Winter holidays it was again… 18+ people and I was skeptical that it would be more stress than fun… Boy was I relieved it was quite the opposite. Our cabin had a Sauna and after the first night it was clear we didn’t need to bother thinking about bath time schedules because of the showers or similar… Instead we just slipped in and out of the bathroom, naked or not and there was no problem at all…
For the beginning we had our hands on the Hochzeiger ski region. After the first cloudy day our small subgroup decided to switch to the Pitztal Gletscher region which was just over the clouds, sunny and lots of fresh snow. Powder Fun!! Our group later became famous amongst us as the Oreo Peer Group named after ‘our’ huge consumption of chocolate. Honestly, I enjoyed going with these people a lot!
Also we found chasms and signs of the huge glacier beneath.
But this was all just a precursor for our main task to ascend the Wildspitze, the second highest mountain of Austria. We had to travel over the glacier and pass fissures which you can see on the pictures…
Actually it was not that dangerous, since we had booked a guide for the ski tour. Leaving early we met at eight in the morning to get our equipment (crampon, ‘Lawienen Piepserl’, Shovel, Snow shoes, and harness) and take the lift to the pitztaler glacier. From there we managed to go to the southernmost point through the powder to leave the area.
We had to go down some rocky and snowy slope with the ski and boards. Unlucky for me right under my snow were some rocks, my board stuck and I flipped over and hit my knee. We switched from board to snow shoes or from ski to ski and fur and went up the snowy fields to close in to the Wildspitze.
For the further ascend my knee took lots of my energy… Well, although peopled tried to build me up as good as possible, at some point I realized it might be not possible for me to climb the top. I asked our guide how much it’s going to be and I decided to wait at the foot of the mountain while the rest went on to climb the top. For me it was Ok, since I didn’t want to stand in the way of our shared goal while still confident to be fine in the cold dessert. I got some solace in appreciating the beautiful scenery on the snowy plateau, while moving around to not cool down too much. All kind of small beauties happened. At one point a small cyclone of snow went right through me.
After two hours of waiting the team came back and we switched back for downhill with the snowboards and the ski. Although the snow was already quite hard it was some fun to go downhill on the deep snow. The weather was great and we got some information about how to spot possible snow avalanches. In the valley we switched back to the snow shoes to climb back in the skiing region.
We managed to climb this last bit and took the valley run all the way down. Many cat-tracks made it tough for us snowboarders, while using skiing sticks to get further along. It was a nice way down anyway and we were glad we made it in the end. The evening was lots of alkohol and sauna. We earned it!
At this note, you might be interested if the rest of the team managed to climb the top.
Let’s give Astrid some time to tell the rest of the story:
At the so called “Frühstücksplatzl” (Breakfast place) we prepared ourselves with chocolate for the peak. After having walked through an amazing landscape all covered with perfect powder snow, we arrived at a steep slope where most of us put on ski crampons in order to cope with the slippery crust, which now covered the snow. The wind had frozen the upper part of the snow and the higher we got the more we could notice the icy wind. We arrived at the ridge of the mountain and finally while taking off the ski realized the beautiful panorama.
The snow at the edge of the mountain got packed like waves from the wind. We left our skis back and started climbing up the rocks. I preferred to have the crampons put on already, because the rocks were slippery and some of them loose.
After around 50m we put on the crampons and tied us together with a rope. It was cold up here and I started to notice the height, but our guide motivated us and forced us to hurry up, which was really good in this situation. A easy climbing part started (crampons and rope highly recommended) and finally we made it to the top!
It was an amazing feeling. Laughs and Huggs for everybody and amazing pictures. The view was amazing. We saw the Stubaier Alps with the Zuckerhütl, the Ötztaler Alps, we even saw the Dolomites from there with their particular shapes. We had a view to Italy, Switzerland and Germany. We could see over the end of the alps and far in the flat plains. It was amazing to stand with this good weather condition, a deep blue sky, on the peak of the highest mountain in the region. After some time we went back down which was easier since you just had to use the heel of the crampons and the way was mainly covered with snow. We skied down avoiding the crevasses and finally got back to the “Fruehstuecksplatzl” trying to get speed for the flatter part and enjoying the great feeling of skiing through powder snow.
Overall this was a great tour and is highly recommended. It is a lot harder for snowboarders, than skiers and it is noteworthy that the boarders did an incredible job. I am really happy for having been part of this team and to find so much motivated people, since I think the team is the most important part on any alpinist adventure. We really deserved our Beer and Schnaps that night ;).
Talking about team, I want to take the chance of expressing “it’s a special honor being part of the OPG (described above) ;).” Powder, Chocolate and Schnaps XD
… The days afterwards were rather tame, we went for a hiking trip through the snowy winter woods to visit a bog and almost get lost in the forest and after our last downhill day at the Kaunertal glacier we had a surprising snow chaos ahead of us, were we also learned to manage skid chains.
So we kind of had something of everything and all in all it was an amazing Holiday. I can’t wait to do it again next year!