… even gives a new aspect to life?

Wheelchair Travel to Tirol’s Mountains

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Esther

Being a passionate road cyclist, Esther Wilhelm believes cycling is... View author

“I always dreamt of experiencing a moment like that with Eelke. I never thought I could feel as happy as I felt in that moment. I never thought that was possible,” says Dineke, Eelke’s mother who joined her daughter on her trip to Tirol’s Kaunertal Valley. Eelke, a journalist writing for the Dutch Support Magazine, is a paraplegic using an electric wheelchair that weighs 120 kilograms. She followed an invitation of the Tirol Tourist Board to join this “Wheelchair Accessible Adventure Trip to Tirol’s Kaunertal Valley”. Just like Tim and Christian, who are wheelchair users, too. Me and Harald (a wheelchair user) accompany the trip as persons in charge. Catherine is not mobility impaired but investigates the topic.

Going to the mountains is beautiful, but is it wheelchair accessible? This was the burning question we had when we visited Kaunertal, a valley wedged in a picturesque glacial canyon at the base of dramatic Three-Thousanders and glistening white glaciers. Almost any outdoor adventure is at your fingertips here, with rugged and steep terrain in abundance. Sounds like being notoriously difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. Well, somehow, Kaunertal has managed to keep its nature intact without impacting on access; which makes it a truly wheelchair accessible place. In addition, access is made so much easier when everyone you meet is happy to help; and that certainly is true for the people of Tirol’s Kaunertal Valley! There’s Karin and Charly Hafele, who refurbished their Four Star Weisseespitze Hotel to be wheelchair accessible years, well, decades ago. There’s Reggi and Andreas who have adapted their apartments at Haus Renate for wheelchair access. Then there is the staff at the Kaunertal Glacier Mountain Railways who make every effort to ensure the glacier is accessible to all visitors—they are more than happy to assist. Moreover, the local Tourist Information Office is constantly striving to make the visits of wheelchair users more enjoyable by making facilities as accessible as possible.

Many of Kaunertal Valley’s most popular outdoor attractions are accessible to those who are mobility impaired. This, in fact, means more than providing wheelchair accessible restrooms. There are many different ways people of all abilities can enjoy Kaunertal Valley’s outdoor recreation and breathtaking beauty. Their mission is to stimulate the development of access for disabled persons to natural outdoor environments. Here, nothing holds wheelchair users back from enjoying the great outdoors! And that keeps repetitive guests coming year after year. “Wheelchair users usually come up against structural barriers when visiting the outdoors thus they are often confined to urban spaces. Too often, limited mobility means missing out on nature,” says Harald Hörmann, a passionate adaptive athlete from Innsbruck. He was amazed himself about the many opportunities for getting close to nature in Kaunertal Valley. Seeing abundant wildflowers that offer a rich tapestry of brilliant colour. Picking up stones. Spotting mushrooms and blueberries up close and personal. Inhaling the smell of wet moss. Touching tree trunks and soaking in the views from the top. Feeling the cold wind in your hair. Here, on an elevation of 3,100 meters above sea level, one can hear the rhythm of wilderness. For this concert, no one is left out of the theater.

Valuable Information & Links:

Accessible Accommodation Options in Kaunertal Valley:

Attractions/Natural Outdoor Environments:

 

Front Row: Nothing holds Harald, Christian, Tim and Eelke back from enjoying the great outdoors of Kaunertal Valley. Pictured from left to right. Back Row: Charly Hafele (Weisseespitze Hotel), Catherine (journalist from Great Britain), Florian Van der Bellen (Kaunertal Tourist Board), Dineke (Eelke’s mother) and Christian (dedicated staff member at Weisseespitze Hotel).

Front Row: Nothing holds Harald, Christian, Tim and Eelke back from enjoying the great outdoors of Kaunertal Valley. Pictured from left to right. Back Row: Charly Hafele (Weisseespitze Hotel), Catherine (journalist from Great Britain), Florian Van der Bellen (Kaunertal Tourist Board), Dineke (Eelke’s mother) and Christian (dedicated staff member at Weisseespitze Hotel).

 

With SwissTrac, the powerful ‘tractor’ for wheelchairs, Eelke and Tim can overcome natural obstacles independently. The powered wheelchair pully devices are available for rental from Weisseespitze Hotel in Kaunertal Valley.

With SwissTrac, the powerful ‘tractor’ for wheelchairs, Eelke and Tim can overcome natural obstacles independently. The powered wheelchair pully devices are available for rental from Weisseespitze Hotel in Kaunertal Valley.

 

Thanks to the efficient power unit devices attached to their wheelchairs, Christian and Tim can enjoy a new feeling of independence.

Thanks to the efficient power unit devices attached to their wheelchairs, Christian and Tim can enjoy a new feeling of independence.

 

The dramatic "Adlerblick" (literally, "Eagle View") Viewing Platform is accessible by power wheelchair or SwissTrac.

The dramatic “Adlerblick” (literally, “Eagle View”) Viewing Platform is accessible by power wheelchair or SwissTrac.

 

There is a fantastic view at the top!

There is a fantastic view at the top!

 

Wheelchair accessible boardwalks provide access for disabled persons to Piller Moor. As they say, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing ;o)

Wheelchair accessible boardwalks provide access for disabled persons to Piller Moor. As they say, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing ;o)

 

Here, on the Kaunertal Glacier Road, one can see and hear the rhythm of wilderness. For this concert, no one is left out of the theater.

Here, on the Kaunertal Glacier Road, one can see and hear the rhythm of wilderness. For this concert, no one is left out of the theater.

 

Karlesjochbahn

Karlesjochbahn Gondola ensures the glacier is accessible to all visitors—the friendly staff is more than happy to assist.

 

There’s a cold wind in the air here, on an elevation of 3,100 meters above sea level.

There’s a cold wind in the air here, on an elevation of 3,100 meters above sea level.

 

Assisting the mobility challenged is a special calling for Alois Praschberger–his powered mountain bike puts wheelchair users close to nature,

Assisting the mobility challenged is a special calling for Alois Praschberger–his powered mountain bike puts wheelchair users close to nature,

… shifts the lens, through which they saw and navigated their lives,

… shifts the lens, through which they saw and navigated their lives,

… even gives a new aspect to life?

… even gives a new aspect to life?

 

Weisseespitze Hotel boasts an ample spa with special features such as a swimming pool with mobile loading ramp and a wheelchair accessible sauna.

Weisseespitze Hotel boasts an ample spa with special features such as a swimming pool with mobile loading ramp and a wheelchair accessible sauna.

 

 

 

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