/ Munich or Salzburg?
I’ve been offered two amazing opportunities to move out to Salzburg or Munich. Which is better from a climbing perspective?
From what I can tell, Salzburg has more immediate access to the eastern alps but Munich is better connected overall, being only 6h to Chamonix, 4h to Cortina and St Moritz, etc. What are prospects for after work climbing like in each place? What are their ‘scenes’ like?
I should mention that I’m predominantly interested in alpine, ice, mixed and trad (though I appreciate there’s not much trad cragging in Europe). Not so big on sport or bouldering. I’m also a shoddy skier and would like to get better at that while I’m out there.
I have a buddy who lives in Munich and the local cragging is an hour away minimum. Not sure about Salzburg but if it were up to me, I'd choose Salzburg on the basis that I like it more as a city. I'm sure there is climbing nearby, and the Austrian alps aren't exactly rubbish!
By the way, it seems to me that you've omitted looking at the eastern alps as an Alpine playground. You have the Julian Alps with Triglav, Bertesgarten, the Karwendelgebirge, Dachstein, Oztal, Stubaital, Friuli and Carnich Dolomites, the Adamello plus many other ranges - Chamonix? You really like Tartiflette THAT much? ;)
From Salzburg, you also have pretty easy access to Arco and the Northern part of Italy. There's some good climbing, there. From Munich, you're also only about two hours away from our shitty limestone in Franken. (Don't bother, I say, but lots of people think it's the berries.)
But both are really, really good options.
One thing to consider, however, is the A8 Autobahn that leads South from Munich: it is often a completely parking lot. It is probably the single worst Autobahn in the country and the origin of the notoriety that the Autobahn enjoys.
Munich is also extremely expensive -- I don't know how expensive Salzburg is.
I moved to Salzburg in October to live/work here long term, so I feel quite qualified to comment on (50%) of your question.
It is a very good place to be. As Casa Alfredino mentioned above, there are a huge stack of eastern alpine regions between 20minutes and 1.5hrs from the city. Why go over to Chamonix when you can climb all over the Austrian alps?
Obviously there is very little trad climbing, which I miss about the UK, but plenty of other cragging and lots of big mountain limestone routes, particularly in Berchtesgarden. In the winter ski touring is the primary activity here and you can drive to 100+ ski touring days within an hour of Salzburg. I also skiied a couple of times in my lunch break and did a few night tours after work too. My skiing has got a lot better, and I did some nice ski/mountaineering days out this winter including on Grossglockner.
Munich is better connected flight wise and slightly closer to Innsbruck, but otherwise I can't see too many benefits for going there re: mountains on the doorstep? I work 10km south of Salzburg and have a 2000m mountain (Untersberg) outside the window right now. If you don't like the idea of Berchtesgarden, Dachstein, Hohe Tauern, Hoch Konig and all the other big mountain locations next to Salzburg then its just over 2 hours to Triglav and was about 3 and a bit to Cortina/Dolomites when we went a few weeks ago. Have yet to venture too far west as haven't needed to! During the ski season there are a huge variety of mid-sized resorts and a couple of bigger ones too, the best being Saalbach and also Kitzsteinhorn for the glacier.
Couple of other points to consider:
1) There's a lot of klettersteig (via ferrata) around here too, if that's of interest. It wasn't much for me before, but they make nice days out as an alternative to hiking and some of the big ones are very physical. The nearest to my house in the city centre is around 1 minute walk from my front door.
2) Salzburg isn't a huge airport, but has regular and cheap weekend flights (friday/sunday evening) to London via Eurowings. I've had a LOT of friends take advantage of this to join me here for a weekend since moving out here.
3) The city is very beautiful. It has a big castle (one of Europe's largest) on a hill right in the centre, the river is great and it is a decent size without being too large and crowded.
4) Public transport is very good here. I cycle the 12km to work all on flat cycle paths down the river. The bus system works very nicely and with car hire at 70EUR/weekend when we need it, we haven't actually yet got around to buying a car.
Please message if you want to know any more or have specific questions!
They are only an hour and half apart by car, less if you live in the Eastern suburbs of Munich (it is essentially impossible to find affordable accommodation in central Munich anyway). The A8 motorway connecting the two places is indeed often clogged, but if you live down there you can usually beat the crowds.
Both places have some local characteristics that you will either love or hate, and are of course vastly different in size.
I would move somewhere half way, or to Freilassing on the German side rather than Salzburg.
Munich resident for 20 years. Decent evening cragging is basically non-existent / polished to death with the exception of a couple of small sectors at Kochel. And no f*cking way are you getting to Chamonix in six hours (not that I've ever tried, but coming back from the Ecrins via Geneva took twelve)
Purely from a climbing perspective, Salzburg. The only major disdvantage being that it's further from the Frankenjura.
Munich is a lovely town and full of climbers and lots of indoor walls and masses of people in the DAV, the German Alpine club (In fact me and my family are members of one of the sections - they have 170.000 members!) It has great weather, great beer and amenities if you like towns. There is great cycling / mtb etc close by. As others have said the local cragging is bad (even worse than the Scottish Central Belt ;-) )However, you can be in some of the best mountains at the weekend in no time. Salzburg I don't know much as a city, but there definitely is much more climbing/cragging around there. I would also consider whether you want to live in Germany or Austria - there are some differences.
Chamonix is quite a long way from Munich, but there are thousands of other locations which are very accessible from Munich in Germany, Austria, Italy or Switzerland.
Anyways, I think whatever decision you will take it will be grand! (Very jealous)
Oh and getting better at skiing will be a definite in either location!
Thanks everyone, some really useful advice here.
I definitely don't think of the Austrian alps as being rubbish! But I guess I was just making the point that it seems--based on Google Maps, at least--less easy to get to other areas from Salzburg than it does to get to the Austrian alps from Munich.
Munich seemed better connected overall, but it sounds like you lose the immediacy of the mountains. Very interesting to hear about the A8 autobahn too.
That's absolutely mental, 1 in 50 Germans are in the DAV?!
Would you say it's easy to find partners for alpine climbing in Munich? Having a good population of climbers is one thing, but as I know from living in London, it can grate a bit when people only ever want to climb indoors.
Good point about Germany vs. Austria -- I am much more inclined to live in Germany given the Austrian political climate, but I don't know very much about what's going on, really.
Weather is a big one, I've been told Salzburg is rainier than the UK!
Munich has the better climate, the evening cragging is nothing as others have said. Munich has better access to almost everything especially if you drive the opposite direction to everyone else!
It´s about 1 in 80 Germans are in the DAV, their membership is a bit over 1 million but they cover more than say the BMC, they also take the ramblers, skiers and most everybody that is involved in outdoor sport.
Munich is a "world" city albeit a small one, Salzburg is a place somewhere in Austria
Politically Munich is an island of normality in a sea of fairly right-wing Bavarians, Austria is just a swamp of far-right thinking!
I live in Munich.
I don't know whether it's easier to find partners in Munich, but I would hazard a guess and say yes!! I know for certain that people in Bavaria want and will climb outdoors., they are bred on it. I am sure you won't have a problem finding anyone. I am not sure about Salzburg and the weather. I'd think it would still be a lot better than Central/Western Scotland...where I live....;-
Climbing in Austria is amazing, yes, the right-wing nature of politics is rubbish, but frankly , climbing and climbers tend to be above that. Austria or Bavaria - you can't go wrong IMHO.
Well Austria has had some 70 years of normality since 1945, Bavaria 0. I'm not fond of the current bunch of idiots I have to admit.
Some extras for Sbg/A: still better social/medical insurance, lots of holidays.
The cragging close to the city is ok; once up in the mountains, the limestone tends to be much better than further west, and less polished. There is no trad cragging to mention, but there is lots of alpine stuff with a distinctly trad feel.
Concerning travel times, salzburg is a tick better for the dollies, slovenia and friulian alps. and depending on where you live, ski mountaineering and roadheads for climbing can be reaches in 20-30 minutes.
If you need a big city, make it munich. If you want to be closer to the mountains and can live in a rather conservative small place, salzbur is the place to be.
Thomas (migrated to salzburg in 1989)
Ha! nice political summary Thomas ;-)!
Lots of holidays and 14 months of salary too!
I'd go for Salzburg. But then I prefer not to live in a big city. Have used Munich as a means to reach Austria by fly/drive quite a few times. Put the politics aside. There are extremes in all nations. I've never felt uneasy in Austria or Germany or anywhere else in Europe.
As others have said why do you need Chamonix when Austria has a wealth of Alpine mountaineering available in the Eastern Alps. Ok it's not 4000m but it's still great. If you like Via Ferrata it has a good share of those too and the Dolomites are close to hand anyway. Plenty of sport climbing and it's not entirely devoid of trad either.
As for skiing I can't really say as a non skier but isn't Austria full of ski resorts more so than Germany.
Good luck whichever you choose and enjoy.
Just to qualify my comment about Chamonix...
I've just always got the impression that the Swiss and Austrian alps have, overall, fewer big mountain lines at TD/ED1 or above. There are some, sure, but for some reason I just always think of the Eastern alps as being slightly more the domain of classic mountaineering - PD/AD/D territory.
That's totally fine, of course, but I'd like a mix. But perhaps I'm wrong! Are there big, soaring, north facing ice and mixed lines in the Austrian alps?
I don't climb at that grade but believe you will be correct in that assumption. I'd agree you would need the Western Alps for big hard lines.
Good luck with your choice anyway and have a brilliant time in the mountains. I'm sure both places would be great in their own way.
Actually, there's enough big trad to scare the shit out of most people - look into Dachstein, Hochkönig & Gesäuse. There is an incredible lot of ice in winter within a one-hour drive, as well as mixed stuff.
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