Hike for the Soul of the Alps

Hike for the Soul of the Alps

by Daniel Bracher, Ariane Wurmnig, Tim Pauli und Julia Stöllinger

03.09.2018

Niederelbenhütte Tyrol

“To experience nature and to see the difference between exploited and untouched nature. The world looks like a big farm… Only 7% of Austria is unspoilt landscape.” Tim’s thoughts in the icebreaker session of the hike. 20 hours later we are standing at Kappler Kopf and look back from 2,404 metres to the mountain meadows we have just crossed.

What alpine salamanders, marmot and gentian call their home. On the right hand side we see empty slopes, left behind victims of ski tourism. Nothing moves, everything is miserable. But we are still in motion and walk forever. Or not. The warm hut is already waiting for us.

And while we take our last steps, the adventurous stories of our wilderness guide Bernd still resonate with us: Grasshopper sex, determining the viewing direction of the chamois from their footprints, nettle – the ultimate survival snack.

 

04.09.2018

19.11.2015, the Tyrolean government gives the green light for the merge of the skiing areas Dias Alpe and Rendi Alpe St. Anton. A project that would damage the untouched nature of the Malfontal valley in the long term and is representative for many other projects in the Alps.

Now we stood there, surrounded by ski lifts, huts and mountain roads that are cutting through the landscape. An infrastructure that does not really match our ideas of an idyllic alpine region. The vegetation is monotonous to meet the demands of such a busy slope and wild animals cannot be found anywhere. The atmosphere in this area rather reminded us of an abandoned landscape than of an alpine landscape that was supposed to be full of life. Also our conversations changed and we started an intensive discussion about our selfish behaviour and about positive examples of social change.

When we then reached the highest point of our hike, the Schmalzgruben-Scharte (2,697), the Malfontal became visible in its full beauty. A few steps further we discovered an ibex with his family. When a golden eagle sailed majestically above us, we all knew why we had to fight for the soul of the Alps!!

 

05.09.2018

“That’s enough.” We, the 11-member group of Generation Earth, raise our fists. “It’s enough.” Another photo, hands down, but the facial expressions show the same: We are here to stop further construction projects in the untouched natural valleys of Austria! The Malfontal proudly looks down on us, while we hold up our “Save the Soul of the Alps” poster.

When we got up a few hours earlier, we didn’t know much about our luck – with clammy toes and fingers we stood up just before the 8 o’clock march to take some group photos. Then our view falls on the goal lying before and below us: the rear Malfontal.

Due to its characteristic as a hidden jewel of nature it only shows itself to the hikers from a certain height, horses graze here carefree without fences next to crystal clear brooks that flow down from the rugged peaks. When we arrive, we notice it immediately: nothing. Here the sound of the brook, there the chirping of the water dipper, otherwise no sound. We enjoy the peace, which is also one of the most important factors for all natural inhabitants of the Malfontal. No yelling, no lawn mower noise, no truck roaring, no engine noise. Silent connection with nature. Quite different as when we take the last steps 1.300m deeper at the end of the Malfontal towards Pettneu am Arlberg. Hearty hugs and clapping hands. The energy of the group reflects the wonderful experiences of the hike of the last days. But in the background it still resonates: the constant noise of the built up valleys. Nevertheless, there is also something beautiful: We remember again and again what it is worth fighting for. For what we will continue to raise our fists: because it is enough!

© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler
© Elisabeth Schwarzkogler

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