Austrian Hut Trip Tips and Tricks

Post by blogger | January 15, 2008      

Just as we do in North America, Europeans enjoy a mixture of private and public backcountry accommodations. After a few days at the public hut atop the Dachstein, we headed to a private chalet that Dynafit mountaineers Benedikt Bohm and Sebastian Haag rent in the Alps Southwest of Kitzbuhel.

You’ve all heard of how those Europeans like to have their huts and chalets provide the best in creature comforts. In this regard, Benni and Basti did not disappoint. Their terrain is pretty good too, and due to a closed access road the area is not crowded as many parts of the Kitzbuhel area sometimes are.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
The day we ski toured was quite cloudy, but the sun broke through a few times so Basti got this shot of Fritz. The peak in the background is the Grosser Rettenstein, one of the few truly jagged summits in this area of more rolling (and perfect) ski terrain.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Of course, ski mountaineers the world over know that access is the key. The guy’s snowmobile is broken, so they got Fritz to bring his Pinzgauer. (In all fairness, Benni and Basti had already walked up there with a group of friends, but they need some extra stuff hauled in. As for me, after all this touring and running around I was happy for the ride.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Funny where those WildSnow stickers end up, isn’t it? Fritz is fond of the United States bumper sticker that says “What’s our oil doing under their land?” I think he needs one of those to go along with his WildSnow sticker. Of course the Pinz is fairly fuel efficient with a small 4 cylinder engine, at least till it’s loaded up…

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
I think I’ve seen this much beer taken on a 10th Mountain hut trip once or twice in my life — on second thought, perhaps not. The Pinzgauer’s purpose was indeed revealed.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Fritz installs the chains. He eventually hooked steel on all four corners, engaged both front and rear locking diffs, and mucked his way to the front door of the hut like some crazy Alabama mudder. All he was missing was a Confederate flag on a whip mast CB antenna.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Pinzgauer version of a cup holder, doubles as a gun rack.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Like I said, spinning and hogging to the front door of the hut.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Scene included dogs, kids, and the beers we’d hauled. Guy on right is Sam Moulton from Outside Magazine. Really nice and interesting fellow, fun to chat with. I forgot to ask him if Outside will have some Pinzgaur ads to go along with their Hummer advertising (grin).

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
The famous speckknoedel (bacon dumpling), of which these guys are masters. The joke is of course how one armed hut cooks make dumplings in their armpits, luckily I didn’t see many one armed cooks during this trip.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Desert was nothing elaborate, just a mountain of cookies as large as the Alps, ringed by white chocolate. True to Austrian mountain culture, the cookies were consumed down to a small pile of crumbs.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
And now, a word from our sponsors.

Dynafit backcountry skiing.
Yeah, I got to drive. Part two tomorrow (we did ski).


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


11 Responses to “Austrian Hut Trip Tips and Tricks”

  1. Lenka K. January 15th, 2008 4:08 pm

    Hi Lou,

    the peak sticking out in the distance is the Grosser Rettenstein, not Schwarzkogel. And the ridge you’re cruising along is the Gerstinger Joch, methinks :).

    Keep having fun!

    Lenka K.

  2. MJ Hall January 15th, 2008 3:26 pm

    Great adventure Lou! It looks as though you are living large in Europe. CHEERS!!

  3. Lou January 16th, 2008 1:44 am

    Lenka, you’re right, don’t know how I messed that up, not enough sleep I guess… and yes, the skier is on Gerstinger Joch. Was on the Schwarzkogle the other day as well.

  4. damian January 16th, 2008 7:38 am

    Pretty cool. There’s some spirit in there and those speck noodles are the bomb on an empty stomach (almost literally). Glad you went back again, always more/different fun the second time round. Its good reading about it.

  5. Lou January 16th, 2008 10:06 am

    Matus, yes, I’m finding things more similar than I thought, though I feel the Europeans embrace the whole experience more with less uptightness about who does what (tele vs AT, human vs cable car, etc.). I’m pretty tired of the anal attitudes in the States, people need to loosen up and enjoy the breeze. That’s not saying people in EU don’t have opinions, just that they seem to sometimes have more gusto. I also like the way we stay up in the mountains and don’t rush back home, but that could depend on who you are with… I also feel there is more accommodation here for different paces and ages. Probably because it’s simply a more mature sport that’s got so many more participants.

  6. Matus January 16th, 2008 9:46 am

    Interesting to read how you see and feel Euro ski-touring. I hope you like it. It seems to me that there are only some minor differences (food, huts, etc ).

  7. RobinB January 16th, 2008 12:51 pm

    Love the Pinz. I’m thinking of trading my Unimog for one. 😀

  8. Lou January 16th, 2008 1:18 pm

    Yeah, I’d say the Pinz is nicer than a Mog, it appears to be lighter, smaller, and more agile. Canback is cool as well.

  9. Poma Roy January 16th, 2008 2:53 pm

    Lou, thanks for that 10:06 am comment. It makes me feel almost like I’m there with you. Great description of the location and culture surrounding it. I especially like how you talk about opinion vs gusto. Do I sense correctly that it would be accurate to say, the Austrians would rather do it than talk about it, and would devote their time accordingly?

  10. Lou January 16th, 2008 3:13 pm

    Dang Roy, I’m headed back tomorrow and will pound my knee cartilage to pulp walking the halls in the temple of gear otherwise known as the Outdoor Retailer show. I will look in vain for an Austrian pastry and probably end up with a free Cliff Bar. Ho hum, another day with

    As for Dynafit, I’ve got a first-look coming for the new women’s Zzero and it’s really terrific. Other new boots coming soon, just waiting to make sure I get it right.

  11. Alvin Isaacs January 19th, 2008 11:15 am


    Couldn’t resist another post. A Pinzgauer!! Those are pretty wild. Back in my army days I was stationed for a while just north of the Rofan area in Bad Toelz Germany. We used to go down to Saalfelden, Austria from mountain training with the Austrian Gebirgsjaeger troops. We got intimate with their Pinzgauers tooling around the area for winter ski mountaineering and summer alpinism. We toured those areas around Kitzbuehl, the Hohen Tauren, Zillertal, Rofan, Kaisergebirge. I felt pretty bad sometimes doing that on the taxpayer’s nickel.

    Your pics and narrative bring back some great memories of my own.

    Glad you enjoyed your time there.

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