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Best-Prepared Winter Hiking Paths in Oberstdorf

Agile universal Holder tool secures paths in alpine areas.

17. November 2014

Oberstdorf, February 2014 – Winter hiking is trendy. Oberstdorf in the Oberallgäu, the largest tourism region in the Alps, also has winter hiking as an increasing factor in the winter sports programme in addition to downhill skiing and cross-country skiing. The health resort offers level routes, average altitudes up to hiking options in the high alpine area. The most important prerequisites for this are well and securely accessible paths – in snow, rain, thawing weather and icy temperatures. "Winter service depends a lot on the situation. The situation is different almost day by day on the path," the local supervisor, who has been in charge of the hiking paths for more than three decades, emphasises. The guest in Oberstdorf can rely on high quality, though: a good team, years of experience and particularly state-of-the-art universal implements by Holder ensure this, which can be used in any weather and on many different grounds.

Safe and Perfectly Prepared Winter Hiking Paths

On the unpaved hiking paths, a certain snow level is left as a firm layer, called the "shell", covering stones and roots to permit clearing on top of it. When too much snow has fallen for a snow plough to get through, the snow cutter is used. When the path is clear again, the snow surface must be treated to keep its grip. It is covered in fine grit or an "ice scraper" is used, which is a kind of rake that roughens up the snow. "This produces a general structure and the guest can walk very well," explains the manager of Austrian company Kommunaltechnik Bantel, which also consults the Oberstdorf municipality around winter service.

The Holder M 480

Last year, a Holder M 480 (77 PS) was bought in Oberstdorf – an agile universal vehicle with three attachment clearers for many different applications. Cutting, spreading or roughening up of the snow lane surface – all of this has since been done by one and the same vehicle. "The innovation was surely the ice scraper or ice roughening device, to process the surface. The ice scraper has given us the greatest success of recent times," says the deputy factory manager of "Tourismus Oberstdorf".

"Pioneer" in Winter Service

In Oberstdorf, other options for the preparation of winter hiking paths are already targeted. The trend goes towards many winter hikers wanting to walk on natural snow. To permit this, preparation as on a ski slope would be required. Snow groomers that turn the fallen snow into a lane, cut it open and then smooth it out are, however, much too large for narrow hiking paths. With a Holder vehicle, this novel preparation of winter hiking paths would be possible at narrower paths as well: the M 480 has permanent all-wheel drive. A snow cutter can be attached in front and a roughener at the rear. The universal tool has already proven its suitability for high-alpine terrain successfully in Oberstdorf. "The benefit of Holder is its articulated steering when we go up proper hairpin bends. We are still amazed every time at the altitudes at which the Holder can be used," says a municipal worker. In addition to all the functions of the vehicle in winter service, he also values other aspects: "The worker must be comfortable. We sit in these vehicles for 10 to 12 hours. The vehicle is our workplace. Therefore, we speak of a health seat or other comfort and safety devices for the drivers, such as front window heating, air conditioning, reversing camera." The trend is towards added comfort, improved safety. The M 480 has also been equipped with a multifunctional joystick and smoothly adjustable gears – the new technology permits one-hand operation and clearly relieves the driver.

The worker must be comfortable. We sit in these vehicles for 10 to 12 hours. The vehicle is our workplace. Therefore, we speak of a health seat or other comfort and safety devices for the drivers, such as front window heating, air conditioning, reversing camera.

Municipal worker

Balance Between Traffic Securing Obligations and Nature Protection

Oberstdorf is a spa with a healing climate, so that the vehicles used must meet certain requirements: clean engine exhaust and reduced fuel consumption. At the same time, the special vehicles must be compact and high-performing. The M 480 offers the benefit of permitting considerable savings of spreading material. This is all the more important since spreading of salt may harm the environment and grit in the street is even considered hazardous waste. Oberstdorf used 55 % less grit than in the year before last winter. "The reason for this is that we used the ice scraping and ice roughening implements and processed the surface so that we needed less spreading material," explains the municipal worker. "The salt consumption dropped a little, too. Salt is only used in emergencies for iced-over areas."

Good Utilisation by Year-Round Use

Utilisation of the basic device is a central value when calculating the operating costs. It must be referred to the entire year. In Oberstdorf, the Holder M 480 is used mostly for watering and mowing in summer, and generally is "therefore close to full utilisation", as an employee of the Gemeindewerke Oberstdorf (former building yard) points out. "Before, we had special vehicles for a single purpose. That's impossible to afford today." The outer appearance of the implements becomes more and more important as well. The formerly square vehicles now have a round and modern design. The deputy factory manager of the company "Tourismus Oberstdorf" notes another small special feature: "The new vehicles have the local colour – no longer municipal orange, but Oberstdorf red. We show that we are not moving in the conventional building yard municipal area, but somewhat more innovatively set up."