Otztaler Alpen is a European Alps highground with a number of beautiful mountains at over 3,000 meters, many nestled in glowing white glaciers like they’re curled for the night in thick European bed quilts. Summits such as Weiskugel and Wildspitz, for example (see location map below). More, the region boasts dozens of famous huts you can connect in a variety of ways.
Our friend Ted Kerasote (Jackson, Wyoming denizen and author of best seller Merle’s Door) is crazy for European hut ski traverses. With route suggestions from Manfred Barthel, sage of the Tirol, Ted’s been after the Otztal area for a while. Turned out Lisa and I could join, so we did.
Day 1 of the trip (as we’d planned it) was a basic walk up an alpine valley to reach Martin Busch hut, where we’d spend two nights with climbing planned for day two. Not particularly exotic, yet since this is Europe and we don’t know our way around, an adventure nonetheless. The trip progressed with shaky weather and a few blue sky moments, short but sweet. We’ll file trip report posts over the next week so you guys can check out what we’ve been doing these past few days. We’ll be here in the EU for another week or so, with more tours planned and apparently better weather for at least a few days, so hopefully we’ll blog that as well.
Kind of a basic day, but when you get going on one of these trips, your first days and hut nights feel truly special no matter how mundane. For Americans not used to the culture, it’s quite exciting to simply be in the same dining room as 30 other ski mountaineers of equal or better ability. You know they’ll be heading out the next day for all sorts of beautiful adventures, enjoying their Alps, and at the end of the day sliding into yet another hut for another bed and meal, with perhaps a spirited Tirolean hut keeper yelling, “fleisch, FLEISCH, YOU WANT FLEISCH!?”
Center of Google Map below shows the town of Vent, Austria, where we began our Otztal tour. The first day we toured southerly up the “approach route” from Vent to the Martin Busch Hutte. Just a few hours, about 5.5 km and 600 meters vert on a snow-covered shelf road.
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.