Let the GPS Honeymoon Continue


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 9, 2012      

(Editor’s note: Lou and Lisa are starting a multiple hut trip today and may not post for a few days. Instead, during that time we’ll file some blogs we’ve had waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, we expect to hear from the Alps honeymooners sooner than later and find out what “classic ski traverse” they’re on in the Tirol. Let’s hope the weather is ok so they can file a few sunny photos instead of GPS reviews.)

If you've got your 'gyping' (GPS) act together, you run across a sign now and then to validate.

If you've got your 'gyping' (GPS) act together, you run across a sign now and then to validate. Click images to enlarge.

This past weekend: Lisa and I are in Austria now (after a few ski tours in Switzerland). The weather is presently wet, which is a good thing (really) as we’re here for a while yet and having the mountains get a good cake of nieve will result (we hope) in sunny days of corn snow skiing and subsequent enjoyment of hut sun-decks.

First stop: Neue Bamberger Hutte to check GPS, espresso and strudel.  Alles ist gut.

First stop: Neue Bamberger Hutte to check GPS, espresso and strudel. Alles ist gut. This Austrian Alpine Club hut is very nice and highly recommended. Surrounding terrain is mostly moderate, yet plentiful. Would be a good place for a few days of winter powder skiing, or perhaps get a room during a springtime corn snow cycle and stay around for a few mornings.

The mission this time was a popular moderate peak known as the Schafsiedel near the town of Kelchsau (see map below). With thick fog and certain precipitation, I’d normally have perhaps taken a well marked trail to a hut and just hung out for a few hours, but with the GPS unit primed and ourselves needing a workout, we decided to go for the summit as aggressively as felt appropriate. We made it, but most of the day was spent in pea soup whiteout that varied from zero visibility to a few hundred feet.

The approach from trailhead to hut is actually quite a hike.

The approach from trailhead to hut is actually quite a hike. This time of year you can use the summer trail which cuts steeply up the mountainside, with some dirt walking to begin then you're on skins. If this was icy during a cold morning you'd want ski crampons to keep from falling down and sliding into a gorge. About 1,500 vertical feet to the Bumberger Hutte.

Not much to see at the top. The cross marks the true summit.

Not much to see at the top. The cross marks the true summit.

I’m still getting after it with my Garmin GPSmap 60CSx unit. While still experiencing some frustration due to the Garmin’s quirks (this time, the batteries died in the middle of descending a steep slope with zero vis), my main problem was I forgot to load the new topo map sections for Austria, and thus had my waypoints prepared, but no GPS map clues. Lucky for us, I’d brought several paper maps so I didn’t have to quit the day before we left the trailhead. But a good lesson on one more thing to pay attention to.

Why do batteries always fail in the worst places?

Why do batteries always fail in the worst places?

The GPS keeps us right on track, bringing us back to a sign that Lou had marked as a waypoint on the ascent.

The GPS keeps us right on track, bringing us back to a sign that Lou had marked as a waypoint on the ascent.

Incidentally, as most of you probably know the maps you’re going to get on a GPS screen are never that terrific, but they help. In our case, to save the ridiculous hundreds of dollars Garmin charges for their maps, I found an excellent and free western Europe recreation map set that’s easy to download and install in the Garmin Mapsource software on your PC (and subsequently transfer chosen sections to your GPS). If any of you need such a thing, the free Garmin European maps are here.

Google map below has Schafsiedel peak marked, we accessed from the east Kurzer Grund valley, with our route going up near the series of small lakes shown on the map. Neue Bamberger Hutte is located at 1760 meters elevation to the east below the lakes.


Größere Kartenansicht

Lou has vowed to eat strudel once every 24 hours during this trip.

Lou has vowed to eat strudel once every 24 hours during this trip. He's on a streak. This version at the Bumberger Hut was beautiful. As they say, to do it right you have to roll out the crust dough so you can read a Swiss topo map through it, in this case, we believe they accomplished that objective.

For a report on the Schafsiedel with better weather, see our TR from a few years ago. More information on Neue Bamberger Hut is here.



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Comments

5 Responses to “Let the GPS Honeymoon Continue”

  1. Mark W April 9th, 2012 8:40 pm

    The free rec map set for Western Euro is very cool. Nice tip.

  2. Mark W April 9th, 2012 8:42 pm

    I’m out of coffee beans. Last picture reminded me to buy more!

  3. Wookie1974 April 10th, 2012 8:41 am

    40 cm of fresh in the Wetterstein Range on Sunday was great! Hope you had as much that far east!

  4. Bob Coleman April 12th, 2012 4:18 pm

    Spent the time necessary to download the swiss area of maps, un pack the file and load onto an SD card for use in a Garmin 550t. All went well. I did have to call Garmin to get a small bit of help; creating a folder named Garmin on the SD card for the .img map file to sit in. I was able to re-live my own Haute Route trip from last year on the 550t. Going back this coming August and we’ll see what next year allows.

  5. Lou June 17th, 2012 11:38 am

    GARMIN GPS — Anyone know of good free Garmin GPS topo maps for the PNW? I’m presently using the ones from Switchback.com, they’re ok, but not great as their not fine grained enough for true backcountry micro-navigation. http://www.switchbacks.com/nwtopos/

    Help appreciated from you guys up in the PNW. Thanks, Lou

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