Heike Mayrhofer is 46 and the landlady of the Almstüberl mountain hut in Kappl. For more than half the year, she only sees the valley from above – and directly from the slopes. In conversation with Trsianna, she speaks about how you can develop as a person through your job, and what the mountain means for spiritual wellbeing.
Heike, when we see you up here, it’s almost impossible to imagine that you used to work in front of a computer in an office.
(laughs) I can imagine! But it’s true, I was a civil servant in the tax office. But at some point I moved into gastronomy, I had already had another hut before the Almstüberl, and now I’m already in my seventh year here.
What’s the attraction of gastronomy?
One of the big attractions for me has always been the psychology. If you do a job like mine, then you’re schooling your knowledge of human nature. And you do it every day. You learn to cope with different moods, to cope better with certain situations. I’ve developed personally through this job.
How can you tell in particular?
I’ve learnt to get on well with all sorts of characters, no matter how difficult they are. You also have to understand that there are some guests who are crazily stressed, who are still carrying stuff around with them even if they’re on holiday or have some free time. It’s really great to watch how they calm down with us – when they ski away from the hut again and are relaxed.
You say that the guests ski away at some point, then. But you stay there, you sleep up there too.
That’s true, this is my home for seven months of the year. Guests sometimes tell me that they feel at home with us. What’s wonderful is that it really is my home.
How does it feel to live up on the mountain?
The view you have from here is truly good for the soul. You can also enjoy working up here. The view, the air, the peace – it’s lovely. And being alone also feels better up on the mountain. You can really sort yourself out here.