Ski Touring in the Austrian Silvretta, 25th – 31st March 07’
We had affectionately named the area “Softcore Silvretta” before our visit due to the areas reputation for mellow ski touring terrain. Having been there in near perfect conditions it would be better nicknamed “Sensational Silvretta”! We completed a circular route from Ischgl, criss-crossing over the Austrian / Swiss frontier.
Perfect Fresh tracks in the 'Sensational Sivretta!'
Going to the area early season meant that it was very quiet and we didn’t meet anyone who was doing the same journey as ourselves. We used the lift system in Ischgl to give us as a short day to the Heidlberger Hutte. In hindsight it would be much cheaper, and more efficient, to use the skidoo service offered by the hut to get up the valley. However, that would have meant missing out descending in untouched powder as soon as we left the piste. This was a sign of things to come!
The second day took as over the Briete Krone and Piz Faschalba, uncomplicated ski touring peaks that gave us a good warm up for the trip. Again, we could find fresh tracks all the way to the Jamtalhutte. Prior to the trip I had been told of these great Austrian huts (with showers – yes the rumours were true!), but this one could be likened to a giant youth hostel!
Day three included an ascent of the Dreilanderspitz. From the ski depot there was twenty minutes of interesting, but not too challenging scrambling along the ridge to the summit signified by a cross as on most Austrian summits.
By now we were getting a feel for the “softcore” element of the trip and found ourselves settling into a very relaxed routine; leave the hut at 8am, gently skin up for 3-4 hours, make ski depot, crampons on, scramble along a ridge, back down, skis on, make tracks in fresh powder all the way to the hut in time for lunch! I certainly felt like I was on holiday. Perhaps we were just very lucky with the weather and snow conditions.
However this routine was by no means monotonous. The peaks became more impressive, the descents got longer, the powder got deeper and the huts became cosier. The next two days took in the Piz Buin, Silvrettahorn and Schneeglocke, arriving at the Saarbruckner Hutte.
The crescendo just kept going and we couldn’t have asked for more on our last day. It is only a short trip from the hut to the top of the Kleine Seehorn, a magnificent summit with views back across the ground we had covered over the last few days. There were only 4 off us on the mountain that day, so we could have our choice of line in the unmarked snow. The highlight for us was probably seeing one of the others cross his tips, somersault and land perfectly on a 40 degree slope. I think he was surprised as we were!
From here it was homeward bound. The fresh tracks didn’t stop until we hit the rat track down to Oberpermuntverk. Our luck was truly in, as we did our last turn a bus pulled round the corner bound for Bielerhohe. It would have been a long walk without it. From Bielerhohe you can ski (skate and walk!) back to Galtur, but we opted for the piste machine!
6th April - Fine Spring Skiing in the West Highlands - Central Gully on Ben Lui Skied....
Thanks to Callum Horne of Perth for this ski report from Ben Lui today....and well done on scratching that 17 year itch - it's a long way down the Central Couloir when you peer into it from above!
"I spent an hour psyching myself up to do it. A bit off putting the audience on the summit expecting you to perform, when your really filling your pants, wanting to take your skis off, to walk back down. - A 17 year itch finally scratched!"
Meanwhile up here in Lochaber the afternoon skiing on sun warmed spring snow at Nevis Range continues to be pretty good. I skied Easy Gully again today which was a bit rattley and could do with a bit more sun to soften it up.
Ben Lui Central Couloir. Photo Callum Horne Ben Lui Central Couloir. Photo Callum Horne úSof and Laura enjoying the spring snow at Nevis Range today
31/3/07 Alpine Lochaber
A hard frost down to sea-level last night was followed by yet another perfect alpine day with many folk out enjoying the fine ice climbing on the Ben and skiing on Aonach Mor. I met up with Callum Horne from Perth and enjoyed dropping into a very friendly Easy Gully - being a bit rusty on the planks it still got the heart racing! This was at 1445 by which time the gully had gone into shade and ever so slightly iced up again - Callum had skied it at around 1300 and found better conditions then. The Buttresses on the East Face of Aonach Mor are fully in summer mode now and only some of the deeper gullies are holding snow and ice. Teams climbed Left and Right Twin in good conditions. Over on the Ben nearly all the classics were getting climbed again although the team on Stormy Petrel appeared to be having a fairly hard time and making a bee-line for the relative thick ice / safe haven of Psychedelic Wall!
Callum Horne dropping in to Easy Gully, E. Face of Aonach Mor
15/12/06 Zermatt and Saas Fee Ski Conditions....
Early season conditions in these two high Swiss resorts are much better than the UK media coverage of the early alpine winter had led me to believe. Quiet, perfect pistes are open right down to the resorts and the off-piste skiing on the glacier from the Klein Matterhorn (pictured left) provided some excellent early season thigh burning turns!
Folk have also been skiing the Breithorn and Allalinhorn - the 4000m peaks accessed from the tops of these two resorts although we turned around on the latter due to unstable snow conditions on the steep summit slopes.