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Posts Tagged ‘Dirty Snow’

Sunday: Italy (Passo dello Stelvio)
Last week: Switzerland (Zermatt and Saas-Fee)
Prior weeks : France (Tignes and Les Deux Alpes)

Its Monday and I’m starting my final week in Europe, so it must be time for Austrian turns. My almost 6 weeks stay in Europe is coming soon to an end, like many of the summer ski areas (Les Deux Alpes and Saas-Fee) which closed their summer skiing activities the previous day. The next ski season is close-by with snow having fallen this weekend at Passo dello Stelvio and Hintertux. Austria will see a few more Austria glaciers (Kaprun, Stubai and Solden) to re-open for the Fall-pre-season time.

Hintertux is different from the ski resorts I’ve visited in the pass month. The surrounding valleys and mountains are greener and populated with small rural villages which is the totally opposite from a place like Les Deux Alpes. The first thing you noticed at Hintertux is the facilities are modern. It takes 2 gondolas to reach Tuxer Fernerhaus and the lower extend of the snow at 2660 meters and a third gondola (Gletscherbus 3) to get at the slopes and top at 3288 meters. Each stage has a beautiful lodge and cafeteria and / or restaurant. The last stage gondola climbs towards a jagged Gefrorene Wand peak and you don’t really notice the ski terrain until you stepped out of the top station. There you notice the heart of the summer complex of Hintertux, two slopes almost face-to-face of approximately 200 meters each serviced by 2 t-Bars.


View of Olberer terrain


Olberer T-Bars, Gefrorene Wand on the other side.

Of all the summer ski areas I’ve visited, which is 6 out of the 7 of all ski areas open in late August, Hintertux is the lowest in altitude. The snow quality wasn’t the same as I encountered in the higher ski areas in Switzerland, but the terrain was excellent with a number of runs off two different faces. You could also ski down 628 vertical meters to the lodge restaurant at Tuxer Fernerhaus and take the Gletscherbus 3 gondola back up. Hervé was explaining me that generally in summer, they are more lifts on different terrain open (Kaserer 1 + 2 and Lärmstage chair), however this being the end of August; skiing had retreated to the best quality part of the glacier.

The terrain was pretty steep and snow was hard and icy in some spots. The gondola exits on top of the Gefrorene Wand side which is mostly West facing. We started skiing on the Olberer face where the Eastern orientation facing the sun would make it more edgeable in the early morning. There were a bunch of racers at the bottom of both lifts and they were a few courses on the hill. There were even some race kids from Greece. The snow was firm at first, but became soft after a few runs. Of course, they were the exception where there was no snow on top of glacier and you just hard and / or dirty glacier ice.

There was about 3-4 groomed runs on the Olberer side and the remains of an abandoned snowpark. The vast majority of skiers were training and skiing on that side. When the snow was softer, we headed across to ski the Gefrorene slopes.

We skied down to the longer run from the top of the Gefrorene lift down the chalet for our expresso and beverage break. The trail had a few switchbacks and there was a small stretch covered with rocky chocolate chips just before the melted out terrace. As we drank, we looked on at the major construction around the station which included the construction of new lift.


Lower ski run and lift construction seen from Tuxer Fernerhaus terrace at 2660 meters


Tuxer Fernerhaus (2660 m), construction crane and Gletscherbus 3 station

We headed back up and spent now most of our time on the Gefrorene side. Skier’s right along the T-Bar was as steep as I’ve seen for glacier slopes. There are maybe 30 posts on the side of the top trail indicating the different lanes, however that would have been earlier in the summer. Today, the only course on this side was on the other side of the T-Bar closer to the gondola terminal exit. There was still a dusting of fresh snow which covered the very hard and not always perfectly smooth surface, but we found a few good lines. You didn’t need to ski straight down, you could also follow the trail along between the steep lanes and the rock face which connected with the run to the bottom. There was some mellower terrain for the odd tourists that had rarely skied. The skier’s left part of the glacier was mellower (the southern end of both sides), the other being even longer, passed between each face and lifts to continue lower. That part of become pretty pathetic and slushy and dirty as it got later.

At the end of the ski day, we ended back down for an excellent cheap meal and beer at cafeteria at Sommerberg (2100m) at the top of the Gletscherbus 1. First rate facilities and dinning at reasonable price: not what I expected. We had an excellent two-days in the Tyrol and South Tyrol; today was my biggest day of the trip with 24 runs and 5806m vertical skied mostly 200m t-Bars for 4 hours.


Gletscherbus 3 gondola


Gefrorene Wand T-Bars, Olberer on the other side


MadPat skiing Gefrorene – picture isn’t level


Hervé on the Gefrorene Wand side with Olberer in view

After this meal, we took the one last gondola down and headed to the Gaushaus in Tux, a few villages down. Hervé headed back to Germany as I decided to settled down for a few days to ski on September, write some of these TRs and close out my skiing for 2010-11. I had initially hoped to make it further East pass Lienz to ski Mölltaler Gletscher, the only other remaining summer ski areas to make the list complete, however the extra 200km was getting me further from Paris. I knew what to expect at Hintertux for September turns, I wasn’t so sure about Mölltaler as I had difficulty finding information. After 5 weeks, I wisely decided to stay put and rest and my credit card keep a load off bill which was probably already pretty impressive.

A few days later, on September 1, I managed to return and ski before closing out the trip and return to Paris by train via stops in Innsbruck and Munich :
Hintertux, AUT : September 1, 2011 – last turns and days in Europe.


MadPat and Hervé at Sommerberg


Last stage before Hintertux and the valley at 1500 meters

MadPat’s Gallery :
Tag 32 / 29 August: Hintertux

20110829_htx
Ski Log

20110829_htx_de
Ski log detail of skiing terrain : 24 runs for 5806m vertical skiing

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Mont Aviwhat??? Avila. Là! Over there, not far from my last turns in May and current popular Waterpark at Mont St-Sauveur.

When everybody thought that Eastern “commercial (not free)” skiing was done with the closing of Killington on May 26 and that no Eastern ski areas snowpatches had survived the month of June; Voilà Avila!!!

Over the 96 months ski-streak (I’m including my Summer 2005 non-snow experience on sand and grass), I’ve had a variety of experiences, but none in the same category as this last one.

Plan A : Avila wasn’t it for June or July. There were many left over snow options in early June. I was initially hoping to get to repeat June turns at Killington for a first time since 1997, but the weather killed that plan and Killington hopes to spin into June.

Plan B : I heard about Beartooth Basin on the Wyoming/Montana border. The only Summer-only (just a few weeks really) ski area that I know of in North America that look to be all about the vibe. It was only 3100km from Ottawa and the worst part of it, it wasn’t out of the question due to the novelty of it. Although I loved my Timberline-Bachelor-Crystal-Rainier experience in 2012 or Mammoth in 2006 and 2010 experiences and wouldn’t mind returning in similar conditions: Ullr wasn’t as kind in these areas in 2013.

Plan C : Consistency of Tuckerman Ravine is always an option. Numerous June and July visits in 2007, 08, 09 and 11 proved it then Health concerns raised its ugly head again. The Plan was set and made: leaving Ottawa and picking up MTLRipper in Montreal then join Riverc0il and Snowmonster for a day at Tuck then I was struck down. All of a sudden I was at home battling side-effects on newly prescribed medication. I wasn’t necessarily worried about Tuckerman Ravine’s snow conditions, but more about my physical or mental state to tackle the long drive and hike in my current state.

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So I was down to Plan D: Desperation.

The Akamp Camp had been a jibbing snowcamp that has been held on the lower slope of Mont Avila. This year was the 6th edition for the camp which was initially held in early July, but was moved to late June a couple of years ago.

The snow had been stockpiled in a huge mound in late April (when Avila closed) and covered with hay. I drove by Avila on one of my MayDay at MSS and witnessed the huge haystack.

Organized by Axis Boutique, this year’s camp was being extended to 5-days. They had 2x times more snow, some GoPro loaners and some real pros. They were hoping to get a lift tied in, but it wasn’t worth it financially. There had a few features, salt and a groomer smooth stuff up every morning.

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30 juin 2013
No snow at Mont St-Sauveur, only waterslides.

30 juin 2013
Snow

Sunday June 30:

I hadn’t skied Avila since my university team days back in 1992 and wandered over from MSS in 1995 when Caroline and I skied MSS-Avila on the joint pass. Let’s just say it was a long time ago. Avila and Mont St-Sauveur share the ownership and ridge. This week the Mont St-Sauveur’s park was in wet liquid form while Avila had the frozen type going.

The camp was supposed to end around 5pm on Sunday. I showed up at 4pm to explore the site. I walked up along the park and taking pictures of the boarders and skiers going their stuff. After talking to a few people, I was informed that the camp was being extended an extra day on Monday, which was also happens to be Canada Day, due to the amount of snow left. They were charging a one day only price of $100/day for this weekend (I have no issue with that – a lot of work is involved to make this possible) versus $500 for the 5 days. The camp attracted about 50-60 people every day.

I explained my dilemma and asked if they had any objections if I made a few turns? One requirement was that the Patrol, the girl who had a “Parc Aquatique MSS First Aid” t-shirt packing her car and about to leave had to be present. Once she was gone, they wouldn’t let anyone ski. 😦 I rushed to see her and she asked if it was okay with her. “Sure, go ahead. I can wait”. At that moment, I ran to the car and grabbed my gear. Hiking fast to the top in my saddles and switching fast into my ski boots.

Standing at the top of the snow, they were 3 main options : the big jump, the small jump next to the pipe and handrail down the staircase. I skied between the jump and the staircase. The slope mellowed out towards the boxes and rails and was pretty dirty. Dirt and mud from the torrential rain on Friday probably didn’t help. I quickly hiked up after my first run and did it one more time. I was sucking wind at the top and needed water which was in the car. I grabbed my stuff and sandals and ski down calling it a day and a month. Only 15 minutes, but I didn’t want to push my good fortune with the organizers and patrol plus I was starving and needed a drink. I probably just missed Bri7 from Zoneski which I meet at MSS in May : he was going after his own summer turns a short time after I left.

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

30 juin 2013

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June 30 Log

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Monday July 1:

After spending time with friends and dealing with mandatory stuff in Montreal, I was back in the Mont St-Sauveur Valley for 3pm. The camp was charging $60 for this unplanned extra day. There were a few more people riding as I wasn’t as late as the previous day. The weather was a gray 21c again today with a smog alert over a large part of the province due to the forest fires in the Northern Quebec.

Localized on the end of the slight pitch on the Piedmont trail, the vertical was 28-30 meters, not much less than Tuckerman in July and nowhere as steep. However the length of the “snowfield” was longer.

I got a green light from Max to make a some turns again today and park next to the few cars at the small plateau at the bottom of the park. I thanked him and made a financially contribution to the camp. I had water this time and less hurried. I enjoyed looking at the jibbers due their stuff. People generally did the jumps at the top and didn’t bother getting to the dirty snow and rails at the bottom unless they were heading for a break at the bottom. I did one last run after the last boarder left and skied off the snow all the way to the car 30 feet away. Max gave me a nice cold Molson Canadian!!! It was Canada Day after all.

1 juillet 2013
July View from the Avila parking lot

1 juillet 2013
Parking spot

1 juillet 2013

1 juillet 2013
Last run

1 juillet 2013
Happy Canada Day and July Turns Beer

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July 1 Log

2 runs in less than 15 minutes (including walk from the parking lot and putting my ski boots at the top) for a total combine vertical of 52 meters in June and 6 runs in under 1 hour with a whopping 159 meters in July. Some may ask if this was the craziest/pathetic month of my ski streak? Not sure? I’ve skied only one run on the ski trail has flat as a road in the pouring rain in Pucon, Chile in August 2008. I flew to ski WROD in Colorado in October back in 2007. Climbing to Tuckerman Ravine in the rain in July 2007. What do you call that crazy drive through Hurricane Sandy to ski powder in West Virginia last October? One thing for sure, it was the easiest accessible summer snow I’ve ever skied.

Now I need to book an appointment to get my brain examined. QUICK where are my meds???


Psycho Therapy – The Ramones
Posted by LiebermannRamone3

MadPat’s Gallery:
Mont Avila QC – 30 juin / 1 juillet 2013

Monday Mad Addict’s Attic:
Mont Avila, circa 1980
The trail named have changed (Piedmont on the old map isn’t the same). The park was next to chairlift A.

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End of the season is already around the corner. My last ski outing felt like ages ago. After a talk with Lucky Luke at my mom’s funeral in Montreal and on the need to get out and make some turns, no matter where…I was back in Ottawa went Lucky told me he was heading for Whiteface. I needed to drive back to Montreal, but I was probably looking at some turns at St-Sauveur on a detour on another Ottawa-Montreal drive. I didn’t feel like paying at Tremblant, the detour was longer and the drive was longer for WF. I’m happy that my good friend Lucky dragged me out of unpleasant business and told me about the $17 lift tix deal at Whiteface.

Last liftserved day in the state of New York.

Skied on the same day last year…I don’t remember ever seeing so little snow at WF on their last day.

Gondola and Little Whiteface double were the only lifts in service. The day started off gray, but the sun found a way to find us at the end of the day. There was also signs on a dusting of snow on upper Little WF and the trees from the summit. I got at the mountain at 10ish and brought my old B1s on the gondola, not expecting wall-to-wall coverage that I found at Tremblant.

First run was down Excelsior with a lunch to drop off, as skiing to the base was sketchy. Order of the day was looping off Little Whiteface, to the mid or to the top. I saw Lucky and his clan right away on Mountain Run. \:D/ We skied Mountain Run, Wilderness and Thruway off the mid or Approach and Excelsior off the top. The top of Wilderness required some walking to get to or you could take a lower traverse.

There was also the “Closed” which we wondered why??? We lapped it a few times at the end of the day, best snow and run of the day. Overall snow was soft, but some flat areas mainly at the top of the double or around the midstation looked like someone stuffed the blender with Oreo cookies (real dirty slush) mixed with some chocolate chips (small rocks). The steep parts were okay. :mrgreen: The kids downloaded with the Gondola while Lucky, Anne-Marie and myself skied to the bottom. Lucky’s kids had already done it on their own earlier. There were a few narrow spots toward Broadway and at the bottom through the park. Snow in a narrow strip that disappeared maybe 100 ft from the base of the Face Lift.

So, here is the different runs options:

Off the top: A) Approach toward the mid 1) Thruway, 2) Mountain Run 3) Wilderness
B) 4) Excelsior or 5) Lower Essex/Northway to L Empire-Broadway
All to the way to the bottom via L Valley and SnowPark(name?)

Pictures are a courtesy of Lucky Luke:

Lucky’s kids at the top of Wilderness.

Lucky Anna-Maria

Lucky Alex

Lucky Alex in the bumps in “Closed”

Lucky Vero

Lucky Pat 😉

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Originally posted on Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:34 pm on firsttracksonline

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