Mount Petzen in the Austrian-Slovenian border area houses in its interior mine tunnels of a total of several hundred kilometers in length. After the mine operation ceased in the sixties and the water was no longer pumped out, some of the lower mining horizons were flooded, creating underground lakes with crystal clear water about 8 degree Celsius. In December 2018 I swam there and will offer this adventure from 2019 as part of guided tours to other Wildswimming friends.
Hiking & swimming in the Alps taken literally
Because the swimming entrance is actually about 3.5km from the entrance of the show mine, 700 meters below the surface of the earth . The first part of the route is negotiated in a narrow, narrow-gauge underground railway, then the path leads many steps down into the wardrobe in which usually the kayakers their wetsuits and other equipment. For us swimmers, the procedure is shortened a bit, leaving it to my guests, whether they want to plunge into the floods with or without Neo.
First wander, then wade, then swim, then marvel
From the changing room, it goes down a few more steep steps. Arriving at the bottom, you can already hear a slight noise and then discovered in a small cavern on the rock moored sit-on-top kayaks and paddles. From here you wade for a few minutes against a slight current before you reach the deep area with calm, stagnant water after exceeding a small dam wall. From now on it is swimming and wondering.
Helmet? Headlamp? Wetsuit? As you wish !
In principle, all these equipment can be provided by the operator, whether they are the respective swimmer then for themselves remains up to you. For safety reasons, there is also a kayaker and enough light for every tour. Gladly swimming buoys can be brought or lent. In any case, it is advisable to use neoprene slippers and special caution should be exercised by crawl swims so that they do not touch the rock when stroking.
Up and down – over and out
At the end of the swim we hop or slip more or less elegant across a small non-dangerous waterfall, then wading back to the steps and climb into the locker room. After drying and changing we walk through the branched tunnels in a former residence room of the miners, where we expect a hearty snack from buckwheat ore with greaves, bacon, rye bread and warming drinks. From here, after another very informative stollen hike to the narrow-gauge railway, which brings us back to the daylight after a wild ride.
INFOBOX MINE-SWIMMING-TOUR :
Information, dates & bookings: Hansjörg Ransmayr email@example.com, mobile: +43/6643943691 How to get there: From Austria take the A2 motorway from Klagenfurt to the Völkermarkt exit, then the B82 / B81 to Bleiburg and the Slovenian main road 133 to Mežica.