ALWAYS ON TRACK: THIS IS HOW A CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING TRAIL IS MADE

Cross-country skiing: it’s a healthy sport, you burn off calories quickly and no one needs to wait in a queue, either. All you need is a well-groomed trail – which is Edi Türtscher’s responsibility in Paznaun. He comes from Galtür and has looked after the cross-country trails and winter hiking paths in the region for the past three years. We took a drive with him.

“The number of winter hikers and cross-country skiers is increasing rapidly each year”, says Edi Türtscher. So it’s just as well that there are over 70 kilometres of cross-country trails throughout Paznaun. Türtscher is not surprised that more and more people are out on the trails each year. “From Bierlerhöhe, which is difficult to reach but offers a fabulous view when you’ve made it up there, to the flat areas around the villages of Galtür and Wirl, which are especially suitable for beginners, there is a route that suits every level.” But how can you make sure a trail like this is perfectly groomed?

Türtscher often drives at nighttime, as timing is very important in his job: the more time there is for the track to harden, the better the trail is the following day. But he sits in his snow groomer in bad weather, too, and creates the best possible conditions even if tracks don’t last longer than fifteen minutes in strong winds. Grooming the cross-country trails can be a Sisyphean task. Today is one such day: it’s snowing, the wind is sweeping over the landscape and visibility is far from ideal. But Türtscher is relaxed: he switches on his windscreen wipers and starts to work.  
The route from Galtür to Wirl is around 6 kilometres long – a distance which is easily doable for amateur cross-country skiers too, says Türtscher, whilst he grooms the snow into the right shape. This trail has a classic track and a skating track, and one of the many winter hiking routes runs directly alongside. Even if the tourists don’t always observe this separation completely, without Türtscher’s work you wouldn’t be able to see who should be on which trail at all. New snow in at the front, the track out the back: for a short time at least, the snow groomer creates clarity.  
After almost an hour, Türtscher parks back at the starting point in Galtür. Here you can already see the tracks in the snow made by cross-country skiers, winter hikers and the wind, which is slowly making the cross-country trail disappear. “A short break now and then we carry on,” he says as a farewell. The weather forecast for the next day is better, finally. It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or not: Türtscher and his snow groomer are ready, no matter what.