I haven’t owned a vehicle for nearly 13 years, not since I left Canada for Japan, and I rarely miss owning a car. When I do miss having a car is Spring, when getting to glacier ski touring from Munich is almost impossible on public transport. Fortunately, my good friend and fellow Black Diamond guide, Jakub, has a car and spends spring in Austria ski touring. Even more fortunate for me, was that Jakub was gracious enough to swing through Munich on his way to Innsbruck a few day back. Further fortune is that Jakub has a very good friend, Jiri, who lives in Innsbruck and has a very comfortable couch.
After arriving in Innsbruck and checking out Jiri’s private greenhouse we beelined it for Bikework. A public space where locals can pay rent on bike tool’s they may not have at home and afterwards grab a cold beer out front. After the beer we went back to Jiri's to check out skitouring books and it was decided we would try to summit the Zuckerhütl in the Stubai Valley.
We woke up early to a great breakfast of Angus beef sausages from the Czech Republic and espresso but still managed to leave late. To add to that, we still continued to pack in the parking lot and were even later. Then, a season’s pass was almost lost and the clock was ticking with two long gondola rides and a traverse to come before we would start skiing.
We were looking at 500m ascent. Something that became very clear was the need for crampons. With daytime temps in the teens and nighttime temps below zero we were looking at a bulletproof ascent. With two pairs between three people one of us was going to have a touch time, and Jiri manned up and skied like a champ. We skied over the Pfaffenjoch pass and hit the bottom of the Zuckerhütl and decided it was too late iin the day to ski further. With rising temps we didn't want to tempt the rising avlanche risk so we decided it was time to start skiing downhill.
With our delay there was no way were going to make the Zuckerhütl and still have safe snow conditions for the afternoon so after reaching the Pfaffenjoch pass we decided it was time to descend. Surprisingly cold snow awaited us as we skied the first slope on our way to the Sulzenauferner. Skiing past, and jumping over the blue glacier, we were all super stoked on today’s chosen line, for a while.
Eventually, our route took us to a long flat section passing the Blaue Lake. I threw on the skins again and did my best to not hold up the guys on skis but alas, it was the next section that would prove my undoing. A single ski width solid packed heel side traverse would prove my undoing. My profanities could be heard across the valley as I took a ride downhill of the track, but eventually made it down, frustrated and embarrassed. Fortunately, Kuba was a gracious companion and didn’t tease me too much.
To celebrate, we barbecued steaks on the side of the Ruetz river accompanied by a six pack of Stiegl.
We woke up early and much better prepared for the next day. We were planning on ascending the Alpeiner Ferner glacier. The road was closed at the hamlet of Seduck (1,300m) far lower than we expected (1,800m) and ended up with an 8 km mixed approach between skiing and walking.
After several hours we finally reached the Franz Senn hütte and got our first views of Alpeinerferner above. More importantly, I was able to get my caffeine fix with two cups of heavily needed coffee.
With my bus home from Innsbruck at 17:00 getting closer and closer, and 12km of working our way back to the car, We waisted no more time at the hut and continued to ski higher aiming for the Alpeinerferner. At 3,100m and the clock striking 14:00, it was time to descend. We found a line that had been in shade all day, chucked our skins in our bags and enjoyed our hard earned turns in the corn.
A succesful weekend in the middle of the week that would have never happened without the great hospitality of Jiri and Kuba. Thanks boys!