WildSnow.com Goes Euro – Day 7 – We Attempt the Epic Cevedale

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 19, 2007      

Continued retrospective reports from Dynafit hosted trip in Europe last week:

Okay, Monte Cevedale in Italy is not really an epic, more like a relaxing glacier walk. At least this is true most of the time. Today the wind intervened.

European backcountry skiing
Again, we start up the Sulden glacier. Route goes over Suldenspitze as yesterday (center left in photo), then we’ll drop down the other side and ski up a long, low angled glacier to Monte Cevedale, 3769 meters.

Randonnee boot sole dimensions for backcountry skiing.
Ortovox automatic beacon checker.

The only sign that you’re leaving the Sulden ski resort is a solar powered beacon check station. These things are made by Ortovox, and are an excellent friend to meet on your way into the wild. I’ll admit that I don’t always run a beacon signal check, sometimes the group is moving too fast or it’s just too cold and early in the morning for stopping and messing around. So this thing is something very cool as far as I’m concerned.

The avalanche beacon auto-checker is basic. It has a close range, about 8 feet. If your beacon is working it flashes a light and returns a series of beeps when you’re in range. So the group just spreads out with about 10 feet between each person (tough for lock-step euros but they can do it if they try), and marches past the unit one-by-one.

I heard they’re installing some of these beacon checkers in Utah — sure would like to see a few in Colorado and elsewhere as well. Today’s irony is that we really didn’t need a beacon (the minmal snowpack is totally hammered). The rope was more important as we’d be on glaciers all day, and good shell clothing turned out to be the most critical gear of all.

European backcountry skiing
Up on the Sulden glacier, no fog like yesterday so we can see the crevasses and Konigspitze looming beyond. We can hear the wind up above. Uh oh.

European backcountry skiing
Back on the Suldenspitze for the second time in as many days. We’ll drop down the other side to a large glacier, travel next to the Casati hut (closed), and try to make Cevadale which is the bump at the clouds at the head of the glacier, as shown in photo.

European backcountry skiing
On the Suldenspitz the wind hit us hard, but we kept moving and climbed most of the glacier up to Cevedale. The wind got bad, easily gusting 60 mph and quite cold. I’d forgotten my balaclava and feared my face was getting frostbite. Fritz and Demitry are also under-dressed. With the wind increasing by the minute, we decided to turn around. A strong group of guys from Dynafit skied down to us. By being there a bit earlier with slightly less wind they had made the summit, but just like us they didn’t have arctic mountaineering gear and were anxious to get out of the wind. Figure in the foreground is me, zipping up my Cloudveil Inversion down jacket. Glad I had that!

European backcountry skiing
Back down on the Sulden Glacier, I hand the camera to Fritz for some hero shots of your intrepid blogger. It’s all breakable crust, but the turns seem to link up and that special feeling that only glisse provides sinks into our souls. As for Cevedale, I suppose we’ll try it again tomorrow. Now back to the Schaubachhutte for some treats and more Dynafit info.

European backcountry skiing
The Hut. I love the old-world look and feel of this building. Check out the different windows, door, and all. Everything is slightly irregular, but has a messy uniformity that works to a remarkably pleasant whole. And the location is first rate.


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3 Responses to “WildSnow.com Goes Euro – Day 7 – We Attempt the Epic Cevedale”

  1. Eric Steig January 19th, 2007 11:09 am

    Lou, I love hearing about the trips you’ve done.
    I’m curious if you gathered anything about areas to ski not too far from Vienna. I’ll be there for a bit in the Spring.

    I also want to hear more about Dynafit! Any new products in the binding arena?

  2. Tyler Cruickshank January 19th, 2007 11:40 am

    Beacon auto-checker:

    You are correct. There is now a beacon-checker at the popular trailhead by Alta’s Chapel. It is a great idea and the best part is that there is no way to avoid using it. It either beeps or it doesnt.

    I think that he beacon checker has all the impact and more compared with a sign that says “Avalanche Danger” etc etc. The audible beep beep is enough to wake you up from auto pilot and it screams “be careful”.

  3. Lou January 19th, 2007 12:39 pm

    Hi Eric, funny you should ask, I’m planning on posting an overview of the Dynafit line tomorrow unless something else comes up. Had to get a few trip reports off my chest…

    Check back.

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