Wally is the daughter and only child to Fender, a rich, widowed mountain farmer in the Ötztal valley in the Tyrolian Alps. She is young, beautiful, intrepid and, most of all, strong-minded. When she at great risk catches a vulture's young from its nest she carries the respect of her father, but also the scorn of Bear-Jospeh, assistant hunter to the local squire. He mocks her as "Geierwally" (Vulture-Wally), as he thinks young women shouldn't wear pants and climb around in the mountains hunting. What he doesn't yet know is that Wally is almost mad with love for him - and too stiff with pride to admit the slightest idea of that. To make it complicated, her father wants her to marry Vinzenz, a neighbouring farmer. But Wally, loathing Vinzenz and burning with desire for Joseph refuses. Mad with frenzy, Old Fender bludgeons her with a heavy stick, and, as she still won't budge, he orders her away to a sole hut high up in the mountains, where she has to live in snow and ice beyond the ...