Organic farmer and director of the ski school
Augustin Oswald's day begins early in the morning in the barn with his sheep. He lovingly strokes and feeds them. Afterwards, he also treats himself to breakfast and sets off for the Minschuns winter sports area.
Day in, day out on the mountain
Augustin is the head of the Val Müstair Ski School and is on the mountain every day to organize and see that parents and children have a great day in the snow. «I am there for questions and to solve problems,» he says. He rarely gives ski lessons himself anymore.
Augustin likes his work. «The children's laughter when they have achieved or learned something gives me a lot of joy. In addition, I see this magnificent panorama every day.» He has worked here as a ski instructor for 30 years, the last 12 as ski school director.
We do not know hectic and waiting times
Minschuns is located above Tschierv and is accessible via the Ofenpass road. The easiest way to reach this little winter sports jewel is to take the sports bus from all villages in Val Müstair. By the way: With the guest card, all public transport between Müstair, Minschuns and Zernez is free of charge.
Small, fine and yet big
The predicate «small and fine» fits perfectly to Minschuns: Three ski lifts and one children's lift. Varied and sunny slopes. A cozy mountain restaurant and a ski bar that invite you to linger. Impressive view of the steep flanks of Piz Daint. And in the higher regions you can see the mighty Ortler rising, the highest mountain in South Tyrol.
Augustin says: «We don't know any rush on the slopes here and also no waiting times. I appreciate the family atmosphere on the mountain and the clarity of our small winter sports area.»
Wildlife watching from the edge of the slope
But it's not quite that small up there between 2000 and 2700 meters above sea level. The ski lifts open up an amazingly wide area with open and often deeply snow-covered slopes. Since you are above the tree line, you are surrounded by a lot of free nature. The Swiss National Park is very close and sometimes you can even watch ibex and chamois from the edge of the slope or watch the bearded vulture circling, says Augustin.
When the sports bus arrives at the parking lot and the crowd of children gets off, it gets noisy. But the experienced Augustin keeps an overview. Children who can already ride the lift safely are taken up to Alp da Munt on their own, while beginners are accompanied.
I like the family atmosphere on the mountain
The Alp da Munt (2150 m) is the heart of Minschuns. Here you will find the mountain restaurant and the ski school area with the children's lift. Lessons start at 9:45 a.m., and the red-clad ski instructors jet off with the little ones. In the high season there are up to 70 children.
Skiing and much more
Skiing lessons take place in the morning, then snowboarding and «fun & games» are on the agenda in the afternoon. For example, the children go wildlife watching or practice in the avalanche training center how to find buried people as quickly as possible. Sometimes they simply shoot snowballs at cans or go on a treasure hunt.
«The snowboard course takes place in the afternoon to be sure we have enough ski instructors in the morning,» explains Augustin. «Lots of fun in the snow is guaranteed with our motivated team and the kids are in good hands.»
On Minschuns not only children have fun, but also the parents. Besides 25 kilometers of slopes – by the way, the black ones are really steep and challenging - various other activities are waiting for you: a long winter hiking trail to Lü or a wonderful cross-country skiing trail in wild and romantic nature.
Variety for young and old
The winter sports area is also a good starting point for ski tours. In addition, there is a marked but not controlled downhill route in open terrain (Minschuns - Alp Champatsch - Lü - Tschierv). «A super experience. Towards Lü you have to push a little with the poles, but the descent of about one hour is worth it,» says the expert.
Farmer in 3rd generation
Augustin Oswald grew up in Val Müstair. His father and grandfather were also farmers, and it was already clear to him at a young age that he would like to take over his parents' farm one day. He took over the farm at the age of 22, a recent graduate of the agricultural school. A heavy blow of fate was the reason for this, as the father had a fatal accident while working.
Step by step, Augustin rebuilt his parents' farm into an organic farm and switched from dairy cow farming to sheep farming about seven years ago. Around 100 Skudden sheep live on his farm together with some alpacas, chickens and rabbits.
In Val Müstair I have everything I need
The sheep belong to a rare and protected breed (ProSpecieRara) with excellent meat quality and shaggy coat. «I was looking for something special and found it with the Skudden sheep,» says the organic farmer.
He runs the farm together with his girlfriend Jasmin. They maintain an open concept, which they call the «show barn». «Anyone who wants to can watch the animals being fed and play with them,» explains Augustin. In order to be able to explore the rest of Val Müstair in addition to the farm, we give our guests the Val Müstairaus guest card, adds Jasmin.
Away only during recruit school
Addressed are mainly their personal guests, especially the children. In fact, Augustin and Jasmin rent out a vacation apartment and a few rooms in their old farmhouse. The versatile man finds another income as a freelance gardener and with the direct sale of his delicious lamb products.
And what does Augustin do when he's not working? «I always have something to do and never go on vacation,» he says. «The only time I've been away for a long time was during recruit school, when I had to go. Val Müstair is the most beautiful place, isn't it?»
Text: Roger Kreienbühl
Photos: Mayk Wendt
Video: On Air