With the basic trips and the “big trip” successful we had achieved the main goal of the #biwipowproject. But the winter had other things in store for us. With conditions approaching a level of epic not seen for a long time this late in the season we were just not stopping. Next weekend came soon. Eager to get a few more days on my underused Tirol Snowcard I was eyeing something I wanted to try with Flo at the early part of the season. My powdersense was tingling. During the weekend a short window was about to open. The Weißenseespitze Nordwand was waiting high above Kaunertal.
I picked up Jan and we were off. Our plan this time was a bit different. We were to arrive in Kaunertal late on a friday, put up the tent in the middle of nowhere and try our ascend along the normal touring route. We would meet my friend Gabi on our way. She would ride park while we try our ascend.
Late at 10.00 pm we meet up at a deserted parking lot at the beginning of Kaunertal. Then we drove into the darkness. The idea was to camp where we usually do at the Kaunertal opening. Just a short way behind the tool station. But as we arrived we saw that a giant bolder had been thrust into the area. Not the place to camp.
The cloud cover was starting to disappear and we decided to go higher. When you drive up to the Kaunertal Glacier ski resort you pass a giant artificial lake. It is so big that it makes the whole valley look like a fjord in Norway. An impressive site. In complete darkness we found a spot not to far from the road, a nice place with a great view far at the end of the valley. It was late too. Since we were good at setting up the Ferrino Snowbound 3 tent that was done quite quickly.
Temperatures would be at around -5 so we took a combination of sleeping bags. Gabi would use the Carinthia G490x since she was not used to camping in the cold. It`s – 20 comfort should keep here nice and warm. Jan had gotten used to the Ferrino Nightec 800 and I would use the Carinthia D400 this time without the XP Top.
Since it took us around 7 hours to get to Kaunertal from Ljubljana we were very hungry. Jan had the great Idea to buy some pre made Goulash at a near by restaurateur. We just had to heat it up and would have a proper dinner. After all the time spent in the mountains with mere Ramen we were keen on some change. While they were cooking near a nice stream I was taking night shoots with long exposure. The stars came out and it was really awesome.
Then just when we started eating we heard weird sounds from the woods above our camp. It sounded like some dogs were fighting. Could it have been wolves or foxes. Gabi was getting scared and we had a laugh. But we did keep an eye on the movement of the sound. It was getting a bit closer and then circling our tent site. After we ate we went to sleep. That seemed to also lessen the attention of our would be stalkers as the sounds stopped and they seemed to have moved on.
We all slept well. Gabi was surprised how comfortable her sleeping bag was. But again as the last two times it had been quite a bit colder over the night as the forecast would have us believed. Specially after the cloud cover cleared up. It had become rather chilly. In the morning the light woke us up. Pumped and motivated we packed up. Looking to the giant wall in front of us the first lines that had been ridden were starting to show up in the first sunlight rays shining on the top of the mountains. We sped up to the resort to start our ascend.
Not all to many people were present this early except, of course, the racing teams. We started gearing up. That`s where it hit me. Where was my skins bag. I took half the car apart. It was no where to be found. Then I remembered. I had stored it in my fridge. I had taken it out but had not put it into my backpack. It was around 600 km away at home. So much for our plan to skin up.
When I planed our ascend I also had a backup plan in mind. And the backup had another back up. In case we would not be all to sure about the conditions there was always the mountaineering way up. I wanted to steer clear of that one because it would be exhausting and I was originally in the mood for two runs with a easy ascend. With no skins this would be the only way. I could save some time by taking the lift up and cutting into the lower part while Jan skinned up. At least that would work. So despite my stupid mistake we were still go. But it would be more of a challenge then I wanted it to be.
As Jan was skinning up towards the steep part where we would have to climb with ice picks and crampons I made my way up diretisima. Knee deep with every step. The sun was warming us. It was already May and the temperature was not all to low. I was sweating like a pig. The long ascend towards the climbing part seemed never ending. Step after step. Step after Step. Finally I had made it. Jan had already attached his crampons. Shortly after I was ready too and we went into the climbing phase.
It was getting steep quickly. Being in the wall it looked awesome. The descent would be epic. There was around 20 cm of fresh on top holding it all together nicely. We knew we needed to make good time. The sun exposed slopes were already starting with the avalanches and we knew our nice weather window would last only till about noon. Moving up we encountered a bit of a setback. The snow under the top layer was party slippy and the rock underneath was not working well for holds. There were long 10 m sections where we were just hanging on our ice picks as the crampons did not give us good support. But as stubborn as we were that did not deter us from pushing on. The view was breathtaking. Such a cool place to be in I thought to myself.
After around 2 hours in the wall we made it to the upper part. Clouds were already pushing in. The whole ordeal was starting to get to me. Jan had soldered on and speed up in front of me. Jan the machine. It`s kinda funny but that motivated me to push on more too. I finally made it off the climbing part and to the ridge. And that ridge. It seemed to endless. Every single time I thought that the Weißseespitze peak would be behind the corner… it was not.
After another 20 minutes or so I finally joined up with Jan at the peak. We were happy. And the view. You could see everything. Italy, Swiss, Austria and the giant glacier towards the Wildspitze we had claimed with the rest of the boys a week earlier. It was like being on an Ice planet. I loved it. The peak is 3.526m. We fooled around took pictures and made a short brake. Happy kiddos.
But the most fun part was yet to come. The descent. From our way up we knew the wall was solid. We could make a speed run. Then one all to common thing happened. Jan`s GoPro was malfunctioning. It was getting super warm and buzzing like a old generator. Yay. Unfortunately we noticed all this at the bottom and the recording turned out to look like a crazy drug induced dream sequence. Mine did work luckly. But regardless. Back at the top.. we were ready to drop. We drove to the steep edge. You could see the whole resort open up bellow and even the giant “fjord”. It was insane. Then Jan dropped in first. One, two turns… passed what we identified as the “no fall zone” and then boom he let go. With a good 80-100 km/h he speed to the bottom.
I saw him stop down there and was pumped. I dropped in. First two turns I was cautious. After all I was the second guy. If anything were somewhat loose I would be my weight that triggered it. Quickly passed the gnarly spot I was in the open steep. That`s when I hit the overdrive. Man what a rush. My Adrenalin was off the charts and I grinned more with every single turn building more speed. I speed from the steep past the point where we started climbing and down towards the resort. I saw a few guys who had made it a bit above the resort and also Jan with a giant smile on his face. We were grinning both now… Happy kiddos indeed :).
The whole plan was a success despite my blunder with the skins. It was around 14.00 hours and just shortly after we made it to the bottom the clouds engulfed the whole area. We used the window well. When we arrived at the bottom a few people were congratulating us on our ascend. Apparently the whole park and resort had watched us ascend and then descend the whole way. While packing up a few people at the parking lot even approached us and had a chat with us. We earned some respect that day and as in one of my favorite movies of the recent winters titles “Claim” we could claim yet another one of the lines I had wanted to do for a long time. Determination and the right combo of buddy and plan worked out great on this one too.
Even more motivated, with a bridge holiday coming up a week after and lots of snow in good conditions. Just a few days later I called up Jan and then Flo. My question was simple. biwak for three days to ride some of the best lines in Tirol. Stubai AK I like to call it. There answer of course was a resounding yes. Next post is the best trip of the season and the best #biwipowproject trip. We would have to use all our knowledge to be at the right place at the right time. How would we fare ? Read up next week 🙂