wood penis austrian alps
Photo credit: Marika Roth

The Enduring Mystery of Austria’s Giant Wood Penis Statue Just Got Hairier

Remember that 6-foot phallus mysteriously erected in the Alps? Yeah, well it never went away — in fact, it’s even stranger than it was before.

Ordinarily, when someone crudely draws a penis on some public-facing structure, we roll our eyes — maybe pretend we don’t see it — and move on. Heck if you’re me, you laugh, because the classics never go out of style.

But when some anonymous hiker with extraordinary artistic flair (and probably a very big cart) erected a massive 6-foot-tall wooden penis statue along the slopes of Austria’s Ötscher peak, the world took notice — and did not look away.

By and large, nobody was very angry, most were just in awe — I mean, an erection that size will impress anyone. But how did anybody haul that huge wood stiffy up a mountain? And how did no one see whodunnit?

The caper was as fantastic as the gag itself. Not only was nobody accusing the artist of vandalism, but locals sought to congratulate them. Andreas Buder, managing director of the Ötscherlift ski resort, even went so far as to offer up a free season ski pass if the person behind the penis came forward.

They did not. And so we all accepted two truths: that the scandalous sculptor would remain a mystery, and that, ultimately, at the hands of a mighty snowfall and tenacious winds, the statue would suffer the same fate as all erections — an inevitable and unceremonious fall from prominence.

Only, that’s not quite what happened. And since the statue’s staggering discovery in 2017, things have only grown more puzzling.

What Happened to the Wood Penis Statue?

When I reached out to Marika Roth on Facebook, I really didn’t expect to hear anything back. Roth was credited with discovering the statue — at least, she was the first to post pictures of it on social media. But would she want to rehash that ridiculous story for me now? At best, I suspected, I’d get a terse but polite “no thanks.”

So when I received the notification she had responded, I was surprised.

“Hello, Adam. The old statue no longer exists,” she wrote back.

Bummer.

“… in its original form,” the message went on. “It is a bear — the ‘Ötscher bear [it] became.”

Otscher Bear
The Ötscher Bear statue, with Anton the dog; photo credit: Marika Roth

That’s right — not only did the statue not topple, it stands as proudly as ever. On top of that, someone very intricately enhanced the sculpture. It’s now a 6-foot-tall bear — and a good one at that.

Otscher Bear head
Photo credit: Marika Roth

But just as before, no one knows who is responsible. What’s more, the bear Roth photographed appears to just be the latest iteration of this baffling mountain marvel. In 2018, about a year after Roth’s discovery, Redditors in /r/mildlyinteresting posted a picture of the penis statue in what we can best describe as the early stages of its transformation.

Otscher bear version 1
Photo credit: Norbert Oberndorfer

Sure, it’s a bear. But it looks more like a giant penis wearing a cheap bear disguise than the actual work of art Roth showed me. Austrian publication Heute credited the images of Bear V 1.0 to Norbert Oberndorfer. And while it’s unclear when that statue became the statue it is today, Roth told me it still stands.

So for now, the mystery remains — albeit with a whole new twist. And that’s good because we couldn’t “bear” another penis pun anyway.

Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.