In fact, it was only three borders we crossed on our roadtrip across the Alps. But besides those geographical borders there were other limits that we hadn’t even thought about before leaving our comfort zone.
Meeting up in Andermatt, Sophia crossed the Swiss border by car and Johanna came by train. Lets go, roadtripin from A to Z and so it was Andermatt, Aosta Valley, Valais and Zinal.
One of the limits we experienced was our equipment. Packed in the small VW without a rooftop box, made it a tetris game: fit people in first and put stuff on top. Especially on the way to the Zinal freeride competition when our third team member Sebastian with team beers for team AberwitzigeAugustiner had to be squeezed in as well.
Most important on a roadtrip is good music. Our radio was at least able to catch some Swiss German radio stations far out, so it was pretty entertaining -and annoying at some point- to listen to some local traditional music…
First night in Zinal, we realized that our limits were reached sleeping with three people in a small tent. The consumption of our beer supply for the whole trip made the night outside more tolerable though. Big thanks to our new Swiss friends, who we joined in their chalet the next night. Improving our French skills and cooking crepes raclette made it a great time.
Another limit to equipment was reached when Sebastian broke his bindings off his skis just right before the freeride contest. The day before, we already survived the Chinese downhill style freeride slalom. So now it was time for a pair of test skis. Finally we ended up on the 6th place with our team. Awesome aberwitzigeAugustiner! Close call, as we almost missed the third part of the competition. Due to limits of our language skills, we completed the race in eating a chocolate marshmallow without hands in the last moment…
Some more limits that are well known in the winter world are weather, conditions and avalanche bulletins. What else did we learn? Do never ever plan a road trip, weather and conditions are going to be different anyway and change your plans.
Last year the constantly difficult avalanche situation in the Tyrol supported our plan to travel to the western part of the Alps and discover new terrain there. When we finally started our trip mid of March, the weather forecast was shit: lots of wind, warm temperatures and much precipitation. This forecast for the next days was the reason that our planned route was changed totally. The aim, the descent of the Mont Tabour in France was postponed on a future date. Unknown terrain with really bad conditions really puts you to your limits in winter time.
Another reason was the scheduling with our third rider, filmer and photographerJojo Heel. We finally met him in Andermatt, where we had a magic day at the Oberalpstock. A 2000 meter descent with fresh pow and bluebird was really worth the travel around the mountain from Disentis to Hinterried.
We experienced the toughest weather conditions in Aosta valley, these conditions definitely brought us to our limits. After a phenomenal day skiing in Alagna/Gressoney, the view on impressive 4000 meter peaks developed into a visibility of one meter in the fog. Hanging out on top with a delicious cappuccino for only 1,30€ wasn’t enough waiting to change the weather conditions.
On the next day it was even more frustrating when there was the great blue sky but such a strong wind that all lifts stayed closed. No motivations to hike up, as the first 1000 meters are not really any rewarding in the valley.Easy going, so there was more time for Italian cappuccino and extensive weather research. The result was that we travelled on the same day to direction of Gran Paradiso, the Paradise Mountain.
After the travel through the Aosta valley into the Valsavaranche valley, we started on the next day early in the morning the hike to the Refugio Emanuele. Another little summit, and a nice line to enjoy more excellent cappuccino on over 3000m for 1,30€. Limits were set once more by strong wind speeds, especially at this altitude. But we stayed positive for the following day. After a short night, we started the hike with an astonishing sunrise like in a painting and of course bitterly cold wind. Now our personal limits got visible by the limits set by weather and altitude. Packed into our warmest clothes, we cheered ourselves up the mountain. Just our toes and fingers didn´t really care for cheering. They stayed cold and nearly forced us to turn around. Finally reached summit, we enjoyed the Madonna, the paradise view and the storm. So we decided to start a quick decent because the sunshine turned once more into fog. On plank ice and wind pressed powder we couldn’t help ourselves than smiling, when we passed by the “Dynafit insects”; mountaineers that ran by on the way up and struggled on their light-weight skis to get down. In the end everyone reached the Refugio happily and satisfied.
The situation in the ice cold wind where we worried about our fingers and toes was truly an experience. But on a ski trip were you camp outside all the time you get to these limits way faster than in every-day life. But that’s exactly what we were looking for and made us move out of your comfort zone once more. Worth mentioning is the Zinal Freeride where our limits were rather tested in enjoying this “festival” with great dancing and awesome new people. So we emptied the beer ratio of a whole trip in one night…but not alone! And the first swollen foot…not from snowboarding but from too much dancing…great beginning to a trip! Then we may not forget the skitour on the mountain right above Aosta, Becca France, which at first seemed not worth the hike up. We started walking in skiboots on a muddy path just to reach the hard-packed snow. It seemed just like the sun wouldn’t be strong enough but in the end we were regarded with a fun ride down the half-pipe-bowls in slushy spring snow! It showed us once more that the pain to test your own limits is always worth it. Often said and heard but it’s better to go outside yourself and check it out.
Every photo and memory of this trip proofs it and makes us plan another winter trip right away to check out new places, limits and borders.