When a mountain guide who’s been guiding around the Ötztal Alps all her life says that she’s ‘never seen anything like it’, you know you’ve seen something special. Bridgette is one of the fantastic mountain guides that our guests can enjoy through the Obergurgl tourist office’s FREE guided walking programme. A ski instructor in winter, she’s Sölden’s first female mountain guide and offers a truly insightful experience on the guided walk from the Tiefenbach glacier in Sölden to Austria’s next highest parish after Obergurgl; the village of Vent. However, even with all of her experience, nothing could have prepared her for what we saw descending down in to the Vent valley.
The walk was so popular that the group was split in to two and Bridgette took the English speaking group which turned out to be exclusively Inghams guests! We were treated to a massive collection of facts and tales about the surrounding valleys and mountains. I never expected to see a bit of Africa that day, but she explained that the snow sometimes looks dirty partly because sand from the Sahara desert can be blown as far as the Alps. The group also learnt that glaciers provide a home to special types of flea, and that marmots can lower their heart rate to two beats per minute during hibernation in winter.
There was still plenty of snow up on the Tiefenbach glacier and we occasionally came across a huge collection of the brave spring alpine snowbell flowers poking out from the white canvas. For the entire walk you get a spectacular view of the Vent valley and the ridge of peaks which separate it from the Gurgler valley. The only frustrating aspect of this walk is that there are sections where your attention really has to be on the next step, distracting you away from the abundant natural beauty. The small Weisseskar lake provides a popular spot for a lunch break at the half way point of the journey; behind it the Weisskugel peak towers above, the second highest in the Tirol. Fortunately, the group I was with had no issues with stopping on a regular basis to take in the views and Bridgette’s stories (nothing to do with my lack of fitness of course!).
With only the last third of the journey left we were treated to an opportunity some of us may never see again. Like staring in to the eyes of Medusa, we turned to statues as we all watched in awe at the huge golden eagle soaring just a few metres above our heads. It came close enough you could see its pupils set within its razor sharp eyes. Tucked up in between a magnificent wingspan were is huge claws, ready to spring out at any opportunity.
Afterwards, once we sat down at the Hotel Post in Vent for a well earnt beer and strudel, the soaring eagle remained the main topic of conversation. Whilst I managed to catch a snap, one of our guests Steve had a particularly striking photo of the bird of prey as it came bearing down towards us. It was a truly unforgettable experience and a great walk. One I owe to our brilliant guide Bridgette and the superb Ötztal Alps.
Blog by Christopher Mortimer, Inghams resort representative in Obergurgl.