Travis Shears

garmisch piste tour

09.01.2021 -- #

Route

First ski tour of the season! Lifts were closed so no warming up on groomers this year but we still managed. The slopes bring skiable snow all the way down to 900m elevation so they are great choice for early season tours.

tour vlog

As we are still in lockdown here in Germany, do to the pandemic, ski resorts are closed. In fact there are scrolling signs at the base saying “we are closed no ski touring”. However thanks to a court ruling serval years ago the resorts don’t really have the right to kick people off of their piste. Turns out that land is not really theirs, it belongs to the government and is basically a forest that happens to be groomed and be lift accessible. Do to this little quirk the ski resorts and shops that sell touring gear are quite busy.

When we arrive the parking lot was already half full. Seems everyone is sick of sitting at home and wants to hit the slopes. I was skeptical at first at the safety of such a crowd but there was no problems. The nature of ski touring is a long as slow skin up the mountain. Most of the time there was 100m or so in-between groups and since none of the buildings are open there is no gathering inside. So pretty safe. We even saw someone touring with their dog which was pretty fun.

gearing up for the tour

gearing up for the tour

What makes Garmisch particularly nice is how close it is to Munich. Waking up at 7 has us on the slopes skinning up by 9:15.

headed off piste

headed off piste

in the woods

in the woods

On the way up we found one of the maintained touring trails. The piste is fine but I’ll take a path through the woods any day. I remember this trail from my first ski season here in Germany. Before I was aware of ski touring I used the trail from above to access some tree skiing. Now that I tour I avoid descending on such trails out of respect for those going up.

through the woods off trail

through the woods off trail

ski bench

ski bench

Above 1300m we were even able follow a skin track off trail through the woods, explore a bit. We found a small gully and dug a snow bench to enjoy lunch on.

going up on the right coming down on the left

going up on the right coming down on the left

After the off-piste adventure we returned to the piste and headed for the back side of the resort. Along the way we passed workers grooming the slops and preparing things. They waved and said hello which is very weird considering they are doing all this work and we are not paying for any of it. I hear they are now charging for parking. Hopefully there is some positive cash flow for the resort because it would be shame for it not to exist.

finding powder for descent

finding powder for descent

When we decided to turn back I had the bright idea of going off piste to the find some powder. After a comical experience fighting through the powder covered bushes we found a nice steep spot. After not having skied for 8 months it was more than a little scary hitting a steep powder line down. 🤘⛷.

In the end we had nice bit of powder before returning to the piste. Then we made our way down with good conditions until about 1300m where the piste turned to ice, no complaints here. Was a great opening to the ski touring season.


Alternative route

If we make it back there this season I’d like to try going a bit further and then skiing all the way down to the bottom of the back side. From there is a little used trail back to the front side that looks really fun. It goes right along some beautiful cliffs

alt route

alt route

\- [ alpinism, skiing ]