(Dateline: a few days ago on January 5, Austria.) After my Tofana 16 hour driving and skiing festival, I was up for something simple. Plan A was to head to the Langer Grund (Austrian for “cool place to ski tour”) for a bit of glisse combined with a nice long session at the Brennhutte.
But my potential partner, Peter, came down with a cold and since we’re lacking snow here, I wasn’t that psyched for a lowland bush and rock study anyway.
Peter suggested that for an easy day I should head up the popular uphiller’s route outside of Kufstein, Austria that goes up a closed ski area about 800 meters vert to the classic Weinbergerhaus.
Nice thing happened: My gracious hosts the Barthels figured that some uphilling sounded like a good idea for them as well. Huberta doesn’t ski due to knee issues, but she walks quite a bit so she took a good stroll to a gasthaus about half way up the hill. The skiers kept going to the top, as that’s what skiers sometimes do…
Huberta’s husband Manfred (one of the ski touring and climbing pioneers around here) is in his 70s and had some recent health issues that almost took him out from mountain sports. Manfred has been slowly mending, and really just started skiing by doing what are basically walks rather than tours. So his getting up and down the icy but nice slopes today, 800 vert meters to a sweet gasthaus with a view of the Kaiser (his home mountains), was really in a way as good as it gets and wonderful to join in on. Funny thing was, I could only get 10 minutes ahead of Manfred no matter how hard I tried. May we all be as strong as this hardman is when we’re pushing seven decades.
Now about our venue. As is happening all over Europe and some in North America, uphilling on skis is a rage. In this case, they open the ski lift in the SUMMER, and close it in the winter! Folks from all over the valley get their wiinter uphill workouts in before, during and after work mostly on skis, but some on sleds or plain foot travel. Key to the success of this situation is having cut and brushed ski runs, as well as the warm cozy restaurant (with reasonable prices) as an attractive goal.
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.