Post subject: Summer turns in the Alps-P I & Part II the Wildspitze
Posted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 9:16 am
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:26 am Posts: 66 Location: Columbia River Gorge
This is a skier's-TR, but this forum is just an awsome place to post. Thanks bc rider!
Part I - a weekend in Zermatt
(scroll down to get to Part II)
It started with a comment from my lovely wife when I packed my skis into the ski bag for our summer trip to Germany. "That is absolute nonsense to schlepp your skis over the Atlantic -- it is summer, you better bring your swim suite" -- Mario (Lone Telemarker) and Bob Mazarei are thinking different here, I will meet both on Friday 7-15-05 in Verbier, Bob's home town, to get in some summer turns the next couple days in Saas Fee or Zermatt.
Friday late afternoon we met with Bob at the "Verbier Beach" at the volleyball court. After a can of beer we altered over to a pub in down town Verb. for a couple more beers and dinner. If I remember correctly we went to bed late after midnight. The night was short and we left for Saas Fee in the morning at 5:30. Mario and I we followed Bob in his car, short pit stop at a gas station for breakfast and fuel and back on the road again. We drove through some rain showers, remainings form the last night thunderstorms, otherwise the weather looked promising for a fun day of summer skiing.
Saas Fee welcomed us with gray clouds and light rain. The only fact stopping from getting us on the slopes was the news at the ticket counter of the cable car "glacier closed for skiers -- active thunderstorm warnings" -- "Boys, lets drive over to Zermatt" is Bob's immediate response "the weather looked much better on the other side". Half an hour later we parked our cars in TÃƒÂ¤sch and rode the train into Zermatt, took the electro bus to the cable car station and BUMMER - the same status here: "closed for skiers -- thunderstorm warnings". We couldn't understand, the sky was deep blue, some nice summer clouds around the Matterhorn and no sign for thunderstorms.
Big frustration for the three of us, "let's have some beers to get over this". Bob drove home early, Mario and I we looked for a cheap place to spend the night and we will take an other chance tomorrow.
the legendary Matterhorn
Bob (Mazarei) and his 217-downhill skis, Mario (Lone Telemarker) -- ( in the background notice the hotel TELEMARK)
After a good night's rest Sunday looked really promising. Preventative we called the "Zermatt Bergbahnen" office to avoid an other spectacle. Green light for our ski tour to the Breithorn. We rode 3 different cable cars to the top of "Klein Matterhorn".
The Breithorn is a short and easy tour from the Klein Matterhorn cable car station. 1-1/2 to 2 HRS of hiking/skinning brings you to the 4165m/13,664ft tall peak. But the real challenge with that peak are the people on the mountain. An endless worm of "MOUNTAINEERS" is winding up to the Breithorn from the cable car station. I asked Mario if we should climb up to the peak next to the Breithorn. I spotted just a couple guys walking waking towards it's peak. The slope looked gnarly and we don't have to deal with all the crowds. On our easy ascent we had only tow small crevasses to cross and we even did not employed a rope nor crampons. Perfect conditions and weather ore contributing to a pleasant and fast climb of 1-1/2 hours. to our peak.
the Breithorn from the station - our peak to the right of Breithorn
typical for popular peaks in the Alps
snack bar and crowds
Mario on the ascent
Mario close to the peak, the crowded Breithorn behind him, the Matterhorn to the right
not a lonely peak either
stunning views in all directions
Mont Blanc in the distance - The Brenva and Grand Pilier d'Angle
How else could it happen that at the same time two other bigger groups are reaching the highest point and a quiet rest at the peak was just an illusion. The German group was chatting so loud that the two guys from the Italian group had trouble to talk on their cell phones . Just a quick snack with stunning vies to the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Grand Paradiso and other glaciated areas in the western Alps for us and we walked the few verticals back to our skis. Clicking into our Telebulldogs we were getting excited over our first turns since a while. The snow couldn't be better for July and we ripped down the 1000 vertical feet. Jealous glances and comments from all the pedestrians walking down from the summit, Mario and I were stoked about the snow and slope. Back at the Klein Matterhorn we had some time left for a couple runs at the summer-ski resort "Cervinia".
Mario skiing the Breithorn
one turn after the other
notice the TELEBULLDOGS...
...and the GOODE's
the SKIER and the PEDESTRIANS
happy Lone Telemarker
Gumpie skiing the summer groomers
T4's and 'dogs - they rock!
is it really July?
Back in Zermatt after a long ride with all the cable cars we enjoyed a cold beer in the hot and burning summer sun. After the train ride back to TÃƒÂ¤sch and a short ride to my parked car at the B&B we said good bye and Mario continued on his long drive back to Holland and I started to find a quiet camping spot in a remote valley for the night. Had a great dinner with "RÃƒÂ¶sti" and a couple of beers to close that great summer skiing day.
severe thunderstorms the following day and low temperatures above 3000m/10,000ft are just perfect for an other summer ski tour in the Ãƒâ€“tztaler Alps on Wednesday
TO BE CONTINUED...Part II, skiing the Wildspitze, Tyrol's highest
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 10:26 am Posts: 66 Location: Columbia River Gorge
Part II - Wildspitze, solo (sort of) ski tour in July
Low pressure and severe thunderstorms were dominating on Tuesday 7-19-05 on the entire N-slope of the Alps. The temperatures were dropping significant and snow was falling above 2800m / 9200 ft. The weather forecast for Wednesday: OCCASIONAL SHOWERS AT THE FRONT RANGES IN THE MORNING, CLOUDLESS SKIES IN THE CENTRAL MOUNTAIN RANGES, COOLER TEMPERATURES. A short call at the "Pitztaler Gletscherbahnen" confirmed the forecast for tomorrow. I got the skis and boots in the car and prepared for an early morning start.
years ago a busy summer skiing place - now a tarped glacier
selfportrait with N-Face in the background (55 degree ice climb to the right of the rocks below the summit)
seracs below the N-Face
Left the house Wednesday at around 6AM, pretty late for that drive, and had an uneventful ride of 2 HRS to the base of the Pitztaler Gletscherbahn. I shared the 8:30 car of the tram with only two other guys. One was a hiker and the other a mountaineer with the same goal for the day -- climbing the Wildspitze, Tyrol's tallest and Austria's 2nd highest Peak. After a 15 minute ride and stepping outside the tunnel at the station I was surprised about the view and the shape of the glacier. The last time I was up here, about 14 years ago, it was a busy summer skiing area. The ski resort is now closed for summer skiing, the glaciers & snow fields are much further away from from the station and the glacier ice is covered with huge tarps so they do not vanish completely. For me a strange view causing some mixed feeling about what we do with our environment where we live in.
peak of Hinterer Brochkogel
peaks of Bliggspitze
14 years ago when I climbed the N-face of the Wildspitze with a friend, we were able to use the 2 ski lifts to reach the Mittelbergjoch (3166m). Today I have to descent at first 450 ft and continue with a 1500 ft ascent in the ski lift line untill I can cross over to the Taschachferner at the Mittelbergjoch. An other 300 ft vertical descent got me on the maybe not so eternal ice of the huge Taschachferner where I put skis and skins on my feet for the long walk to the top of the Wildspitze.
east face of Wildspitze - North and South peak
coming closer - S-Peak
the S-Peak and the short climb from the ski depot
The first hour of skinning is very flat. The line traverses beneath huge crevasses and seracs below the Wildspitze N-Wall. The 55Ã‚Âº ice wall of the Widspitze is very dominant and visible the entire route. After a steeper section the route turns around almost 180Ã‚Âº and climbs around the icefalls and continues towards east in direction of the Wildspitze peak. Now I could see both Wildspitze peaks. The N-Peak 10 years ago the taller of both is an Ice cap on top of solid granite melted down for about 10 feet. Today the S-Peak a granite pyramid marks the highest point of Tyrol and it's tip bears a large metal cross. After a steep step from the flatter lower glacier to the bottom of the 45Ã‚Âº ice wall between both peaks I reached the ski depot which is about 300 ft below the cross. All of a sudden the mellow breeze turned into a cold wind and I preferred a jacket and gloves. A fellow mountaineer just coming down from the peak told me that it is absolute calm up there. I couldn't believe him at the moment. After an easy climb over the S-E ridge I reached the 3770m / 12,369 ft tall peak, and it was really absolutely calm - no wind at all. Stunning views from the peak in all directions and a quick snack made my break up here more than pleasant. To the east - north and west the glaciers "Grosser Vernagt Ferner" "Taschach Ferner" "Mittelberg Ferner", covered in white from the last night snow falls. To the south the deep gorge of the Rofental which is the far end of the Ãƒâ€“tztal cuts deep in between the mountain ranges. 1700m / 5577 ft lower the melting waters of several glaciers are roaring in the Rofen Ache river and further into the Ãƒâ€“tztal and river Inn.
the cross - MISSING TTIPS STICKER!
look at the perfect snow cover - and that in July
I didn't like to risk missing the last tram back to my car at 4:30 PM. I still had to climb two steps with a total of 750 ft vertical feet to get back to the Pitztaler Gletscher Bahn. On my way up with skis and skins I earned some weird comment and strange views from all the "summer-mountain-glacier-tourists". But now when I passed them on my skis down the boring glacier I could see sometimes how jealous they got. The snow was extraordinary for this time of the year. A touch of powder for the first 600 vertical feet and after that turning into best quality summer corn. From the Mittelbergjoch down the old summer ski slope I found the legendary buttahhh and it felt so good that I skied slower than usual to enjoy it longer. Towards the end of the glacier I got strange feelings again skiing in between tarped snow and ice. From the tongue of the glacier it was an other 45 minute hike with 300 ft vertical gain to the tram station and the restaurant where a cold beer was already waiting for me. After the super exhausting last climb I sunk down in a lawn chair on the large deck and enjoying the half liter "Schlossgold" and the worm summer sun before I returned to my car with the Pitztal Express.
the view back before the climb to the Mittelbergjoch
skiing between tarps
a way to protect nature - tarped gacier
done skiing for the day
Verticals: 150m/492ft down | 500m/1640ft up | 100m/328ft down | 670m/2198ft up || 1420m/4660ft total elevation gain
On my way up with skis and skins I earned some weird comment and strange views from all the "summer-mountain-glacier-tourists". But now when I passed them on my skis down the boring glacier I could see sometimes how jealous they got.