These are disturbing images of the Salzburger Kitzsteinhorn: a winter with little snow, Saharan sand and high temperatures melts the eternal ice and seals its imminent end.
The “Krone” photographers Stefanie Oberhauser and Jürgen Feichter, who live in Pinzgau, were unusually silent after a flying visit to the Kitzsteinhorn: “Look, it doesn’t look good at all with the snow and the glacier.”
Minutes later, her photos arrived. They show a worrying state of Salzburg’s highest ski area. Where white blankets of snow and meters-thick layers of ice are suspected, there is often only rubble.
Ice sheets only survive for 30 years
“2003, 2015, 2019 and 2022: Those were very difficult years. The glacier is suffering disproportionately, no old snow remnants are left behind,” Norbert Karlsböck confirms the assumptions.
Then the boss of the Gletscherbahnen begins to explain: “The glacier is low-lying because it is below 3000 meters. Accordingly, he visually looks at the moment, characterized by the blue, gray ice. We know that the glacier on the Kitzsteinhorn is retreating , like all the others in the Alps. If it continues to develop like this, the glacier will retreat into small remaining ice fields for the next 30 years.”
“We are experiencing an exceptionally bad glacier year”
Researcher Markus Keuschnig (Geoconsult) knows: “We are experiencing an exceptionally bad glacier year. This is due to the lack of snow in winter. The storm blew away what little snow was left. Then Sahara dust came on top. The high temperatures this summer are the icing on the cake.”
No restrictions on skiing in winter
According to Karlsböck, Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG is not at risk of direct consequences. “Summer skiing has been discontinued since 2007. Nevertheless, August was the best ever in terms of visitor numbers. And in winter the Kitzsteinhorn will be the first point where snow falls or snow production is possible.”