Silvrettahorn

It was another clear day and we left early from the Wiessbadener Huette. The snow was hard as the sun hadn’t managed to rise above the mountains behind the hut yet. We headed up the same way as yesterday onto the Ochsentaler glacier. Today it was much windier. We roped up and headed up towards Silverttahorn. The original plan had been to go to the summit and then traverse across to the Schneeglocke but some of us, including myself, weren’t so keen on the strong cold winds. Instead we toured up as far as we could with ski crampons attached. We made a ski depot and then swapped our ski crampons for regular crampons and ice axes. The ascent wasn’t at all technical but the last section along the ridge to the summit was very exposed. The snow hung over the side of the ridge making the ridge appear wider than it actually was. We took posy photos at the top and then headed back down. After a stop for lunch we skied back down over the glacier and out the valley back to the Biehlehoehe where we caught the bus/gondola combination back down into the valley. A nice end to four very good days of ski touring.

Piz Buin

We left the Wiessbadener Hütte fairly early and set off towards the Ochsentaler glacier looping around the Gruene Kuppe on the way. The snow crunched under our skis as the sun was not yet high enough to soften it up. Large chunks of ice stuck out of the side of the glacier and sparkled in the sun. We were not alone. The hoards were already about many with the same intention of climbing onto the glacier and crossing to ascend Piz Buin. We roped up once on the flat expanse of snow and slowly made our way across the glacier to a saddle between the Kleine Piz Buin and the Grosser Piz Buin. We left our skis in the little village of skis and joined the crowds for the 300 m climb to the summit.

We climbed with ice axe in hand and crampons. The first part was a steep-ish climb up a face of snow then it turned into a fairly exposed rock scramble, followed by a very exposed rock scramble. For this section we were happy that we could use a fixed rope that another group had installed. We attached a short prussic to the rope and clipped the rope and the prussic with a carabineer. We edged our way along through this section waiting to let traffic from above pass us. Many people did not touch the rope and seemed fine to scramble around the rocks despite the 200 m drop to the glacier below.

The rest of the ascent was a walk up gentler slopes to the summit cross. We took plenty of posy photos at the summit and then sat in the sun for a while and admired the awesome view in all directions. We could see people, all the size of ants, skiing across the glacier below returning from various peaks. There wasn’t a single puff of wind and it was really warm despite the summit being at 3312 m above sea level.

We descended and skied back to the Wiesbadener Hütte first to sit in the sun and drink wheat beer and then later for some expensive and fairly average food.

Grosser Widderstein

We left the Edelweiss Haus early in the morning and drove to the top of Hochtannberg Pass. The plan was to investigate the very rocky looking tower of the Grosser Widderstein on skis. We headed up to the closed Widderstein Huette where almost everyone including me decided that the tour looked like a bit too much excitement. Elmar and Roland, however, were looking for excitement and convinced me to come along with them. I agreed and we set off skinning our way across towards the mountain. I made a mental note that I’d probably regret not having attached my ski crampons and sure enough as the slope got steeper and steeper and I slithered around on each step trying to get a good stable hold on a ski edge I wondered why I had agreed to come. I definitely wasn’t keen to loose my feet on the slope as it was icy and there wasn’t a nice friendly run out and I was doubtful you’d be able to stop yourself if you slipped.

After a little while we all stopped and put on our ski crampons. Roland and I used a large ball of packed snow lying on the slope for stability. With ski crampons on it was much more comfortable and we continued edging along and then zigzagged up to the bottom of a narrow colouir. From there we continued up into the colouir with some dubious turns on the hard snow until it was clear we should make a ski depot. I was happy to get my skis off and get my crampons on as I had not been feeling particularly steady on the skis.

We climbed a steep section kicking into the hard snow and using our ice axes. The colouir then opened out onto a wider face that was now bathed in sun. We continued up on much softer snow until we reached the summit. After a bunch of posy photos and a schnapps at the top we headed back down to our skis. The snow had softened by this time and we had an enjoyable descent back down to the road where the others were waiting.

A very nice ski tour/mountaineering trip. A bit more tricky than I’m used to.