Mapping the Alps: Solk Pass Austria

Tag along with the Audi Alpen Tour as it tackles the 1,790m (5,870ft) Solk Pass.

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You might wonder what you have let yourself in for. A narrow road way and barriers in only the most vital places. Solk Pass is certainly no blue riband mountain pass of national importance, polished to Alpine perfection. It doesn’t have its own website, there aren’t massive hostelries jammed with bikers, cyclists, hikers, motorhomers or, of course, other drivers and it’s not cleared in winter, only opening in mid-May. Consequently, unlike Grossglockner for instance, there isn’t a road toll.

You might wonder what you have let yourself in for. A narrow road way and barriers in only the most vital places. Solk Pass is certainly no blue riband mountain pass of national importance, polished to Alpine perfection. It doesn’t have its own website, there aren’t massive hostelries jammed with bikers, cyclists, hikers, motorhomers or, of course, other drivers and it’s not cleared in winter, only opening in mid-May. Consequently, unlike Grossglockner for instance, there isn’t a road toll.

Solk is less a destination drive than a quiet diversion between Villach/Klagenfurt and Salzburg, say, right in the epicentre of Austria. The YouTube video, below, shows plenty of switchbacks and stunning long valley views while the steepest parts reach 15%. More than anything it illustrates better than most exactly what a pass is: a natural passage between the mountains. The road tops out at 5,840ft (1,570m) right between the Schladming Tauern in the west and the Wolz Tauern in the east, both part of the Low Tauern range of the Central Eastern Alps.

Solk is less a destination drive than a quiet diversion between Villach/Klagenfurt and Salzburg, say, right in the epicentre of Austria. The YouTube video, below, shows plenty of switchbacks and stunning long valley views while the steepest parts reach 15%. More than anything it illustrates better than most exactly what a pass is: a natural passage between the mountains. The road tops out at 5,840ft (1,570m) right between the Schladming Tauern in the west and the Wolz Tauern in the east, both part of the Low Tauern range of the Central Eastern Alps.

Solk stretches 25 miles between Stein an der Enns (Schladming) and Schoder (Murau) along the L704 Erzherzog Strasse. What started out as a mule track 6,000 years ago - taking salt north to the Enns Valley and bringing back wine and cereals to the Mur Valley – was made useable for carts in the late 16th century, paved in 1954 and finally fully asphalted in 1986. Its economic significance is long lost but farming still goes on today. The regular cattle grids should alert you to the possibility of cows on the road.

Solk stretches 25 miles between Stein an der Enns (Schladming) and Schoder (Murau) along the L704 Erzherzog Strasse. What started out as a mule track 6,000 years ago – taking salt north to the Enns Valley and bringing back wine and cereals to the Mur Valley – was made useable for carts in the late 16th century, paved in 1954 and finally fully asphalted in 1986. Its economic significance is long lost but farming still goes on today. The regular cattle grids should alert you to the possibility of cows on the road.

Audi drove Solk at the end of day one of its Alpen Tour last year - right after Nockalm and Turracher Heights – part of its 22 mountain pass tour starting in Klagenfurt and ending in Monaco. Also, about 30km either side of Solk Pass is Radstadler Tauern Pass in the west (aka B99 Katschbergstrasse) and Triebner Tauern Pass (B114 Triebnerstrasse) to the east. Our ‘Mapping the Alps’ series tackles all of these roads one by one. See the bottom of the page for more.

Audi drove Solk at the end of day one of its Alpen Tour last year – right after Nockalm and Turracher Heights – part of its 22 mountain pass tour starting in Klagenfurt and ending in Monaco. Also, about 30km either side of Solk Pass is Radstadler Tauern Pass in the west (aka B99 Katschbergstrasse) and Triebner Tauern Pass (B114 Triebnerstrasse) to the east. Our ‘Mapping the Alps’ series tackles all of these roads one by one. See the bottom of the page for more.

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MAPPING THE ALPS: see Nockalm + Turracher Heights. Next Grossglockner, Falzarego and Thun.

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