of modern scattered settlement in the high mountains. In particular on the Tauplitzalm ( 1600  m above sea level ) there is a pronounced tourist infrastructure. The Catholic branch church of the Holy Trinity has also stood here since 1963 .



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Web links

Commons : Dead Mountains  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

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This article was added to the list of excellent articles in this version on October 28, 2019 .