Mass on the Mountain

We had German class in the morning today1 and then hopped aboard a suspended gondola2 that carried us a couple thousand feet up the side of the mountains over Dorfgastein.3 (For this trip, I just brought my whole backpack, which I wound up pretty happy about as I kept switching out lenses on my camera.4)
The goal of the trip was to attend the Mass on the Mountain, something which I believe takes place once a year and is basically exactly what it sounds like: a Catholic Mass, held on the side of the mountain. It’s a bit of a hike from the gondola station,5 but it was a really cool experience. Have some pictures:

Pond
One of the first things you see, coming up the side of the mountain, are a couple of artificial ponds like this one. It’s where the water is stored for the snow-machines, used to make sure the ski slopes are, y’know, ski slopes in time for skiing season.6
Lark
I may not have mentioned it in my first post about Dorfgastein, but just about any time the weather is clear, you can look up and see someone paragliding overhead. Up top, we got to see a couple of them taking off.
Bluff
Heading up the path, there’s this beautiful bluff7 with a viewpoint up at the top. At that viewpoint was something that us Americans found weird: one of those nature-viewing telescope things,8 that you don’t have to pay for. Weird.
Descent
Now, getting back down to the level of the trail? A bit of a challenge. I may or may not have shouted “parkour” once or twice.
Pathway
We walked that entire distance. And then some. Well worth it, though, and the view along the way didn’t hurt.
Miniature
Who needs a tilt-shift lens when you’ve got an enormous mountain to take pictures from?
Pasture
To be honest, I kinda thought our destination was going to be up the next mountain over, but it turns out that we were headed for this little pasture – a bit of an intersection in the trails, which worked well because people were coming in from all over.
Mass on the Mountain
The Mass itself was a fairly short service, but it was cool that the whole thing was put together so far up. Not pictured: the brass band off to one side. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I felt sorry for the guy who had to lug his tuba along that whole hike.
Whip
A cool bit of wrap-up for the service, what I’m told is a bit of an Austrian tradition: bullwhips. The crack is… really loud, especially once the echoes start coming back. But it certainly looked cool.9
Oh, and here’ s a pair of benches, one of which looks sad and the other happy. Because I’m irreverent like that.
Sad bench
Happy bench
And finally, proof that we all actually went:


  1. Not pictured, because there’s nothing really photogenic about trying to learn a new language for the first time. 
  2. Or “gondola lift” – either way, not one of the boats you see in Venice. 
  3. As far as I can tell from reading people’s blogs, being a Professional Internet Person is all about the shameless self-promotion. 
  4. Other things I wound up very happy about today: the fact that I brought the external hard drive I keep my photos on – I’m already at 20 GB of space used by the photos I’ve taken here, and I’ve only been here for, like, four days. 
  5. We hiked roughly 6 miles today, all told, and according to my Apple Watch wound up burning almost 1,000 calories. Take that, Move Goal! 
  6. The fact that it was economically viable to build this pond by decapitating this chunk of the mountain is a great source of entertainment to me. 
  7. Or possibly a ridge, or peak? I dunno, I’m not a geologist. 
  8. The fancy kind that tells you the height of the nearby mountains. 
  9. This photo brought to you by the “sport” mode on my camera, where I can just point it in the direction and hold down the button and one of the ten photos it spits out will probably be good.