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The power of water

Those who live so close to huge amounts of water will get caught up in the maelstrom of the rushing water masses forever. Symbolically, of course. If you live so close to a waterfall, you won't hear it anymore at some point. "Only when we return from a trip," says Dominique, "we are always completely surprised by the tremendous roar of the Stuiben Falls." But a few hours later, the family has got used to the eternal tinnitus in the ear, which accompanies them in a positive way - day and night, year after year. If he wants to wind down in a very short time, Dominique doesn't go to the surrounding mountains that are within reach, but stays with "his" waterfall. Or at least very close. So that he can see, hear and feel the falls. Because it feels good to him.

Dominique Gigon
About Dominique Gigon

Marital status: married, three children
Activity: innkeeper, Tirolean hiking guide. Profession: sign painter
Volunteer activities/hobbies: mountaineering, painting, reading, history

About favorite place

Starting point: Gasthof Stuibenfall
Walking time, both ways: 3 – 3 ½ hours
Difficulty level: intermediate
Difference in altitude: approx. 500 m

He came, he saw, he stayed

"The loop trail is my sports field," says Dominique with a charming French accent. He came to Niederthai with a friend back in 1979 - his first vacation without parents. And from then on again and again. But it was only in 1992 that the professional sign painter met his sweetheart Erika, who grilled a chicken for him on the terrace of the inn and spoke better French than he did German. He fell in love with today's owner of Gasthof Stuibenfall inn and ... stayed.

But Erika rarely accompanies him on the loop tour, the fear of the "Bluatschink" that lurks in Horlachbach is still too big. The terrible monster was a tried and tested threat in childhood times when her parents wanted to prevent the children from recklessly playing in the mountain brook that flows into the waterfall at very high speed.

Ingenious composition of nature

"I need about an hour for the entire circular tour. Normal walkers can do it in about two hours." We start at the inn on the old road to Niederthai, which provided the only connection for cars and buses to Umhausen between 1912 and 1967. "When the new road was built, the construction workers often met in grandmother's kitchen," Dominique explains with a smile, "and drank, even after thirst had long since been quenched." We can still hear the rustling of Horlachbach brook which only turns into a powerful cascade further down. The illusion is perfect as the soft murmur will soon culminate in a strong crescendo. A brilliant composition of nature!


The whole of Umhausen is at our feet

With the changing melody of the torrent, also the view changes: we just saw it, then it disappeared again. Instead, other visual highlights come to the fore as soon as we have stepped out of the forest area: The mountain village of Köfels, for example, is located in the foothills of 3079 m high Fundusfeiler vantage mountain. From here you can perfectly see the rockslide that pushed Tauferberg ridge up the opposite mountain flank almost 10,000 years ago. And finally, entire Umhausen lies at our feet. Along the hiking route comfy benches invite you to take a well-deserved rest and Rossbrunnen spring offers fresh mountain water to drink.


The black Madonna – a treasure

"Spring is for me the best time to walk the route, after a long winter I need the green that sprouts up everywhere. And the deeper I get, the greener it is." It is tranquil here, hardly anyone is on the trail. Most of the other hikers go directly along the waterfall into the valley. We only meet a few mountain bikers, most of them with an electric motor in order to master the approx. 400 altitude meters easily. The old road leads to the spa hotel, but we take the shortcut along a narrow footpath through the forest - covered with spruce, pine and larch trees - which serves as a single trail for some daring downhill bikers. At its end the black Madonna awaits us in the Rattal chapel. A real treasure that no one will discover who is only looking for direct access to the Stuiben Falls!

The stuff great cinema is made of

The steep path now leads gently uphill towards the waterfall, always with a view of the wide green plain of Umhausen and Wenderkogel summit. Since the trail doesn't end at the very bottom of the Stuiben Fall, we have already gained a bit of height. It thunders towards us with elemental force - Tirol's biggest waterfall. A big movie theater! A few years ago, the old hiking trail was replaced by a bold steel construction parallel to the waterfall, up close with the wet element: Depending on the season, the waters plunge down some 159 meters at a rate of 610 to 2000 liters per second. "Sometimes in winter," Dominique admits, "the Stuiben Fall are ice-covered. But the water keeps flowing under the ice - always."


Positive health effects

The power of water doesn't only seem to be transferred to the climbers who work their way up the family-friendly via ferrata to the left of the Stuiben Falls. It also encourages all other hikers to climb the 728 steps of the steel tower construction - optionally on two suspension bridges and over five viewing platforms. It was only in 2016 that it replaced the old hiking trail. We get very close to the water particles on the third "ion platform". Dominique spreads his arms and takes a deep breath of the "Stuiben" water spray that gave the waterfall its name: "It has been scientifically proven," he says, "that the water particles have a positive effect on health, especially the respiratory tract and blood circulation."


Over the rainbow

A rainbow spans the gorge, far below the natural stone bridge in the last section of the climb. Since the Frenchman came to Niederthai for the very first time, the Stuiben Falls have determined his life, his health, his love, his paths through life. Dominique gets up with the roar of the torrent every morning and falls asleep with the roar of the torrent every night. The Stuiben Falls accompany him to his dreams, the Stuiben Falls and their magnetic effect have ensured that he can no longer escape this magic.

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Tauferberg Area


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Brand Area


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Untere Hemerach Alm


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