PAZNAUN PEOPLE: INGRID LADNER, CALM PERSONIFIED

Ingrid Ladner is 49. She comes from See, where she still lives. She’s worked for the Paznaun Tourism Association for the past 27 years. She is a mountain guide and a herbalist, she leads hikes and offers programmes for children and young people. In the winter she’s responsible for the ski kindergarten at 1,800m above sea level. She calls it “the most wonderful work in the world”.

phOTOS: PHILIPP HORAK

What is Paznaun for you?
My homeland, youth, a sense of security. Look at the valley, look out of the window. You just feel snug here, just embedded in safety. The mountains radiate peace.

How do you feel being away from here?
It’s good for a while, but not as comfortable as at home. I like exploring when I’m away, just like I go into the mountains when I’m at home. Just lying by the sea doesn’t do anything for me.

What would you like to convey to the tourists you deal with?
My homeland. I want to let them know how people live here, everything that you can do here. And when I go on a hike with them, I live that too. I believe that comes across, as well. I would like the tourists to say to me after a hike: I’m happy now. That was beautiful. I’ll come back here.

Can you imagine not being active at all?
I’m not an extreme sportsperson, but I am in the mountains. I enjoy sport for pleasure. That’s a huge difference. These days it’s not necessarily the peak that’s the aim, but the pleasure of the way up. That makes everyone happier than if I hauled them up to 3,000 metres and then they’re at the top and can’t take anything in because they’re so exhausted.

What else has changed in the past 27 years?
Many things. This is why it’s so important to me to let people know that they can relax here. I always say: we’re on holiday. We’re not in stress. In the past, tourists came for seven days, then it didn’t matter so much if for one day there was bad weather all day long. Now they often just come for a long weekend. You can’t see all of Paznaun in four days, though.

How do they relax?
They relax because I’m calm myself. I don’t spread stress, and I’m never pushy either. Today we were in Jamtal, for example, and there’s no mobile reception there. That helps, too.

What is the best compliment that anyone could make you?
That was a lovely day. Thank you for the wonderful day.

And other than the tourists?
Just the fact that when I go through the village people greet me and ask me how I am, I find that great. That makes me feel really good. I don’t need any more compliments than that.

Are children really more demanding than other tourists?
No, children are the most straightforward tourists. It’s easy to get them excited. The parents are the ones who are complicated. Between 30 and 50, that’s the most complicated age, as they have such high expectations.

Do high expectations sometimes get in the way when you go into the mountains?
When you go into the mountains, you have to look and think ahead. When we’re in a group, there’s a group dynamic, which you have to keep in mind just as much as the weather conditions. You can learn a lot in the mountains.

And see far?
Not just far. I always say to my tourists, so, now open your eyes wide. Let’s look at this meadow now. What’s growing there? What can do you do with it? Not many people can really take it all in.

What is your favourite time of the year?
I like every month, but November especially. Not everyone understands that, but in November here there’s no mist, just an unbelievable variety of colours. You have to look at it like plants in the summer.

Do you have a favourite plant?
For a long time it was the yarrow, now it’s the stinging nettle. I can use the seeds, the leaves and the roots. It’s an incredibly powerful plant. It smells so good, and it’s a home for ladybirds and butterflies. It’s such a great plant! Children remember it, by the way, they soak up something like that.

And because nettles can be really painful, too?
Of course, that too, but many children are simply more interested. Adults remember perhaps one or two things and then they like to say, what a pity that I don’t have anything to write with. Children retain much more.

What is typically Paznaun for you?
Solidarity, in particular in difficult times.

So living in the Alps also influences the people who live here?
Yes, certainly. Pazanuners are very ambitious, they want to make something of their lives. But when it comes down to it, there’s an incredible sense of solidarity here. Nature is stronger than we are. We’ve learnt that here.