Hiking in Tyrol with Oetzi

Have you ever been hiking in Tyrol?

I have. So has this man. We were about 5 000 years apart, so we didn’t bump into one another. Sadly.

Hiking in Oetztal: Oetzi (Ötzi) at the Glacier Museum, Fjærland, Norway


Oetzi (or Ötzi) the Iceman is probably the most famous mummy around, outside of Egypt. He lived during the Alpine Bronze Age, and was discovered in 1991 by two hikers in the mountains here, on the border between Austria and Italy. Examining Ötzi’s bone structure, researchers have determined he must have spent much of his time hiking in hilly terrain. This wasn’t typical of Europeans of that era, so it’s not unreasonable to assume he was a high-altitude shepherd.

Hiking in Oetztal: A heart-shaped little lake amidst tall snow-capped mountains in Oetztal, in the Austrian region of Tyrol.

Oetzi’s present home is the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. He was found just across the border, and is therefore deemed an Italian ‘citizen’, or, at least, Italian property. Oetzi, no doubt, walked these mountains completely disregarding future international borders.

Hiking in Tyrol

He may very well have strolled about in these particular hills, just like I did last summer. That thought continues to fascinate me. I had it much easier than he did, though. Oetzi climbed all the way. I took the cable car.

Hiking in Oetztal: Cabe car lights, Soelden

After a blogger conference in very agreeable Innsbruck, nine fellow bloggers and I were invited to retreat to nearby Oetztal to… well, retreat – and have a closer look at this enchanted valley. The Easy Hikers and I decided to forgo a bit of pampering at the fabulous Bergland, to instead check out the mountains above Sölden. The things I do for you, dear reader…

Hiking in Oetztal: Cable cars, Soelden

Hopping off the Bergbahn; I was tempted to run. Something about being cooped up in a small space makes me want to really stretch my legs. However, I’ve done that so many times now, I seem to finally have learnt the lesson: above 3 000 metres altitude, resist the temptation.

Hiking in Oetztal: Large rock, at above 3000 metres altitude, between snow-capped mountains in Oetztal, in the Austrian region of Tyrol.
The landscape is harsh up here

Hiking in Oetztal: Solitary hiker, above 3000 metres altitude, between snow-capped mountains in Oetztal, in the Austrian region of Tyrol.
A solitary hiker in a massive, jagged panorama.

Hiking in Oetztal: sign for the cable caar middle station (Austrian region of Tyrol).

A bit further down is Gaislachkoglmitte – the midpoint station, easier on the eyes, legs and lungs. Trails head off in different directions giving you numerous hiking options. We settled on a short, leisurely hike towards Hühnersteign.

Hiking in Oetztal: hiking directions, sign in Oetztal in the Austrian region of Tyrol.

Cocky cows

Three quarters of the way, we walked past cows and horses grazing lazily on the mountainside. It was a pleasant scene. All the more so for the sweet memories of my childhood stories. Heidi and Peter could easily have come running and laughing up the hill at any time.

Hiking: Cows and horses grazing in Oetztal in the Austrian region of Tyrol.

Hiking: A cow resting in Oetztal in the Austrian region of Tyrol.

I decided to investigate further, so our ways parted. The Easy Hikers continued along the trail, while I tried to get up close and personal with livestock. The horses were my goal, but I had little success as these beastly bovines wouldn’t let me pass. I was too intimidated to challenge their stares.

Hiking in Tyrol: Determined cows in Oetztal.

Heading back towards the Bergbahn, I ran into this much more peaceful girl. I sat down in the grass for a chat, but she ignored me completely. Cows and I, we just don’t seem to speak the same language. Wonder if Oetzi had better luck…

Hiking: A cow resting on the mountain side in Oetztal in the Austrian region of Tyrol.

For more travel photos, hiking or otherwise, have a look at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Where have you hiked?

Disclosure: I was in Ötztal as a guest of the Austrian Tourist Board. As ever, all opinions are mine, all mine.



44 Responses to “Hiking in Tyrol with Oetzi”

  1. ItalianNotes 7 March 2012 1640 #

    I don’t know who looks most scary – Oetzi or the Alpine cows – but the views are breathtaking.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 7 March 2012 1742 #

      Haha! My 10-year-old is a bit scared of mummies and refuses to go to Bolzano to see him in the museum. Have to wait a few years, I suppose.

  2. jade 8 March 2012 0840 #

    One thing that I always love about your blog is that I find myself saying, “ooh, I want to go there!” and it is always somewhere I have never heard about before. Love the cow photos- such unique creatures- funny looking almost.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 0906 #

      Thanks, Jade 🙂

  3. Mary @ The World Is A Book 8 March 2012 0905 #

    Gorgeous scenery and pictures. Although, the Iceman is a bit creepy but very interesting. I always walk away from your blog with a nice geography lesson. Thanks for sharing this wonderful place. It looks like the hike was well woth it.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 1647 #

      Thanks, Mary 🙂

      I sometimes wonder how I would have reacted if I had been the one stumbling upon him up there, unaware. Hopefully, the curious part of me would win.

  4. Denise 8 March 2012 1401 #

    I love the alpine cows. They have a special charm!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 1644 #

      Charming. Or a little scary…

  5. Leigh 8 March 2012 1619 #

    We had just been talking about Oetzi with friends last week – and then voila. Great post Sophie – and I also love the cow photos. It’s easy to be intimidated by them.
    I found the signage in the mountains in Europe last summer to be excellent – and interesting how they do it in Europe with the time – not the distance marked.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 1652 #

      Yes, paths are very well signed in the Alps at least. Never really hiked in the Americas. Is it very different?

  6. Sabrina 8 March 2012 1647 #

    Great views! The cows are too cute… but aren’t those a bunch of horses in the first pic? or are my eyes playing tricls on me?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 1650 #

      Mostly horses – and a few cows 🙂

  7. Laurel 8 March 2012 1724 #

    Great photos. I’ve hiked in the Tyrol, but not in the exact area where you were. I’m glad I wasn’t the one that found Oetzi – that would have been freaky!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 2034 #

      Thanks. Freaky, yes – but I think it would have been OK if someone else (alive) was along.

  8. Lisa 8 March 2012 1801 #

    What a beautiful place for a hike – particularly now that Oetzi has been safely removed to safer quarters. I’m pretty sure that if I had been the one who stumbled upon him that I would have run off screaming in the opposite direction. 🙂 I love the photo of the solitary hiker sitting on the peak – what a spectacular spot to just sit and think!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 2035 #

      Yeah, beautiful spot, but in a rugged, rough sort of way.

  9. Great pictures Sophie! This is a part of Austria/Italy I really want to explore. Your photos have piqued my interest even more. Love the cows too but understand how intimidating they can be. We have a local hike where cows will show up and I try to sneak by without looking eye to eye with the ones that are close to or on the trail 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 2036 #

      It’s funny how something as ordinary as a cow or two can be intimidating, isn’t it? Perhaps we’ve become too far removed from nature.

  10. DebbZ 8 March 2012 1953 #

    interesting post and beautiful pictures !
    please send my regards to Oetzi :p

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 2032 #

      Haha. I will when I bump into him… in the next life, probably 🙂

  11. Rose37 8 March 2012 2026 #

    What a beautiful place, hiking is one of the best activity this coming vacation… I can’t wait to try it…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 2037 #

      I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, Rose 🙂

  12. Jessica 8 March 2012 2109 #

    Looks just like a scene out of Heidi….well minus that mummy guy.

  13. Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 March 2012 2330 #

    Jessica – I know. Like turning back the clock to a simpler time…

  14. Dick Jordan 9 March 2012 0046 #

    Great little story and photos!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 March 2012 1612 #

      Thanks, Dick 🙂

  15. Nancie 9 March 2012 0124 #

    What a pleasant hike. Like you said, poor Oetzi wouldn’t have had it so easy by a long shot. Slome of those cows look a little mean! 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 March 2012 1656 #

      They do, don’t they…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 March 2012 1657 #

      Thanks, Becca. Yeah, I like that one, too. Must have taken some effort getting up there.

  16. Vera Marie Badertscher 9 March 2012 1317 #

    I always love your articles and photos, but this one is particularly outstanding in the “Takes you there” department! Lovely!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 9 March 2012 1657 #

      Thank you, Vera Marie. Very kind!

  17. Christy @ Technosyncratic 10 March 2012 0658 #

    Archaeology and forensics are so amazing – I can’t believe they were able to tell from a skeleton that the person did a lot of hiking. Makes me wonder how it affects bone structure…. and what about things like marathon running or bungee jumping? Would that be apparent?? 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 16 March 2012 1430 #

      Interesting question. I’ve read that running long distances may impact the structure of the skeleton, because of the physical stress on the body.

  18. Cathy Sweeney 10 March 2012 2122 #

    What stunning and diverse scenery. Would love to have taken this hike with you and the Easy Hikers. Very interesting about Oetzi.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 March 2012 1344 #

      Next time you’re over here, we could all do a little hiking together, Cathy 🙂

  19. Victor 11 March 2012 1439 #

    Mountains are mountains! What can be better?!
    Very nice shots.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 March 2012 1343 #

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  20. Jenna 12 March 2012 0512 #

    This is such an interesting story. We read about it in one of my classes, and everyone was intrigued about how he died and what kind of life he lived. The nature there looks amazing.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 14 March 2012 1345 #

      It’s a fascinating mental exercise, isn’t it – picturing this man and his surroundings 5 000 years ago…

  21. Gladys | ByahengBarok.com 20 April 2012 1353 #

    such a beautiful landscape! something to add to my list of places to go when my plan to visit Austria finally pushes through ^_^

    though i’m kinda scary to see oetzi…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 21 April 2012 0902 #

      No worries, he’s safely ensconced in Bolzano 🙂

  22. Linda 11 May 2012 2220 #

    Really enjoyed your Tirol post, Sophie! I might just get myself up my local mountains and inspect our cows and horses – the lovely Lipizzaners!


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