Here in Austria, people walk with care under trees that could break and roofs that might avalanche. A record storm hit about a week ago, dropping literal meters. Several snow depth sensing stations stopped transmitting — they were buried. Trees are white ghosts with branches sagging like an old man’s arm pointing the way. The snow is heaped over buildings, forming elegant curves, with edges nearly connecting the ground; thick white hats to celebrate winter.
I’m told the Austrian Tourist Office has unleashed an army of contract photographers. Their assignment: update the postcard shots, no need for Photoshop!
Today’s tour route was one of the late Manfred Barthel’s favorites, to the top of a peak here in the Austrian mountains between Kitzbühel and Innsbruck. After a rest at the summit, in a sunny alcove where rocks shielded us from the breeze, we made three turns in his memory, then three more, and more. The truth is he led a long and quality life, as a good man who loved the mountains where he played since boyhood, and loved the family he nurtured under the hills, and on their summits.
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.