Loser Mountain

Nearly ubiquitous with mountaineering in Europe are the Alps. This massive range dips into eight countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland. 

More than a quarter of the Alps rests inside Austria, which is quite the statistic since that nation is slightly smaller than Maine! According to PeakVisor, Austria contains more than 23,000 named summits! With so much craggy splendor, it’s no surprise Austria became a skiing powerhouse; athletes from Austria have won more alpine skiing Olympic medals than any other nation.

Inside Austria, the Alps can be divided into subranges, including the Northern Limestone Alps. The Alps proper are so gigantic that the subranges have subranges. Within the Northern Limestone Alps is a grouping and a solitary peak that must feature the best names of Austria’s 23,000-plus mountains.

The Totes Gebirge, outlined in red, in Austria's Northern Limestone Alps - graphic by Rrady & Kyle Stout

Outlined in red in the image above are the Totes Gebirge. Translated from German, this name means “Dead Mountains.” Though this nomenclature might sound Tolkienesque, the “dead” designation stems from the lack of vegetation, not because they are the abode of supernatural beings.

The highest peak in this subrange is Großer Priel, which rises 8,251 feet (2,515 meters) above sea level.

The Dead Mountains, like most of the Alps, are gorgeous.

Panoramic view of Totes Gebirge - photo by Tigerente
Großer Priel - photo by Stemontitis

Großer Priel might take the elevation plaudits, but it does not hold the English-language title for best name in the Dead Mountains.

That prize goes to Loser Mountain.

When it comes to resplendence, Loser Mountain is actually a winner.

Loser Mountain - photo by Kozuch

This rock reaches an elevation of 6,030 feet (1,838 meters). As you might guess, Loser’s name is not ironic or oxymoronic. Its interesting sobriquet is an English coincidence. Speculation on SummitPost places the etymology of “Loser” on a trail that begins in Proto-Germanic and ends in Middle High German. Losen is a cognate with the word “listen.” Bald peaks such as Loser would allow a citizen to hear medieval battle sounds from leagues away. Perhaps the apex became a strategic point during the low-tech era.

Locals also refer to the mountain as Ausseer Ohrwaschl, which translates to “Aussee Ear.” Loser Mountain’s surrounding region is known as Ausseerland. To many, the peak looks like a hearing organ, hence the nickname. This appearance seems rather serendipitous with the connection to “listening” in the Germanic etymology.

Though Loser Mountain rises starkly above the surrounding valley, the people of the Alps have crafted infrastructure in astonishing locations. All around Europe, roads, trams, restaurants, and inns populate some incredible heights, in spots that strain one’s construction imagination. Loser Mountain is no different. A parking lot sits nearly a mile high, while multiple eating establishments can provide a meal with a view. The largest solar array in the Alps adorns the slopes of Loser Mountain.

Tourism is a huge draw, especially to a rather captivating feature: Loser Window.

Loser's rock window - photo by Vid Pogacnik

Also typical of many of the “lower” Alps, Loser Mountain sports a variety of ways to summit. One can take a traditional hike up Loser trails, scale vertical cliffs for some Loser rock climbing, or employ the Iron Way – aka Via Ferrata – where one can ascend prepared Loser rungs and other Loser aids. If you don’t want to go to the Loser zenith, you can take Loser Road most of the way up and grab some grub at Loser huts. 

If you ever find yourself in Austria, consider Loser Mountain. It’s an L we would be more than happy to take.

A restaurant at Loser Mountain - photo by Vid Pogachnik
Loser reflection - photo by Dromedar61

Further Reading and Exploration

Loser Altaussee – Official Website

Loser, Austria – SummitPost

Loser, Austria – Peakbagger

Loser – 365Austria

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