Mallnitz, Austria | C.1965

Photo Credit: Peter Palfi

Gently gliding down 7,831 feet of mountain terrain sounds quite challenging to the average person. For the Austrian Ankogelbahn, however, it’s the daily routine. Taking avid alpinists and skiers to some of the highest points in the Hohe Tauern National Park, this cable car continues a long tradition in the area of carrying “goods” through various altitudes. Before servicing guests looking to slalom, however, there was only one important export in this part of the mountains in Mallnitz-–salt. 

Since the Bronze Age, a trail has existed through this mountain pass, becoming more formalized when the Ancient Romans built paved roads through the area (remnants of which still exist today). Mallnitz became even more strategically important in the Middle Ages as it became an important stop on the salt trade route from Salzburg to the south. Due to the demand of European taste buds as well as food preservation methods, salt was an extremely important commodity at this time, and had to be well protected. As such, various castles and fortifications can be spotted in the area, including the remains of Niederfalkenstein Castle just to the south of Mallnitz. Entering the modern era, the town’s main industry became a little more leisurely, trading salt mining for ski goggles. 

Since 1966, the Ankogelbahn system has been transporting patrons up and down the Angkogel mountain in two separate sections. Reaching the top, gondola users have the difficult decision to ski down or stay put at the Hannoverhaus hut overlooking the entire mountain pass with a hot drink in hand. Now that’s nothing to be salty about.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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