Easter 2013, the weather forecast is moderate, but we are in a very good mood to enjoy a slightly different splitboard / skitouring weekend at Ötztaler Alps / Austria. Steep descents and a beautiful scenery awaits us at the 2261 m high Anton Renk hut near Ried at Oberinntal.
Starting at the Weiler Gfranz we walk on the forest road into the valley of the Stalanzer stream, at first with our splitboards on the back. Quietly we sneak past a wild food source. Now there is enough snow and the splitboard- / skitouring fun begins. We continue on the forest road, it goes along a beautiful winterly frozen stream, until we reach the Stalanz Alp, a quite big alp with a two huts. We cross the last of the three bridges and keep an eye out for the wood stock. "Hmm, where is the lumberyard, you see it?", goes through the round, but the wood stock is hidden under the deep snow.
The avalanche situation is relaxed and also the large avalanches from the steep south-western flanks of Feichtner Karlspitze are already unloaded (If this is not the case, the climb to Anton Renk hut have to be done very cautiously. Or better to say, this route is for safe conditions only.). After about 3-4 hours, crossing an icy traverse and having stunning views to the frozen Bachfall we reach the hut. But: No wood in front of the hut. The hut is cozy, but not yet warm inside. The 4 pieces of wood left by our predecessors were enough to prepare a warm meal. A little bit of talking and with three blankets we go to sleep soon.
The next morning welcomes us with good weather, but it is not yet time for thinking about one of our scheduled tours. We first need wood.
If the room temperature reaches 0 degree Celsius, having wood or not gets a very different meaning. So we snapped the woodcarrying backpack and our rucksacks,an ax, a saw and then it goes on the hunt. Dry wood has to be dug out of the snow and turned into firewood. In perfect weather, we spend the next 4-5 hours of digging, sawing, chopping and carrying wood. So now the wood-stock is replenished and the weather is drawn. No matters, we make ourselves comfortable, tell mountain stories, do some cooking and talk about everything. Oh yes, of course we dry the partially wet wood under strict supervision on and in the oven.
The next day the weather is nice again in the morning, but because of the sketchy warm conditions we can not do the planned steep chutes.
Not too bad, because the landscape is beautiful and we just hike into the backcountry to discover new lines and get to know the surroundings of Anton Renk hut better. After a few short descents we are back at the hut shortly after 13.00 o`clock and the predicted snowfall begins. We pass the time with avalanche training, cooking and playing cards, since the hut is warm now. Next time we take our equipment for ice climbing with us, because even if the weather is not ideal, there are nice ways to pass the time with it at the well know Bachfall.
This time the night was cozy. The abundant snowfalls of the last few hours and the weather situation made our decision easy. We leave. If it snows a lot more we do not know whether we can leave on Monday without risk or we have to wait until improvement of the avalanche situation. The first 100 altimeters of the descent were like flying blind, but then we had the expected powder fun with good visibility in the woods.
Good to know:
- The access via Stalanz takes it's time depending on the fitness of the group and snow conditions between 3 to 5 hours.
- The wood stock is about 50 meters left to the last bridge and about 200 altimeters below the hut.
- A night costs € 6.00 for Alpine Club members and 12, 00 € for non-members. You have to pay an aditional wood-fee 2.5 € if the wood stock is replenished.
- The lessee (Peter Zöhrer) doesn't like it when the wood stock in front of the hut is not filled up.
- The conditions have to be really secure to ride the steeper lines.
- Quite mellow descents can be reached by crossing the plateau, best on the back of a well visible ridge.
- The most known summit destination is Pfroslkopf (3148m). 3,5 hours from the hut.