Silvretta Traverse Day 2 — Heidelberger to Jamtal Hut

Post by blogger | April 5, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing

Silvretta Traverse

Yesterday was an approach day. Even so, a short but classic tour. But today was the real deal. Up over a high pass with a small but aesthetic bonus summit along the way.

Breakfast at the Heidelberg was typical of this region: coffee, tea, good bread, cold cuts, and cereal if meat wasn’t your thing. Thermos filling was done from the tea water tank. I mixed up a liter of Cytomax, kept my Rittersport chocolate at the top of my pack, and off we went on a well beaten skin track heading southerly to the high Alps.

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Today, the HOT high alps. What a scorcher. I’d thought having my old acrylic North Face collared shirt and lightweight bill cap would be minimal enough, but dressing the lower legs in my OR Tremor pants was still too much. The air must have been at least 70 degrees, that combined with the glacier reflector oven — ouch. Took me an hour or so to remember an old trick for such situations. Just grab a handful of snow and wad it on the back of your neck like some kind of medieval poultice designed to purge evil spirits. The snow melts and drips nice icy water down your chest and back — just like a cold shower! Joy!

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My heat outfit. Okay Dave, some fashion consulting please? (And no, that's not a pastry baby, just my junky shirt with full pockets, thank-you-very-much.)

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This is 'are you a guide?' Ted Kerasote. Dots mark our first destination, a classic tour and summit known as Breite Krone, a short jog from the pass (right hand dot) we'd take to change valleys and descend to Jamtal Hut

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This six day trip will eventually include quite a bit of glacier travel, but today's dose of fern ice was in the distance. I love the way this stuff looks (and hope it doesn't all melt in the next few years!)

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This wasn't exactly a long tour. About 3,000 vertical feet total. But after strolling up and down Breite Krone we got this perfect corn snow run down to the porch of the Jamtal Hut . One of those runs where your skis feel like they're turning themselves, as you play around with different radius turns and experiment with a sweet spot on your planks that feels a mile long. This is Ted.

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Ted again. Closer to the Jamtal Hut and a beer on the porch, but still a few thousand vert to go.

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It keeps going and going. Sure, lower angled stuff isn't the big adrenaline rush a couloir is, but with this kind of quality the grin factor more than makes up for adrenaline deprivation. Ted is just above the hut, widening out those turns! But...wider turns will deny your Euro guide qualifications -- you must make three turns per meter to qualify! I guess no one was watching, whew.

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Ah, and there is Lou, trying for that Arlberg look, figuring someone must be watching from down there! And yep, that's Jamtalhutte and it's got to be one of the coolest lodges in the Alps.

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Jamtal in all its glory. You can literally step from your skis onto the porch after your run. Pillar to left is an ice thing.

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Me, simply amazed. A bit different than the Braun Huts in Colorado, that's a fact.

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They don't bother with live bands here for apres ski. Instead you watch avalanches...

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...and sip that special wheat nectar.

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Bonus shot, private room at the Jamtal, mastering the GPS or blogging? Who knows?

Photos by Lou and Ted.


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13 Responses to “Silvretta Traverse Day 2 — Heidelberger to Jamtal Hut”

  1. Steve April 5th, 2009 2:34 pm

    I think it may be your friend’s white hat. I sort of associate white hats with Bergfuhrers, but I can’t think where the association came from.

  2. Tom Gos April 5th, 2009 4:30 pm

    Maybe they think Ted is the guide because he’s carrying that giant pack (at least it looks huge in the photos), or maybe it’s because of that shirt Lou:-). Lou, did you make your partner carry all your gear so that you could pack the laptop? If so, good move, because I’m loving the daily blog entries. As for the hat, it’s hard to tell in the photos, but I’m guesing it came from the surplus store in Glenwood.

  3. dean April 5th, 2009 6:33 pm

    Loving the reports from Estes Park. Went with my wife on our first backcountry day together in RMNP. She loved it and I’m trying to get her stoked on this stuff: using your website as the carrot. I can aspire to do a traverse someday with her like the one you are on. Thanks for all of the info and inspiration.

  4. Scott April 5th, 2009 9:11 pm

    +1 for the size of Ted’s pack…and the shirt may not be helping.

  5. Jack April 5th, 2009 10:40 pm

    Nice trip, Lou.

    Where’s the POW?

  6. ScottN April 6th, 2009 5:09 pm

    Very cool. Looks like beautiful skiing. The size of that “hut” is incredible. Looks like the Little Nell out in the middle of the mountains. How’d they get all the materials out there to build the thing? Wonder if they’re hiring carpenters over there (grin)…..

  7. Lenka K. April 7th, 2009 2:28 am

    @Scott N.

    Uhm … trucks? There’s a fireroad from Galtür up to the hut.

    As an aside, the hut was enlarged after it had been partially destroyed by an avalanche in ’99. The same year Galtür was hit by a huge avalanche that killed 31 people, including the guardian’s wife and mother-in-law. He himself survived because he was up at the hut at the time, surveying the damage from the earlier slide…

    Lenka K.

  8. jim zidell April 7th, 2009 9:35 am

    I’m coming next week and wonder if I should bring a helmet. I have skied with one for years now, but don’t want any extra weight or to bake in the heat. Do you think a helmet is necessary? Thanks and have a great time! jim

  9. Ali E April 7th, 2009 9:57 am

    Not presuming to answer for Lou, Jim, but I’d say it was a personal choice, based on how risk-averse you are. I always wear a helmet in resort, but never when I’m touring, for exactly the reasons you mention: weight and overheating. You very rarely see people with helmets on hut to hut tours in the Alps, but I can think of situations where one might come in handy (danger of falling on an icy gully early in the morning for example.) As I say, it’s a personal risk aversion decision…

  10. Ali vM April 7th, 2009 12:12 pm

    In defense of the white hat…aside from a tall cold one, that’s the smartest thing

    going when the temps are high and the sun is baking! I’ve enjoyed the photos of

    the Lou & Ted show, especially those stunning Alps….the folks out there should

    know that Theodore only carries that big pack because he needs to build up a

    little muscle after a long winter on the couch 🙂 I look forward to hearing more

    about the conditions–quality corn, i hope? Good to see “my skis”….Bon voyage

    and safe turns! Love, ali

  11. wynnski April 7th, 2009 12:52 pm

    How are you blogging, Lou – do these huts have wi-fi or something?

  12. Dan Patitucci April 8th, 2009 11:33 am

    We were with Lou and Ted for the Silvretta. One of the huts has WiFi, Lou was slaving away blogging when he should have been drinking beer.

  13. Lou April 9th, 2009 3:34 am

    Jim, I’d not bring a helmet unless you’re going for some of the more advanced climbs or tend to fall quite a bit while skiing downhill. Most of the skiing is similar to an intermediate or advanced intermediate run at a resort, unless you want to climb or traverse to steeper things.

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