Thanks to alpinism and tourism, apart from the new professions come into being in Sesto, such as the mountain guides’ guild, during this time some of the long-established craftsmen experienced a noticeable increase in business too. For example the shoemakers. The reason for this is easily explained: with the increase in summit ascents, shoe wear increased rapidly too. The first mountain adventures were contested by the Sesto mountain guides and their charges in two kinds of footwear. They climbed up the mountain in heavy, leather hobnailed boots, as far as the start of the rock face, then continued in improvised climbing shoes made from canvas with a soft sole made from remnants of old material sewn together, known locally as “Zararotschn”. For both kinds of footwear, naturally, the local shoemakers were the first point of contact, be it for purchasing new pairs as well as for the constant repairs. After every mountain tour, lost nails needed to be replaced in the hiking boots and the worn out “Zararotschn” mended. The enterprising shoemakers reacted to the growing demand in the summer months with strategically-placed shoe service stations.
The Drunkard and the King
Genuine superstars of early alpinism in the Sesto Dolomites were the brothers, Michl and Hans Innerkofler. They were two brothers who could not have been more different. Michl was known in the village as a focused, tough type, who never lost sight of his goals. And that, primarily, was the “deflowering” of countless virgin summits in the Sesto Dolomites. A tour de force that brought him the nickname “King of the Dolomites”. He lived very modestly – in spartan fashion, was much-loved and never touched alcohol. The exact opposite was his brother Hans, the “Chamois Man”. The gaunt chamois hunter never missed a festival between Brunico and Lienz. And he probably also liked to have one over the eight on occasion too. Nevertheless he was known as an outstanding climber and for his brother he was the first choice when it came to someone to accompany him on his first ascents. His secret: before every big trip together Michl locked the drunkard in his room and insisted on taking his food to him in person. The older brother only allowed him to enjoy a drop of schnapps after a successful conquest.
The mountain guides’ bench
Sesto, late 19th century. Alpinists from all over the world flocked to the mountaineering village to scale the striking mountains of the Sesto Dolomites. Who would have thought that in this time a modest wooden bench in front of the “Zur Post” guesthouse would have served as an improvised tourist office? Here, on the “mountain guides’ bench”, the most capable climbers in Sesto waited for “outsiders” who regularly arrived on the post coach from the railway station in San Candido. Dolomite tours were discussed on the bench, many a heroic first ascent was touted, and guiding fees were negotiated. Once, it was said, a guest wanted to book a hike on the easily climbable Monte Elmo on the Carnic ridge with mountain guide Johann Forcher. However to the amazement of the guest, who was ready with his money, he turned him down, since he did not know the way there. The imposing summits on the opposite side of the valley were probably more his cup of tea.