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Stories from the mountain summer

Adventure on the pasture

High-altitude flight to happiness

The Almparadies at the foot of the Gerlossteinwand lives up to its name. Where Zillertal guarantees excursion joy and adrenaline kicks.

When I grow up,” Samuel announces with shining eyes, “I’ll do just that! Or I’ll become a veterinarian.” What excites this ten-year-old so much as an alternative to being a veterinarian, is working for the Zillertal Arena mountain railways. His great role model is cable car employee Hans, who is also responsible for the Almflieger and its guests as a guide today. Last year, Samuel was still too lightweight for the Almflieger, so he is all the more pleased that he has now surpassed the 40kg limit – which is the requirement for the amazing rope whizzing.

The Almflieger is a further development of the well-known Flying Fox and comprises four routes that are flown one after the other. Adventurous people can soar over the Almparadies at the foot of the Gerlossteinwand at speeds of up to 50 km/h. Each group spends one and a half hours out and about with the Almflieger team, and the tours take place four times a day. Demand is naturally high, which is why it is advisable to book in advance by phone.

Fluttering stomach

“So, now we put on the harness,” says Hans and puts harnesses on Samuel and his mum Christa to secure them to the rope with carabiners. “Is someone waiting down there?” asks Christa with a fluttering stomach. “I do have a bit of a queasy feeling.” Hans calms her down: “Nothing can happen. Team guide Flo starts first and will be there when you arrive.” Samuel is by now fully equipped with harness and helmet, all ready for his flight. Right next to the top station of the Gerlossteinbahn cable car, which starts from Hainzenberg, the boy resolutely climbs up the steps to a platform. Fearlessly, of course. “Now we’ll secure you,” says Hans, “then you push off a bit and off you go.” Samuel doesn’t hesitate, jumps forward highly motivated and gently falls into the rope. There’s a whirring sound above him, and he is immediately in full swing. First in a straight line, then he turns a little, balances his position with his hands – like a professional. At the end, he looks forward again, directly into the face of laughing Flo and shouts: “Soooo cool… please, I want to move on to the next line right away!” But first it’ s mum Christa’s turn. The first line, as the course is called in the technical jargon, is the shortest with a length of 169 metres, serving as it were as a warm-up. The group then walks down a tranquil forest path to a chairlift that takes them up to an altitude of 1,836 metres. It’s a warm summer day, the sun is shining and the mountain shows itself in all its glory.

What makes the Almflieger Gerlosstein so special is that it is not only fun, but also offers so much variety. After the lift ride, the route to line 2 takes you across an alpine meadow, past a hut. Then a small elevation leads up into the forest to the next launch ramp. For Samuel, the most important thing is to get back on the rope quickly. And accompanied by cries of jubilation, we head straight across 208 metres to the start of line three, which is considered the absolute highlight. That line is 735 metres long. Which means that Samuel and the rest of the group are in the air for one and a half minutes and 64 metres above the ground at the highest point – what an experience! It helps to have a good head for heights so you can keep your eyes open and take in the imposing 2,166-metrehighGerlossteinwand which stands like a sentinel watching over Zillertal on the right-hand side. By now, everyone is so procient that they can fully enjoy the unique view that is otherwise reserved for the eagles. “It’s just awesome,” Samuel shouts. The adrenaline is quite visible, so red are his cheeks. And even his mum has rosy cheeks, radiating like the sun. A good thing, then, that there’s still another ride back to the top station. “And tomorrow we fly again,” Samuel shouts and swings himself into the rope. On this last ride, the participantshave the entire Almparadies Gerlosstein right below their feet. The mountain adventure for young and old really lives up to its name. All the more so as it’s on to the adventure playground right after the Almflieger tour, past the sun terrace, where hungry guests enjoy cakes made to grandma’s recipe as well as Zillertal delicacies. At the playground, Samuel’s sister Martha and daddy Klaus are already waiting. There, they climb, slide and turn on the water wheel. But a day of holiday such as this one is long. And if it were up to the children, it should never end, here in a place like this. After all, the animals are still waiting. The petting zoo with goats, rabbits, ducks and ponies is a highlight for the family. Where else do rooster and hen say goodnight to each other in a wooden hut at the end of an exciting day?

But before that, Samuel, Martha and their parents use the time for a short hike. An ideal finale to round off the nature adventure. They walk along the Almpromenade towards the Almtribüne. It takes about an hour to complete the theme trail, including the breaks at the display cases. There, the history of Zillertal is impressively presented, and afterwards each child knows the Witch of Gerlosstein, the Steinschaf and the Zillertal Doggln. And at the very end, there’s the viewing platform – once more, the v iew o f the countryside makes the children marvel, even after so many adventures. But, of course, the coolest thing for Samuel was the Almflieger. That’s why, beaming once more, he tells of his last flight, when he flew headlong down the mountain. By the way, he also spotted the tractor playground… and quickly came up with a new plan: “I want to have a tractor too when I grow up.” Which goes to show: Anyone who flies will start dreaming.

Image: Johannes Sautner / Shoot & Style and text: Barbara Reiter
Zillertal magazine Sommer 2022


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