The purpose of the Association was to spread knowledge about the Alps, promote the love of the Alps and to make access to them easier. The means to this end were to be lectures and publications. In the eyes of many members, however, the academic approach and the centralistic organisation did not achieve the Association’s objective sufficiently. Instead, they wanted practical activities such as the work carried out by the parish priest in the Ötz Valley, a certain Franz Senn. Senn’s idea was of a partnership between city dwellers seeking relaxation and the inhabitants of the mountain regions. Paths and shelters, trained mountain guides, maps and guidebooks were to achieve this purpose.
After the turbulent years of the first half of the 20th century, which often saw politically inacceptable decisions within the Association, the difficult task of clarifying the legal situation of the Alpine Association was begun after the end of the Second World War. Its continued existence had first to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court. The sections were in part acknowledged, but some had to be formed anew. In 1951, the Alpine Association assumed its old name, “Österreichischer Alpenverein” again. As life returned to normal and the economic boom set in, the Association’s activities and membership again increased substantially. People were once again directing more attention to holidays and leisure time.
In the 1980s, a number of new developments occurred. The environmental movement led to an increase of the importance of nature protection within the Alpine Association. As the largest owner of land, it was able to implement the Hohe Tauern National Park, environment work sites were offered to young people for the first time and the thorough training of the section officials began to show positive effects. At the same time, sporting activities in the mountains became increasingly varied, with new trends developing. The most important for the Alpine Association was the development of sport climbing on natural rocks and on artificial walls. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the number of members has also risen rapidly as a result of new services. The broad enthusiasm for healthy movement in the great outdoors also increased the importance of the shelters and tracks.
Today, the OeAV is the largest alpine association and sees itself as the lobby for all mountain sportsmen and women in Austria. Its most important functions are the promotion and pursuit of alpine activities such as hiking, mountaineering, climbing, ski tours and many trend sports in the mountains, and the necessary training of experts. The enthusiasm of 22,000 volunteers ensures a wide range of activities.
Source: Austria Post