Obergurgl Resort History

Posted by George Biffen

Last updated on September 15th, 2017 at 03:35 pm

Obergurgl is a hamlet belonging to the village of Sölden in the upper Ötztal Valley. Located at 1927 meters above sea level, it is Austria’s highest parish village.

In the course of the 19th century, changing consumer behaviour has caused an impoverishment of the Valley’s population as their handmade products were no longer in demand, provoking also a heavy decrease in population.

In 1910 only 39 people lived in Obergurgl.

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Fortunately, the emigration was stopped by the beginning of alpinism in the valley.

On 27 May 1931, Auguste Piccard made an emergency landing in his hot-air balloon on Gurgler Ferner glacier – after establishing a new high-altitude record.

The professor had to spend a night in Obergurgl before the balloon was rescued.

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A monument erected in 1989 still reminds of this historical event. Also, the Piccardsaal event centre was named after the stratosphere pilot.

The 20th century brought flourishing tourism to Obergurgl which developed into a renowned winter sports resort.

As soon as in 1949 the first T-bar ski lift was built in Obergurgl, another chair lift up to Hohe Mut peak was added in 1953.

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The Timmelsjoch high Alpine pass road was completed in 1960, and the hotel village of Hochgurgl was built at the same time.

Source and information: Obergurgl Alpine Research Center, Innsbruck University

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