Thursday, January 22, 2015

St Anton's powder healed our depression

Well, the forecast was wrong... in the worst kind of way!

It rained (as forecasted), but more and for a longer period... After 2 days of profound depression and waiting for the precipitation, the forecast changed.
Not only the temperature was going to be warmer than previously planned, but now there was now less snow on the forecast!

Patience is not my prime quality, and we were totally done of waiting. It is also always a though call to do to leave a place that got plenty of snow as a base and which can be really snowy. It is also far enough that we knew we wouldn't come back this year.
Piet and Sarah decided that they would stay and visit family on their way back to southern Germany.

We left Voss and headed to Bergen from where we booked a ferry back to Denmark the following day. We didn’t really enjoyed our evening since there was a real heavy rainstorm happening.

Fortunately for us, the weather was much better the following morning and we strolled around its old neighbour of  Bryggen.  As we were cooking food next to the ferry terminal, Amelie realized that it was kind of weird that there was nobody at the terminal about 2 hours before departure.
After checking, we learnt that the ferry didn’t make it to Bergen the night before because of the bad weather. The plan was now to drive south to Stavanger. A journey of about 200km that will take us around 5-6hours due to the 2 ferries and the typical twisted road of Norway.

We eventually got to Stavanger in time and got on board without further problem.
Since it was an overnight ferry, we booked the cheapest way to get on board. Since it looked more like an economy-class airplane seat, we stayed at the bar as long as it was open before finding a piece of floor to crash on.

After a not so good night, we were all set to drive the 14 hours separating us from our next stop: St Anton am Arlberg in Austria. From the latest forecast we checked, there was some snow on the forecast there and we would get it just at the right time.

I need to say it one more time, but driving through Germany is really not the funniest thing in the world! Even if you can speed on the highway, it still takes quite some time to drive it from north to south.

We got near St Anton around 11PM and we went to sleep with a little dust falling.
I was really excited to go check out this legendary resort, which is known for some, as the birthplace of modern skiing.

Our excitement slowly disappeared as we were climbing up the road and that we were able to see some evident traces of recent rain. After picking up our ski passes, we went up and conditions really looked shitty. The lower mountain was snowless with iced up runs.

Things got better at mid-mountain, were we saw that snow had replaced rain!
We quickly made our way next from the officials where there was already people tracking fresh snow.
We followed them and got great warm up runs!

After tracking over and over a slope next from the Kapali summit, we headed out towards the Schindler Spitze. We were really lucky as we timed our move just after they opened the lift giving access to some great couloir!

We again scoped some lines on the way up and looked where people were going.
We dropped into rocky sketchy couloirs from which a vertiginous traverse was going to a nearby couloir. We made our way there and gave a try to the next couloir where no tracks was leading.

And BOOM! We found exactly what we were looking for: an untracked steep run!
Our afternoon went from great runs to other great runs.
We were totally amazed about how much terrain was available and how awesome the snow was!

We eventually stopped around 16h and realized that due to our excitement, we had skipped both breakfast and lunch. We started our day with beer and hot mulled wine (gluhwein)! We were pretty proud of how well we managed this powder day from newcomers at such a big resort.
Since I was preparing an article about St Anton, the resort graciously offered us a guide for the following day! After we told him what we skied the day before, he had a plan. We were to start from the top of Valluga and down from it. Usually, the lift that makes it up to the top of this mountain is for sightseeing only; you have to be accompanied by a guide to ski down from it. We saw a bunch of fellow skiers that were slowly bootpacking their way up to access the run.
The conditions at the top were not the best since it had been wind blown.
Conditions were better lower.
We were impressed the day before by the amount of freeriding terrain that was available, we were now totally blown away by the backcountry terrain that was accessible from the resort! We spent the day following the guide and going from one lift to the other without really knowing what was the plan. We had again good snow higher up and shitty snow lower down. That was really cool to have someone to show us around and not loosing any time.
The sun had warmed up the southern and western aspect and the rain had ruined everything that was below 1800m. After looking at the trail map and Google Map (which now shows quite a lot of ski lifts), we made the plan to go to Zürs.

The domain of St Anton, actually connects a few different town through a maze of 97 ski lifts that you can use with a single lift ticket that goes for about 50 euros. We haven’t really ski the lifts starting from Zürs. The terrain was quite tracked out, but we found some good freshies without to
 much work.
We did another great day of skiing that we had to cut short since we had to drive back to Grenoble because Amélie was working the following day. After an (other) gluhwein on fur seats, we headed back home!

I have to say that St Anton now sits pretty close from the top of my favorite ski resorts in Europe! One of the main downside of this region is the lack of pure ski touring options. The mountains are so steep that you have to climb for quite a while before making it to a ski-tourable terrain.  Fortunately, single-ride tickets are available at Rendl.

I’m not that thrilled about going back to Grenoble since ski conditions are supposed to be quite crappy around there!

Hopefully, I’ll find something good!

1 comment:

Yvan said...

Encore une super histoire Evans! Et la suite devrait être pas plus mal. La France a reçu une bonne couche la semaine dernière. Regarde dans le coin de La Grave ;)