05. March 2019      

Four days of best weather and a big playground for big boys! Beside the "high society" ski tourism you can also find beautiful, almost untouched mountain areas at the Arlberg region which is great for Splitboard Touring. Enjoy the read - if you have questions, just post below!

Already at the ISPO we had planned to do a small slitboard trip around the carnival time. Luckily we can't plan the weather, so it was four days before take-off like many times. Ike calls and says: "Some people have time, should we go? Goal one are the Lechtaler Alpes. We look at the possibilities and on the basis of the map and the tracks it seemed mediocre to us with the weather and snow conditions. Target two throws Ike into the round - the Arlberg. Here, too, we look at the possibilities and recognize from the mountain formation that the area should be very good under the conditions despite less snow than in the east. We did a bit of research and also stumbled upon a film by Harry Putz, Mitch Tölderer and Co. On Wednesday I quickly submitted my holiday application, on Thursday it was approved and already the destination was thrown into the WhA group. The video was shared and everyone was motivated. Also Danny from the KRAXLER shop, who can only seldom unload for several days, was immediately on fire. So it was clear that we would start on Saturday to explore new terrain. On Thursday we just called two friends who live and guide at the Arlberg. Long Hatscher however can be already good, was the statement. "Sounds good was my thought" so we started on Saturday morning.

Sure, it's a little late and we're already stuck in the traffic of  Munich. Instead of the three hours there were five and the parking situation at the Arlberg is fatal. The parking attendants immediately told us: "Well, park for four days, you need a permit from the community - they'll be back on Monday". Awesome, we looked around and found a parking lot where a parking attendant sold us four day tickets. ;-). After all the jamming around and the somewhat boring search for a parking space we thought: the train would have been a good alternative here. From the station in Stuben it's not a five minute walk to the Rendlbahn.

Splitboarding at Arlberg Collage

So now it goes with the gondola upwards and we are already looking forward to the winter climbing route, which we unfortunately have to leave out due to wind. Well, ok, then we just ride down and walk to the hut. With not quite so fine snow it goes down to the valley bottom and then into the valley up to the hut. The way goes on, the heavy backpack with food and the material for the via ferrata is decisive, that we probably don't need now. Over pleasantly hilly terrain and crossing a reservoir we climb steadily. Arrived at the hut - the scenery is spectacular, the clothes of two touring hikers are already waiting for us, they started early in the morning and laid down their towels in German style before they moved on. Of course there were also a few Czech mountain climbers who didn't want miss the beautiful weather and the dream conditions. 

The hut itself is not as romantic as expected. Instead of a wood stove there is gas and no other special features, not even a toilet.

Splitboarding at Arlberg Riding Fun

Nevertheless, we are happy to be there and think about the possibilities, all directions are open to us. The first thing that sticks into our eyes is a small couloir, which we simply call Bananen Col. Here it should go with another goal the next morning.

After a restful night and a good breakfast, we check the situation, where are Max and Danny - should we wait - should we already do something? Hmm, connection is rather difficult, so we set off and realize that the snow is still very good. Ascents and descents in steep terrain with up to 45° are untracked and the sun laughs in our faces. We are motivated and head for a wide face that divides up. Although the situation is relatively safe, doubts suddenly arise. Huge amounts of snow are stored and even if it seems safe, a hard layer can be felt in the snow cover after about 50cm. We are almost at our destination there are just 20 meters of bootpacking missing but then I see in front of my mental eye the slope tearing down to a width of about 200 meters and a solid avalanche descending. Now all lights are on red and at a safe place we stop the mission. "Splitboard today that you can repeat tomorrow". In this case it's a pity, 95%  the slope would have held, but what about the other 5%?  Bootpacking puts a lot of extra stress on the slope. What if the snowpack cracks and not "only" 50 cm but the 4 meters of snow that is blown in goes down? Thus we break off. There is still a chute for the ascent, which makes the same goal possible for us including a further descent a changeover to hike mode. This variant feels better and we reach our destination safely.

SPlitboarding at Arlberg 3er 2

After the first touring day in the very over seable area we come back to the hut and meet Danny and Max. The joy is great. Meanwhile our roommates have left the hut and moved on. Good, so there is enough space for our crew, six splitboarders in total, the next two will come tomorrow.

After spaghetti with cheese cream sauce we go to bed at 21:00 o'clock. The night the day before was pleasant with 10° Celsius in the hut, apart from an alarm clock which was playing a monotonous guitar riff from 6:00 in the morning. Also tonight was good with 8° Celsius (two persons less = two degrees less?) and so we wake up without an alarm clock at 8:00 in the morning. Breakfast - and then we start comfortably. Again untracked and immediately uphill. 

The grin after the first departure is huge. Now we see Franz and Leo at the bottom of the hut and get on our way to the second descent. After we take a long break at the plateau and treat ourselves with some XENOFIT bars and some drinks. The two of them come up and we are happy about the first meeting this weekend.

As is the case with large groups, some are more willing to take risks than others, so the group splits up and three still make a sunny crossing, where the other three had a rather dull feeling in the stomach area. Nothing happened and when we all arrive at the bottom we cannot avoid the grin about the quality of the descent.

Now we go back to the hut. In the evening we talk about, risk management, good areas, no women,... while we eat Spanish Jamon Serano and well "cured" cheese. Thanks to Xabi from Mendiboard, who brought us these delicacies to the ISPO.

Splitboarding at Arlberg top conditions

Now it's Tuesday, day of departure. We tidy up, bring the excess luggage from the hut to a rock further down and set out to conquer another of these wonderful quality runs. At 14:00 we say it's time to turn around, no matter where we are, because at 20:00 we wanted to be back in Munich. And again we went up in the finest terrain, partly we could use our tracks of the previous days to enjoy a nearly perfect descent again.

Now to the rock, pick up our stuff and then we head out of the valley, unfortunately again with heavy backpacks.  

On the way back we notice a fresh wet snow avalanche and at the height of a "signposted freeride run" near the ski area we meet a skier without a backpack with his helmet in his hand, as if it were a bucket of water. As the sight confused me a bit, I asked the skier if he was looking for something. His answer "my head is hot" I asked him if I could help him and he replied "my head is hot". All right, so we slowly moved on, keeping an eye on him. The skier followed us until we were back in the resort, thanked us and skied away. 

We think about that ... and make our way to the lift and then back to the car. Sure we took a drink and made a small study of the guests at the summit restaurant of the Rendlbahn.

It was an amazing weekend, thanks to Danny, Max, Franz, Leo and Ike who made this long weekend an unforgettable one. Cheers and lets go again!