The ‘white gold’ provided by Mother Nature is in effect the Austrian Tirol’s paydirt, oiling the wheels of the local and wider economy and enabling the vast majority living in this stunning region of Central Europe to enjoy higher than national and EU-wide living standards.
Notwithstanding the ability of both natural and artificial snow to hide the multitude of sins man has inflicted on the Tirol’s mountainous landscape the warmer months – May to October but in particular late springtime and early autumn – the hiking and climbing months if you will, will always be my favourite time of year to visit the likes of Obergurgl, the Wildschoenau, and St. Anton am Arlberg.
Both springtime and autumn usher in a riot of colour in the mountains, with contrasting hues, harvests, and floral spectacles heralding the beginning and denouement of nature’s cycle before its well-earned winter rest. The Bohinj Wild Flower Festival, held annually at the end of May is appositely timed to coincide with the riotous floral carpet redolent with the area’s farmland, mountainsides, and summit trails. It is with no little irony that this collective but fleeting explosion of colour draws to a close shortly before the now annual stampede of Selfie Stick-toting Instagrammers that have ‘discovered’ Bohinj and its eponymous lake arrive en masse, as if to avoid the indignity of being infected by what is becoming a damaging and selfish obsession with bucket lists, and the ‘right, we’ve been there; where next?’ attitude of so many travellers.
It is though to the Tirol where we return, itself hardly immune from being at the mercy of Social Media influencers often unashamedly encouraged by sophisticated, resort-led marketing strategies. The verdant countryside, snow-capped summits, and lunchtime thunderstorms will always trump wintertime’s far from guaranteed to receive the levels of snow needed to satisfy resorts, and pistes, of varying altitudes. There is also something far more satisfying, authentic, and holistic about reclining on a mountain hut terrace taking in the unadulterated surroundings than watching snow cannons blasting out ersatz snow onto often barren mountainsides.
Influenced by my WordPress friend Flavia Vinci, an exceptionally talented photographer whose posts I highly recommend, I now offer you a small pictorial tour of some of my favourite Tirolean locations:
Kapall Hut, above St. Anton am Arlberg:
Approach to the Darmstadter Hut in the Verwall range, St. Anton am Arlberg:
The Rotmoosferner(glacier) taken from adjacent to the Hohe Mut hut, above Obergurgl:
Taken from atop the Valluga peak at an altitude of 2,811 metres, accessed from St. Anton am Arlberg:
High trail from the Markbachjoch to Feldalphorn in the Wildschoenau:
All photographs are copyright of C. Bowman