Obergurgl Day Two – Zwieselstein to Solden

Dear Readers, our go-to walk when we first get to Obergurgl is to get the bus to Zwieselstein, a little village located at the pinchpoint between the Obergurgl and Vent valleys, and to walk into Solden. It’s only a few miles, but it takes us alongside the Gurgl river and through the pine forest, so it’s cool and undulating without being too challenging. First up, though, we get off the bus a stop earlier than we should have (as usual) and so we walk past the eighteenth century church known as the Maria Hilf Kapelle. You can see the onion-shaped spire in the photo  below.

Then we come to a covered bridge dating from 2006. They definitely like a covered bridge around here.

I love all the wood piled up for the winter. The whole of Obergurgl is now powered by a district heating system using wood – previously many buildings were oil powered, which involved tankers travelling huge distances to get to the village. While I’m not overall keen on biofuels, they seem to make much more sense here, where there’s wood in abundance, than in many other places (like the UK for example, where the Drax power station uses wood imported from North American old-growth forests). Let me know how that’s sustainable.

But enough, I’m on holiday!

There is a very nice drinking fountain close to the main hotel, and I notice how the various ‘weeds’ prefer the splash zone. Very sensible.

Then it’s on, into the woods…

Alongside is the River Gurgl, milky with glacial run-off and looking quite the challenge for anyone into white-water canoeing or rafting. There are enormous boulders the size of houses, a testament to the power of wind and water over time – there are several huge areas of landslip too.

Some of the boulders are ecosystems in their own right, covered with moss and lichen and Alpine plants such as houseleeks.

There are a few patches of yellow foxgloves (Digitalis luteum) here too.

Then we suddenly come out of the wood and onto the long tarmac road into Solden itself. En route, we pass one of my favourite chalets – the front garden is always full of eclectic sculpture and it’s interesting to see how it’s changed since our last visit four years ago. I wonder if it’s a change of ownership, or just of taste?

Garden in 2023

Same garden in 2019!

Then it’s down into Solden while we consider whether to head up to the top of the Gaislachkoglbahn lift. Our Oetzal card (free to all visitors) gives us one up and down trip on each lift in the valley everyday, and as the weather was clearing we thought it was worth a shot.

Underneath the lift here’s a mountain-bike trail which is immensely popular with young cycling enthusiasts, though it looks pretty hair-raising to me. Cyclists load their bikes into the cable car and go to the first station (2176 metres) and then career all the way down again. I am always impressed at their daring, while being a little worried about what happens if you come off your bike midway down the trail.

The Gaislachkoglbahn heading up the mountain.

Anyhoo, we get to the first station without too much excitement. For the second leg (up to 3,040 metres) we share a gondola with a German family, where the Dad is clearly nervous and spends the entire 15 minutes joking about how much fun it will be if we plummet to the ground. I am glad that my German isn’t any better. I have noticed though that when people are afraid they often talk inanely about the very thing that they’re frightened of, so I have some compassion. It’s nice to get a gondola to ourselves when we go back down, nonetheless.

The view from the top is spectacular.

And for this trip at least, we resist the charms of the Ice Q Bar and Restaurant,  which featured in a James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ (and indeed there is a James Bond museum at the top). I’m sure we’ll be back for strudel and an eiscaffe later in the trip though. During the winter you can have dinner at the restaurant on a Wednesday evening, but they don’t do it in the summer. Harrumph.

The Ice Q Bar and Restaurant

And just to remind us that it’s not all fun and games in the mountains, there’s a rescue helicopter zooming about, and the lift complex is halted for a few minutes.

And then it’s time to head back down for lunch in the village. Of all the lifts that we use, this one has the most precipitous drop from the top station – it feels as if you’re thrown over the edge, which is quite unnerving. Just as well we can have a small scream in our empty gondola without disturbing any children or others of a nervous disposition.

5 thoughts on “Obergurgl Day Two – Zwieselstein to Solden

  1. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Looks like a nice introductory walk – with all the elements – a “Gurgling” stream, alpine flowers and a scary ride… (Oh, how I miss those!) Careering down a mountain on a bike is certainly much scarier! 😊

  2. Ann Bronkhorst

    Lovely place. Zooming in for a moment, what small critters are known to settle into the crevices of those wood piles? I suppose just through the winter months.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      Various critters like wood piles, including moths and long-horn beetles, and various little rodents will nestle in as well…

  3. Charlie Bowman

    In case you haven’t done it in the past I recommend the walk from Vent to the Martin Busch hut, then, if feeling fit, on to where they found ‘Otzi’.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      We did this walk one year, and it is spectacular – I remember it most for the young couple who brought their elderly golden retriever on the walk. It was hot and the poor thing kept finding mountain streams to lay in. Eventually he refused to move and the pair of them had to carry him back 🙁


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