A sherpa off the beaten tracks - Laki at the Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut
What does a sherpa do in the Pinzgau region? Lakpa Tshering, called "Laki", has been working on the Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut for almost 15 years now and is an irreplacable member of the team. However, the more thrilling questions are: How and why does a Nepalese come to the Pinzgau region? For his yearly journey, Laki has to endure a lot of stress and strain.
The Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut
The Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut is an institution in Saalfelden Leogang. Despite it high altitude, it is reachable for nearly everyone. When you are local, you surely meet someone you know. You can hike to the Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut, even after work and have a delicious Schnitzel and the breakfast at the mountain hut is an unique experience. The mountain hut is the starting point for numerous climbing and hiking tours through and up the massif Steinernes Meer. It looks like the mountain hut is placed on a throne high above the city Saalfelden. The view is absolutely stunning. There are many more points to list, however the most important thing is: the staff is really friendly and Lakpa Tshering welcomes you with a warm smile.
What connects Nepal and Saalfelden Leogang?
Easy answer: the mountains. Laki has spent his summer in Saalfelden Leogang for almost 15 years now. And for almost 15 years he has been working at the Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut. He helps where he can. He cooks, cleans, serves and is also responsible for maintenance. Of course, there are mountains here in Saalfelden Leogang, as well as in Nepal, but they do not only differ in height. "Our mountains are really high and beautiful. However, when you want to go hiking in Nepal it is definitely more challenging than it is here," says Laki and praises the good infrastructure in Austria compared to Nepal. In his home country, there are no alpine mountaineering associations and municipalities, which look after the maintenance of the trails and hiking courses. And Laki must know, because in winter he accompanies trekking tours in Nepal and works as a hiking guide and sherpa. Now some well-known locals from Saalfelden Leogang already visit Laki in Nepal.
In 20 days around half of the world
"It is a little bit complicated", describes Laki his yearly journey to Austria. It takes him about 20 days until he finally reaches Saalfelden. The starting point of his journey is his home village, which is located at 3.800 metres altitude - this is approximately as high as the Großglockner in Austria. From there he has to walk a whole day long to Luka. This distance would take a "normal" tourist two to three days. From Luka, Laki flyes with an airplane to the capital city Kathmandu, to where the owner Christine of the Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut sends the documents, which Laki needs for his visum. With the documents, Laki travels to New Dehli, where he can apply for his visum. Normally, this again lasts a few days. Then finally he flyes back to Kathmandu and from there via Doha to Vienna or Munich.
From Nepal to Saalfelden - Why?
The journey lasts 20 days. It must be really important for Laki to come to Saalfelden, if he takes the long way up. And so it is. Not only because he can feed his family with the money he earns here in Austria, but also because Saalfelden Leogang is Laki's second home. "I really like to be here. And by now, I already know many locals. Guests as well as locals like Laki, because he is helpful and always in a good mood. Every hiker is happy to see Laki's friendly face and get to know something about another culture and another country. Moreover, it is something really special to be served by a Nepalese. Are you curious? Then put on your hiking shoes and hike up the the Peter Wiechenthaler mountain hut!
Pictures: Florian Lechner