Silvretta Day 3 – Classic Jamspitz & Gemspitz

Post by blogger | April 7, 2009      
Backcountry Skiing

Silvretta Traverse

Jamtal Hut is luxury, perhaps too much so. It is hard to leave the spacious wood paneled dining hall with its board of fine cheese and bread. And oh the torture to skin up and away from the sundeck and weiss beer tap. But the soul of the alpinist is always called higher — despite any mundane physical distractions. So off we skinned towards the distant peaks which glowed in the morning light like the heaven of corn snow they mostly turned out to be. (Not sure I’ll have internet tomorrow or next day, so slideshow below, more writing later after we get to another hut or back to civilization in a few days).

Backcountry Skiing

Goal is to reach three summits and do some good vertical. Jamspitz marked in the distance, return route to deck also mapped out with red dots. Very important.

Backcountry Skiing

Ted Kerasote headed up from the Jamtal hut, Vorder Jamspitz to the right has what looks like a nice ski route on it. Perhaps we'll return some day and do it, for now we're headed for the Hinter Jamspitz, which is out of sight behind the Vorder and much more popular as the ascent is a short walk from where you leave your skis.

Backcountry Skiing

Jamtal Glacier is blanketed with a frozen and compacted snowpack. Once you're on a well beaten skin track the possibility of falling into a crevasse is nearly zero, so we still harnessed up but didn't use a rope. Most other folks were doing the same, though this group opted for the trad style. When Ted intersected them, they called a halt and raised the rope for him like an extension bridge. Very polite!

Backcountry Skiing

Pointer shot! That little bump behind Vorder Jamspitz is the Hinter Jamspitz. It's actually about the same height, just farther away. The ski descent takes all that sweet terrain at looker's left down the glacier.

Backcountry Skiing

Near the Jamspitz, classic glaciated peaks poking up out of the firn.

Backcountry Skiing

Ted skiing Jamspitz. For next lap we skied to left of the Gemspitz (marked with red dot) and climbed it from the side opposite us. We then continued easterly to a saddle on the divide, where we wanted to circle around behind a few mjore mountains then climb up again, pop over the divide, then carve 1,000 meters of corn down to the Jamtal Hut.

Silvretta Gemspitz

View of Gemspitz (right hand dot) from the next day. You get up on the glacier in this area, and you can knock off summits as long as your legs and lungs hold out.

Backcountry Skiing


Backcountry Skiing

Clouds moved in during our quest for a third summit, so we skied from another highpoint down this short couloir, then made a beautiful 3,000 vertical foot corn and cream run down to the Jamtal porch, where you literally stab your ski tails into the snow inches from the deck's paving stones and stroll all of fifteen feet to the beer tap. The main logistical challenge to this is remembering to re-apply your sunscreen.

Backcountry Skiing

Lou arrives.

Backcountry Skiing

Upon completion, a certain kind of grin was had.


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17 Responses to “Silvretta Day 3 – Classic Jamspitz & Gemspitz”

  1. Eiko Amano April 7th, 2009 5:28 pm

    From your comment I can’t hardly wait to go.
    I’m leaving next week. Leave me some corn snow.

  2. Justin April 7th, 2009 11:00 pm

    So what are your thoughts on the BD mohair/nylon skins now that you’ve put some more time on them? Do they grip as well as nylon? Icing?

  3. Mark April 8th, 2009 6:15 am

    Jamtal luxuries: Can say for sure I’d have a nice time skiing to such a place and lounging after a big descent.

  4. Tucker April 8th, 2009 7:35 am

    On another front, and interesting item:

    “Recently in France, two snowboarders who caused a slab avalanche were given 2 to 4 month sentences for the manslaughter of a teenage girl who was caught in the accident.”

    “Two snowboarders who triggered an avalanche that killed a girl at La Clusaz in February 2003 have been sentenced to 2 and 4 months in prison. They had been tried for “manslaughter due to lack of care, negligence or security”. Both sentences were suspended by the Annecy Criminal Court. ”

  5. Ivo Popov April 8th, 2009 8:02 am

    I read your updates with great interest. Keep up the good job 🙂

  6. ScottN April 8th, 2009 2:01 pm


  7. Dan April 8th, 2009 4:16 pm

    Lou has been seen happily cruising throughout the Silvretta group. In his wake he leaves a trail of apfelstrudel crumbs and perfect turns in spring corn. I am pleased to report that he and Ted are happy skiers.
    I asked him what one word comes to mind when on a Euro ski tour.
    “good food!”
    That is two words but we’ll let it slide.

    PatitucciPhoto’s own blog will have a full trip report and photos in the coming days.

    Live from the Jamtal Hut, Dan Patitucci

  8. Lou April 8th, 2009 11:51 pm

    Hey Dan, glad you guys survived the desperate weather and heinous snow conditions back to the Jamtal (grin)! Ted and I are back in civilization near Kufstein, Austria. The world renowned author is off to India for book research, while I’ll be doing a bit more research myself on a few tours around here, then back to Colorado just in time for spring ski mountaineering season. I’m working on a series of trip reports from Silvretta, those will go up ASAP. Incredible weather the whole time so plenty of photos and summits.

  9. Lou April 9th, 2009 7:25 am

    Justin, I’m still testing the skins. We had some confusion about whether I have the mix or the straight mohairs. Got another set before I left but didn’t have time to cut. Will get on it immediately when back in Colorado in a few days.

  10. Frank Konsella April 9th, 2009 8:37 am

    Lou said “then back to Colorado just in time for spring ski mountaineering season.”

    Today the CAIC said “There was a strong wind event across the mountains Wednesday night though, plus more reports of another dust on snow event from the San Juan, the ninth of the season. This dust is certainly impacting our snowpack by creating an environment where the snowpack is shrinking faster.”

    I’d recommend that you stay where you’re at, Lou 🙂 Looks like you’re having a great time in Euroland.

  11. Lou April 9th, 2009 9:09 am

    Frank, yeah, Lisa told me that almost every storm has a dust layer included. Is there any definitive answer on where all this dust is coming from? Jeep trails in Utah?

  12. Michael Silitch April 9th, 2009 2:10 pm

    Hi Lou and Dan, two friends both on the Silvretta tour this week. I was just skiing glop of the Toule Glacier today. Should be good in the Aiguille Rouge tomorrow for a tour.

    I bought a pair of BD mohair skins in Chamonix about 3 years ago and love ’em. Good glide and pleanty of grip–cut them to fit the ski’s sidecut. I am pretty sure they are fifty/fifty.

    Enjoy the touring. Dan I hope we can hook up for the tour you mentioned. Let me know what you’re up to when you get home.

  13. Frank Konsella April 9th, 2009 3:21 pm

    The news the other night said the biggest dust event was from the Phoenix area. They often don’t know what they’re talking about, though.

    I did a little research the other day, and the experts tend to suggest that increased use of the desert by motorcycles/ATV’s/jeeps may be leading to the increase in dust events in CO. So I guess no more trips to Moab with your jeep, Lou 🙂

  14. chris davenport April 9th, 2009 6:22 pm

    It’s the grazing… not the bikes!

  15. Frank Konsella April 10th, 2009 6:39 am


    Sorry, you’re right, forgot to add the grazing, although I was also just having some lighthearted fun with Lou. Kinda came off as some kind of hippy, huh? 🙂

    The best article I found was here:

    It states that there is a lot less grazing today than there was 100 years ago, and yet the dust events seem to be happening more frequently. So the increased recreation, development, people, etc must also be contributing.

    So I’d say it’s everything- the dust is coming from all the disturbed soils in developed places like Phoenix and Vegas, plus the cattle that are grazing, and yes, all of us that have fun in the desert are a little guilty, too. Ever been to 24 hours of Moab?– There’s an amazing amount of dust in the air during that race, and those are just mtb’s.

    Anyway, now that we’re totally off-topic, back to the traverse 🙂

  16. Lou April 10th, 2009 7:27 am

    Yeah, and Chris and Frank, there are a ton of sweet ski descents of the steeper variety you can access out of all the Silvretta huts. And since these huts are some of the nicest in the Alps, and the varied terrain gives you plenty to do even if the avy danger is high or weather bad, keep the Silvretta in mind for any future trips. The place has a ton of history as well, of which I’d like to learn more about but that research will have to be for another trip. It’s not Cham, but impressive in its own way.

  17. Lou April 10th, 2009 9:40 am

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