Suntanned and with a canny smile on his lips, that’s how you’ll recognise Martin from the ‘Activity Centre’. And yes, there are people who can infect you with their calmness.
One of these people is Martin Schwarzenbacher, who has been out and about on the mountains in and around Flachau for many years as hiking guide from our sports and activity centre with our guests, almost on a daily basis and in all kinds of weather.
Now and again I take the opportunity to accompany him and our guests on tours. During which I’m always fascinated by the care and consideration with which he treats people.
Today’s walking group couldn’t be more diverse – two families, the children I estimate to be 6 to 10 years, 3 middle-aged couples and two older ladies in the prime of life, all of whom are joining the hike to the Marbachalm.
Not that easy to keep them all happy, I think to myself. However, before I even finish this thought, I notice how the atmosphere within the group becomes more relaxed. With his dry humour, which he only uses when appropriate, Martin manages to create a pleasant, laid-back atmosphere.
Expertly he tells us all about the mountains, life up on the alpine pasture and nature in the region, taking time to answer participants’ questions in detail.
During a refreshment stop at the Prechtlhütte I take the opportunity to bombard Martin with questions I prepared for this portrait.
How did you become a hiking guide?
Martin: “I saw an advert for the Sport and Activity Centre in Flachau and I knew straightaway – that’s my dream job.“
How long have you been a guide?
Martin: “Since 2010, so for 7 years already and every day with pleasure.”
What do you do when you’re not a hiking guide and what do you do out of the hiking season?
Martin: “In winter I’m a dedicated ski instructor and otherwise I’m busy with the upkeep and signposting of the walking paths.”
He patiently answers all my questions. But I notice that it’s not really his thing being in the spotlight. Only when I ask him about his favourite tours and he tells me about the sunrise on the Griessenkareck, about cooking puree over an open fire and about his satisfied guests… I notice his beaming face. And then I know why he loves his job.
5 Questions for Martin Schwarzenbacher:
Bacon sandwich or muesli bar?
Martin: “I’ll take the muesli bar.“
Sunrise or sundown?
Martin: “Sunrise of course.“
Alpine pasture or mountain peak?
Martin: “If you ask me like that – the alpine pasture.“
Spring or autumn?
Martin: “I love the autumn with it’s clear mountain views.“
Rowanberry or swiss pine?
Martin: “Difficult question – I’ll take the swiss pine.“
Photo credit: Elisabeth Hartl