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MOTOREX Magazine 2016 107 EN

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REPORT Grossglockner,

REPORT Grossglockner, 3798 m Kaiser-Franz- Josefs-Höhe, 2369 m On the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, maintenance in general and snow clearance in particular place extreme demands on both man and machine. Peter Embacher has been head of operations on the legendary scenic road for over 35 years. Pictures: GROHAG, F. Neumayr, A. Niederhauser and others SEASON OPENING AT GROSSGLOCKNER The four seasons – not Vivaldi’s this time – set the rhythm for Peter Embacher’s work on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. As head of road maintenance, he and his team know every meter of the 48-kilometer scenic route. The toll road requires carefully orchestrated upkeep to keep it in good condition from spring into fall. When the pass opens at the end of each winter, Peter and his crew reach their crescendo … The spectacular mountain roads in the Alpine countries are a magnet for visitors. Originally laid down as mule trails providing transit and trading links, the routes were later improved for travel by horse and wagon. Mass motorization in the 1960s brought unprecedented popularity to these roads in the sky. With modern cars, motorists are quickly and effortlessly able to conquer both the distance and the elevation. However, they still owe a debt of gratitude not only to the original builders who risked life and limb to build the roads, but also to the people and equipment that keep them maintained today. THE GROSSGLOCKNER HIGH ALPINE ROAD A little over 80 years ago, an unbelievable success story began. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road was ceremoniously opened in 1935. It had been built in record time in a mere five years, from 1930 to 1935 – no mean achievement considering the simple tools and equipment available at the time. Builder Franz Wallack had planned a road that would blend harmoniously into the landscape. Linking the Austrian states of Salzburg and Carinthia, it is far more than just a transportation corridor. It leads directly to the High Tauern National Park and provides unforgettable moments to over 900,000 10

Zell am See Ferleiten, 1151 m Gasthaus Hochmais Hexenküche Edelweissspitze, 2571 m Fuscher Törl, 2428 m Fuscher Lacke, 2261 m Brennkogel, 3018 m Mitteltörl, 2373 m Dieter swears by “his” MAN TGS 28.440. He has been vigorously helping to “spring clean” the mountain for decades. As snow falls and the last traces of winter are cleared below, mountain guide Stefan gets ready to go rodding on the Fuscher Lacke. Racherin, 3092 m Hochtor, 2505 m Glocknerhaus Heiligenblut Emptying, opening and closing rockfall drapes requires maximum concentration and absolutely no fear of heights. motorists every year. The scenic road also leads to Austria’s highest mountain, the 3798-meter Grossglockner. There are countless display boards, educational trails and scenic outlooks along the entire route. The visitor center at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe (2369 m) houses a number of museums and exhibitions. The toll to drive the scenic road also includes entry to all the sights and service facilities. MAINTENANCE AS SAFETY FACTOR On average, the High Alpine Road is open six months a year, from May to October. Each year the 48-kilometer road with its 36 hairpin turns and two tunnels is traversed by 240,000 to 270,000 vehicles, including 80,000 motorcycles. During this time Peter Embacher’s crew of 15 are responsible for keeping the entire route open and safe. “We’re really more interested in the situation above, alongside and below the road itself,” explains Embacher from the service vehicle, casting an experienced eye over the approach to a curve where rockfalls are frequent. Rockfall drapes are anchored to the rock here and at over 50 other locations. These need emptying from time to time, and they are opened completely before the winter break. In many places the guardrails also have to be dismantled. Both actions are made necessary by winter avalanches that would tear everything down with them in their descent. Gullies and sections of drainage systems are constantly visible alongside the roadway. Water is the High Alpine Road’s constant companion, whether in the form of rain, snow, ice or meltwater. It also carries unwanted stone and earth. When these end up in the roadway, it’s time for Embacher’s people to take action. Each year they also remove many tons of waste – all properly sorted, of course – as well as maintaining 40 kilometers of pasturage fencing. Teamwork: everyone has to be able to count on each other. And that includes equipment in flawless operating condition. MOTOREX MAGAZINE 107 I APRIL 2016 11



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