10th Anniversary of Nature’s Ice Palace
Mysterious ice formations, glittering ice crystals and an environment that is steeped in legend have entranced visitors to Nature’s Ice Palace for the past 10 years. During this time, the range of accessible crevasses has been constantly expanded. The Ice Palace was originally discovered, however, quite by chance.
This fascinating natural phenomenon is only a few minutes’ walk away from the top station of the Gletscherbus 3 lifts. where glacier enthusiasts can experience a sensational journey through the eternal ice every day of the year and in all weather conditions. The guided tour is easy to negotiate, even wearing ski boots. Wondrous ice forms of up to 8 metre long stalactites, frozen waterfalls and sparkling ice crystals fascinate every visitor. During the one-hour tour, you will also discover a glacial lake that can even be explored by boat.
Roman Erler from Lanersbach discovered Nature’s Ice Palace in August 2007. He found a shaft in a steep ice wall at the side of the glacier, measuring only 10 cm in width. On looking inside, all he could see was an enormous expanse of black nothingness. His curiosity, however, was stronger than the fear of the unknown and Roman use his ice axe to open up the narrow gap, freeing a way into a unique and fascinating world of ice.
Visitors were given access to this special natural phenomenon for the first time in November 2008. Secured with a climbing harness and rope, only a small fraction of today’s Nature’s Ice Palace could be visited to start with. As numbers of visitors increased considerably, the tour was made easier by constructing an artificial tunnel and a bridge. Climbing harnesses were thus no longer needed and families were able to safely marvel at the icy wonder world with children aged 6 and over. As an additional highlight for children, local artist Leonhard Tipotsch from Lanersbach created a 6-metre tall wooden figure that embodies the legendary “Tux Giant” from Zillertal and installed it in the Ice Palace. The giant is regarded as a metaphor for the glacier itself, which advanced massively into the Tux Valley during the Little Ice Age between 1350 and 1850.
Intensive research by Roman Erler continued over the following years. Further discoveries include more spectacular caves and even a glacial lake around 30 m beneath the ski slope. Over many thousands of working hours, construction was completed by hand with pick, shovel, mallet, crowbar and the occasional technical support of an electric hammer drill.
As a "crazy addition", the world’s deepest glacial shaft was constructed over the course of three more years. The 37-metre high Lanersbach parish church steeple could even comfortably fit into it. Another astonishing surprise was the discovery of further "floors" of natural underground cavities at great depth. There is a plumb line in this shaft that reaches down to the rocky glacier bed, making it possible to record precise measurements of glacier movements. Findings of enormous importance to scientific research. Numerous universities use Nature’s Ice Palace to carry out important studies in the field of glaciology.
Another sensational surprise followed in December 2016: the "Hintertux Glacier Cathedral" was discovered! This glass palace, which is reminiscent of the Disney film “Frozen", enchants visitors with the beauty and purity of nature. As part of an exclusive photo tour with limited numbers of participants, visitors can now marvel at this new section too.
Today, Nature’s Ice Palace offers its visitors a variety of activities. In addition to the VIP tour including a boat trip on the natural glacier lake, for which no advance reservation is necessary, there are also numerous special tours. Those that dare can try trend sports such as paddle-boarding or kayaking in Nature’s Ice Palace. Daredevils can even take a dip in the ice-cold glacier water. Children's tours with a focus on the Tux Giant or special scientific tours are also on the programme.
NATURE’S ICE PALACE project is a purely private initiative and was realised without public funding or subsidies. Great cooperation between landowners, the Austrian Federal Forestry Office, the Zillertaler Gletscherbahn Cable Car Co. and the Erler family with Marlies and Roman and their team from Natursport Tirol has made it possible to create a varied, weather-independent excursion destination for the whole family. Nature’s Ice Palace also serves as a popular film backdrop and is used by renowned universities for scientific research.
And we can continue to look forward to even more exciting research results and new discoveries in the future!