Ischgl is a funny place sometimes. In North America, I’m accustomed to big lines on powder days at the base, well before the lifts open. But in Ischgl, the big-ish (it was never really busy anywhere) lines seemed to be reserved for sunny days. And Tuesday was one of those. A perfect day for the impeccably attired and coiffured white ski pant brigade, which has many members in this town. I suspect they only venture out in the sun.
It had snowed for much of the night, and the conditions looked amazing as we ascended in the Silvrettabahn. Deep, fresh snow was glistening in the bright sunlight, like new icing on a plump cake, too tempting to resist. This time we headed up the Idjochbahn, and dropped over the ridge on piste 72. That was the direction the wind had been blowing, so it was no real surprise when we found the whole area laden with wind blown powder. Here we go again, I smiled.
Only the Viderjochbahn was open while the bombers did their work on the peaks. But short traverses opened up some great if short-ish lines in incredibly light fluff. In classic Austrian style, each person traversed just a metre or two further than the last, and paralleled the last set of tracks down. This is a fine powder preserving protocol indeed (pics here).
About 11am, the Greitspitzbahn finally open, and the day went from excellent to epic. Following the chair line and then traversing high opened up some incredible options in seriously deep snow. The wind had worked its wonders here, and a smile was etched on my face for an hour as I negotiated wider and wider lines down, crossing shallow avie trails that were rolling down off the jagged ridge above.
Every descent was incredible in the bottomless pow. As the snow exploded upwards on every turn, the sun and blue sky were visible for a fleeting moment, while all movement seem to happen in slow motion, enclosed by the ever-shifting walls of the white room. This is the riding you dream about when watching ski movies. It was pretty tracked by lunchtime, and the sun was slowly taking its toll, but what a morning.
After a soupy lunch, we headed to the top of the Gratbahn, and had several runs on the north facing terrain of the black piste 4 – my favorite piste in Ischgl – and red piste 5. This is fine cruisy skiing, and for some reason doesn’t seem to attract many punters. Perfect aspects kept the snow in fantastic condition, and the Pardatschgratbahn whisked us quickly back up to the top for more. Relaxing in the gondola, you could see some amazing off-piste lines down the back of the peak, winding through, and occasionally over. avalanche fences and lower down through trees. I noted that area for future reference. If we got another powder day ….
Day 43 – 9000m
Season totals: 43 days, 23 powder days, 333,800m vertical