Ötscher Tropfsteinhöhle


Useful Information

Location: Near Kienberg-Gaming.
A1 exit Ybbs, B25 south through Scheibbs, Neubrück. Turn left toward Kienberg, signposted. 8 km up the valley to the Schindlhütte. 1 hour walk to the cave, marked red-white-red and number 05.
Alternative: 2 h walk from Lachenhof, signposted.
Katasternummer: 1824/10
(47.909121, 15.186469)
Open: MAY-JUN Sat, Sun, Hol 9-16.
JUL-AUG Wed Sat, Sun, Hol 9-16.
SEP-OCT Sat, Sun, Hol 9-16.
[2023]
Fee: Adults EUR 8, Children (4-15) EUR 5.50, Naturfreunde EUR 30.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: carbide lamps provided.
Dimension: L=575 m, VR=54 m, A=710 m asl
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Ötscher Tropfsteinhöhle, Herr Johann Scharner, Tormäuerstrasse 64, 3292 Gaming, Tel: +43-664-4064154, Tel: +43-7485-98559. E-mail:
TV Naturfreunde, Ortsgruppe Gaming, Patrick Pils, Schleierfallstraße 35, 3292 Gaming, Tel: +43-6767-822763. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1920 discovered by two lumbermen.
1925 tunnel built.
1926 opened to the public by the TV Naturfreunde.
1934 TV Naturfreunde forbidden by the NAZIs, cave closed.
1960s the cave was visited by the Naturfreunde, the Teufl family and representatives of the Gaming municipality.
1966 reopened to the public.
1987 cave surveyed.
2010 wooden staircases replaced by steel staircases.

Description

The Ötscher Tropfsteinhöhle is one of those Austrian caves, which require some walking to even get there. The closest you can get is at the Schindlhütte, a nice Hütte, somewhere between an alpine lodge and a restaurant. From here a trail starts, marked red-white-red and with the number 05, according to the signs its 3 km walk, about 45 min. But the height difference is rather big, and if you are not used to walk in the mountains, you should plan at least an hour. And by the way, the view justifies some stops. The cave is named after the mountain Ötscher, which is on the other side of the valley, and you will have several views to the mount Ötscher on your way up to the cave. There is also a famous cave inside the Ötscher mountain, but this cave is not open to the public. This area is a tourist area, and the mountains are full of trails, so there are numerous trails to the cave. The ascent from the Schindlhütte is the shortest, but there are mostly horizontal walks, which are a bit longer, too.

The cave is maintained by the Touristenverein "Die Naturfreunde" (tourism association Friends of Nature). This organization was founded at the end of the 19th century to allow normal people to enjoy the nature. Before, only the rich were able to finance such travels, so they built cheap hotels, called Naturfreundehaus, all over central Europe, which were open only for members. The goals of this club are both, nature protection and nature development, so it seems logical for them to maintain a show cave. Today the non-profit organization has 160.000 members, manages 140 lodges and 100 climbing halls, also hundreds of trails across the mountains. This cave is visited with carbide lamps. The hand lamps are provided by the cave guides and rather easy to handle. The more difficult part, to clean and fill the lamps, is done by the guides. However, you need one hand to hold it, and you will see, that people with fitness problems better do not to take a lamp.

The cave has a deep daylight shaft or pothole and a horizontal river cave at the bottom. The shaft is the natural entrance, where the cave was discovered. You can see this entrance, a hole in the ground, uphill from the ticket office. For security reasons it is fenced.

Access to the cave is via an artificial tunnel in the middle of the shaft. When you enter the cave, you can see the daylight above and the shaft below. A series of staircases leads down to the bottom of the shaft where a really impressive river passage begins. The passage winds and meanders, is quite narrow and sometimes a little low. Particularly impressive is a section of the passage where the cave river has split in two. A thin wall of limestone, about 1.20 m high and only 10 or 20 cm wide, runs through the middle of the passage for about 6 m. It has only a few speleothems, but many signs of erosion. Nevertheless, it follows an S-curved crack in the rock, the first path of the water, created by the tectonic forces when the Alps were formed. The passage ends at a 100 m² underground lake, where the tour ends. Visitors return the same way they came in.

The cave opening was known for a long time by forestry workers and people in search of silver ore but difficult to access. The locals called it Wetterloch (Weather Hole) because of cold air emanating from the entrance. In 1920, two brave men abseiled into the cave through the natural entrance. When they returned safely, word quickly got around, and members of the Gaminger Naturfreunde heard about it and also entered the cave. They were impressed by the spectacular shaft and decided to develop the cave as a show cave. The Teufl family owned the Kerschbaum farm, which included the land around the cave, and they allowed the development. In 1925, the entrance tunnel was built and the shaft was equipped with a sort of via ferrata, the visit was quite adventurous. In 1926, the shaft was opened to the public, the tours were guided by the owner during the week and the volunteers of the Naturfreunde on weekends. In 1934 the Naturfreunde were banned by the Nazis, and the show cave was closed.

After the war, in the early 1960s the cave was re-visited by the Naturfreunde, the Teufl family and representatives of the Gaming municipality. They decided to reactivate the show cave and install wooden staircases. These stairs are absolutely safe and much more comfortable than the ladders before. But they are made of wood, which turns black and a little slippery in the humid cave air. Also, the stairs vibrate when you step on them, and they make creaking noises. Together with the mystical light from above and the carbide lamps, the cave visit became a fantastic experience. They were replaced by steel staircases in 2010, which is more comfortable but less interesting.

The whole area is heavily karstified, and there are numerous caves. Some interesting geologic features may even be seen from the road. When driving to the Schindlhütte, about 5 km from the turnoff, and 3 km from the Schindlhütte the road cuts through an impressing fault. And if you follow the road, you will see numerous small caves and karst springs along the river in a marvelous gorge.

The cave in its current form is a result of the huge amounts of melting water at the end of the last ice age, about 12.000 – 15.000 years ago. The numerous floods also destroyed any speleothems which must have existed before. The small dripstones which can be seen are younger.