Up to the mountains

No matter what direction you look in Carinthia, towering peaks are a feature of the landscape everywhere. High alpine, steep and glaciated in the northwest: the Hohe Tauern. Gentle, rounded and densely wooded: the Nock Mountains and their foothills to the north. Sunny, elongated and bare in the east: the Saualpe and Koralm. Craggy, light and dramatic: the Karawanken and Carnic Alps in the south. Walkers, climbers, trekkers and extreme adventurers can choose which chalet to meet in and share tales of their exploits over cold platters and schnapps.

Exhausted, but happy Andy and Peter have reached the chalet. They made it to the summit. Having recovered somewhat, they start talking to the others. Making friends is easier above the tree line, and more so in Carinthia. The brothers from Perth have chosen extremely tough climbs for their week's holiday: Koschuta, Mittagskogel...

The chalet is a meeting place for all kinds of climbers. And also typical for Carinthia in that rock faces and footpaths are so close to each other. The landlord agrees: "We get everything up here at 1,800 metres - from serious mountaineers with 10 kg of ropes to the day-trippers in trainers." Committed outdoor enthusiasts like the Brands family regularly spend the night here before they continue their guided tour staying at chalets, in tent and barns.

They have been up in the mountains with their party of ten for three days. And have already notched up a number of alpine adventures and sporting challenges. "When you pitch your tent in the evening and cook the trout you caught yourself on the fire, you cannot for a minute imagine being back in the office next week."

Sitting at the next table are Judith and Steve. They look so bright and fresh that one wonders if they didn't get a lift up to the chalet with the farmer. But no, the two

are just amazingly fit. They have been coming to Carinthia for years on walking and swimming holidays. "We love having the best of both worlds: lakes and mountains."

Here is a brief guide to Carinthia's mountains to help you get your bearings:

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