Unique terrain, new perceptions and finest powder in the Toten Gebirge in Styria.
Similar to the years before, at the end of December 2016 snow was rare in the Eastern Alps. Nevertheless we didn't want to commit to the usual New Years Eve customs like lead casting and Raclette eating until you cannot move anymore. Our aim was to get out and see something new. After a longer investigation for snow our aim was set to Styria, more precisely the Northern Limestone Alps – the Totes Gebirge. There it had 50 centimeters of fresh with lots of wind but besides that we had no idea of what we were getting ourselves into. The only thing that was clear this is gonna special because this region is not very splitboard friendly.
We started Friday the 30th and we could start skinning directly from the parking space at 700 meters. Great feeling because at our touring region we didn`t had winter at all until that time. After mounting our testboards we started at around 12:30. Four hours ascent up to the Pühringer Hut was planned. A mellow hike, so we took our time to take some pictures and do some filming in the winter wonderland - great sparkling of snow crystals in the valley and our eyes. It was amazing because until that time we didn`t have this winter feeling in 2016-17 yet.
Hmm, somehow the way is quite far and our "New Year's Luggage" is heavier than expected. Let's go a bit faster to reach the hut before the sun sets down. Said and done, but when it got dark we had just crossed the Langang lake. We passed a sign Pühringer hut 45 minutes and made a break, had some food and went on relaxed because will would not be able to reach the hut at daylight. So what, no matter to hurry just keep calm and split on. F*** this year we didn't want darkness and hassle to reach our base, since we have had it already last year. But anyway these are things which can happen if you go exploring unknown terrain. The terrain was quite difficult, lots of hills, rocks, little canyons, well it was hardly possible to find the way even when the way is well marked. At daytime everything is easy but at night we had to get out our paper map, because after entering the valley our mobile connection was already off, so our assisted navigation broke down and we were happy to be traditonally equipped with map and compass. The terrain has lots of small challenges to offer, a permanent up and down, here a hole, there a wall, ohh a small canyon, well this one must be exactly the one at the map, so the way must be there. Right, yes seems super clear, let's go. Strange, no signs at all well, we had been totally sure, but... OK like this we went on quite some time and finally reached the hut after around 7 hours of fun touring with special challenges. So we got reminded that an easy way can become challenging at night time.
Upon arrival at the hut, three people were already there and not 30 as initally expected. No surprise regarding the way up. Our advantage, the hut was already cosy and fire was already burning in the oven. The Czech family was super nice and it was fun to talk to them. Good company much better than our encounter at the Mueller Hut in Stubaital the past year 15-16. So let's have some food and go to bed.
At the 12/31/16 we start early at sleek -23° Celsius. At the map it looks that we can reach the summit just crossing the Pine Tree belt and hike up the ridge until we reach the summit face of Hochkogel. In reality we had been forced by the snow to do uncountable snakelines to pass the Pine Trees. Also here there are lots of hills canyons, Karstholes, Dolinen and other rad terrain stuff. The landscape is amazing, completely different to all what we had seen until that moment. A mix between moon, mars and winter wonerland - just awesome.
As soon as we had passed the pine tree belt we skinned on at high alpine terrain at just 2000 meters. Actually this terrain is amazing to sharpen your kickturn techniques and uphill performance in general. We split on and enjoy this special area to the fullest.
Just before the peak of Hochkogel we find an amazing face with an angle of around 45-50, beautiful - fascinating! If this one would be easier to reach, we would have gone, so it will be there for a future mission to be reached.
Our Czech friends headed up to the Elm, which wasn`t good for splitboarding (regarding the conditions almost no snow due to strong winds at the days before), but for the family it was great. They could train for their competitions in orientation running and after that they came to enjoy the summit of Hochkogel with us.
Our line was excellent, finest knee-deep powder with one or another hidden shark waiting to be feeded. A bit of pine tree hopping and then we came back to the hut. Regarding the current conditions it had been the best thing to do if not mountainbiking, climbing or surfing.
It is 19:00 o'clock when 4 trailrunners equipped with skitouring stuff reached the hut to enjoy New Year's Eve. Yes, now we are 9 people looking forward to have a good start in 2017. We had been eating, drinking, talking about all the world and his wife and most of us went to bed earlier than at 00:00 o'clock.
January the first of 2017 we woke up with -26° Celsius, but it was a handsome cold. Ahaa, can this happen due to the good alimentation and amounts of tea that we had at the New Years Night? Unbelievable, these positive effects of proper alimentation in the mountains - the second thing we got reminded at this trip.
At best weather we start getting out of the valley, very relaxed and full of happiness because again we made the best out of the New Years Days.
Touring Region: Totes Gebirge, Steiermark
Touring Options: Elm, Hochkogel, Neuner-, Zehner- und Elferkogel, Großer Priel, ...
This region needs around 200cm of snow to be great for splitboarding and skitouring.
Map: Alpenverein - Totes Gebirge, Mitte: Wege und Skitouren - 1:25.000 15/2