On a sunny Friday morning, I set off, full of enthusiasm, for Völs am Schlern, where skiing instructor and mountain guide, cross-country skiing teachers AND extreme mountaineer Helmut Kritzinger from Haus Santner
is already waiting for me, as he is going to take me on a hike today. I'm looking forward to it – let's go!
Close to nature – up close
A slight, barely discernible hand movement indicating left just before we cross the road. I can see straight away that Helmut is an experienced hiking and mountain guide. He adapts his pace to mine, gives little tips on orientation and 'feels' his environment, touching the trees, bushes and animals that we come across on our way.
along the old hollow-way to Ums, past the only yellow cherry tree in the area. “The wood is so hard that we used to cut bolts out of it when we were boys, which we then stuck into cracks in the rock to go climbing“, explains Helmut with a grin.
Perfect far-reaching views
As he smiles, I gaze off into the distance, where the blue sky forms a dazzling roof over the mountains and the views are amazing! I am full of elation, rivalling the blades of grass bursting with life, green to their very tips. On we go! We go past 'Daiml Hof' farm, which dates back to 1477. The peace and quiet here is almost scary, but this spot could be said to be nearing perfection,too. The friendly donkey stretching its neck over the fence to be stroked appears to be of the same opinion. After a brief ascent, I catch sight of the castle of Schloss Prösels to the left and, to the right a little further off, the village of Völs.
A play of colour on a reservoir
We stride on through dense deciduous woodland, the ground crunching with pine needles, fir cones and little stones beneath our feet. They lead the way to the 'Umser Wasserspeicher'. Wow! Flat as glass, it stretches out before us, its colour undescribable. Helmut says it is turquoise, while I say emerald green...we can't agree. But no matter, it is an enchanting sight, this small artificial lake amidst a clearing.
Of mountains and adventures
A friendly, but determined „Griastenk“ (“Grüß Gott“ in German) may be heard as a hunter approaches us. He passes us by quickly and we carry on our way through the wood. After an easy ascent, we reach small Huber lake and well-known Völser Weiher
beyond it. Today, on a Friday morning, there is not a soul to be seen – wonderful! We sit down on the pleasant terrace of the little restaurant for a rest. “Shall we drink a prosecco?“ “Yes, of course, I wouldn't say no to that!“ Helmut enjoys a chat about this and that, and his countless adventures in the mountains all over the world that he organises with his company Arc-Alpin Travel
It soon becomes clear that he is at home in the mountains and the countryside, and when the glass of prosecco is finished, he tells me that he is already thinking about getting up there in the mountains, where he is in his element.
Right behind the restaurant, the path leads back down to the valley, past some impressive-looking farmsteads, extensive meadows and a unique view of the Schlern. “Oink“. What was that? There is a group of pigs living in the middle of the wood – I would gladly change places with them for a while in my next life.
Till we meet again!
Going past Gflierer Weiher lake, we soon reach the village of Völs again, and coming from St. Anton, we walk back to the village, past Haus Santner
, which Helmut runs along with his wife and her parents. He has a special treat for the end of the walk in store: the chapel of St. Margareth in Obervöls. A small path from his house leads to a sort of inner courtyard, where the little chapel enjoys its idyllic spot. A charming little place – quiet, unreal, like a flashback to an former, calmer time. I will definitely come back here again. Thank you Helmut – here's to a new experience!