Tyroleans in the mountains
“Mountaineering is more than just a sport. It is a passion!” That is how Hermann Buhl (1924-1957), a great Tyrolean mountaineer and pioneer of the alpine style of climbing, described his relationship with the mountains.
To this day, little has changed in this relationship with the mountains surrounding us. The Tyrol, aka the Land in the Mountains, has an outstanding reputation not only for mountaineering but also for almost every kind of physical exercise. Both in summer and winter, the mountains radiate a sense of freedom. The mere thought of the fresh, cold air, the green alpine meadows or the crunch of snow underfoot is enough to raise the pulse of many Tyroleans.
But if you imagine the typical Tyrolean yodelling on the mountain in traditional dress, you will be disappointed, because such stereotypes are only to be seen in romantic films. True, the standard attire relating to this stereotype, the leather trousers and the folk costume (Dirndl is not quite correct) hangs in every well-assorted Tyrolean wardrobe, but is only worn on special occasions. And yodelling is something that very few Tyroleans can do. In fact the tradition is in danger of dying out. What is not a stereotype but a living tradition, is the Tyrolean passion for the mountains and outdoor activities, involving numbers that are well above the Austrian average. Overall, more than two thirds of the local population do some kind of sport on a regular basis. A large proportion of Tyroleans enjoy the mountains through sports such as skiing, tobogganing, hiking or climbing, which have become part of the Tyrolean identity and are practised and discussed with a sense of pride. Almost half of all Tyroleans put on their hiking boots several times a month and more than a third regularly go skiing. So it is no exaggeration to regard the Tyroleans’ love of nature as an integral part of the regional identity.
This image of an active and sporting region has not only attracted millions of sports and nature-loving tourists from all over the world in recent years and decades, but has also led to the establishment of several successful sports companies and persuaded a number of international sporting giants such as Armada, Burton Snowboards or Black Diamond to move their European headquarters to the Tyrol.
Apart from the sporting aspect, the mountains are also both a party venue and a source of legend in the Tyrol. One of the most famous sagas from the Innsbruck area is the story of Frau Hitt: In their wealth, pride and arrogance, Frau Hitt and her son had no respect for nature and the people of the Tyrol. According to the legend, when Frau Hitt had her son cleaned with bread crumbs by poor and hungry people one day, the heavens darkened and a rockslide turned mother and son into stone figures that can still be seen petrified for all eternity under the peaks of the Nordkette, the mountain range north of Innsbruck. The legend of Frau Hitt and other Tyrolean sagas can be found here.
According to the motto “Expect the unexpected”, the Alps, their traditions and sports facilities, offer a great leisure area. A passion for the mountains is very much in the air in the Tyrol.