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Stories from the Nature Park

Experience nature 

A quiet winter tour

Approaching the mountain on touring skis, in harmony with nature. Marked protected areas, prepared routes and the knowledge of the Zillertal mountain guides make this possible.

The peace. The sparkling. The crunching. Take a deep breath, sense the freedom. Further, and further, step by step. Up the mountain. Of course, you can defnitely feel the metres of altitude conquered in your thighs, but the sense of boundlessness and the anticipation of the downhill run drive you on. Anyone venturing on a ski tour will discover mountains where nature is untouched – at least almost.

In the animal's living room

It is a silent treat to make tracks in the virgin snow with skins on your skis. Silence that does you good. And a silence that is necessary. After all, ski tours lead through wildlife habitat during a time that is tough for animals. The temperatures are wintry, their food is covered in a blanket of snow. So snow hares and their friends have to do everything they can to save their energy. Anyone suddenly bursting into their “living room” causes the animals stress, which depletes the energy reserves they need in winter. Speaking of “bursting into the living room”: dogs must always be kept on a lead during ski tours. For example, there are the ptarmigans, which a separate research project is dedicated to in the Nature Park Zillertal Alps. They are true masters of camouflage and, like their feathered comrades, the black They are true masters of camouflage and, like their feathered comrades, the black grouse, dig themselves a kind of cave in the snow near the tree line, where they survive the winter. The snow hare in its brilliant white winter dress blends into its surroundings and becomes almost invisible, ibexes and chamois choose ridges and mountain crests as their habitat. At dawn and dusk, hikers should avoid these areas at all costs, as this is the time that wildlife uses for feeding and important resting phases. Guidance systems have been set up in Tux on the route from Juns to the Loschbodenalm and on to the Flach, which indicate protected areas that should not be walked or skied on, if you are venturing out on your own.

Willi Seifert, Managing Director of the Nature Park: “It is all about people and nature coexisting in harmony. Whereby the term nature includes the animal world just as much as our cultural landscape. There is a need to protect wildlife resting areas, reforestation and young growth areas.” Signs in the nature park indicate a considerate, respectful path through nature, the routes are marked but not prepared. Anyone planning the tour with a mountain guide can also experience the magnificent Zillertal mountains in a way that protects and respects nature. The experts in the region know the terrain and its special features and can guide tourers to places that would otherwise remain undiscovered for them.

Mountain guide Stefan Wierer: “It is also important to plan the tour for a time when conditions are at their best. So we can achieve the greatest possible safety and ensure that our guests take home the most beautiful and natural memories of the mountains.” Another opportunity to climb up and ski down with respect is in Hochfügen, where ski tourers will find marked climbing tracks and the routes guarantee the best views of the surrounding mountains. A newly installed piste tour guidance system shows the route, the metres in altitude to be climbed and the distance to the destination on boards. The climb up the Pfaffenbühel starts in Hochfügen at 1,480 metres. The route up the mountain is four kilometres long, it takes about two hours and there are around 830 metres difference in altitude to overcome. You are really spoilt for choice here, as another route leads up from the Holzalm 6-seater chairlift bottom station over five kilometres covering 900 metres difference in altitude up to the top station. Anyone setting out on a ski tour in Zillertal in winter with the knowledge of just how stunning nature’s special features are can enjoy the silent bliss and tranquility of this unique stretch of land. Step by step, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat. And with a bit of luck, you may hear the soft croaking – not of a frog, but of a ptarmigan in its safe winter quarters.


• Follow the signs that show you the best route through nature, or undertake your tour with a certified Zillertal mountain guide.

• Move quietly.

• Stay away from feeding zones, watch wildlife from a distance, do not follow their tracks.

• Avoid forestation and young growth areas.

• Only set out on your tour if there is enough snow – the vegetation is very sensitive in winter.

• Keep your dog on a lead.

• Remember that orange and banana peel can take up to three years to rot – so don’t just throw them away outdoors in nature but take them back with you.

Text: Gundi Bittermann Photo: Max Draeger
Zillertal magazine winter 2022/23


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