26 Feb 2010


Also posted on Summitpost.org here

Just a nice ski tour

On the approach.

It had been almost 2 years since I got to do a climb with Christian. We were actually excited to do an ice climb, but the really warm weather in the last week had a devastating impact on the ice. So, what to do? Go hiking! Which means skiing this time of year.

Christian suggested skiing up the Kuhscheibe or one of the other peaks around the Amberger Hut in the Stubai Range. I’d never been over there, so it sounded like a great plan. The drive was pretty long, factoring in two stops it took 3 hours from Munich. I was surprised because most of the time my visits to the Stubai Range are in the big Stubai Valley or the Sellrain Valley, each of which is just 2 hours from home. But this location on the west and south of the range is quite far, basically near the big Sölden resort skiing area. Oh well, we were skinning up the closed road at 9 am on a great blue sky day.

There had been rain and snow the day before, and Sunday was predicted to be unsettled as well. Score one for us in the eternal battle with the weather gods!

An hour and a half up the road, through pretty open country of the lower Sulztal, and we reached the Amberger Hütte. “How about some Apfelstrüdel, Christian?” Never pass up a chance for sugary fuel, I thought. “Sure!” he said.

As we ate we talked about peaks we wanted to climb. “Charles and I are planning for the Pallavicini Rinne on the Grossglockner in April or May, want to come?” Three people for that trip would be better than two. We could share one rope and one stove for the bivouac hut. We made rough plans and slowly the process of generating excitement for the summer season begins.

In the Rosskar

Above the Rosskar

Small scale

Back out in the sun we crossed part of the long flat Sulztal meadow, then followed a trail made that morning by some skiers (and a dog). It took us steeply up the west valley wall and ultimately into a side valley called the Roßkar. Already the hut looked far away. We continued in here for a while, then the track branched again. Going left and south, we climbed into a basin below the Kuhscheibenspitze glacier. For a moment I thought we made a wrong turn, as it looked like our side valley ended in a rugged crest. But it was an illusion. A look at the map made clear a narrow gap that allowed us to climb onto the small (pocket) glacier. Up there we could see climbers on the summit ridge, blowing spindrift all around them. “Windy up there!” We put on jackets and made the last switchbacks to the ski depot as the first descenders started making tracks down. A few minutes of climbing awkwardly in ski boots and we were on the satisfyingly narrow summit.

The Schrankogel

The Schrankogel was the dominating peak, off to our east, but many others vied for attention, including those on the other side of the Ötz valley where we drove in. We noticed that those peaks don’t seem to get a lot of skiers attention, seeming quite rugged with steep valley flanks.

Down we went, Christian making beautiful turns and me muddling along as best I could. Later, I became unbalanced in the powdery snow and fell, losing a ski. I grew alarmed as I combed the area, unable to find it! “Oh man!” I thought. Eventually it appeared, trampled beneath my steps in a particularly deep area.

Back to the hut for some coffee, then a rapid ski down to Christian’s car in Gries. Really nice day!

Elevation gain/loss: 1650 meters (~5400 feet) Time: 5 hours to summit, 7 hours total (1 hour hanging around the hut)

Christian on the summit

On the summit of Kuhscheibenspitze

Looking down…

To the west