European Wilderness Society

My experience in the mountains as a volunteer

This post is written by Aurelien Rinaudo.

My name is Aurélien, I am French, and I am currently volunteering at the European Wilderness Society. Based in Tamsweg, a small town in the heart of the Austrian Alps, I am making the most of this beautiful region. The town is very pleasant, and I greatly enjoy living in Austria. Passionate about nature and the mountains, I love spending my weekends exploring the surrounding mountains. Volunteering four days a week, I am fortunate to have long weekends to explore these landscapes during less touristy times, an experience I particularly enjoy.

Outdoor weekends

I do various types of hikes. Sometimes, I take short walks in the evening or afternoon around Tamsweg, which is very pleasant after a day at the office as it allows me to get some exercise. On weekends, I embark on day-long or two-day hikes to discover the highest mountains. So far, I have only set out on foot from the town, which means I have to cover quite many kilometers before really getting into the mountains, but I enjoy it a lot. 

A two-day hike 

For example, last weekend, I went on a two-day hike. My route was 55 km, allowing me to completely circle a mountain range around Tamsweg. I started on Friday morning at 7 AM to have enough time to do everything I wanted. I then climbed up the entire Göriach valley. It was magnificent because, at first, I could see farmers making hay as the weather was forecasted to be good. Then, as I delved further into the valley, I gradually reached the alpine pastures, where cows and sheep spend the summer, maintaining these beautiful spaces. The higher I climbed, the more alpine flowers I could see. The rhododendrons beautifully colored the pastures. I reached the end of the valley, in a cirque with the peak I was aiming for above: the Hochgolling.  

Snow and sun 

Then I had to tackle the ascent. There were still snow patches at the end to get to the pass, which made the route a bit more alpine. I then took the path to the summit, which was a bit steeper. I only met one person on this path. I arrived at the summit and could enjoy it alone as the clouds gradually cleared. I could admire the magnificent landscape of Lungau from the highest peak in the area (2862 meters altitude). I then descended into the valley at the end of the day. The next morning, I left early because I wanted to be at the mountain summit early to enjoy the tranquility of the mountains. I was the first to arrive at the summit, and the view was very beautiful, with many small lakes still snow-covered. I then began the descent, with the first part being quite challenging. Afterward, I followed the valley. It was very hot, so I stopped swimming in the river. Then, in the forest on the way back, I found some mushrooms. When I arrived in Tamsweg, I found Lika and Maureen, the other European Wilderness Society´s volunteers, swimming, and I joined them for another swim. 

Exceptional volunteering and region 

The setting in which I am doing my volunteering is truly exceptional. It allows me to go hiking on the weekends, an activity I love, as you may have noticed. And of course I always care about my safety!  

Additionally, thanks to the region’s train and bus networks, it is also easy to visit other parts of Austria. For example, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Vienna. This volunteering experience is not only about completing a mission within a European organization but also offers the chance to discover a country and its culture. 

Great that such Erasmus+ European Solidarity Corp programme exists for young people! 

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