New Mountaineering Villages in 2021 & Swiss Alpine Club as New Partner
Press release 6 April 2021
- Six new Mountaineering Villages in Austria, Italy and Switzerland
- Swiss Alpine Club SAC as new partner in the Mountaineering Villages Initiative
- Mountaineering Villages as impulse for sustainable mountain tourism
- Five years international and official implementation project of the Alpine Convention
Mountaineering Villages are usually located far away from large centres or hidden away at the head of a valley. Among mountain lovers and alpinists, these gems are considered real insider tips. “You don’t just happen upon a Mountaineering Village by chance,” Ludwig Wolf, former mayor of Johnsbach im Gesäuse and an important supporter of the Mountaineering Villages Initiative, recently said.
The selection of Mountaineering Villages is not random either – beautiful scenery, areas of interest for mountaineers of all shades and an intact cultural and natural landscape, undisturbed by large-scale technical infrastructure, are just as much part of the criteria as the commitment of the local population to work for a sustainable and nature-compatible community and tourism development.
New Mountaineering Villages in 2021 – All the Way to the Mediterranean Sea
The initiatives’ international panel has accepted six applications for new Mountaineering Villages. We are looking forward to new additions in Austria, Italy and – for the first time – Switzerland. The initiative now also spans all the way down to the Mediterranean Sea and the far end of the Western Alps.
The Austrian Alpine Club accepts Göriach in Lungau/Salzburg and Steinberg am Rofan/North Tyrol, the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) brings the initiative to the Western Alps with the successful nomination of the villages of Balme/Piedmont and Triora/Liguria, and with St. Antönien and Lavin, Guarda & Ardez, the Swiss Alpine Club SAC launches the initiative in Graubünden. In the course of the year, all candidates will be officially accepted into the circle of Mountaineering Villages at joining ceremonies.
- St. Antönien – joining on 12.06.2021
This typical Walser village is located in the Prättigau in the canton of Graubünden bordering Austria. In winter, St. Antönien is a well-known ski touring paradise, where a multitude of peaks invites you to enjoyable ascents and wonderful descents. Those who want to go up high in summer will find limestone climbs with good grip in all degrees of difficulty and a well-developed network of hiking trails in the unspoilt countryside of the Rätikon.
- Lavin, Guarda & Ardez – joining on 22.08.2021
The three villages are located in the Lower Engadine and impress with beautiful villages that bear the distinction “of national importance”. Mountaineers enjoy the classics of Piz Linard and Piz Buin and find a variety of ski tours in winter. Parts of this Mountaineering Village lie in the Swiss National Park – on of the oldest national parks in Europe.
- Steinberg am Rofan – joining on 12.09.2021
Steinberg lies in a wide basin at the foot of the Rofan mountain range at an altitude of 1,015 m above sea level, nestled between Guffert (2,194 m) in the north, Hochunnütz (2,075 m) in the west and the north faces of the Rofan in the south. The Tyrolean Eagle Walk leads through this village, which is popular with mountain lovers for its hiking and climbing routes of all levels of difficulty. Located at the head of a valley, Steinberg has preserved a unique natural and cultural landscape to this day.
- Göriach – joining in autumn 2021
Surrounded by the Radstädter Tauern, Göriach is the starting point for many unforgettable hikes and mountain bike tours. In addition to the idyllic “Göriacher Hüttendorf”, a unique historical alpine village of huts, the Landawirseen lakes, the Landawirsee Hut of the ÖAV Section Lungau as well as the Hochgolling (2,862 m) are popular destinations in Göriach, which belongs to the UNESCO Biosphere Park Salzburg Lungau.
- Balme – joining on 9. & 10.10.2021
At 1,500 m above sea level Balme lies against the backdrop of the peaks that connect Italy and France. This village of about a hundred inhabitants has a centuries-old alpine culture that is still alive in the local customs and cuisine of the valley. It can be discovered through trekking, rock or ice climbing, cross-country skiing, ski tours and alpine ascents to over 3,000 m.
- Triora – joining in autumn 2021
Triora’s true wealth is its contrasts: olive groves and vineyards, but also coniferous forests and high pastures; a crown of snow-capped peaks and the endless horizon of the sea; stories of witches and of monks. Trekking, mountain biking, canyoning and climbing are not only about sport, but also about immersing oneself in the past, in the Mediterranean scents and in the sunny essence of the local community.
This brings the number of Mountaineering Villages to 35 (22 in Austria, 4 in Germany, 5 in Italy – including 2 in South Tyrol, and 2 each in Slovenia and Switzerland).
Swiss Alpine Club SAC Now Part of the Initiative
The SAC is the leading mountain sports association in Switzerland with around 160,000 members and 153 huts run by its sections. Since its foundation in 1863, it has helped shape the development of alpinism and the Alpine region. The SAC connects people interested in the mountain world, promotes mountain sports as an experience and is committed to the sustainable development and preservation of the mountain world. Every year, the SAC offers over 200 courses and thus promotes the training and further education of mountain sports enthusiasts. It designs its activities to be as nature-friendly, environmentally and climate-friendly as possible and promotes sustainable mobility. “The Mountaineering Villages Initiative fits perfectly with the values of the SAC, and we are delighted to be part of this network,” says SAC President Françoise Jaquet.
The Mountaineering Villages Initiative
As of 2021, the Alpine Associations of Austria, Germany, Slovenia, South Tyrol, Italy and Switzerland are now participating in the initiative. Different focal points of the associations are united in the initiative:
- to lead mountain tourism in a nature-friendly direction and to promote nature-compatible mountain sports
- to support remote and structurally weak areas
- to sensitise the members of the Alpine Associations to environmentally compatible behaviour (e.g. eco-friendly travel), the unique features of the landscape and natural environment and classic mountaineering “by fair means”.
For the villages, the benefit is not only the increased publicity as a mountain destination within the Alpine Associations with over 2.5 million members. They are also encouraged in their orientation towards sustainable tourism, which should have positive effects on agriculture, local supply, public transport and population development. In the international network of the Mountaineering Villages, there is a constant exchange on how the villages and regions implement their strategies for a desirable future.
So far, these villages and regions are part of the Mountaineering Villages initiative:
- Austria: Ginzling, Großes Walsertal, Grünau im Almtal, Gschnitztal, Hüttschlag im Großarltal, Johnsbach im Gesäuse, Lesachtal, Lunz am See, Mallnitz, Malta, Mauthen, Sellraintal region, Steinbach am Attersee, Steirische Krakau, St. Jodok, Schmirn- und Valsertal, Tiroler Gailtal, Vent im Ötztal, Villgratental, Weißbach bei Lofer, Zell-Sele.
- Germany: Ramsau b. Berchtesgaden, Sachrang & Schleching, Kreuth
- Italy/South Tyrol: Matsch, Lungiarü, Val di Zoldo
- Slovenia: Jezersko, Luče
Five Years International - 5 years Implementation Project of the Alpine Convention
In 2016, “Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden” became the first Mountaineering Village outside Austria to join the initiative. Since then, the initiative overcame national borders to promote sustainable development in the Alpine region – in tourism, nature conservation, regional development, mountain agriculture and many more. The Alpine Convention constitutes what sustainable development in the Alps should look like, which is why the philosophy of the Mountaineering Villages itself was inspired by the Alpine Convention over a decade ago. For 5 years now, the initiative has been an official implementation project of this international treaty between the Alpine states.