In July it was time again: 12 young people from Austria and Germany set out to discover the Ötztaler Ache in Tyrol at the 8th Riverwalk. It was not only about to explore the river with all senses, but also to draw attention to the threat posed by the planned expansion of the hydroelectric power in Kaunertal. During the 10-day hike, the Riverwalkers had conversations with experts, learned about intense group experiences and expanded their awareness of the topic of water.
High up –
Discover and protect endangered glacier rivers
– Riverwalk 2022 –
The sun is already low as we went towards the mountain massif. Finally we see her – the Ötztaler Ache, one of the last glacier rivers of the Alps. A river that is still allowed to flow freely for the most part. A river that should now fall victim to hydroelectric power.
We stand there and listen to its energetic roar. It will accompany us for the next eleven days and become as familiar to us as if we had always known it. Together with her we will not only get to know her and the contradictions of the Ötztal, but also a group of fascinating people.
The first days we spend in dizzying heights. At over 3,000 meters, we climb up the Joch between red-orange rock chains. Surefootedness, stamina and noodles with ayvar for refreshment are required before we arrive exhausted at the bottom of the valley. We quickly set up our camp and then lie snuggled under the tarp. It’s not easy, but it brings us together – like so many things on the Riverwalk.
The following days we follow the Ötztaler Ache into more even and comfortable terrain. Exciting encounters await us. We get to know a geology teacher who becomes a friend, accompanies us on hikes and helps us to experience the Ötztal. As different as the people in our group, as varied are the Ötztal and the meanders of the Ötztaler Ache.
Making fire, collecting stones, exchanging ideas, learning about water power, cooking together, sleeping outside – there was a lot to experience at the Riverwalk. And one thing was the constant companion: the energetic rushing of the Ötztaler Ache.