Children of the mountains
Imelda Dönz and Lukas Kühlechner convey their love for the mountain to others
The mountains are the great capital of the Montafon residents.
Imelda Dönz and Lukas Kühlechner know the routes and peaks in the valley like the back of their hand. And they have learned on their tours that coming down is nowhere as easy as going up.
Lukas Kühlechner was practically born to the mountains. From his nursery he had a clear view of the Zimba and the Drei Türme. He quickly wanted to see it, not just from the valley. Even after countless tours around the world, the summit of the Zimba has remained his favourite place to this day. "Being there is something sublime that is like nothing else," says the state-certified mountain and ski guide, who turned his hobby into a profession early on.
Though he does not find the term "leader" entirely appropriate. "I am not just somebody who knows the way and goes on ahead. I want to teach people to see. Teach them what a treasure we have here. " The Montafon is a labour of love for him. "If my guests go home, then they should understand what we mean by being down-to-earth, in tune with nature and tradition."
Imelda Dönz was "forced" by her first female dog to take daily walks in the fresh air. The obligation turned into a real passion. "The landscape, the nature, the various moods have never left me." So it was almost logical for the woman from St. Gallenkirch to eventually complete training as a hiking guide. “Especially because I like to pass on to others my knowledge of the Montafon and my love for the valley."
On the mountain, both are deeply convinced, "something happens to people." Especially in our fast-paced world, it is important to give yourself time and to accept nature. "No programme to follow, nothing to check off. Just let go and come on down. This is true on the mountain like nowhere else,” says Imelda. Lukas suggests the same: “When climbing and mountaineering you get very close to people. The result is a very personal connection to the guests. That’s where borders come tumbling down,” he remembers many "other, in-depth conversations. People come out of their shells and give you their confidence." Superficiality is replaced by honesty, “which nowadays is a very special experience for many.”
The fascination with mountains has taken Lukas Kühlechner well beyond the Montafon as well. He has often been travelled abroad, but it’s still nicest in the Montafon. “We have no better mountains than the rest. But we take good care of them,” he says, and is pleased about the fact that "there is no unnecessary commercialisation in the valley."
Therefore he is "just happy and thankful that I can live here and do what I do best." He freely admits that it also takes him away from the hustle and bustle and that he is mostly happy about that. What he likes the most is to make his way to the top in the early morning. "To experience the sunrise on the mountain is indescribable."
The connection to nature is evident in the father of two ("I love seeing my two children grown up”), but not just in climbing and ski touring. "I like working with wood and am currently renovating, piece-by-piece, the old house in which we live in Bartholomäberg."
Even with Imelda Dönz the authentic is not restricted to hiking. Her own, very personal favourite place is what she calls "our Maisäß (mountain hut) in Silbertal". Totally without electricity, the four-time “Ahna* (Grandma) with body and soul" can recharge her batteries there and while “Schwemmla” (picking mushrooms) and “Beerla” (picking berries) find the relaxation that accompanies you in the Montafon mountains at every step and at every turn.