Around 1,800 cultivated pastures and more than 550 mountain huts liven up the SalzburgerLand Alpine region with a unique density. The herdsmen, dairy farmers and mountain hut keepers produce home-made, regional delicacies such as bread, cheese and butter which are offered to hungry hikers. Alpine life is particularly authentic in one of the 170 certified and quality-controlled alpine summer huts and specially selected accommodation partners including hotels to private rooms that guarantee a thoroughly enjoyable Alpine Summer holiday.
The emergence of Alpine Summer
Farmers have always driven their cattle to the mountain pastures in early summer. Dairy farmers and shepherds cared for the herd there from June to the end of September. Meanwhile, the farm in the valley grew more quiet which created more time to cultivate the fields and harvest hay. High up on the mountain, the dairyman’s day would start at the crack of dawn to gather the cows from the pasture for milking. The fresh milk was made into delicious butter by the mountain farmers or affectionately turned into spicy alpine cheese. The cheeses matured in an earth cellar and were carried to the valley during the cattle drive. The lush mountain meadow grass was strenuously mowed with scythes by the farmers and stored in hay lofts for winter. Passing hikers were always welcomed and served with the home-made products who were delighted to receive freshly baked bread with butter, a glass of cold buttermilk, spicy cheese and maybe even a slice of traditional home-cured bacon. Over the years, more and more people discovered their love for hiking and so the growing mountain tourism resulted in mountain farmer’s lodges becoming quaint snack stations and managed mountain huts. The warm and welcoming hospitality remains unchanged and still brings a smile to guests’ faces. The “Alpine Summer in SalzburgerLand” umbrella brand, created in 2004, captures this experience for holidaymakers.
Keepers of the cultural heritage
The dairymen and farmer’s task has remained the same over the centuries. Still today, they herd and guard the cattle from June to the ceremonial cattle drive to the valley in September. The cows render an important service to the landscape as their grazing keeps the pastures forest-free. The dairyman also manually removes wood and plants during the annual pasture clearing. Without alpine farming, the mountains would today be completely forested and some plants such as the silver thistle would not have a suitable habitat to grow. A valuable and varied cultural landscape would be lost in a few generations without alpine summer.
The Alpine Summer expert
Herbert Gschwendtner’s passion is the mountains. The Pongau native managed the Matrashaus mountain hut in Mühlbach for 24 years as well as the Dr.-Heinrich-Hackel hut in Werfenweng, and hardly anyone else talks about alpine life in Salzburg with as much dedication and devotion as he does. As a television presenter and journalist, he created and wrote around 200 short films and more than 1,000 hiking tips over 2 decades. His inside knowledge of Alpine Summer in SalzburgerLand and life in the mountains can be read in one of his many books.