Another weekend, another ski tour. This time visiting once again the peculiar Austria valley of Großer Ahornboden.
Peculiar because though it is Austrian, one can’t drive from there to Innsbruck without going back up and around through Germany, 🤯. Also the snow melting here drains into / starts the Isar river. The river that flows through Munich.
Our plan was to do the Hochglückscharte route near the end of the valley but the road to reach there was closed, opening April 1st. Instead we called an audible and, assessing routes on the Outdoor Active app, chose Torscharte.
The Unteres-lichteck ridge tour and Schoenalmjoch tour are also in Großer Ahornboden. With the Schoenalmjoch tour even leaving from the same parking.
The first few kilometers were gentle uphill along a stream / cascade. We toured right along the river where it was pretty wild. The mood was eerie as we pass the remains of a fox. Off to the side of the trail a crow was perched. He waited for us to pass before continuing his meal.
We also passed some wild mushrooms known as Чага, or transliterated as “Chaga”.
Thank you my beginner Russian language skills! The wikipedia article’s pictures look nothing like my picture but an image search shows similar.
Apparently back thirty years ago in Russia they crafted with these same mushrooms, making things like wall mounted candle holders.
Eventually the route reaches the end of the valley and you ascend the steeper wall. With every 100m the snow got less wet and more powdery. The main ridge line above runs east-west casting a shadow over us as we approached.
Above the tree line it got challenging. Not physically but mentally. From the rock wall we turned on to a big face and did the zig zag kick turn routine. We’ve done way harder and more exposed stuff but I was getting butterflies. “If I slip how far would I slide?”.. but honestly a fall would have been extremely low consequence with such slope. So I bared down and got on with it.
With each step in the icy parts you have to chip the side of your ski into the snow for good grip. It’s going up stairs side ways. Then in the softer parts when the skis can be flat I push the speed trying to get off the wall faster. Lesson learned here though because I got too far ahead of Masha and lost sight of her for a bit. Obviously not a good idea in this sport.
Man was I happy to see her come back into view.
We ate lunch at the top, Torscharte, with a few others. Not as secluded as some of our tours but still enjoyable. Blew mind to see an old man come up alone, throw a hand full of nuts in mouth, take skins off while he was chewing, and start down so immediately. Hope I’m that fit when I’m his age.
I’m still learning myself but I believe this was corn snow. Unlike our tour the week before this snow wetter with bigger crystals.
Steep but not too steep and relatively slow snow compared to powder made for a smooth decent. Masha had some great lines.
Every tour has a lesson. For me: slow down and keep your partner within eye line. I hope you can learn from me and get inspired to tour the Großer Ahornboden yourself. There are so many routes to explore. As I write this I’m already thinking of going by bike to Hochglückscharte 🚲.
Until next time stay safe out there 👋⛷.