I’m stuck. Somewhere in the Montafon, near the border with Switzerland. Not stuck by car, if that’s what you’re thinking. Thanks to the excellent public transport connections here, I don’t even need one. I’m stuck hooked into a rope, my feet resting directly on the rock on little treads. My guide says, “Let go, relax, sink backwards away from the rock, and just keep on climbing.” My intuition says, panting wildly, “What the hell is he talking about! Anything but that! Let’s get out of here! Let’s not get out of here! Aaah!” So actually, what I do is this … I take a deep breath, because the feeling of neither moving forward nor backward is not exactly pleasant. Very well. Forwards, because backwards everything looks even worse than forwards. A few metres ahead of me, a group of children whoops and screams, as if this were an amusement park and we were on a harmless roller coaster. They find it all completely normal and “fun” – this via ferrata along naked, slightly overhanging rock faces and once with a vertical, uphill climb. “It was level A to B+,” our climbing guide tells me – on a scale from A to E. So I take it the Röbi Gorge in Gargellen in the Montafon is well suited for beginners to moderately advanced climbers. As even I did it!
In between though, as a via ferrata novice, I admit to having had the jitters! But strength, focus and deep breathing helped me to master it all very well. Check this out.
If peace and relaxation is rather what you are looking for, then I can recommend mountain yoga in the same place, Gargellen in the Montafon. Because of the light rain, however, our small group had to move into a closed room instead of doing outdoor yoga. The rooms was completely made of glass on three sides, though. So we were still able to enjoy the mountain panorama during the one-hour yoga session.
Climbing, mountain yoga, historic settlement trails: The so-called BergePLUS programme offers something to suit everyone’s tastes.
It’s really interesting how diverse a single valley or mountain region can be. The Montafon in Vorarlberg is also very diverse from a historical point of view, because “first the original Stone Age peoples settled here, thousands of years ago. Then came the Romans, who brought with them, among other things, Rhaeto-Romanic as a language and many other skills and building methods. And last but not least, the Welsh settled here, literally taking ‘any free space they could get’!” Monika Vonier, our hiking guide & herbal educator tells us as part of our walk along the historical settlement trail on the Bartholomaeberg.
We meet Monika in the late morning at the appointed time directly at the Bartholomäkirche. This iconic church is both clearly visible from the valley floor, and also opens up spectacular views of the entire Montafon at our feet. Its cemetery is also the region’s “sun balcony”! You will understand what I mean when you stand up here yourself one day.
Guided hiking tour from Hochjoch to Innerkapell: Learn more about the local mountain cheese varieties.
As with the activities described above, you can also book this hike through the BergePLUS programme in the Montafon. I found that all meeting points, such as this time at the valley station of the Zamang cable car, are easy to reach by public transport or on foot. I had no car in the Montafon and managed to reach well everywhere I needed to go using the local buses. What also happens is that solo travellers like myself are sometimes offered a lift by the locals!
The so-called Hochjoch, by the way, lies right “opposite” the Bartholomaeberg. From there, too, you have really good views of the mountains and valleys around Schruns. At the very top, you can even see the Tilisuna Hut on the opposite mountain, a hut we went to on the occasion of the Austrian Travel Bloggers’ Meeting in Montafon last year. It was a day that had it all, combining e-mountainbiking and hiking … definitely recommendable!
On the way to our lunch stop, the Alpe Innerkapell, which is known for its excellent mountain cheese, we first hike along interestingly designed theme stations. They provide information about water and wind, handicrafts and culture, or simply serve as entertainment. Not only interesting for children!
Last but not least, I can recommend Gasthof Auhof as a cosy little home base for your stay in Montafon. I spent three nights here and really enjoyed the hospitality of the team, especially Gabi, the owner. The salad buffet is really good and is doubly invigorating after a day spent in the fresh air. The menu (breakfast and dinner) is tasty all along.
Check out even more pictures about my trip through the Montafon (Bartholomäberg, Hochjoch & Gargellen) here:
Disclaimer: I have been invited by the Montafon tourism board on this trip to Vorarlberg. All opinions are my own.