Norbert Karlsböck und Wolfgang Urban | © Edith Danzer
The Glacier.

A winning rope team

Anational park and a ski resort share one mountain? That works? Yes, it does, as proves the cooperation between the Hohe Tauern National Park and the Gletscherbahnen Kaprun Inc. In 2012, the partners sign a permanent cooperation contract.

The Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest nature reserve in central Europe and certainly among the most spectacular high-mountain landscapes on earth. Among quiet, untouched valleys and majestic threethousanders it is home to a unique biodiversity, with 15,000 animal and 3,500 plant species. The Kitzsteinhorn borders the Hohe Tauern National Park; over ten years ago, good neighbors became loyal partners. Together with Wolfgang Urban, Hohe Tauern National Park director, and Norbert Karlsboeck, CEO of the Gletscherbahnen Kaprun Inc., we head to a summit meeting at the National Park border.

Wolfgang Urban und Norbert Karlsb√∂ck genie√üen die Aussicht | ¬© Edith Danzer ©Edith Danzer
View over the Hohe Tauern National Park. © Edith Danzer

Collaborative summit meeting

We meet at TOP OF SALZBURG, the easily accessible, year-round-open tourist attraction with Gipfel Restaurant, Cinema 3000, panoramic platforms and spectacular views. "Welcome to the Kitzsteinhorn", Nobert Karlsboeck greets us. We observe numerous skiers and snowboarders enjoying their rides on wide glacier slopes before strolling through the tunnel Nationalpark Gallery that runs through the Kitzsteinhorn. Various stations inform about geology and ingenious technical securing of the summit station as well as natural treasures and phenomena in the Hohe Tauern. Here and there are measuring points for the research project aimed at monitoring permafrost. In between, there is silence and dimness. The mountain's slow, strong heartbeat becomes almost tangible. Coming out of the tunnel feels like emerging ‚Äď crisp, pure air, sunshine and seemingly endless expanse greet us. We have reached the Nationalpark Gallery's panoramic platform. National Park director, Wolfgang Urban, laughs: "Welcome to the Hohe Tauern National Park", pointing at the ridge behind us that forms the border between the National Park's outer zone and the Kitzsteinhorn ski resort.

Since the construction of TOP OF SALZBURG in 2010, the Kitzsteinhorn and the National Park have been cooperating closely. Wolfgang Urban vividly remembers: "During an on-site inspection, I was impressed by the huge number of international guests that come up here to visit the Kitzsteinhorn, providing us with an excellent opportunity for the National Park's educational mission by means of the information tunnel, the panoramic platform and guided National Park ranger tours. We want to sensitize people to the precious inviolability of our National Park's nature. All you need to do that is this view, silence and no staging. Our high-mountain natural landscape perfectly suffices."

All you need to sensitize people to the precious inviolability of our National Park's nature is this view, silence and no staging.

Wolgang Urban, Hohe Tauern National Park director
National Park ranger tours on the Kitzsteinhorn. © Kitzsteinhorn

Between winter sports fun and deep silence

The Kitzsteinhorn is the distinctive landmark of the Zell am See-Kaprun region. Everyone who has already stood on its summit 3,203 meters above sea level knows the great fascination it holds. While we are looking at the summit, Norbert Karlsboeck explains: "I like to compare Kitzsteinhorn's distinctive summit with a triangular pyramid. To me, the three sides represent three areas of use: the north-west side stands for tourism, the south side for the National Park and the east side for hydropower from high-mountain reservoirs. Each side has its justification, history and strength. And even if they seemed to be incompatible in the beginning, they now form a respectful whole. A unique symbiosis. To me, the mountain has a great fascination. It's full of visionary, tragic, delightful, funny and inspiring stories. For us, the Kitzsteinhorn is not about superlatives; things don't have to be higher, faster and farther. It's about improving the quality of what's already there; about preserving our wonderful natural space for future generations. The triad of sustainability ‚Äď the ecological, economic and social component ‚Äď has to be harmonic. Over the years, we have managed to transform a year-round ski resort to a snow-reliable high-altitude ski resort with year-round panoramic views of the Hohe Tauern National Park. We have managed to continue to pursue our resource-efficient, ecological and sustainable path solution-oriented and with responsibility towards the Kitzsteinhorn."