Perhaps it’s the freshness of a new day, when the first light of dawn teases the horizon and the world has not yet become hurried, that offers an inkling of what this alpine sense of life means. In cities and towns, the air is already ripe with the sounds of cars, the horns, the sirens, and even before you’ve got out of bed you know what’s in store for you: stop-and-go traffic, crowded public transport, haste, stress and a racing heartbeat. It’s different in the mountains.
In the mountains, the day begins differently. The gentle twittering of birds in the trees behind the house and the chime of a church bell; the fragrance of forest and meadows wafting in through the open window, and the knowledge that out here there will always be opportunities to stop and take time out for yourself. Whether it’s a friendly chat with the postman as he cycles by as you calmly make your way to work, the view of the glistening glacier through the window by your desk or the sudden smell of freshly cut hay during your lunch break – all these things are conducive to a feeling of peace and clarity.
So what exactly is this alpine sense of life? An attitude? Of course. A lifestyle? Most definitely. The certainty of being in the right place here and now? Naturally. Something inside you that wells up as you enjoy nature and the mountains? Absolutely! You’ll hear a variety of answers if you talk to people who have chosen to live in the Alps, whether those who have returned from the city because they missed the peace and clarity of the Alps, or those who never left. These are people who value the sense of community a village has to offer. Who, at the end of a day’s work, prefer cycling home across fields than through an industrial estate. Who revel in the might of the mountains, the pure, clear air and the silence of the forest, and who, on the weekend, don’t want to drive somewhere to experience what they can have on their own doorstep. People who want to breathe freely. And find peace. And be themselves.
“Like a fish in water” is how Guido Unterwurzacher feels in the mountains. But when one grows up at the foot of the Wilder Kaiser, it’s no wonder.Read more
“The woods at your doorstep and the mountains in your backyard” is what Anna Pirtscher treasures about life in the Alps. She has lived in Altaussee for two years now and enjoys her life in nature to its fullest.Read more
Capturing the world and catching its beauty with a camera – Anne-Sophie Unger has made this her career. The freelance photographer lives at the foot of the Patscherkofel, just outside Innsbruck, where she can combine her career with her hobbies.Read more
Bidding your job in an engineering office farewell in favour of running a mountain hut; sounds unrealistic? Not for Patrick Endl. He and his wife Mikela quit their jobs in the city and fulfilled their dream of life up on an alpine meadow by taking over the Gjaid Alm lodge on Krippenstein Mountain.Read more
Austria boasts countless mountains, but when can an elevation officially be called a mountain? The relevant criteria are: dominance and prominence.
Topographic dominance – sometimes referred to as topographic isolation - indicates a peak which stands out as a unique feature and is separated from the nearby peak or peaks. Mount Grimming is relatively isolated between the Ennstal valley and the Salzkammergut, and at 2,351m is considered Europe’s highest freestanding mountain.
Also of importance in achieving mountain status is its prominence. Topographic prominence indicates how much higher one peak is compared to others nearby. In the Alps, a peak must be 110m to 300m higher than a neighbouring one to be considered a mountain in its own right.
Kahlenberg, Mittagskogel or Gjaid Alm – mountains seem to be named arbitrarily – but of course, it’s not just casual chance. Firstly, the shape has relevance to their name: is it round or pointed, does it resemble a ‘head’ or a ‘ridge’? The flora growing on the mountain is also a defining criterion – for example: 'Grasberg' (grassy mountain) or 'Zirbenkogel' (pine peak). Some mountains, such as 'Nebelstein' (foggy peak) or 'Wetterkreuz' (weather peak) are named after the weather. Others derive their names from the position of the sun, such as 'Mittagskogel' (noon peak) or 'Zwölferspitz' (twelve o’clock peak).
Even though, at times, mountains seem to grow endlessly up into the sky, they reach their natural limit at around 9,000m. Why is this? The collision of the continental plates causes mountains to form and gives them their shape; subsequently eroding, developing cracks, or beginning to crumble away. Atmospheric conditions, too, play a role in disintegration as rain, wind, and weather erode the rock. Furthermore, if mountains were higher, they would also be heavier and break through the crust of the earth.
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