The Grossglockner (3,798 meters) is Austria’s highest mountain summit – but it is also much more than that. Its well-proportioned pyramid attracts mountaineers in droves, while its flanks form the center of the Hohe Tauern National Park, and the Pasterze – the largest glacier in the Eastern Alps – lies at its feet. Its simple beauty, the rich flora and fauna, and the west alpine character make the Grossglockner an extraordinary mountain.
But beyond its mountaineering, ecological and touristic reality, the Grossglockner is also an anchor of Austrian national pride. It is a mountain which has become a legend that is fed by fascinating history and exciting stories. The documentary “Großglockner – Berg der Berge” (“Grossglockner – Mountain of All Mountains”) highlights the interaction between reality and perception, between people and legends.
The cinematic portrait depicts how the inhabitants of the towns Heiligenblut and Kals live with the mountain that is enthroned above their roofs. Flora and fauna of Hohe Tauern National Park are staged in large-scale nature scenes. Franz Klammer has to defy a wintry storm that brings him to the limits of his ability to endure suffering during an ascent of the mountain on skis. Interviews with experts and historic documents retrace the influence of Prague businessman and alpine visionary Johann Stüdl on the development of the East Tyrolean municipality of Kals. The first ascent of the Grossglockner in 1800 is reenacted with historical equipment and in old garments: under the leadership of the Prince-Bishop of Carinthia, Franz II Xaver von Salm-Reifferscheidt-Krautheim, the mountain was climbed the first time out of scientific curiosity and patriotism.
The highlight of the documentary is the ascent of the spectacular northwestern ridge. The Austrian-Argentinian painter Helmut Ditsch, known through his large-format landscape paintings, rises to this challenge. His character and his very own vision as an artist form the bridge between esthetic outlook and alpine endeavor – the ascent leads to the promise to artistically memorialize the Grossglockner.
The flanks and ridges of the Grossglockner are the film’s narrative framework. There the protagonists seek and find their experiences and adventures which make the mountain the “mountain of all mountains” for them and the audience. Because even if a person thinks they know the Grossglockner, it presents itself differently from day to day, from hour to our and from moment to moment. That’s why an encounter with the mountain is always a first time.