Over the peaks between huts in the Otztal Alps, Lou makes a few curves.
With the weather deteriorating by the day, we took our last 24 hours of semi-blue sky to make one more crossing of a high pass in the Alps. Fresh snow yielded turns, backcountry skiing story in photos:
When morning came at the Similaun hut, this was the view out the window. A ski touring party headed to Similaun peak.
Nearly every hut or hotel we've visited this year in Europe has been ski-in ski-out. Here, Lisa heads down the ramp from the Similaun front door. Way better than a slopeside condo in Vail, eh?
Today, we exited the front door on skis, and continued down this for a few hundred vert before turning left (northerly) climbing to the Tisen saddle (where the 5,000+ year old Iceman mummy was found), then continuing over the Hauslab saddle where we dropped northerly over a glacier then swung west to the Schone Aussicht mountain hotel (which serves lift skiers as well as backcountry skiers.)
View looking back to the southwest during our tour. This peak is the Similaun, summit is the far center point. The slopes here are excellent skiing out of Similaun hut. Unfortunately we had to skip skiing the Similaun to progress our route. If we return, we'll stay at Similaun hut for a few days if the weather is good, and ski this stuff.
Lou heading up, hoping to visit the place where Otzi lived for 5,000 years. Similaun in background, look close to see backcountry skiers on the skin track.
Ted at the Iceman Memorial marker; Otzi was found just a few yards from here
Looking southwest, Lisa and Ted just leaving Iceman memorial marker area
Down glaciated moderate terrain to Schone Aussicht hotel, good snow was found. Lisa skiing
Ted banging out a few euro wriggles. Might as well farm it like the locals.
Looking back at our tracks. Classic.
The view from the Schone Aussicht hut is legendary; sadly the clouds came in so no photos. But we got amused anyhow by the hut's Italian design features. For example, the ski room was covered with mirrors. Why, I do not know, but it made an interesting self portrait. The reflective theme continued to the downstairs bathrooms, where mirrors are located for the men in such a way as to inspect yourself thoroughly every time one takes a pee. Is this some sort of Italian thing? I mean, the descent was extreme, but do I need to check IF IT IS STILL THERE? The bright red ceiling in the bathroom completed the surreal atmosphere. I'd recommend bypassing Schone Aussicht if you can do so; the hut keepers are pleasant and helpful, the bathrooms amusing, but as far as I could tell the physical plant is rather run-down and tends to be crowded with resort skiers.
We thought we had reservations for a room at the Aussicht, but ended up in the lager. I didn't think the bunkroom was all that bad provided one was tired and had jetway earplugs. Only concerns were nearly zero escape options in case of fire (a valid take, when you look at all the retro wiring and old woodwork), and the bathroom being fully two floors down below (don't have that evening beer in other words).
Curious about Otzi the Iceman? His skis were not found, but judging from how well equipped he was, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d had a pair of planks lashed to his feet. More here.