The Habach Valley: A very special region of the Hohe Tauern National Park
The Habach Valley is extremely rich in minerals. Even in the areas where emeralds are the major attraction, dozens of other minerals can be found, including: pyrite (up to 2-cm cubes), actinolite, soapstone, quartz, smoky quartz, tourmaline, aquamarine, phenakite, aschamalite, scheelite, and more.
Further afield you will find classic alpine crevasses with smoky quartz, rock crystal, skeletal quartz, adularia, pericline, sphene, rutile, prehnite, zoisite, milarite, and much more.
Deposit sites in the Habach Valley:
The head of the valley
This section includes the area in and around Weidalpe, as well as the territory of the Habachkees Glacier, from Prehnite Island to Gamsmutter. There are finds to be made anywhere in these areas, especially of the alpine minerals quartz, smoky quartz, adularia, perikline, calcite, chlorite, rutile, sphene, laumontite, among others.
Prehnite Island at the head of the Habach Valley
The "Prehnite Island" area is particularly well known, because a great deal of prehnite has been found there. Due to its relatively easy access, this stretch has been searched assiduously. But there are still crevasses to be found, especially in the steeper and freshly washed-out areas.
Emeralds from the Habach Valley
The true value of Habach Valley emeralds comes not only from the mineral itself, but also the experience of finding it. The Habach Valley is visited annually by countless collectors who simply want to try their luck. Also, it is said that the Habach Valley emerald has a particularly good color.
Emeralds are found over the entire area of the Leckbach Creek, but opportunities are especially good at these three points:
The middle section of the creek goes by the name “Sedl.” As one ascends and emerges from the forest after the serpentine (the “sweat slope”), the entire creek is also called Sedl. In this area, there are always collectors to be encountered.
“Serpi” (Serpentine Cliff)
The directions to this deposit may sound a bit vague, but if you hike far enough you’ll encounter a house-sized cliff—with a sign attached to it, warning of potential rockfalls. From there, it is only a few hundred meters to the mine.
In the area above this serpentine cliff are the tailings from the mine. In early summer, there is usually a huge snowfield here, but it disappears by autumn. On the edge of this snowfield, there are good treasure-hunting opportunities in the creek.
Do not climb too far up the gulley, as there is a real danger of falling rocks!
The deposited debris was deposited here from the mine over many years, and contains lots of emeralds. Also, the chance of finding a something is significantly greater here than in Sedl. However, the quantity comes at the expense of quality, compared to Sedl. Just the same, it’s more fun to find something relatively quickly. Especially if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the Habach Valley, this is certainly a good bet.
Contrary to some rumors, the mine is still in operation. It consists of four tunnels (or “adits”), although only the top (Adit C) is profitable and actively worked. It reaches approximately 100 meters into the mountain.
Large sections have caved in, because the soft mica schist crumbles very easily. The summer months are when the material is brought out with wheelbarrows, crushed and then sifted. What remains is then disposed of—but sometimes substantial discoveries can still be made in this material.
Smoky quartz from Wiesbach Creek
The Wiesbach Creek is located about 400 meters from the Enzianhütte, and runs like a steep ditch up the ridge. The terrain is very steep and precipitous.
Some very nice specimens of smoky quartz, among others, are known to have originated in Wiesbach Creek. In the ’90s, some remarkable finds of dark smoky quartz containing anatase were made.
This information has been provided to us by Christian Hausen, a Tyrolean “Strahler” (one who searches for crystals in the Alps). More info is available at www.granat.at !
Thank you, Christian.