Okay, I’m trying for honorary Tyrolean citizenship, hanging out with these ski-tour-loving Austrians. Some crazy Italians are along and they’re vying for the same thing. Oh well perhaps we can all get the honor together after we prove we’re worthy by picking the correct knudle off the gasthaus menu.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to flying over the pond, and eventually skiing…
|Still locked up in the big bird, I was getting excited when I saw the boredom breaking junk you can access on the LCD in front of you in each seat. This map shows realtime progress of the flight. With the right medication, you could probably just sit and look at this for the whole trip.
|If the map gets too old, you can switch to this and check out your speed etc.
|Somewhat jet lagged and wasted, I arrive in Munich. I’m craving some real German type food, but of course we immediately head for Dynafit HQ, where brand manager Gerstner expands my mind (instead of my stomach) with their dazzling array of new product. Of everything I saw, their new wide ski is the most exciting. The thing is light for its width, and has a rather radical tip geometry that could be quite useful for less than ideal snow. More on that later, when I can get photos. After checking the gear, for the ultimate jetlag cure we jogged (actually, drove Gerstner’s Beamer) out for the culinary delights. Interesting that the gear took priority over the food, who would have thought?
|We drive over to Austria. I get a good nap and actually sleep through the night. So it’s time for some skiing! Photo is me on top of a smaller mountain near Kitzbuhel, known as Berntalkopil, or “Bear Vally Small Peak.” Guy standing in background is Paulo, a friendly Italian professor of some esoteric discipline.
Turned out Paulo and his girlfriend (along with my Austrian friends Dynafit inventor Fritz and his father Manfred, and their friend Ricki) had been skiing excellent pow up to the day I was flying over. Then a foehn wind came, which blew the snow around into dangerous and difficult to ski slabs, and heated it up into that weird pow-chowder that really gets you wondering if you still known how to ride those planks. We had fun anyway. It’s just so excellent being out in the Alps, looking around at all the peaks and seeing the excellent ski routes both alpine and lower down on the steep pasture land.
|A small windslab that had recently dropped. Up high the snow was quite reactive, shooting cracks and all. So we stuck to lower angled terrain that had been well used.
|You had to attack the foehn snow rather aggressively, which Ricki did nicely as shown in above. The snow snakes bit all of us several times each, but it was mostly a laugh, especially the time I fell upside down into the creek.
|The gasthaus culture amazes me. We parked next to this structure for the tour, and I had no idea it was a resturant serving all sorts of Tyrolean goodies. My ignorance was of course taken care of after the tour completed. I’ve seen 10th Mountain huts that looked more like a resturant than this place — of course they lack the food, terrain and goodly numbers of alpine ski tourers that give such a gasthaus reason to exist.
|Me, in the Tyrolean re-education program, under the tutelage of professor Fritz. Gasthaus is known as Brennhutte, meaning something like “Burning Hot” which relates to brewing liquor over an open fire. If you find this particular gasthaus, you might see a WildSnow sticker somewhere inside…
|Funny how those stickers end up everywhere…
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.