The Gorge Warden

Rudolf Achtner, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

"The gorge is always changing: sometimes it's as stately as the Grand Canyon; on other occasions, it's an untouched spot where nature remains wonderfully untamed."

"The Partnach Gorge is simply a part of my life," says Rudolf Achtner. He has been in charge of ensuring safety at the 700-metre-long, 80-metre-deep gorge for 20 years. "It's different every day, but it's at its most beautiful early in the morning," says the Gorge Warden A river thunders through the rocky channel in the gorge. It's so loud that Achtner can hear his place of work well before he sees it. He explains to visitors how the gorge was formed, keeps a close eye on the weather forecast and makes sure that no rocks, branches or even entire trees are blocking paths or the flow of the water. In doing so, he protects the gorge and hikers alike. If the river gets dammed up before he can clear an obstacle, it can grow into a flood wave.

"Being alone in the gorge at the crack of dawn is an almost mystical experience."

What do you like about your work?

I experience nature in all its beauty here, but also in its extreme wildness. In the morning, fog clouds linger in the gorge, but later the sun shines down on the glistening water, ferns and moss. It's a lovely sight.

What has been your most memorable experience in the gorge?

In 2012, we lit our statue of the Virgin Mary from above with solar power to mark the new year. Seeing the Madonna shining from her rock shelf was a very moving experience.

What makes your region a great travel destination?

Its diversity. Walking, mountain hikes, watersports, riding, you name it – you can do it all here.

Listen to the sound of the mountains

Soft moss, crackling twigs and stones scrunching under your feet. Wind whistling around a paraglider. Cheerful birdsong, buzzing insects and the enormous roar of the water as it rushes through the gorge. The mountains and gorges have their very own soundtrack. Have a listen!

Zugspitze: summit of Mount Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain in front of the rising sun. ©gettyimages (Björn Kindler)

Mountains – did you know?

The highest mountain in Germany is the Zugspitze, at 2962 m.
Find out more

Ancient tales of witches surround the great boulders of the Harz highlands, like the region's legendary fog.
Find out more

Visitors can take the Feldbergbahn cable car to enjoy spectacular panoramic views from Bavaria's Feldberg.
Find out more

The bizarre rock formations of Saxon Switzerland are considered the birthplace of free climbing.
Find out more

Ambassadors of Nature

They love and protect Germany's natural landscapes, are on first-name terms with the seals, and navigate as confidently on the sea, rivers, lakes and in the mountains as they would be in their own living rooms. Meet your ambassadors of nature here.

Discover Germany