We knew it had snowed a lot up high overnight, and a good day was beckoning. The weather was still pretty wild though, snowing heavily, foggy on the peaks, and moderately windy. We jumped off the Silvrettabahn, and decided to head through the murk to the Hoellspitzbahn lift, where we remembered some trees lower down that might give some shelter and visibility.
Explosives were echoing through the peaks, and I guess it was no surprise when the Hoellspitzbahn had no chairs loaded. So we had no choice but to go up the Paznauner Thayabahn, and see what we could find. The answer was white treasure.
For about an hour, with a handful of others, we mined thigh deep untracked powder (pics here). First under the chair for a couple of runs, then traversing across on the skiers left, where three more untracked lines were gorged on. By then, chairs were appearing on the Hoellspitzbahn, so the promise of more terrain was in the air.
Still, this left time for a wider traverse, across the top of a creek, which would open up a tasty looking tree run on the side of piste 30. I set off in the fog, only to be horrified when a group of about 10 were ahead of me, breaking a line through the deep snow on the slight uphill out of the top of the creek. I worked hard to catch them up, but at least half slid on to the plateau above the trees, a good 50m ahead of me. There goes my first tracks, I thought, and relaxed a little to get my breath back.
Amazingly, all this group kept walking and traversing though knee deep snow until they got to the piste. And down they went. Ok – it was first tracks, in the maybe 4 inches that sat on top of the corduroy. But compared to the tree run? Moderately steep, beautifully naturally spaced trees and light, thigh deep snow. It was a superb run. I knew they liked their groomers in Europe, but …
The snow was even deeper at the top of the Hoellspitzbahn. Crowds were still minimal when it opened about 10.30, leaving innumerable lines to hit under the chair, and off the wind-loaded ridge on the skiers right. It was truly epic skiing, with just enough visibility to get one’s bearings for a split second between turns, before being blinded again by the inevitable deluge of snow billowing up over your head.
We rolled into lunch at 1pm completely exhausted, having already clocked up over 6500m vertical. I was so tired I nearly had a beer – a real rarity for me at lunch when water and coffee is all I can normally manage. But soup, water, a wonderful rich, hot dark chocolate and a monster Germknoedel gave me enough energy to head out for a few more runs. Warmer temperatures had made the remaining snow a little heavy, so I saved my legs and toured a little on soft bumpy pistes, before heading down for a sauna and several therapeutic hefeweizens.
Undoubtedly the day of the season so far. And in this epic season, that’s saying something.
Day 42 – 9700m
Season totals: 42 days, 22 powder days, 324,800m vertical