Skiing, Darin and Hochgern
Saturday the boys and Sergiu and I went to the Wilder Kaiser “Skiwelt” for a day of downhill skiing. This was great fun, especially because there was a “cloud sea” that we climbed above a few hundred feet below the summit. We did many runs. Elijah especially liked going through an icy forest, with many different trails through the trees. Sergiu just started skiing, so that was really tough for him! Outside of this we had a nice adventure by traversing across and down to the town of Ellmau, then taking a train back up to the summit of Hartkaiser. By the time we got down to the car at 5:00 pm, we’d had a great workout! Fellow Cascadian climber Darin B. was in Munich for a work trip, and we had the chance to meet up. Darin had a very early “home page” with climbs in the Cascades that inspired me a long time ago, and he’s kept track of my doings in Europe. We went to the Thalkirchen climbing gym, running into Georg and Vanessa too. It’s nice to engineer a meeting between a couple of climbing legends (at least in my mind). I showed Darin the hard 5.10c(?) crack in the gym, and the big overhang routes. Then we had a Weissbier upstairs. He was blown away by a climbing gym that serves beer and pizza, is absolutely huge, and is open until midnight (I didn’t even know that). While Sergiu, the boys and I were skiing, he was hiking up Hochgern in the Chiemgauer Alps with a friend. Sometime after midnight I walked with Darin to the U-bahn station and he went to his hotel, sadly having to catch a flight at 10:30 Sunday morning. I’ve done so little hiking-type exercise lately, I thought I should get up early and go out for a morning trip. After hearing about Hochgern I figured I should do that. I decided to ski, maybe it would be faster on the way down that way. I had a little trouble finding the trailhead, but eventually I was skiing up icy roads, constantly tempted to take steeper boot tracks through the trees. I usually took them, and ended up awkwardly skinning over rocks and roots time and time again. I hadn’t had any food or drink since the Weissbier the night before, and only had 7 euros. By the time I got to the Hochgernhaus below the summit, I was so hungry and thirsty. I ordered tea, spetzi and a piece of apple pie. Ah! Vitality restored. I was getting to be like the Castle Wolfenstein guy, all bloody, you know? I hung out in the hut for a while, hoping the snow would soften a bit. I wasn’t enthusiastic about descending the narrow, hard icy trail! Above the hut the trail traversed a ridge then climbed a final summit plug. Again, there was a cloud sea, and the sun felt just great. I’ve seen so little of it lately! I talked to a guy on the summit who looked a lot like Hans Kammerlander, but probably wasn’t. I know he lives over in Vorarlberg and probably wouldn’t be hiking up a Munich “suburb peak.” Man, I would have congratulated him on this amazing gear route he made recently called “Princip Hoffnung.” I took a few pictures with my camera, ineptly, at 640x480 resolution (doh!) and reluctantly skied down. I descended the way I’d come (very conservatively, along the lines of a conversation Darin and I’d had the night before…), but then went straight down southern slopes from a small hill on the ascent ridge. This was fantastic firn! Wow, I was in heaven. But it ended fairly quickly, and my attempt to make it last just led me to an awkward exit in thick trees. Eventually I was back on the trail, skidding and snowplowing for all I was worth, alarming the people coming up who would gather themselves into bunches in preparation to allow me to pass. I felt bad about being a trail hog, so I’d always primly close up my skis and sidle by so as not to be an inconvenience, but this always meant an alarming increase in speed after I’d pass a party. The forest would then echo with the SCRUNCH! of me breaking hard on ice. There were so, so, so many people coming up. This is one of the few higher peaks I’ve seen that really belongs to people in boots instead of skiers. It’s good to know. I think next time I’ll just walk. Fun weekend, and I hope to see Darin back here so we can do some alpine rock climbs in the Wilder Kaiser!