On Saturday the 10th I met up with Kim Kulstad, my sister, Hans kulstad, my brother in law and two friends of theirs, Olle Werlenius and Johan Berg. We stared our week in Galtur (about 1600m) in the little hotel, Villa Walter, that is run by a little old lady who calls herself Frau Franz. She runs a simple inexpensive hotel in the center of town. Even though she speaks with a strong local Austrian accent we manage to get an early breakfast.
The Jamtal hut (2165m) which was our first stop offers a taxi service with a snow cat that saved us a 3 hours hike. When we got there we realized that this hut is more like a hotel than a mountain hut. This was true luxury. Thanks to the snowcat we were fresh when we got to the hut and ready for a ski tour.
The visibility was not great so we decided to start with a small tour close to the hut. Pfann Knecht at 2793m seemed like a good choice. After a two hour hike we reached the col. As we walked up the clouds came down on us. By the time we reached the col the visibility was down to zero. Luckily there were some tracks to follow and the snow was great. When we got down to 2500m the visibility came back and we got some good pitches down to the hut.
The snow was so good that we did another lap up to 2550m and manage to find an untracked steep couloir.
Even though the visibility had been bad the day had been great. With conditions like this I knew were going to have a fantastic week.
When I woke up and looked out the window from our room I could see that the sky was clear. The epic conditions of Silvretta were about to begin!
The plan of the day was to ski a valley that isn’t marked on the map that branches off Schnapfen Spitz. After a massive breakfast with big lumps of chees, ham, sausages, muesli, cornflakes and yogurt we set out from the Jamtal hut.
We walked up a frozen south face and were happy to have the ski crampons. Since this tour was not marked on the map we had to put in the track ourself. The route finding was pretty straight forward until the last steep pitch. I tried first one steep couloir but had to turn back because of a dodgy slab that gave a whompf sound when I touched it. On the second try it went. This couloir was narrower but if felt solid and it was easy to boot pack the last 100 meters.
When we stepped over the col and looked into the valley we could see that the Mittler Schmapfenkuchl glacier was completely gone. This made the entrance over the col a little tricky.
But once we had passed the first little side stepping passage we had a 1200 vertical meter run in an untracked north facing valley ahead of us. The snow was a little wind effected at the top. But after a couple of 100 meters the snow turn light and creamy.
We were spooning and smiling all the way down to Jamtal at 1900m. After that we had about one hour up to the hut.
Tired and happy we enjoyed a few beers and good food in the Jamtal hut before we went to bed.
We started from the hut at 8 am
The goal for the day was to ski a couloir the that we spotted on the map the day before. It comes down from a plateau underneath Schalau Köpfe. As we were walking up we could see that the couloir was in condition and that it was untracked. When we came up to the plateau from where the couloir stars Johan, Olle and Kim decided to have lunch in the sun. Hasse on the other hand was keen to go the top.
Schalau Köpfe is a fine peak with some scrambling at the top. Even a couple of moves of grade 4!! At the top we found the “top book” and could see that Schalau Köpfe had not been visited since 2011. Hasse wrote our named and signed off with the classic Bon Scott quote “it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll”.
And that was exactly what we were going to do, Rock n roll our way down the mountain. We skied down to the others and went to have a look at the couloir. It looked even better from the top! We had to do some side stepping to get over a rock band, but after that it was a whole lot of rock n roll. It was too beautiful to break up so we did the whole thing in one long pitch.
Happy and psyched we decide to do one more little tour. Rosskopf 2693m. This dome have a fantastic north face that was shining in our faces when we were walking up erlier that morning. When I was flying down this 40 degrees slope with perfect powder I could not help myself. I was screaming my head of the whole way down in pure happiness. Judging buy the face of the others as they come down one by one, they felt the same.
After this we had some cruisy skiing down to the hut.
This was our last night in the Jamtal hut and we celebrated with going to bed extra early.
When the lads and the lady complained about the early start I told them this would be considered as a sleep in if they had been alpine climbing in the summer. That didn’t give them much comfort but they stopped complaining. When we started walking if was nice and cool and we kept a good pace.
The reason that we wanted to start early was that we were going to the Tuoi Hut on the Swiss side off the Silvretta. That means we are skiing down on south facing slopes to get to the hut. To get the perfect spring snow I wanted to be there early.
But before we started skiing down we had to climb Hinter Jamtal Spitz 3156m. When we were at the top enjoying the view a group of Austrians arrived. They all greeted us with “berg heil”. It sounded a bit fascist to me but they were all smiling and seemed very friendly so I berg heiled them back.
The skiing down to the Tuoi hut was nice. First a couple of pitches of cold snow then the rest were spring snow. Good soft fast spring snow.
This hut is more like a typical mountain hut. Nice and well kept, but still mountain hut standard. I got a bed in the guide room and the lads and the lady got beds in a dorm with 15 others.
Also this night we went to bed early. The early start was a success and will soon become addictive :)
Before I went to bed I spoke to a local guide that gave me some good beta that made our last day one of the best of the whole week. He also highlighted that “you only get a week like this every 10 year”. To hear that form a local made me feel really lucky.
Breakfast at 5 am. We started walking at 6 am.
This time we got good use of our ski crampons as we walked up the frozen south faces. But as soon as we went over Vermunt col at 2797 and stepped over to the north facing aspects the snow were cold and soft again. We continued up to Piz Mon at 2982 and then had some really good “gubba svängar” (old man’s turns) down to the Wiesbadner hut.
Here we were greeted by two Slovakian girls, Andrea and Lucia. They were friendly and service minded and did everything together. We had a great lunch and rested our feet from the ski boots for a couple of hours until it was time for the second round.
We started up the same way as if we were going to Piz Buin but about half way up we headed up an impressive north face insted. When we couldn’t walk any higher we started to ski. A great long pitch and a steep face with knee deep powder. I will let the pictures talk for them self.
To have a break in the middle of the day was a great concept that was to be repeated.
This day we did 3 small tours and went back to the hut for lunch before the last tour. Before the day ended we had skied 1400 vertical meters of untracked powder.
We stared with going up on Wiesbadnergräts north face to about 2900m and then skied down to 2500m. After that we repeated the last run that we did that day before.
After lunch we walked up Tiroler Gletcher and then up to a col under Ochsenkopf, 3030m. From here we had the most fun pitch of the week according to me. A steep face with fast snow and I was riding the left side of the face that leaning away to the left.
Tired and happy we all fell asleep early.
The last day of the trip!l
From Wiesbadner Hut we headed east towards Rauhkopfscharte. At about 2800m we started to ski. This is the normal way back to Galtur so we were not very hopeful about finding untracked powder. But to our surprise we only had to traverse for a couple of 100 meters to find a field just big enough for 5 tracks. We cruised down to 2300 were we put the skins back on to head for Hennekopfe,2704m.
This valley had a lot more tracks then we had seen before up in the mountains. The local guide that I talked to in the Tuoi hut had told me to go over to the next valley via Hennekopfe. I had looked at that map and had find an unmark col just above Hennekopfe. Unmarked ways seemed like a good idea with all this tracks around. Then we got to the col there were no tracks that led up to it so we decided to try it.
When we got to the top of the col a pleasant sight met our eyes. Big rounded fields covered with cold light untouched snow. All right, we’re back in business. This time there was no spooning. Now we all enjoyed big fast freeriding turns. If was as if God had built a fun park just for us. A creative mix of steep and flat, narrow and wide. After we joined that valley floor we road this till about 2300m and than put on the skins again to walk for about 15 min. These 15 min gave us access to a 600 vertical run of steep funness. A big open field with lots of small creek valleys to play in.
After those last meters of skiing we hit a road that brought us down to Galtur. We had a well-earned röschti lunch outside Frau Franz. After that I parted from the team and headed home to Chamonix.
they spent another night in Galtur at hotel Toni that from what I heard was very good.
Thanks Kim, Hasse, Johan and Olle for a great week that will stay with me for a long time to come