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Stories from the mountain summer


A Majestic Awakening

What an atmosphere! At the break of dawn, the gondola takes us up to the Ahorn Plateau. Where we look forward to the magic of the first rays of the sun.

The complete silence strikes a magic chord on this particular morning. With slow steps, people spread out on the hiking trails and viewing platforms above the Ahornbahn top station, simply doing nothing… except gazing, marvelling, waiting. They are there, and yet we hardly notice them. There is no clamour of voices like when waiting in line at the supermarket.

For it’s quite a di!erent thing when a second cash register opening creates tension. Or when the presence of an extraordinary natural spectacle is drawing closer with each passing minute. We got up at 4:45 am this morning. However, our sleepiness very quickly gave way to a sense of pleasurable anticipation. The darkness on the way to the cable car in Mayrhofen peacefully envelops Zillertal, almost like a loving embrace. And it inspires us with the certainty of the extraordinary.

Austria’s biggest gondola

The doors to the mountain cable car open at 5:30 am, two hours earlier than usual. We climb in, the panoramic view of the silhouettes of the surrounding mountains heightens the excitement. In a little over six minutes, Austria’s largest gondola takes us up to an altitude of 2,000 meters at dawn. Accompanied by the words of the great Zillertal alpinist Peter Habeler, who explains the fascination of the mountains via loudspeaker. After that we walk uphill for a few minutes and look for a nice viewing spot. You can also get a warm-up at the tea bu!et "rst. The view is truly breathtaking. It will be a hot summer day, but at this early hour, it is pleasantly cool up here. In the distance, a blanket of clouds hovers over the valleys, as if protecting the people below. And we stand far above it and watch it blush more and more. A magni"cent display of colours – thanks to the sun, which itself is not yet visible.

By now it is after six o’clock, and our eyes turn to the opposite peak – the Brandberger Kolm, 2,700 metres high. Surrounded by small pink clouds – as if it were a painting. The night will soon turn into day there. The tension rises. Awe grows. The silence remains. Up here, on this magni"cent alpine stage, we get to witness nature’s spectacle. It is 6:15 am and the sun has still not appeared. Like a show star – the mere anticipation of the appearance turns into a thrilling experience.

Daylight has long since broken, and the many peaks around us are changing their looks with each passing minute. We can watch the shadows disappear bit by bit, and the ever-changing panorama makes us feel as though we have been whisked away into a magical world. But it is the striking Zillertal reality that unites us – accompanied by a light breeze. And at 6:33 am, the moment has come. The camera has long since been positioned. The first rays of light start to peek out from between the impressive massifs. And our eyes blink back. A sunrise like a warm welcome to our joie de vivre. Ray by ray the sun unveils itself, gaining power and energy with every minute. Like a goddess, with the power to immerse the world in a soft light, so as to enchant us with its image. Which we take with us from our holiday. Like a treasure. Embedded in our hearts.

Image: Thomas Pfister and text: Michael Hufnagl
Zillertal magazine Sommer 2022


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