Josef, Benoit and I headed to the mountains for a ski tour. It would be my first since getting new skis and skins. I’d tried getting excited to go earlier in the winter, but somehow snowshoeing seemed like more fun. I was feeling ambitious and wanted to do a longer tour of around 1400 meters. Josef suggesting the Schöntalspitze and I misunderstood, thinking he meant to climb it from the Westfalenhaus on the south side. But his plan was more ambitious, going all the way up the Gleirschtal past the Pforzheimer Hütte.

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We started up, and somewhere along the long valley walk I realized I didn’t have the energy for that. Hmm, what to do. Happily, I could see the Pforzheimer Hütte basking in the sun along with peaks behind it. Maybe I could climb one of those easier and closer peaks as a consolation prize, thusly getting some good exercise despite my weak physical conditioning. I suggested that to the guys, and they were happy to head further in, making for the Zischgenferner (glacier) and their peak. I skinned up to the hut, hearing a dog barking but seeing no one. I continued on a path to the south along a broad ledge above the floor of the Gleirschtal. I wanted to climb the obvious peak called Samerschlag right above me. Soon I realized I was going the wrong way, and should have headed due west from the hut, as the peak is climbed from the north. I made my own trail, not too difficult, west and switchbacking up around the north side of the mountain. Eventually I met the main trail, and continued easily to the summit.

It was sunny but pretty cold. From the top I had a good view of the lower part of the Zischgenferner and it’s valley bed. I resolved to watch for two small figures, Josef and Benoit. I was glad they were having fun on their journey and that I could attain a smaller but still interesting (for me) summit. The view was awesome from up here. I sipped my tea and ate a sandwich. I hadn’t seen a soul since leaving on my own and it was neat to have such peace and quiet. I also got a good look at the southern route up the Zwieselbacher Rosskogel which I’d wondered about for some time. It looked very fine, though an early start would be important.

Finally I saw two people coming down the Zischgental and decided to head down. I tried to find new tracks in semi-powder. After one rather cold wipe out, I made it down to near the level of the hut. I imagined that perhaps the guys didn’t make it to a summit, but that if that were so, they would climb up to the hut to say hello. In that case, I’d better get down to say I’m not there! I found a few spots of firm and other spots of powder in a gully south of the hut, avoiding sections of breakable crust. Then, below the hut, I saw two figures climbing up to it. I called out “JOSEF!” But they just stared at me. Hmm, I thought that would be them. Oh well…I skied down to the car, stopping briefly at the Vordere Gleirschalmhütte, but then continuing on realizing there were no seats outside where I could wait and watch for the guys approach.

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I reached the car at 2 pm, about 40 minutes before Josef and Benoit. Indeed, they had followed the itinerary I imagined to the letter. They found the final climb to the pass between the Schöntalspitze and the Vordere Grubenwand to be too steep, and so turned back. Then they did indeed climb to the hut as well. I just had the timing wrong. If I’d waited another 10 or 15 minutes I would have intersected them. Oh well!

Thanks guys for a great day in the mountains. My apologies for egging us on to bigger tours without being capable of following up!! My meager workout was about 1200 meters up and down.

Benoit also uploaded some wonderful photos here.