HEINRICH KLIER, 1926 - 2022

Heinrich Klier was a writer, an alpinist, a lift manager and a political activist. With his death, the province of the Tyrol loses one of its most multi-faceted personalities.

Like few other people, Heinrich Klier knew how to make the most of the time he was given. Probably also because he successfully escaped death several times at a young age. As a three-year old, his sister saved him from drowning, and during the war he survived the first bombing raid on Innsbruck and an avalanche accident. He was reluctant to standstill, both in the physical and spiritual sense. His legacy to posterity therefore encompasses far more than his literary oeuvre, his mountaineering achievements or his extraordinary entrepreneurial skills. He was an archetype of that special breed of man who resolutely treads new paths, recognises opportunities and seizes them. He even had to flee the Tyrol to stand up for his convictions. Throughout his life, he considered values such as courage, openness and fairness being the highest human virtues.

Heinrich Klier mit Familie 1931

Childhood and adolescence

Growing up in a sheltered environment in Zirl, the free spirit already demonstrated entrepreneurial ambition at a young age at his parents' petrol station. At the same time, his great passion for mountains sprouted. Early on he mastered climbs to the Martinsgrotte grotto. He enjoyed alpine freedom at the Solsteinhaus hut, where he worked as a shepherd in the summer. The carefree childhood ended abruptly for the student. At the age of only 17, he was drafted for military service at the front in Yugoslavia. A formative time for the youth. It inspired him to write a novel later on. At the same time, he realised that the supposedly enemy partisans were merely defending their homeland. After the end of the war, Heinrich Klier managed to return to the Tyrol in an adventurous manner. 

Heinrich Klier am Bergsteigen

More than one life

In the post-war period, he began his philology studies and financed them with various jobs. Whether as a mountain guide, labourer, lumberjack or journalist: Even during this phase of his life, Klier did not shy away from entering new terrain. Instead of bowing to the rigid structures of the school system, he quit his teaching job and became a writer and journalist. The mountain enthusiast succeeded as an author of non-fiction books and novels such as "Verlorener Sommer” (Lost Summer), which was translated into several languages. For Radio Tirol and Bayerischer Rundfunk he created popular series such as "Für den Bergfreund" and "Heimat an Etsch und Eisack". The content for the programmes was provided by spectacular expeditions in the mid-1950s. This expedition succeeded in making the first ascent of the 6,094m-high Jirishanca, also referred to as the "Matterhorn of South America".

South Tyrol activist and family father

His involvement with the political situation in the South Tyrol led him to become a monument striker. Klier participated in the demolition of a Mussolini statue in 1961. With this action, he and his comrades-in-arms made contemporary history, but had to deal with the harsh reaction of the Italian state. The harsh consequence for the family father was that he was forced into exile in Munich. There he found an income as an editor at Rother, the well-known mountain publisher. Only after his acquittal at the South Tyrol trials he was allowed to return to Austria. An international Italian arrest warrant nevertheless led to a stay in police custody during a trip to Hungary. Thanks to the intervention of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, he was released. Klier had to wait until 1998 for the final pardon from Rome.

Founder of the Wintersport Tirol AG

This dynamic personality achieved an entrepreneurial feat with the founding of the Wintersport Tirol AG. In the mid-1960s, his “Tour de Tirol” began with the development of ski resort in the Unterinntal valley, followed by investment in Axams, Tulfes and Mieders. The proclamation of his "Kingdom of Snow", the infrastructural and technical skiing development of the Stubai Glacier, turned out to be the highlight. To realise a project of this magnitude, Klier acted in the manner of a modern-day start-up founder. Friendly investors believed in the vision of developing the formerly barren upland valley into a sought-after winter sports destination. Thanks to this business masterstroke, the region experienced a veritable tourism boom. Initiator Heinrich Klier thus finally joined the ranks of the great Tyrolean tourism pioneers. In addition to building mountain railways and ski slopes, he always had the customer's needs in mind, which he fulfilled with 4-star hotels, gastronomy offers and sports shops in the Stubai Valley and Innsbruck. The valley community of Neustift honoured his achievements with honorary citizenship. Forward-looking, Heinrich Klier handed over responsibility for his life's work to his youngest son Reinhard. Even at an advanced age, he still regularly marvelled at the fruits of his labour in his beloved Hochstubai. 

Passed away in Innsbruck

On Thursday, 6 October 2022 Heinrich Klier died in Innsbruck at the age of 95 years. His death leaves a deep void on a personal and family level, especially for his wife and four children. What will remain also in the future is the memory of an inspiring life. Heinz, as he was called by those closest to him, lived it to the full.

"Gute Nacht, ihr Freunde,
ach wie lebt' ich gern,
dass die Welt so schön ist,
dank ich Gott dem Herrn!"

Peter Rosegger

Curriculum Vitae of Heinrich Klier

Curriculum Vitae Heinrich Klier  
27.11.1926 Born in Zirl
1945 - 1948 Studied in Innsbruck and London, Dr. phil.
1951 Publication of the first novel "Feuer am Farran-Firn"
1957 Headed an expedition of the Austrian Alpine Club to the Andes
1961 Joined the South Tyrolean Freedom Activists – demolition of the monument in Waidbruck – flight to Munich
1964 Foundation of the Wintersport Tirol AG
1966 Building of the Glungezerbahn lift
1970 Building of the lifts in Mieders
1971 - 1973 Building of the Stubai glacier road and the Stubai Glacier lifts
2006 Honorary citizen of the municipality Neustift
2008 Received the Tyrolean eagle meadle
2012 Received the Tirol Touristica award
2016 Tirolean tourism pioneer
06.10.2022 Passed away in Innsbruck