The Rax massif, along with the neighboring Wiener Schneeberg, is considered as the “Home Mountains” for the people of Vienna (Wiener). Lying only an hour to the south of the old Imperial City, the Rax and Schneeberg represent the last 2000 meter gasp in an eastern extension of the Alps. Stand atop these peaks and peer to the east is just like if you were atop the Front Range of Colorado - you would look off into unending plains, in this case, the plains of Burgenland and on into Hungary.
Similar to many mountain regions in the eastern Alps, the Rax is not one mountain but a large uplifted plateau demarcated by steep dolomitic cliffs and topped with low-lying krummholz. The Wiener Schneeberg is the Alp’s easternmost 2000 meter outlier and its highpoint - the Klosterwappen 2076 meters - is a bit higher than the top of the Raxalpe, the Heukuppe, 2007 meters. However, the area taken up by the Raxalpe is about twice as large and the variety of climbing adventures is much more dramatic. A vast array of trails exist around, up and on the Rax. Beginning climbers can hone their skills on the several iron routes - via ferratas, eisenruten - before taking on the awesome cliff walls like the Preiner Wand, Raxenmauer and many other walls. The iron route also vary in difficulty from the Rudolf- and Hoyos-steigs (Hollental
) coming out of the Hollental (Hell Valley) on the north east side of the Rax to the more severe Preinerwandsteig (Preinerwand
) on the south side just east of the Neue Seehutte.
Ten mountain huts give one ready access along with an historic cable car on the eastern edge - the Rax Seilbahn
. Road access is easy to the south and east and you can walk from the train station at Payerbach - or catch a bus - over to the lower station on the Rax Seilbahn at Hirschwang an der Rax.
A historical note: going from Payerbach to Hirschwang you pass through the town of Reichenau an der Rax which was the old hometown for the last of the Hapsburg emperors, Karl. His old house, Schloss Wartholz can be seen through the trees though is not open to the public. Pictures of the Emperor and his family can be seen at the train station in Payerbach.
One can spend a holiday trekking and climbing the many routes in the Raxalpe itself or you can combine the Rax with wanderings farther afield, like the Wiener Schneeberg to the east or the Schneealpe, the Veitschalpe, the Hochschwab and many other ranges to the west. Area map is the Freytag & Berndt Map “Semmering Rax” WK 022 1:50000 scale. Ostalpen
gives a number of opportunities for alpine joy over the whole region!
Also of interest in the immediate area is the UNESCO Bergbahn Wanderweg which parallels the historic train line running south from Vienna towards Italy over the Semmering Pass - 907meters high. Built in the late 1850’s, this stretch of track was the World’s first line running over mountainous ground. The view of the rail viaduct crossing the Kalte Rinne near Breitenstein with the cliffs of the Rax in the background used to adorn the 20 Schilling Austrian paper note. You can make a grand walk along the train route today - see: Rail history
for more than you can want about the train history itself; Rail Walk
for a little on the 17 km walk - If you do take the walk, save time and energy for a short side trip north up the hill from Klamm to the farmhouse/orchard of Althammerhof where you can taste many varieties of excellent schnapps distilled there. Purchase some for that after climb celebration! ;-]
The easiest way is to take the Rax Seilbahn on the eastern edge of the massif, but roads -especially on the south and the east - fringe the massif and a mulititude of paths lead upward. See the websites for the different huts below and the website for the Rax Seilbahn for more infromation.
Being a Germanic country, there is sure to be some red tape involved, especially with some of the cliffs here, but since no locals have come forward and presented us a page on this marvelous massif, I have tried to fill the void. For specific rules, I would suggest a familiarity with the German language and checking out the local OeAV website for more information.
for the OeAV and for the Austrian Mountain Guides website.
There are several huts available for food and repose:
Raxalpen Bergasthof (60 bed) hut atop the Rax Seilbahn - open year round.
Ottohaus (OeAV) (25 bed/40 mattress) is the next hut west ~30 foot minutes beyond - open May-October.
Neue Seehutte is about 2 hours out from the cable car station and is open from May through November and run by a displaced Nepali.
Hapsburghaus (OeAV) (40 beds/60 mattress) is the grand dame of the huts up here. It is about 2.5 hours northwest of the Neue Seehutte and is open May through October.
Karl-Ludwig Haus (26 beds/48 mattress) is another hut 2 hours west from the Neue Seehutte over the glorious Predigstuhl, just a short distance below the highpoint of the Huekuppe. It is open year round.
Waxrieglehaus lies to the south of the Karl-Ludwighaus, at the base of the dramatic Predigstuhl cliffs.
Webcam and weather
Climbing season is year-round. Most huts are seasonal, but a few are open throughout the year.