Well girls and boys, quite some time has passed since I wrote about a cool adventure on snow. With the season as it is I am able to be in the mountains close to home a lot, but storm Nr. 5 brought a mixed and very interesting weekend worth writing about. It was quite a up an down to be honest in the emotional department as well. But the mountains make it a bit easier as friends and powderdays are what I live for.
POHORJE POWDER IN DECMBER
It all started last Friday. Late. It was only an hour before sunset. My Suunto Spartan had already beeped the 1 hour until darkness alarm and I was just driving past my twin brothers flat. After more then 10 years he finally got a new pair of Boots and with almost 40 cm at our local mountain I had the idea to drag him up there and see how he does in the freetouring department. Our plan was simple. Drive to Areh, the higher part of Pohorje resort and then just hike to the top of the highest lift Cojzarica and descend to the middle and return to the car. As it was dark we wanted to do it quick.
It was dumping and we used headlamps in the dark. When we made it to the top I was baffled. This was Pohorje on the first day of December. There was so much snow. In fact it had been so cold that a good 15-20 cm of blower had settled on the great base. We descended and it was proper powder. I could not believe it. We took a few pictures in this winter wonderland and took our time to get back to the car. I picked up my phone and called my adventure buddy Jan, because for the weekend I had bigger plans and I wanted him to be there too. If Pohorje was an indicator on what was to come, we were in for a blast.
TOMAHAWKING AT KANIN-SELLA NEVEA
Fast forward for a few hours. It was 5 am and I was already on my way. I had slept for a good 6 hours but was super motivated. I had been to Sella Nevea two weeks earlier with Jan and it was already ok, but the latest dump brought another 40-50 cm and we wanted to do some drops to prepare for the FWQ contests coming up after new years. With us this time was my old buddy Gašper Slak, who I did so many good skiing adventures with I can not count, including the best one… Japan. Matej Krstič also joined us for some powder fun for the first time.
When we arrived at Sella Nevea one thing was sure. It was cold :P. Jan and I had done a lot of hm and were used to good tempo but Gašper had skipped last season almost completely after finishing university and getting a real job. We did not want to push to hard so we made a nice tempo. Half way up Gašper was already feeling it but no worries. He is a trooper.
I had another problem to worry about thou. Skins. My fat ski is the Salomon Q118, but I use the skins from my MTN Explore 95. So everything where you have to edge up like a groomed steep piste becomes a annoying “diretissima” where one hopes not to slip on one foot all the time. Just before the end of that steep at the top “as per Murphy`s law” I slipped. Rocketed down half the slope and finally came to a halt. It was not fun and luckily I was in one piece. What wasn’t, as I would find out two days later, were my pants. I put a nice little tear into the side. At that time I did not even notice it. I was all super stoked for what came later.
It was -8 snow was great and it was clear up towards Prevala with no lines in the faces. Insane. Gašper and Krstič were slowing down, and Jan told me that a few other friends of his were somewhere there and he wanted to meet them. Kinda like I like to hang with him in a bff kinda way he was for seeing Krištof so we darted up to Prevala. We did not meet them but on our way up we already picked out our first lines of the day.
When we made it to the saddle where the bottom of the Slovenian sides chairlift was we were smiling. It was “the sound of silence” as Jan put it in his Instagram post :P. As Gašper and Krstič reached us we were eager to start with the lines. We would do a fun little line on a spiny thing for a little steep fun. Jan and I decided to “rock, paper, scissor” for the privilege of taking virgin powder. Jan won. He was off first. He did nicely. It was fun to watch. Next up was me. Turns a huck from a stone and more turn turns. Bottom reached.
As the others followed the two of us wanted to do two more lines. As tired Gašper and Krstič descended towards the Gilberti refuge we eyed the edge of the slope with a nice drop. After all we needed to train those drops for FWQ. At the top we checked the whole thing again. It looked ok. Landing was a bit flat a bit lower. That should work I thought. I dropped first. When I landed I bounced a bit front. To far as it was not that steep. Bam… tomakawks. 😛 I made three slow spins down the mountain and came to a halt. My skis were all over the place and had released nicely. Full of snow I was ok.
Then Jan followed. I jelled up to land more backseat then it looked like but it was too late already. Like me he stumbled and darted. As he told me this was his second tomahawk of the season. We were snowy slimy an happy. This fun moments of friends connecting is what it is all about. Only real friends on powder days. We cleared up the snow and deiced to call it a day.
After a super fun day we stopped at Vopa in Kranjska gora, a infamouse bar in the are and did meet up with Jans loned for buddies. They had taken a different route and have had a nice day too. We did not stay long thou because some 200 km north the Dachstein was calling. But it would go a bit different then my naive little heart wanted.
EDELGRIES IN DECEMBER AND THE SOUND OF SILENCE BELLOW A SEA OF CLOUDS
I had planned the weekend maticuasly. After all I wanted my best freind Jan to experience the Edelgriess. I myself have been to the Dacshtein for years and years always vowing to do it but never did. But my hearts wish to share this experience with my adventure buddy came to a quick end. After a exhausting exchange Jan would not be joining us for Edelgries. I was sad. It was childish, It was crap. It is was what sometimes happens in the relationships that are not superficial “pick what you like thing” things. We said shitty things. Our whole dynamic form smiley Sella Nevea to our friendship as a whole was now in jeopardy. All the projects and ideas. For what… People are flawed…. We all are… like we were that day. I tired to sleep but couldn¸t. I remember thinking if I was wrong again… analyzing, stressing, worrying. Not good for the day ahead.
But as the world keeps on turning without mercy I had made plans and Jernej Smole and my twin brother were counting on me too. I had also planned it so that my twin brother would join us on his first ever proper freeride adventure, with a bit of climbing involved. I could not back out of it. Even if I felt like curling up in my bed and crying my soul out. Since I had not slept Jernej was kind enough to drive. If that were not the case I would not have been able to do it.
As we were approaching Schladming it was snowing hard. Visibility was bad and I was starting to doubt if this was a good idea. After the battering emotional exchange I was not exactly in adventure mood. All the stuff was laying heavy on my soul. I checked the bergfex webcam and it was a surprise. Up at the top there were no clouds… fresh pow had fallen and it was -13 in the sun.
We arrived at the parking lot and we were slow. My little twin brother is new to all the gear and Jernej and myself fortunately are patient 😛 My mind was also not in the right place yet so I was myself not too cool. Jernej handed me a radio and I put on my new BlueIce harness. We took up the cable car and 20 minutes later we were at the entry to the classic Edelgries run.
Here the fun starts. A long ladder on a stone wall leads to a tunnel. That tunnel connects to a 40-50 degree traverse that, on good days is cleared of snow. From there it is 1000 hm of pure joy down to the cable car station. Jernej was first to start up the ladder. I secured my little brother and let him go in the middle. He is not the fittest and the skis on his back were peeling away on his energy. The good part was that he did not look down. This is not for people afraid of heights 😛 … To my surprise slowly but surely he made his way up.
He was angry and mumbling phrases. Jernej and I had assured him that it was all worth it. He would understand once he came out of the tunnel. And he did. Wow. What a sight. super steep with a sea of clouds. Like on an ice planet. Once of those places I live to be exposed to nature at. I spent a minute gathering my thoughts and thinking of my other friend who was home by now. Oh well. A moment lost not shared. I still could not bring myself to smile. You can even see it in the picture.
I composed myself. Inhaled deeply and that is when the day started for real. Jernej and I were eagrly checking the Rotte Rinne run under the cable car. It was doable. There were a few tracks in it. The problem was the sea of clouds. The fog was thickest on the crucial crossing section. One you are not allowed to miss. If you do, you are toast.
We were all still fresh and decided that it would be the best to do the first run on the classic Edelgries. It was a bit tracked already. We had not been the fastest that day for sure. Still we found nice steep pockets and made it all the way down. The snow was good but at the bottom there was really much of it compared to Pohorje or Sella Nevea. The south facing aspect of the whole run was definitely a factor here. Still it was super stable.
Like the day before and on Friday I was baffled. After so many bad winters it is hard to believe that we have a good start this year. We took the cable car back up and decided to use the area of the glacier. On the top it was -18 now and the snow was cowered with 15 cm of fluff from the day before..
We did a few fun runs and then Jernej and I decided to see if we could do Rotte Rinne under the cable car. Matej would go eat and take the cable car back down. He was tired. And I was super proud of my brother. He made it and exceeded my expectations. His skiing is solid and he managed the climbing part somehow too. The thing he is lacking is strength and stamina. Something that can be trained.
Jernej and I were fast this time. We darted up the ladders and were out on the other side in no time. We looked at the Rinne and… disappointment. The sea of clouds had moved even higher. It was not safe to do it. I was thinking to myself… “Mountains have souls of their own.. you have to be patient. They reward that in time!” The Dachstein was telling us to come do this one some other time. And we will. Maybe soon.
As we descended Edelgreis one more time and we approached the sea of clouds I was falling back into thought, after all, you can escape reality only for so long. It was starting to “creep back into my brain, to remain – the sound of silence.” Two days later I bought a season pass.