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TRUE LOCALS
Tessa Mellinger

von Tessa Mellinger

August 29, 2018

TRUE LOCALS

True locals: Christine Ackermann and the Scharnitzer Alm

An alpine pasture where time seems to have stood still: This is the Scharnitzer Alm. Whoever stops here will find a return to the origins - and a really good snack. Almwirtin Christine and shepherd Roland have saved the rustic alp from decay and made it back to what it once was. Christine tells us about summers full of work, life with the cattle and why you always have to stay flexible on the alp.

Alpine life as it used to be

When you arrive at the Scharnitzer Alm, you might think you've landed in another century. So rustic, so pristine it lies there at the beginning of the Hinterau valley and cordially invites you to linger. But the Alm did not always shine in this old splendor. When Christine Ackermann and her partner Roland took it over in 2004, it was in poor condition. "It was a half-ruined barn," Christine recalls. They painstakingly rebuilt the Alm to what it once was. "Nowadays, so many original things are being lost. We wanted to rebuild this piece of history," says the landlady. It was to be as true to the original as possible. This applies not only to the exterior of the alpine pasture, but also to its philosophy: The alpine pasture is in the foreground, the bar is "only" accompanying - just as it was in the past.

Hut host Christine Ackermann from the Scharnitzer Alm in the Karwendel Mountains

Less is more

"We still want to give people an original feeling of alpine life," says Christine. This also applies to the food she offers. Her menu is therefore rather small. "We don't have a huge selection - but what we do have is really good, homemade and regional.". And she is truly right about that: there is hardly any other alp where you eat as "guat" as you do with her. She makes the goat cheese herself, and she also makes sure that all other products come from nearby and are of the best quality. Less is more, they say - with Christine you know again what this saying means.

Scharnitzer Alm in summer

The cattle is the most important

Since time immemorial, cattle have been the heart of every alpine pasture. There is a lot of it on the Scharnitzer Alm: In total, shepherd Roland takes care of 60 to 70 cattle. The alp is also home to goats, pigs, chickens, cats, dog Amber - and a bull that thinks it's a human. "That's our cuddly bull!" laughs Christine. "He was bottle-raised and I don't think he's believed he's a bull since.". In the pasture, that was a problem: He kept running after the walkers and couldn't find his way back to the herd. That's why he now lives with the "Goasen" (goats) on the mountain pasture, where he's better off - and gets regular cuddles from Christine.

The rest of the cattle, all of which come from farmers in Scharnitz, live scattered around the alpine pasture. The Scharnitzer Alm is special: "From the building, the Alm is very small, but the area is very large," explains Christine. In 3 areas (the Hinterautal, the Gleirschtal and in the Hochwald) the cattle is distributed. There are no classic grazing areas with green alpine pastures. So the work for shepherd Roland is laborious. It is a challenge to always find the cattle in the large area. But for some years now he has had an unusual helper: An e-bike! With it, he can get to his cattle quickly, quietly and in an environmentally friendly way. So life on the Scharnitz mountain pasture is not quite like it used to be after all... 😉

"On the alpine pasture, you have to be flexible!"

Life on the alp is always good for a surprise - Christine and Roland have learned that in their years on the Scharnitzer Alm. "You just have to be flexible," she laughs and shrugs. The schedule is tight, and sometimes things happen that you can't quite plan for. "Just last week, a calf was separated from the herd," Christine tells us. Then she has to go with it to the mountains to support Roland. "Then you just run after such a calf for 2.5 hours," she smiles. But: "The cattle come first!". Over the years, the two have experienced all kinds of things anyway. "Every time you think, there's no such thing, something new happens!". But for Christine, the Alm is a school for life for precisely this reason: "You should take things as they come.". Christine radiates a calm and contentment that is contagious. She doesn't worry about "woulda, woulda, coulda" - perhaps that's the key to her serenity.

Portrait of Christine Ackermann

A summer full of work

The working day on the alp begins early in the morning. At around 6 a.m. it's daybreak: the goats want to be milked. After that, the landlady takes care of the remaining livestock, makes goat cheese or bakes fresh cakes until the first guests arrive. Her working day can last until half past ten in the evening, and she can only take a break when she has a chance. It's like this all summer long, 7 days a week. Weekend or vacation? There is no such thing in summer. But: "It's a nice job, I really like doing it," Christine adds. She and Roland are hard at work right into the fall. Before the snow moves into the mountains, the cattle are driven back to the valley. The moment when all the cows arrive back at the barn in one piece is a very emotional one for Roland and Christine: "Then you have tears in your eyes! That's when everything comes together. You are relieved and sad, summer is over. That moment when you close the gate is a roller coaster of emotions!" But they know: Summer will come again!

In winter, the sporty landlady can recharge her batteries. On ski tours, she relaxes from the busy summer and enjoys the peace and quiet in the mountains.

Hut hostess Christine Ackermann

Preserve what is threatened with extinction

Besides all the work, however, Christine is concerned with something much bigger, more important: "For me, it's not just about earning a living, but also about conveying and preserving something that is increasingly threatened with extinction. That is my intention behind everything." That she runs the Scharnitzer Alm with a lot of love, you notice in every little detail. That's probably why you immediately feel so comfortable and at home in the small hut at the beginning of the valley.

The menu of the Scharnitzer Alm on the wall on wooden boards

Every snack a little work of art

The life of the Almwirtin is characterized by happy detours: Actually, she studied art and was a freelance artist. But she was drawn back to nature and so she first worked at the Pleisenhütte and the Oberbrunnalm before renovating the Scharnitzer Alm. That she has a good eye for beauty, not only the Alm, but also every single meal that she prepares. "I try to make a little work of art out of every Brettljause!" she tells us with a sparkle in her eyes. She succeeds - the snacks are not only a hit in terms of taste, but also almost too beautiful to eat! In the end, however, taste wins out, of course.

Brettljause at the Scharnitzer Alm

Christine and Roland have created a very special place in the mountains with the Scharnitzer Alm: The small alp has the power to let time stand still for a moment, to preserve the original and go back to the source. Whoever rests here can leave everyday life behind and find enjoyment and peace.

Hands in the fresh fountain

This is how you get to the Scharnitzer Alm:

Hike Scharnitzer Alm

Further links:

Scharnitzer Alm

Hike to the Gleirschklamm

Behavior in the mountains: Rules of conduct for dealing with grazing livestock

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