After so many “Eat & Drink” days on the ski slopes in the Dolomites, finally I moved to Austria for a few days to get some energy back and to have some proper skiing. Who does not know the Arlberg, the off-piste paradise in Austria, where the fresh powder gets all skied in a matter of few hours. There is so much terrain with easy access from the lifts, everybody want to be in Zurs, St Anton and Lech on a powder day, dreaming some unforgettable deep turns (hopefully without getting into troubles…)
It’s been a week after the last snowfall, a strong high pressure has come along with an annoying wind in the last few days, we got the proof of that on our first ski descent, from Maroikopfe down to Langen. A bit of powder but mostly crust snow, big avalanches almost everywhere (some were triggered by ski patrols from the helicopter, but most of them have been caused by that nasty old snow layer which unfortunately is always lurking in dry winters like this).
We felt much better on the way back to our hotel in Zurs, as we got the chance to make a first track from the top of Valluga. The West couloir was still untouched, and the snow we skied along the Pazueltal was pretty nice too. After dinner it was time toget the map of the area out and start to make plans for the next days.
We got out the next morning with a bad new, the “Weisse Ring”, a silly race around the pistes of Zurs and Lech, forced us to change plans as we couldn’t get up the chairlift to Madloch. “What the fuck we do now?” Quickly we moved to St Anton, a good ride down from Schindlerspitze on chopped powder awakened our legs; we love touring, and we got skins on our backpacks, 400 vertical meter climb is better than nothing. And here comes the first gift, as we reached the top of Mitterkarspitze in a good hour skinning, I looked behind the summit ridge and I saw a beautiful untracked couloir, got my binoculars out and I realized that this line might gonna be the perfect way out. Soon we put the skis on the backpack and we followed a via ferrata down for just 15 meters to the drop in, one by one we slided carefully into the couloir, some jump turns on the narrow and steep part and finally we hammered down and skied some beautiful powder to the bottom of the bowl . The descent down the Malfontal is always beautiful, the way back to St Anton is comfortable while sitting on the bus, unfortunately we lost the last ride back to the hotel on the new gondola in Alpe Rauz, but not the smile on our faces, the journey we had was just epic.
Pietro joined us on the last day (be careful with this guy, he’s always demanding), I was hoping to give him a great time too, hopefully with some good powder. The Madlochbahn was open, and we found some cold powder under the Roggalspitze on our warm up run. Few great turns and it was time to get the skins out and head towards Stierloch josh. Here we left the main track and started to climb a steep slope that should had taken us on top of the ‘Unterer Schafberg. A chamois, while it was grazing around, it was raising up its head and keeping an eye on us to see how we were negotiating our way up between thin layers of windpack snow, some rocks and steep grass, then we got to a sort of “key step” that made us struggling a bit. A couple was chasing us down at the bottom; at the key step, watching us struggling, they were standing by, then they moved further as we did keep climbing up, of course.
In the end we climbed up for 500 meters, they felt like the classic 1000m on my legs (too many gourmet meals in the Dolomites and very few ski touring this season so far due to the lack of snow at home). The two chasers pointed straight to the saddle in order to ski down the Schneetal, we headed to the top of Unterer Schafberg instead, and that was a great plan. From here we could stare at a beautiful steep slope that would had brought us back to the bottom of the Stierloch classic off-piste run. Binoculars please, I need to have a look. Ok, let’s go. Skins on the backpack, downhill mode, I needed to get closer and check the situation from the front line. The drop in was not affected by the wind, the snow seemed perfect to my eye. “Albi let’s have the sandwich!” No! I’m not hungry, we gotta go, come on. Who was skiing down the valley had to stop, maybe we bothered them with our battle cries? We agreed giving 5 stars to this descent, so we celebrated properly at the beautiful and cozy Rifugio Rud in Lech.
I have to thank my fellas, true followers (not like those on social networks) who are willing to follow me always, even though they might be stressed by my last minute changes to the plans (I love changing schedules whenever I see something way more interesting to do! ). Just spend the rest of the afternoon between steam room and sauna, then a good dinner and it’s all good , right guys?
I definitely had a blast in Arlberg, too bad it did not last long. But now I can go back home, fully recharged, for some “Eat & Drink” ski days in the dry Dolomites.