The very quaint Falbesoner Ochsenalm nestles in a cirque in the Upper…
Alpine Pasture Stories: Falbesoner Ochsenalm in Stubaital Valley
It is just a one-and-a-half-hour walk to the Falbesoner Ochsenalm, a charming alpine hut welcoming hungry hikers with a mouth-watering array of local foods from homemade bread and butter to cheese, dried bacon, “Striezel” (a plaited yeast dough bun), butter milk and elderflower cordial.
Maridl Schmid, who runs the Falbesoner Ochsenalm, is quite an institution. Since taking over the hut from her mother she has been hard at work day in day out – supported by her children and grandchildren – welcoming guests, making cheese and cooking up a storm in the kitchen. During the summer season she cooks every day, swapping out her traditional Dirndl dress for a more practical pinafore and apron.
Maridl Schmid has taken over Falbesoner Ochsenalm from her mother. She is the soul of the Alpine Pasture Hut.
From own production: Falbesoner Ochsenalm is one of the few remaining Alpine pasture huts where milk, butter and grey cheese are still produced locally.
Everything is good up here, but people come in particular for the bread, the butter and the "grey cheese". Sounds disgusting, but this tangy rennet-free cows-milk acid-curd cheese is actually a real delicacy.
Popular place for foodies in the Stubai Valley
We enjoy an excellent "Jause", a traditional snack with bread, butter, cheese, dried bacon and lots more, all served in front of a stunning panorama overlooking a waterfall. At the table next to us someone is tucking into a "Kaiserschmarren", a dish of thick, chopped pancakes served with apple sauce and dusted with icing sugar. On the pastures outside graze 13 dairy cows that spend their summers in the mountains together with their young. There are also goats and sheep, which are not needed for milking and therefore given more leeway to wander and explore.
It’s a family affair – with cleaning the mushrooms and with everything else.
The manifold gifts of nature
The hut of Falbesoner Ochsenalm is a popular place for hikers to a stop en route to the Neue Regensburger Hut. It is also a member of the "Stubaier Genussbetriebe", a collection of huts and restaurants in the valley dedicated to culinary excellence. These restaurants strive not only to welcome guests with warm hospitality; they also source all products locally. Maridl and her family wholeheartedly embrace this sustainable approach and take pleasure in serving guests the best produce the region has to offer, including many things made right here at the hut.
Falbesoner Ochsenalm is a member of Stubai Inns and Restaurants of Culinary Excellence, which offer locally sourced farm-to-table menus. ©
“Although it’s often hard work, Mother Nature gives back in many ways. There are manifold gifts growing up here. All you have to do is look around you at the alpine pastures,” says Maridl. “Many healing herbs grow on the mountain slopes and we find mushrooms in the forest, which make a superb goulash.”
Apart from amazing foods, Mother Nature grows wonderful, beneficial ingredients for healing elixirs and ointments. As a mother of six, Maridl had to be economical and her herbal knowledge proved to be helpful in many an occasion. She no longer hunts herself, as she once did, but she still finds time to gather the herbs and plants that go into her creams.
Most of the herbs and plants she uses for her liquid extracts and ointments grow on the alpine pastures. Fields of St. John’s Wort grow at the base of rock faces. The yellow flower has been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine. Maridl makes her own St. John’s Wort Oil that is good for scars, while her wild thyme, arnica and masterwort tinctures soothe sore muscles and growing pains.
The hut – a matter of the heart
The Falbesoner Ochsenalm is owned by a collective of local farmers that once included Maridl’s parents. When her mother died, Maridl spent the summers at the Falbesoner Ochsenalm together with her father. For her, this place in the mountains has always been much more than "just" a hut.
Photo Credits: Jörg Koopmann
In 2005, Maridl decided to take over the Falbesoner Ochsenalm herself together with her uncle. Her children used to help her during the summer school holidays, while Maridl’s husband preferred to stay down in the valley. Today, Maridl sees her work as her legacy: "My parents introduced me to life at the hut and opened the door to something that has given me much pleasure throughout my life."
Regular visitors to Falbesoner Ochsenalm hope that Maridl will continue to run the hut for years to come and spend many more summers up here. After all, it's a matter of the heart.