We came across the Stoneman-Taurista on one of our usual Mountainbike loops in Ramsau. It is pretty new and just opened on July 7th this year. After a short research on the homepage, it was decided: the Mosheims are up for this challenge …
Short on the Stoneman-Taurista
Doing the Stoneman means serious business. It means 123 km and 4500 meters of climbing. You can do the whole thing in one day (gold), split it in two (silver) or three days (bronze). Important though, when you are splitting it up, that you do it on three consecutive days. So always have a look at the weather forecast.
You get everything you’d expect from a serious MTB-tour in the Alps; single trails, long climbs, some heavy passages where you need to push and carry your bike, great vistas, good food in little alpine huts on top of the mountain and even a downhill in a bike park.
We decided to go for the bronze edition. We wanted to have some time to take pictures and have a rest at the alpine huts along the way.
Stage 1 – Altenmarkt to Altenmarkt
We started our adventure in Altenmarkt. Doing the first stage as a loop guiding us from Altenmarkt via Sattelbauer (the first climb), the Griessenkar (a long and steep climb), and the Edelweiss Alm back to Altenmarkt.
We did start a bit late that morning. So it was already quite warm when we set off for the first climb. After the short downhill from Sattelbauer the long climb up Griessenkar was waiting for us. The first couple of kms were still on a paved road, but went over to gravel soon.
On top of the Griessenkar you continue right to the start of the bikepark leading you down to Wagrain. You can take that trail all the way from the top – which is quite technical – or choose to follow it from the middle where it get easier and offers more flow. It was quite busy in the bike park that day and we are not the most experienced bike park riders. So we decided to take the “normal” road down to Wagrain – as far you can talk about “normal” when facing a quite rough and steep gravel road …
Further on from Wagrain the next climb was waiting for us: it was the one up to Edelweiss Alm. A relatively easy climb, though longer than expected.
With the first three checkpoints done on our list we went back to Altenmarkt and relaxed the rest of the day to be ready for the tough climb up Rossbrand the next day.
Stage 2 – Mandling, Rossbrand, Mandlberg, Mandling
For the second stage of the Stonemen, we invited some of our friends to join us for this day. We met at the bottom of Reiteralm and took the Enns-biketrail to Altenmarkt. From there we started the climb up Rossbrand. The first couple of kilometres were still on asphalt, but went soon over to gravel. A few switchbacks later, we had to get off our bikes and push them up the steep climb through the woods.
But all the pushing is absolutely worth it, because up on Rossbrand you get a fantastic 360 degree view of the mountains, plus you know you have deserved the food on the Radstädter Hütte 😉
From there, a single trail and a (first asphalt, then) gravel road leads you almost down to Filzmoos. Just before the road to Filzmoos, you need to take a sharp right swing and continue further (a bit uphill) to Mandlberg. Up there is the Mandlberggut. Here you can visit a great distillery for Austrian Whiskey, Gin and Schnaps. We didn’t go for a tasting this time as we still had a downhill left for this stage. But it is definitely something we could recommend.
After the downhill we had just a couple of kilometres back to our starting point.
Stage 3 – the most beautiful stage of the Stoneman, even though it was tough
Final day and final stage. We know the uphill from Mandling to Forstau and further to Oberhütte (passing Vögeialm) from a tour back in 2016. Therefore we knew its going to be a tough climb. We also saw that there will be a longer section where you need to push and even carry the bike after the Oberhütte. So if you do that stage, think twice if you’d go for a e-bike. It is hard enough with the 12 kg of our bikes on your back, let alone an e-bike with more than 25 kilos …
But back to the start of today’s tour: it is breathtaking, both because it is a long and challenging one, but first and foremost, because it is so beautiful and picturesque up there. We started where we left off yesterday – at the bottom of Reiteralm. From there we had to climb the first few hundred meters of altitude to Forstau, our first checkpoint of the day.
The next stop (to refill our water bottles) was Vögeialm – a nice little alpine hut with really delicious food and a nice location at the foot of the mountains (well, at a good 1356 m above sea level). Today we had no time to stop there, since the weather forecast showed potential thunderstorms later in the afternoon. So we continued our climb upwards towards the next checkpoint at the Oberhütte (1860 m above sea).
At Oberhütte we stopped to refuel with soup, a fantastic bread with Austrian bacon (“Speckbrot”) and some hydration in form of a typical “Hollersaft” (sirup from elderflowers with high alpine spring water). When you are riding this stage we highly recommend to stop by for some food. You’ll need the fuel for the next few kms of tough hike n’ bike.
From the Oberhütte the route takes you up another 1.5 hours where you often have to push and even, for the most of the time, carry your bike. Since the landscape and all the peaks surrounding you on this hike are so gorgeous, time flies by and suddenly you are at the top (more than 2000 meters above sea level).
After reaching the top, the route is a combination of on and off the bike until you get down to Obertauern. Once you are in Obertauern you leave the main road relatively soon and continue a climb down to a fantastic waterfall – the “Johannesfall” – and further on to Gnadenalm. If you need another stop to refuel, this is a good spot.
We thought it would only be a downhill from Gnadenalm to Radstadt. Well, not really… There were some nasty uphills in the woods on the way to Untertauern. But these small “hick-ups”are so much better than going down the main road aside all the cars and trucks …
Back in Radstadt we delivered our cards that we punched at all the checkpoints and enjoyed a well-deserved coffee, cake and ice-cream at the main square. Thereafter, we cycled the last 13 kms back to Mandling following the Enns bike trail.
To sum it up – we really had a great time and can definitely recommend the Stoneman-Taurista. Especially the third stage is just fantastic.