What a strange trip to Europe that was a few weeks a ago. The tickle in my throat began on the airplane. By the time I was at friend’s house in Austria it was two days in bed, chewing on zinc and aspirin like the locals gobble landjaeger. Took weeks to truly get over it. I guess they didn’t hit the flu vaccine this year, or perhaps just the rhino virus from hades? At any rate, my cardio is good so I’m able to fake it once I’m not bed chained, so I did get to the Dynafit Press Event like I was supposed to and did a day of backcountry skiing with those guys. Just wanted to share about this a bit, as the location in Germany was high quality (provided it had deep enough snow, which this winter has yielded).
So, the gateway town for this location is Schleching, Germany, just a short drive north from Kufstein, Austria where I was holed up. A classic older resort with closed lifts exists to the west of Schleching, at the base of small but very aesthetic and skiable peaks such as Geigelstein and Breitenstein. Most importantly, full board lodging is available on the mountain in the Wuhrstein Alm hut and others (enough 'steins' in those names?). All skiing is human powered, with the huts stocked by snowmobile. As I've come to find out over the years, a common arrangement for hundreds of huts all over the higher and lower alps. What's interesting about the Geigelstein location is you're on the fringe of the mountains north of Kitzbuhel, where just a few miles farther north the land radically changes to the plains of Germany. Sound cool? It is, except for the fact that these summits are only around 1,500 meters high, so the environment is subject to the trend for such zones in Europe to get more rain than snow in the winter, and thus yield poor to non-existent snow conditions. But this year, things are back to the old postcard look of Europe's snow-choked glory days.
The location provides a compact variety of ski tours. Each ascent from the hut is something like 600 meters, so you do various laterals and laps to hit the different high points, with nice descents. Snowpack at this elevation tends to stabilize fast (when it exists) so you can end up skiing just about anything you want, even in midwinter. Thus, while these locations don't have the cachet of the high Alps, in many ways they provide much better backcountry skiing during the winter months.
Hut access for the Wuhrstein is 700 vert of uphilling the old ski resort. As is tradition with these Dynafit press trips, we were all expected to dress in the parking lot, then hump it. No problem, are we not Dynafitters? A jug of Dynafit coolaid was on hand for folks new to the game. The hut supply snowmobile grabbed our extra stuff. Don't tell anyone. I was told the resort does open later in winter during good snow years, but that's becoming less and less common.
Wuhrstein Alm in the morning. The hut structure itself didn't have much class, but the people were nice and the beer tasty.
Up the Geigelstein, check out the undercast pouring over the hills.
Down the Geigelstein.
Up the Breitenstein with a bunch of Dynafitters. This is when you check your beacon multiple burial features.
View of Geigelstein from Breitenstein. It's not as big as it looks, actually quite a nice manageable size. Alll the lines get skied.
Breitenstein provided good skiing, if a bit tracked up.
Skiing down to Wuhrstein Alm, ready to make my birthday turns.
It was kinda lonely having birthday without my wife or friends back home. But I made the best of it. Was keeping it on the down low but figured it would be fun to let some folks know, I mean, what the heck. So we got this photo of me toasting my birthday tracks. Later, we were subjected to the Italians singing happy birthday every 10 minutes for about three hours. Wow, those guys are party hardcores! Early to bed for me, as I was still trying to get over the crud. But good to partake of the mountain brotherhood -- thanks all!
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