Zillertal Unzipped — Pow Was Found


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 12, 2012      

(Note from Lou: I’ve got another post re Steve Romeo I’ve been working on. Didn’t feel it was quite ready, more, I just know Steve loved backcountry skiing so much he would have been psyched to see the post below from the old man. So that’s what goes up today. It sounds like a memorial for Steve and Chris will be held tomorrow at Jackson Hole Resort. I’ll try to make it, but that’s going to be difficult. If not, will do something personal here — on top of a mountain if possible. RIP Steve and Chris.)

Skiing the Gabler, Zillertal

Fritz Barthel skiing on the Gabler, Zillertal region, Austrian Alps. Click most images to enlarge.

Zillertal is a region of the Austrian Alps just north of the Dolomites (see map at bottom of post). The area has “real” mountains and plentiful ski tours, though resort skiing has compromised huge swaths and you get the feeling that the march of industrial tourism has no signs of stopping.

For today’s jaunt we headed for the Gabler (3,263 meters), a high shoulder/saddle just a hundred vertical feet or so below the 3303 summit of the Reichenspitze massif. Doing this is a big day for average fitness guys like me, about 1,800 meters (6,000 vertical feet). The high terrain around here is good, with some smaller glaciers and ice cliffs to take it up a level. Unfortunately you waste quite a bit of energy on the long valley approach march. But it is all beautiful — especially when you’ve got 20 centimeters of fresh “zero avalanche danger” powder rising your smile. The day in photos:

First, one more photo of what happened AFTER the climb.

First, one more photo of what happened AFTER the climb. That's me making up for a few days of rain at the beginning of this week.

Gabler from parking, the goal is the right hand col almost behind the trees.

Gabler from parking, the goal is the col. You can scramble a hundred feet or so to the summit, but doing so is a bit exposed so most skiers simply opt for the col.

Grinding out the 6,000 vert. That kind of scale makes things seem ever too far away.

Grinding out the 6,000 vert. That kind of scale makes things seem ever too far away. Fritz and I did ok, making it in just over 4 hours. But that was nothing, of couse, as this is the land of speedy guys. So of course, Benedikt 'Benni' Böhm, head of Dynafit, shows up at parking a few hours after us and meets us on top for the ski down. Terrific that Benni showed up, as we got in some good talk about Dynafit gear issues over a few beers after the pow fest.

On the up, looking north (away from Gabler). Yep, you get to walk up most of that long valley.

On the up, looking north (away from Gabler). Yep, you get to walk up most of that long valley. Eventually, we'd look down and see the faint speck of Benni on the uptrack, moving like a machine.

Me, three packs of GU and a liter of water later.

Me, three packs of GU and a liter of water later.

While heading up, we watch the karmicly provisioned souls who broke trail the whole way make their pow turns. May they live a long and wonderful life.

While heading up, we watch the karmicly provisioned souls who broke trail the whole way make their pow turns down. May they live a long and wonderful life, and return as a Canadian Mountain Holidays heli guide, or if that's too mechanical, one of Beglinger's guides in Canada?

Near the top, nice light on the track sets got my camera clicking.

Near the top, nice light on the track sets got my camera clicking.

Another pic of yours truly. Funny how I always find myself wanting longer and wider skis in this stuff.

Another pic of yours truly. Funny how I always find myself wanting longer and wider skis in this stuff. The ride of the fatties is addictive. Benni had a pair of Dynafit Huascaran, perfect. Fritz's Manslu were working good, my short Trab Volare were the ticket on the up and had the width, but I wouldn't have minded a few extra centimeters to play with as once in a while they'd plunge into an inverse density patch. All in fun, everything was immmently skiable on any of our chosen planks.

Benni rides those Huscarans.

Benni rides those Huscarans. They're quite a light ski for their width, and he's got them mounted with a Dynafit race heel and Speed Radical toe. No brakes. Minimalist.

Benni and myself, business and blogger, can they reach common ground?

Benni and myself, gear business and blogger, can we reach common ground? Sometimes I have a hard time sorting all this stuff out, you know, the gear durability issues; that sort of thing, just how serious they are and what we should do solid reporting on as opposed to avoiding exploitative click bait that does neither the company nor you Wildsnow readers any good. I'm certainly not perfect in this arena, yet I'll keep plugging away at doing something useful. Meanwhile, one of the beauties of the outdoor industry is many of us are still so connected by the very outdoors the gear is for. Yes, it gets unseemingly materialistic at times, but we do need gear to do what we do, so associated issues will never go away. That is, they'll not go away till your skis disappear beneath your feet in a dusty cloud of Austrian powder crystals.


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Comments

13 Responses to “Zillertal Unzipped — Pow Was Found”

  1. Matt Kinney March 12th, 2012 12:09 pm

    Nice lou….powder looks great. Nice terrain and turns. Minimalist is good.

  2. Scott March 12th, 2012 6:22 pm

    Nice pics Lou. I’d rather you go slower just so you can stop and get shots like these (grin). Refreshing to look at. And always great to see someone ripping it with minimalist gear. Looks like a beautiful place to ski.

  3. Rob Mullins March 12th, 2012 6:28 pm

    Great TR and photos, thanks. What a great place to visit! Just a few days that good in my area this year. But today winter is back on the east slope of WA Cascades, there will likely be some nice pow this week!

  4. George March 12th, 2012 8:28 pm

    Lou: Your bier is bigger than Benni’s…Own It!

  5. Lou March 12th, 2012 9:41 pm

    That’s only half the story. His is a raddler, and, he went and did a few more thousand vert after we ate.

  6. Mark W March 12th, 2012 10:02 pm

    Nice conditions. And that Bohm guy sounds like a vertical-eating mutant.

  7. Lou March 12th, 2012 10:23 pm

    I hope Benni sees that Mark, I have a suspicion that around the Munich office they might start enjoying calling him “the vertical-eating mutant.” Like, “what does that vertical-eating mutant want now, another 6,000 bindings?”

  8. Lou March 12th, 2012 10:36 pm

    All, I’m going to be on road most of next two days, so I set up more aggressive comment moderation that I hope will keep any borderline discussion from getting away from me. If you don’t see your comment published right away, it’s probably being held in moderation holding tank. We’ll get to it eventually. Thanks, Lou

  9. Mark W March 13th, 2012 7:14 am

    From what I’ve read about Bohm, he’s definitely an ex-rando racer who never stopped training. That’s perhaps more common in Europe, but less so here in America. Doubt I’ll ever be even close to his level, but his example is inspiring.

  10. Gregg Cronn March 13th, 2012 7:16 am

    Thanks for the wonderful trip report. A few more days like that and you will be ready for Rainer this summer. Sorry about your recent loss. The PNW and the Tetons have had some big losses to deal with this past month.

  11. ellen March 13th, 2012 9:01 am

    Is this the same zone where Benni and Basti have a cabin?

  12. brianh March 16th, 2012 7:43 am

    So, on a less heavy note than what folks have been experiencing, I noticed the “family photos” in the back of the latest Ski Journal. I’d guess that’s Louie making the schralpy deep turn? Good stuff!

  13. Lou March 16th, 2012 8:15 am

    Yeah, dat’s da kid, my gal there too, and the old man… our family has sure received our share of joy from the mountains, we feel very blessed, people such as Steve have been part of that…

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