Second day of the Justice tour required some balancing. Since we climbed so many verticals yesterday we decided to focus more on the going down this time. The plan was to do the famous Neue Welt descent from the Zugspitze (2962m), Germany’s highest point.
We made it to the first gondola from Ehrwald since we were a little worried about the crowds. It turned out however that no one seems to have done the descent yet lately. Even better :) After reaching the glacier you first need to skin up about 200 verticals to the ridge. Again we had to lay the first tracks and those 200 verticals felt harder than the 1700 we did the last day. From the ridge however, it was all about the down.
It starts with a nice warm up flank of about 40 degrees until you reach the first crux – a narrow and steep traverse of about 50 degrees to the next section. Since there were no people and no tracks we could take it easy and relax thoroughly enjoying the views along the way. The rest of the top section is a nice and consistent descent all the way to the belay station about half way down. Not a place you want to slip though as you could easily get swept down the cliffs. Lower down we actually founds a fresh corpse from one of the local residents that did just that. I guess even the mountain goats slip sometimes.
In any case you then need to rappel down some 60 meters to get to the bottom couloirs where it gets a bit steeper and narrower but it is not so exposed anymore. It is however also where all the falling snow gets deposited and even though the sun was strong and it was very hot the big snow balls remained icy and hard so the ski down was rather “technical” :)
After making it out from the last couloir we made a little break and then enjoyed the rest of the run back down. The snow below was already like the perfect spring corn we are used to from April until it ran out and we had to walk the last part back to the bus.
One year has passed and our traditional Justice tour was back on the menu. Since the chief organiser moved back to Germany so did the tour. We set off after work on Friday and arrived to Isny im Allgäu just before the brewery stopped serving food. Talk about good timing and a nice setting to make some plans :)
After intense planning long into the night our caravan drove all the way to Lechtal to climb the Holzgauer Wetterspitze (2895 m). We left the cars at the Lechtalhaus (1104 m), split into smaller groups and started the long but very scenic skin up the Sulzltal. And by long i mean long. You walk about 8km and only climb some 900 vertical meters to get to the Frederick-Simms Hütte (2004m) at the end of the valley. From there you still have another 900 verticals to the summit up a beautiful north facing slope. We were the only people in the entire valley and we had to lay the tracks up but that also meant we could enjoy the perfect untracked powder on the way down.
After some eight hours it was first time to enjoy the last rays of sunshine with some local sausages and cakes before heading back to Isny for a proper steak and beer. Needles to say we slept great.
We had to wait until March but boy was it worth it. Easily 30 centimetres of cold and dry fluffy white powder. A good reason for sore legs after the best day of the season so far :)
The moments that make us smile.
Back home. Actually just a short stop over since we left for Obertauren where the snow is rumoured to be. A week too late again, which seems to be the topic this season :) Nevertheless we had nice weather and each other so absolutely nothing to complain about. Last day we did a little tour up Grosse Kesselspitze (2351m) but had to turn back about half way. Flu sucks.
It’s official: being jet lagged helps with Dawn patrol. Getting up really early has never been easier :)
With all the snow that Europe got while we were in the US we needed a quick powder fix. Hohe Winde delivered once again. I promised myself to always use skis for our Dawn patrol missions and i was lucky to find the last pair of carbon converts lying in the office as everything else is at ISPO. Snow was great, my skiing not so much but we had fun. Looking forward to more.
Big Sky is the largest ski resort in the US by acreage and it is huge – 23 sq. kilometres. The best consequence is that the lifts and pistes were deserted and we had the pistes for ourselves. It is also very beautiful, long and wide runs through the forest and in the middle the Lone Mountain (3403 m) with some awesome couloirs and chutes. Unfortunately the snow was no better up here. In fact it was so cold (0F which is around -18C) that the hardest runs off the peak were closed altogether due to ice. So we stayed in the trees and still had a blast. The resort is not very lively at night either but the cold takes its toll and after dinner we usually went straight to bed. Hell we didn’t even use the hot tub :)
After 3 days of sunshine it was time to head back to SLC. We crashed at a friend’s house, went out to some more excellent burritos and then left back for Europe the next morning.
All in all a great trip, had a lot of laughs, sunshine and burgers to compensate for the lack of powder. I guess we will need to return some other time…