Last weekend Masha and I took a crew of eight friends down to Lenggries for an avalanche safety course. Besides learning about avalanches and ski touring we got to put our skills to the test. The basic itinerary was: tour up to Florianshütte in the morning of the first day, spend the rest of the day learning theory at the hütte, then do a demo tour the second day. I’m happy to say we accomplished all this, but as with most adventures with this crew, it did not go strictly to plan. The good part is everyone walked away from the trip with a greater ability to stay safe in the mountains.
Learning how to recognize avalanche terrain, judge conditions, and plan safe routes is all part of the journey into ski touring. This course for me reinforced my understanding gained from reading books on the subject and got me into the field with a guide who could answers questions. I’m thankful so many of my friends took the course even if they only plan to do freeriding / skiing off-piste near the resort. What we learned about the theory of avalanches will hopefully prevent any of us from unknowingly entering a dangerous situation. What we learned during rescue practice, hopefully, we’ll never have to use but may save a life someday.
Touring up on the first day was not without its challenges. For many, it was the first time skinning uphill and for some, it was the first time on skis. On the way up we kept to the side of the piste but there were a few spots where we had to cross the very icy slopes resulting in multiple slip and slide situations. Which sounds fine until someone in the front takes out followers like bowling pins.
The icy slopes were broken up by some nice muddy hikes through the woods. This was turned out to be a different sort of touring compared to the high alpine stuff I was doing the week before in Switzerland. By the time we reached the hütte half the party was bleeding from scrapes sustained during sliding on the ice, but there were smiles!
The theory session was super helpful and answered many of the open questions I had after reading [Staying Alive Avalanche Terrain](https://www.amazon.de/Staying Alive Avalanche Terrain Tremper)
The hütte was super nice. Good food, good company and as with all my trips with Russian speakers, there were some rounds of Durak (card game) at night.
After a short planning session on the morning of the second day, we headed out on a group tour. It started with a partner check where the whole group lined up and I went one by one checking that everyone’s beacon was working. On the first ascent, with the help of the guide, I finally got the kick turn technique down. Figured out its called a kick turn because you actually snap your heal around and kick the back of the ski whipping it around in the direction you need to go. I think I need to do some stretching before I’ll be able to twist my legs as well as the guide, but its a start.
I’m impressed with the splitboarders for getting all this down relatively quickly. It was exciting to watch them ski down the short descents with skins on. “Is he going to fall, is he going to fall, Ohhhh”! After a while, they managed all the techniques no problem.
Similar to the first day there was not enough snow to tour the whole time but hiking through the wood was plseent. There was the sun coming through the trees and the damp forest was very peaceful. During this hiking, I learned why people use heli straps in at top of their skis when the skis are attached to the backpack. The “A” shape created prevents the skis from hitting the back of your boots as you walk.
I have always loved tree skiing and touring through the forest is sweet! I look forward to more tours at this elevation.
Our goal was the Beigenstein summit but on the way we saw multiple fresh avalanches. We reached Hintere Krotten-Alm hütte where we had a session diagnosing the conditions and decided it was not safe to make the ascent. That in itself I think very important lesson for the whole group, often the right call is to turn around. We still had a great time regardless of making it to the planned summit.
We toured back the same way we came and got to Florianshütte in time for some warm drinks before descending back to the cars.
An avalanche course in Lenggries was a great way to spend the weekend. We saw some good crags on the tour and are already thinking of another visit come summer. Look forward to more posts on ski touring now that we have taken the course the next step is doing some simple tours.
** Special thanks to all the photographers, and the action camera man on the trip, without them I would not have any of these great pictures.
One of the members recorded our demo tour via GPS and gave me the .gpx file. I traced that data via the outdooractive route planning tool here.
One of the members shared his notes with me which I’ve made available here