The KAT Walk’s silent spirit

The KAT Walk is the catwalk across the Kitzbüheler Alpen consisting of approx. 6,000 metres of elevation distributed over six stages on well-maintained, clearly signposted trails. One of the trail’s silent spirits is Nik Brandstätter. When hikers are still asleep, he is already on his way to inspect and maintain the trails.


Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter auf den letzten Metern zum Gipfel des Flochs im Brixental c Daniel Gollner© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

The hiking ambassador from the Brixen Valley hikes to the Floch’s summit cross in the Kitzbüheler Alpen.

A gnarled tree trunk "relocated" by the last storm, signs which have been moved by Mother Nature or larger stones which have accumulated towards the valley after the last snowmelt - maintaining the KAT Walk trails is not a part-time job but rather a full-time job with everything that comes with it. One of the trail’s silent spirits is Nik Brandstätter. Even as a young child, Nik lost his heart to the mountains and has been exploring them in every possible way ever since. Be it ski touring, freeriding, climbing or hiking, the “thrill of the mountains”, as Nik calls it, has captivated him. When he was doing his apprenticeship, he was convinced that his real path was towards nature. And that’s exactly what it was. It led him to the tourism association where he has been employed ever since, based in the building yard with his main tasks maintaining and renovating the local hiking trails. Whether it’s repairing existing markings and adding new ones, building new bridges or stiles, or clearing paths from fallen trees and bushes, Nik is the right man for everything. Re-discovering nature, switching off, leaving no room for other thoughts - according to Nik, this is what hiking is all about and he himself enjoys this experience every time anew. "You have your peace and quiet, you can switch off 100 percent in the unique natural landscape. For me that is real quality of life."

Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter vor einer Hinweistafel auf der dritten KAT Walk Etappe c Daniel Gollner
The trail's signposts show the hiking ambassador from the Brixen valley where to go next on the KAT Walk.
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter vom Gipfelkreuz genießt er den Ausblick über die Kitzbüheler Alpen c Daniel Gollner
The local hiking ambassador sits at the summit cross in the Brixen valley, in the background the Kitzbüheler Alpen in freshly covered snow.
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter kostet ein paar Heidelbeeren entlang des Weges c Daniel Gollner
Along the trail the hiking hero snacks on blueberries from the Brixen valley, in the background the "Große Rettenstein".
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

Discovering nature once again

Nik himself sees the KAT Walk as the perfect combination of adventure and luxury: "Over six stages you hike from Hopfgarten via Westendorf and Kirchberg to St. Ulrich am Pillersee. 6,000 metres of elevation have to be overcome on the demanding variant. Nobody has to worry about carrying a heavy rucksack or where to find accommodation next, because all this is already provided in the package. Included are modern hotels, luggage transport, spa facilities and regional cuisine to refill empty stores of energy and to look forward to the next day’s hiking fully motivated. All you have to do on the KAT Walk is walk, step by step immerse yourself in nature, let everyday stress pass over the mountains with the clouds, and just find yourself again.


Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter vor einer Wegmarkierung am Wanderweg zum Floch im Brixental c Daniel Gollner
Als Verantwortlicher für die Wegehaltung in Kirchberg in Tirol, muss der Wander-Botschafter regelmäßig die Wegmarkierungen überprüfen.
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter wandert entlang eines kleinen Bachs im Brixental c Daniel Gollner
The KAT walk takes the hiker past some of the most beautiful places in the Kitzbüheler Alpen.
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter Kuh auf der Hinterkaralm im Brixental c Daniel Gollner
Eine Kuh auf der Hinterkar-Alm im Brixental in den KItzbüheler Alpen.
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter wandert am KAT Walk im Brixental c Daniel Gollner
In regelmäßigen Abständen begutachtet der Wander-Botschafter aus dem Brixental die Wegmarkierungen. Er verbringt somit den Großteil seiner Zeit in den Bergen der Kitzbüheler Alpen.
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie
Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter wandert und im Hintergrund der große Rettenstein c Daniel Gollner
Der Wander-Botschafter wandert im Herbst durch die Kitzbüheler Alpen. Im Hintergrund befindet sich der markante "Große Rettenstein".
© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

Of course, safety is the top priority in the mountains, so Nik decided to join the mountain rescue team: "I am currently completing the compulsory courses. I’m doing this because I want to help. In the mountains you are very much alone, even if you are with friends. Something can always happen, nature has its own laws. I am very interested in safety and mountain rescue so with this training I will be able to help others."

It's all in the planning

Kitzbüheler Alpen Hero Wandern Nick Brandstätter wandert auf einem Wanderweg zum Floch im Brixental c Daniel Gollner© Daniel Gollner Fotografie

For Nik, the planning of a mountain tour which will last several days always comes first: "What’s the weather forecast? What equipment will I need? Do I have enough food and drink? Is the first aid kit well equipped? After all, the first thing I have to be able to rely on when I’m up the mountains is myself. Only then can I enjoy the trail, stare into the distance without concerns and make room for unforgettable moments of happiness that sometimes only nature can bring.” Finding yourself once again, bit by bit. As the German mountaineer, Reinhard Karl, once put it so aptly: "After every uphill climb, I was down another one."

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