Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hervé’

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

Read Full Post »

How many ski areas are only open in the Summer time?

Taking the train out of Zürich the previous day, my driving through Italy’s South Tyrol to go skiing made it the fourth country in less than 24 hours. The previous afternoon I moved from Switzerland through Liechtenstein to end up in Austria’s Tyrol.


Zürich streetcar


Zürich Hauptbahnhof


Walensee


Schann, Liechtenstein


Tyrol

It was still dark outside when I was waiting to be picked up at 5:30am by a fellow Ottawa Masters Racer. It had been a long walk up the hill from the train station the previous evening, now I was waiting at the side of the street. I was in front of the Pension Can in the small town of Landeck where I had stayed the night when I finally the headlights coming my way. Herve and I were heading for a place called Stifserjoch in Italy, 100km drive and less than 60km south of the Austria border: A Mountain pass which serves as the border between South Tyrol and Lombarby and a stone throw from Switzerland. In fact, South Tyrol was annexed by Italy at the end of the First World War in 1919 and most of the population of this province maiden language is still German thus the two different names for the same ski area (Italian 2011 Census).

I had mentioned to him that I wished to ski most of the seven ski areas open in late summer and that Passo dello Stelvio was on the list:
Tignes, France
Les Deux Alpes, France
Zermatt, Switzerland
Sass-Fee, Switzerland
– Passo dello Stelvio, Italy
– Hintertux, Austria
– Möllaler Gletscher, Austria

Hervé was now racing in Europe and living in Germany. When I inquired about summer skiing in the Alps, he asked me if I wouldn’t mind the company? We were initially supposed to tag up and ski Saas-Fee and Zermatt together, but the high possibility of rain during that week, hard connections from Germany to the Swiss Alps and cost didn’t make it worthwhile for him to take a few days off work. That decision was wise especially when it rained in Saas-Fee and the ski area was closed on the day we were suppose to meet. We proposed our get together and found a place for me to stay in Landeck on the road from his Bavarian home to Passo dello Stelvio. We would drive back to Austria from Italy and head to Hintertux that evening and ski there the following day.


Early morning in the South Tyrol, Italy


Inside the old town : don’t follow the GPS too closely


Switchback to the top of Passo dello Stelvio

The road up Passo dello Stelvio belongs in the same category as roads up to Alpe d’Huez in France or Valle Nevado in Chile for puked factor. In what seemed like an endless series of switchbacks, we finally made it to the top of the pass at 2760 m populated by a few builders, hotels and tram building. This was the second highest road in the Alps, after the Col de l’Iséran near Val d’Isère which made my oldest daughter puke two weeks ago on my ski Tignes day.


Lower tram prior around 7:30am

I felt better when we arrived at the top and started breathing the fresh mountain air. As we were getting ready in the tiny parking lot, there was already a lineup of racers waiting for first tram. It took two tram rides to reach Livrio (3174m) and the remaining skiable terrain on this late August morning of this warm summer in the Alps. The terrain seemed simple and lackluster at first with the two Geister parallel poma lines running a fairly flat slope. From the tram, you needed to climb downslope to reach the lift. The bottom of the slope was simply ice. Towards the top of the lift, Hervé indicated to turn right at the top and its at this moment that I realized there was more to Passo dello Stelvio liftserved skiing that meets the eye. There was another poma on a steeper side. Coaches were busy setting up a few courses on the Payer runs as we were enjoying some fresh tracks. Yes, fresh snow tracks in August in the Italy. How special is that? The base was somewhat firm, but there were some pockets of fluff. That side of the hill was steeper. After 4 runs on the steeper side, we headed for another poma that was slightly lower.

The Cristallo lift wasn’t running, so we decided to keep an eye on it. At one point, we saw a few skiers waiting and the lift running, so we decided to join them. That lift was on a flatter slope on a different orientation. The poma seemed to have technical issues, but once everything was figured out, we made 10 fast laps in the fresh snow. The poma didn’t have a great vertical, but we didn’t care as the skiing was so much fun. The skier’s right of the poma had a narrow strip with a few fun rolls. On the other side of the ridge from that poma was a huge drop off with skiing destination Bormio within sight.


View of the main Geister slopes from Livrio (3174m)


Cristallo poma


Hervé and Cristallo fresh tracks


Hervé on Cristallo and view of the Payer lift and slope


View off the back end of the Cristallo lift. Bormio is in the other direction


Payer lift and courses


Payer lift and courses. View of the Cristallo poma at the bottom

We headed back and skied down the main slope to the rustic lodge next the Tram terminal with the even more rustic bathroom. Best view from behind a toilet ever. After our food, water & expresso break, we headed back up for some more laps on the Cristallo slope. Once the racers had all gone from the steeper Payer runs and we took advantage from the nice firm edgeable snow for a few last runs. We tried to milk it for extra more runs on the Geister side, but it was 1pm and the closing time. The liftee stopped our day at 27 runs.


Main side (Geister). Livrio at the botton. Tricerone (3050m) can be seen on the left. You could load midway to avoid the flats and ugly snow.


Payer and Cristallo pams at the end of the day


Livrio lodge and buildings. Notice the steep carpet ride to access the lodge. White building on the left is the tram terminal.

Although the skiing is modest, the setting of this place had it special and we had a great day.
I understand why Hervé likes this place. After our runs, it was back down via the Trams to the car at the pass, back down the valley and onto our next destination.


View of part of the road up to the Pass – I can’t remember if this is the toilet view?


Tram between Livrio and Trincerone


Buildings at the Pass


Passo dello Stelvio and Swiss border. The border had a strategy importance prior to the First World War when the pass marked also the border between Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italian Kingdom with Switzerland just above


View driving down to the valley


Ciao South Tyrol

MadPat’s Galleries :
Tag 30 / 27 August: Zürich nach Österreich
Giorno 31 / 28 agosto: Passo dello Stelvio

20110828_stelvio
Day’s Log

20110828_stelvio_de

Detail log of skiable terrain

The Day and terrain stats: 27 runs and 4137m vertical in about 5 hours including the 1 hour break.
Verticals :
Geister 1 + 2 : 192m (3160-3352)
Geister 2 (from the midloading point): 157m (3185-3352)
Payer : 147m (3190-3339)
Cristallo : 149m (3170-3319)

Tram Passo dello Stelvio-Trincerone : 290m (2760-3050)
Tram Trincerone-Livrio : 124m (3050-3174)
Both Trams : 414m
Top to bottom ski terrain on August 28 : 192m (3160-3352) / early summer potential : 592m

Monday Mad Addict’s Attic features Passo dello Stelvio and includes a ski map of the area

europass

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: