(Editor’s note: Lou and Lisa are starting a multiple hut trip today and may not post for a few days. Instead, during that time we’ll file some blogs we’ve had waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, we expect to hear from the Alps honeymooners sooner than later and find out what “classic ski traverse” they’re on in the Tirol. Let’s hope the weather is ok so they can file a few sunny photos instead of GPS reviews.)
This past weekend: Lisa and I are in Austria now (after a few ski tours in Switzerland). The weather is presently wet, which is a good thing (really) as we’re here for a while yet and having the mountains get a good cake of nieve will result (we hope) in sunny days of corn snow skiing and subsequent enjoyment of hut sun-decks.
The mission this time was a popular moderate peak known as the Schafsiedel near the town of Kelchsau (see map below). With thick fog and certain precipitation, I’d normally have perhaps taken a well marked trail to a hut and just hung out for a few hours, but with the GPS unit primed and ourselves needing a workout, we decided to go for the summit as aggressively as felt appropriate. We made it, but most of the day was spent in pea soup whiteout that varied from zero visibility to a few hundred feet.
I’m still getting after it with my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx unit. While still experiencing some frustration due to the Garmin’s quirks (this time, the batteries died in the middle of descending a steep slope with zero vis), my main problem was I forgot to load the new topo map sections for Austria, and thus had my waypoints prepared, but no GPS map clues. Lucky for us, I’d brought several paper maps so I didn’t have to quit the day before we left the trailhead. But a good lesson on one more thing to pay attention to.
Incidentally, as most of you probably know the maps you’re going to get on a GPS screen are never that terrific, but they help. In our case, to save the ridiculous hundreds of dollars Garmin charges for their maps, I found an excellent and free western Europe recreation map set that’s easy to download and install in the Garmin Mapsource software on your PC (and subsequently transfer chosen sections to your GPS). If any of you need such a thing, the free Garmin European maps are here.
Google map below has Schafsiedel peak marked, we accessed from the east Kurzer Grund valley, with our route going up near the series of small lakes shown on the map. Neue Bamberger Hutte is located at 1760 meters elevation to the east below the lakes.
For a report on the Schafsiedel with better weather, see our TR from a few years ago. More information on Neue Bamberger Hut is here.
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.