My ski season ended yesterday with a powder day on the Waldmendingerhorn in Kleinwalsertal. My Easter weekend trip to Oberstdorf with its modern lifts and developed tourism infrastructure certainly does not fit with the theme Old School that I outlined in Chapter 1, but Friday on the Nebelhorn and the aforementioned Sunday on the Waldmendingerhorn nevertheless count among the best of my season.
With my ski season now over, I would like to add a few entries to my Old School Bavaria topic (Chapter 1: reportagen-f8/old-school-bavaria-chapter-1-t3247.html#p44925
21-22 February Hochgrat
Hochgrat had been on my list of mountains to visit, so I was thrilled to find a weekend freeride camp taking place. My pictures did not turn out very well, so I’ll just link to the organizer’s write-up: http://www.freeskiers.net/Events/freeri ... gaeus.html
It hadn’t snowed for a couple weeks, and a freeze/thaw cycle had turned much of the mountain into an icy mogul field. Worse still, as the group assembled for the camp in the morning we learned the gondola was shut due to wind. After a 90 minute wait the lift started spinning and the camp could begin.
A warm up run confirmed the poor conditions, but our knowledgeable guide somehow managed to find nice corn snow in open bowls and through the trees for the remainder of the day. With a little bit of hiking, this single lift mountain opened up plenty of possibilities. A shame I didn’t get to experience it in better conditions.
After a night in the Staufner Haus we woke to 10cm of fresh snow. Not deep powder, but enough to freshen things up a bit. Visibility wasn’t great, so we were limited to easy traverses and skiing in the trees.
Two good days skiing, but I feel I haven’t experienced the best Hochgrat has to offer. I also get the impression that the mountain is particularly susceptible to wind. The upper part of the mountain was more or less scoured free of snow. I will definitely need to return in better conditions.
Foggy, wind-scoured Hochgrat peak7 March Wendelstein
The first week of March saw a return to cold temperatures and snow, so a last minute decision was taken to make a weekend trip to Bayrischzell. With its charm and friendly locals, Bayrischzell remains my favorite alpine town.
While the week had been cold and snowy, Saturday was warm and sunny. In the shade the snow stayed chalky; in the sun it quickly transitioned from corn to slop. But I grew up skiing wet “Cascade Concrete”, so no bother for me. My previous visit to Wendelstein was on a stormy day, and the good visibility this time only confirmed my love for this mountain. So many more lines were skiable thanks to the bright weather. My only complaint was that with the Westabfahrt closed due to lack of snow (it was easily skiable, and in fact quite nice apart from the bottom section), a piste had been groomed down the usually un-groomed Ostabfahrt.
The warm sun took a considerable toll on the snowpack throughout the day, and it was clear I needed to ski somewhere on Sunday. But there is so much room to be explored on the mountain, and I hope to get the chance to do so next winter.
Corn turned to slop in the afternoon sun.8 March Sudelfeld
Does Sudelfeld count as an “Old School” ski area? With a single-seater chairlift from 1948: absolutely. My original plan had been to ski in Spitzingsee on Sunday, as I am particularly intrigued by the Taubenstein area. This plan was shot down by some locals who told me stories of crowds arriving from Munich. Besides, they said, there is better skiing at Sudelfeld anyway. Traithen, they told me was the place to go. And some routes down to Bayrischzell, but better not to ski those without a local to show the way.
So off to Sudelfeld I went, and the morning snow after a short traverse in the Traithen sector was cold, chalky, and deep. I would never have guessed that such a large freeride area exists just off to the side of what I had always considered as a “family” ski resort.
As it got warm in the afternoon I headed towards the trees. Heeding the locals’ advice I stayed away from the long shots down to the valley (but was tempted to duck in past the weather station). I nevertheless found plenty of nice shots in the trees around the piste leading to the single-seater valley station. It was a bit boney, but it was clear from the lift that in deep snow there are endless possibilities in the trees. And only once did I have to climb over a barbed-wire fence.
Traithen seector, all accessable with a short hike and / or traverse
Not exactly powder, but the snow is always better in the treesA Look Forward
With 20° forecasted this week in Aschaffenburg, ski season ends and cycling season begins. I love spring skiing and would gladly keep going for more weeks (or even months), but the mountains are stopping operations and drive is too long to where the lifts are still spinning.
Goals for next season include spending more time in Bayrischzell: I could see this becoming my “home” in the mountains. I would also like to take a week or two to road-trip across the eastern part of the Bavarian Alps (Jenner, Kampenwand, Winkelmoos-Steinplatte, Hochfelln). Allgäu is a shorter drive, so a good target for weekend trips.
I normally take a longer trip (France, Switzerland, Austria, USA/Canada), but maybe next winter I will concentrate on exploring more of Bavaria. These small mountains (and communities) need our support. The mega-resorts south of the border offer a level of convenience that Bavaria cannot (and should not) match, and they have their place in the ski economy. But if we lose these small Bavarian ski operations, we will lose the soul of the mountains.
Finally, I want to mention that of course the other Alpine nations have not succumbed completely to mega-tourism. There are plenty of fantastic local’s mountains throughout the Alps, which I love learning about from Starli’s posts in this forum. I’m sad to say that one of my favorite “secret” tips in Graubünden is at risk of being destroyed, not by falling to unprofitability but rather to development for the ultra-wealthy. Lift prices have nearly doubled since I was there 5 years ago (and not only due to the exchange rate), and if this goes through it will only get worse. While I oppose the development in Andermatt, I can at least understand the arguments in favor and why the locals would support it. What is happening now in Vals is far more destructive, and I hope the locals who will vote to approve this have the foresight and braveness to oppose it: http://www.spiegel.de/reise/europa/vals ... 26228.html