The Austrians I’m with are fast. But what else do you expect? You start out in the lineup, stop for a whiz, and the next thing you know your Tyrolean berg-friends are over the next rise 500 vert above. But the mountain boys and girls like hanging out at the summit, bundled up in their puffy with a cup of hot from their thermos. So eventually you catch up. That’s what it’s like when you ski Austria; it seems like everyone is an expert, everyone is fast, and everyone is smiling.
Euros don’t carry much (typical pack is a shovel and a cell phone — sometimes without the shovel). So they don’t drink much. So they don’t pee much and get ahead every time a well hydrated American has to stop. But mostly they’re fit. More so, these guys have muscles used to the plentiful oxygen of lower altitudes than we tour at in Colorado (I’ve got the lungs, but until I’m used to the lower altitude my skinny high altitude legs can’t handle the amount of O2 my huffers can gather.) So there you have my excuses for dropping back a few minutes. Pee stops and reverse acclimation. Any questions (grin)?
It’s day 2-3 of this year’s WildSnow European visit. I’m touring with Dynafit binding inventor Fritz Barthel, along with his dad and a group of their friends. We’re backcountry skiing the Schafsiedel and another peak above the Langer Grund valley, south of Bad Haering in the Zillertal region of the Austrian Alps.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.