From Baumgarten an der March to the Austria-Slovakia border through to Oberkappel on the Austria-Germany border there are 300 kilometers of public roads. By car it takes around 3 hours and 40 minutes—without roadworks and traffic jams. The pipeline for natural gas is just 245 kilometers. And even though it runs underground, you are able to trace it. Simply follow the yellow hats.
In common parlance, a hat is used to describe a gas marker. The yellow conical form on a pole marks the position of the gas pipelines that run underground across Austria. And from one to the other you can see the where potential hiking-trail markers would be best placed. In the video Ferdinand Aichinger from the OMV subsidiary Gas Connect Austria explains what gas marker are all about.
“Gas pilgrimage” of the hats
In total there are around 2,700 gas markers spread across the almost 900-kilometer-long pipeline network of Gas Connect Austria. You can see one of these yellow hats every 200 to 400 meters. Below them runs the high-pressure pipeline, made up of steel pipes with diameters of up to 1.2 meters. The pressure in a pipeline like this is between 20 and 70 bar. And this allows the gas in the West-Austria-Gas pipeline (WAG) to get from Baumgarten to Oberkappel in just nine hours. Slower than by car, but faster than with the gas pilgrimage of gas markers. Walking at an average of 30 kilometers per day, it would take around eight days.
Anyone who finds the “WAG” route too long can hone their navigation skills on the “KIP” route. After all, the Kittsee-Petrzalka-Gas pipeline is the shortest in the Gas Connect Austria system, with a length of just four kilometers.
The yellow gas markers are famous all around the Weinviertel in eastern Austria. They mark the high-pressure pipeline that runs underground and their yellow color and hat shape has led people to call them China hats.
As it happens, the yellow gas markers are unique to Austria. In most countries the gas pipelines are marked with simple signposts. And if when hiking you should ever come across an orange hat, don’t worry that it has aged badly—in Austria it actually denotes an oil pipeline.