Summits and Smugglers–Sulzfluh 2014


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Here we are in the dog days of summer. I think back on our European travels last winter, and how special it was to ski tour to the Berghaus Sulzfluh and climb the peak. To break up our stream of summer gear reviews, I thought it might be fun to post a late night trip report.

Clouds swirl around us like fluffy masses of cotton candy.

Clouds swirl around us like fluffy masses of cotton candy.

Europe appeals to us with its deep mountain culture and tantalizing history of daring backcountry skiers. In the 1800′s poor mountaineers survived by smuggling coffee, tobacco, wine, corn, honey and loden over the Austrian/Swiss border along treacherous alpine routes, sometimes stopping by Berghaus Sulzfluh for rest and food. They would have had an easy time slipping through the cloudy grayness that greeted us on the morning of our climb.

In 2010 Lou climbed Sulzfluh in bluebird weather. This time we’d tour under overcast skies. But sometimes I like that. Misty mountains are mysterious and as we skied I could easily imagine the mountaineers of old skiing quietly past with their packs full of contraband.

Our trip to Sulzfluh was nicely organized, thanks to it being Dynafit’s annual press event. Three guides were available for various levels of adventure: freeride slayers, beginners and experienced-but-not-Hoji-extreme-skiers. We joined the not-Hoji group (but we do love Hoji).

Franz the Guide gives the safety talk before we leave.

Franz the guide gives the safety talk before we leave. I know Lou is thinking 'Whatever happened to the safe 3-person group, and do any of these guys have more than a cell phone in their backpacks?'

On the way.

An ancient alpine proverb, 'He who knows and knows what he knows, follow him, especially if he reads the sign.'

Keeping safe distance between each other through avalanche prone sections.

Spreading out through unstable sections, or so it was said, anyway.

Skis off for a short section of rock scrambling. Ice covered rock added some excitement.

Skis off for a short section of rock scrambling. Ice covered rock added some excitement.

Skis on again.

Skis on again.

Franz bergheils each skier at the ice encrusted summit cross.

Franz bergheils each skier at the ice encrusted summit cross. Cold and windy, but always exhilarating to reach a new summit.

Turns down the summit.

Clouds briefly lift for a glimpse of stunning vistas.

One short length of chain adds a bit of help on the rocky section.

One short length of chain adds a bit of help on the rocky section of the descent. Slipping on slick ice raced our pulse like interval training.

The new Dynafit test skis surf easily through the choppy conditions.

New Dynafit test skis 'the Denali' surf easily through the choppy conditions.

At the end of the trail, a few steps up to a cold Radler.

At the end of the trail, a few steps up to a cold Radler. Built in 1875, the restaurant of Berghaus Sulzfluh has been carefully restored to maintain its original character. After a few Radlers, the ghost of Schmuggi Luggi joined our table.


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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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