Do not make the mistake, as i did the first time, of thinking that the Hochtor is the highest point and your descent awaits you. For there is a descent, after you round an odd loop; and you may be tempted, as i was, to stop at the restaurant and savour your climb, which took me two hours, if I recall. But after a short descent you must reascend, in a very annoying but fitful climb, to a short tunnel; the true summit is reached but far fewer facilities are available. Now your rapid descent begins in earnest.
But the Grosseglockner has not finished. To reach the point of this photograph you must take the side road, of 8 kilometers in length, and climb a third time, reaching the Franz Josef Hohe over which the Glockner towers and in which its massive glacier lies. Here, in the coffee shop, you can shake your head at the thought of three climbs in one day, watch people take the tram onto the ice far below, and perhaps meet a few climbers off to scale the Glockner itself.
From here you return to the main road and descend rapidly to Heiligenblut, which is rivalled only by Halstatt for its picturesque location in the valley. For me--I am a relentless rider, but not an especially strong one-- the climb from Fusch, the Hoctor, pass, and reascent to the Franz Josef Hohe, and final descent to Heiligenblut-- takes one entire day, from about 8 AM to 4 or 5 PM. There is a campsite below Heiligenblut, and I always have a victory dinner at its restaurant, for by this time it is usually early August, and I know another Alpine tour is nearing a end.
One year I arrived at Fusch late in the afternoon but early enough to think I might make a good start on the road before night fell. But the sky looked ominous, and fortunately I turned back. No sooner had I pitched my tent at Fusch than a heck of a thunderstorm broke out, with hail stones that cut my knuckles even as I lay on my back in my tent, hands and knees outstretched to brace the poles against the fierce gusts. Rain was so heavy the road was washed out in some portions; and the campsite itself, near a small stream swollen by the torrential downpour, was 5 minutes from being evacuated. That evening a finer rain fell, and I feared I would climb and descend in fog and mist. But the next day dawned bright and clear, if also with a stiff breeze. So I think the Glockner and I have a solemn oath not to hassle one another too much. I do not look forward to that day when I scale these central Austrian heights in foul weather!