The Mountaineering Villages (“Bersteigerdörfer”) tend to be located far away from large towns and urban areas in the Alps, often hidden away at the end of a valley. Among mountain lovers and alpinists, these villages are often considered insider tips.
The Mountaineering Villages recently announced an exciting development as six new villages have been accepted to join the initiative during 2021. The six villages are in Austria, Italy and, for the first time, Switzerland.
The new villages in Austria are Göriach in Lungau/Salzburg and Steinberg am Rofan/North Tyrol; in Italy, Balme/Piedmont and Triora/Liguria; and in Switzerland, St. Antönien, Lavin, Guarda and Ardez in Grisons.
This brings the number of Mountaineering Villages to 35, with 22 in Austria, four in Germany, five in Italy of which two are in South Tyrol, and two each in Slovenia and Switzerland.
Furthermore, the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) has become the newest partner of the initiative, joining the Austrian (ÖAV), German (DAV), Italian (CAI), Slovenian (PZS) and South Tyrolean (AVS) Alpine clubs and associations.
The Mountaineering Villages stand for sustainable mountain tourism in the Alps and are committed to the preservation of local cultural values. The villages focus on the personal responsibility of their visitors to behave in an environmentally conscious and responsible way in the mountains. By aligning themselves with more sustainable forms of tourism, the Mountaineering Villages aim to increase the positive effects on agriculture, local supply, public transport and population development.
The selection criteria to join the initiative embody these ideals and include the requirement that a village contains “beautiful” scenery, areas of interest for any and all types of mountaineers, and that intact cultural and natural landscapes have been maintained and remain undisturbed by large-scale infrastructure. Moreover, the local populations in Mountaineering Villages commit themselves to work for sustainable and nature-compatible community and tourism development.
In 2016, Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden became the first Mountaineering Village outside Austria to join the initiative. Since then, the project has transcended national borders to promote sustainable development across the Alpine region in tourism, nature conservation, regional development, mountain agriculture and many more areas. Within this international network, a constant exchange takes place on how the villages and regions can, and do, implement their strategies for a better future.
The Mountaineering Villages’ philosophy was inspired by the Alpine Convention, which sets out what sustainable development in the Alps should look like. Since expanding to other Alpine countries, the Mountaineering Village initiative has been an official implementation project of the Alpine Convention.