Search for fresh powder leads a man to unusual places. Living in the shadow of Tirol and Carinthia region, Austria’s Styria region has been neglected by Slovenian and Croatian ski-tourers. Undeservingly: the region has some very interesting climbs. Here’s what we found.

When we talk to fellow ski-tourers in Croatia and Slovenia, we have noticed that our focus has always been on the Julian Alps, Tirol or Carinthia region. Meanwhile,  Styria region has been a black spot on our ski touring map. While other mountains saw little or no snow this winter, snow reports signalled fresh powder in Styria. Is there a better excuse to check it out?

What we found north of Graz is that there are literally tens of easily accessible peaks (up to 2000ish meters). Some of them with really cool terrain. It appears that most routes are graded 2 to 3 ( on a scale to 5) - so a great area for high avalanche conditions. On this particular weekend, snow above 1700m was absolutely great with tons of fresh powder on great slopes.

Our base was Edelrautehutte near Hochtauren. We learned that it was the only hut in the region open before February. Expect ubiquitous Austrian hospitality, great amenities, awesome food and animal friendly environment. This particular hut appears to be a popular adventure holiday hub. We saw a couple of guided ski touring groups (possibly ski touring schools) and two groups of snow climbers with snowshoes.

So, in a nutshell: day one was acent to Triebenkogel. Then we drove to Hochentauren and from there did a 5km night climb (with full moon and clear sky) up to Edelrautehutte (for a great wild game gullash) on a forest road. Day two brought forecasted clouds with light to moderate snow and wind. We tried the ascent to the Kleine Bosenstein, but decided to skip the final part. The route had quite a long flat section which would be a pain in the neck for our fellow splitboarder.  Another reason is that, although there was some fresh snow, the snow base low in some areas. Many places were exposed to rocks. On the way down, we skied through some great powder and then head back home.

Here are a few observations and recommendations. Edelrautehutte area is much more fun is more than 1m of snow base. One peak and climb caught our attention: Grosse Griessenstein; some very interesting lines for a spring tour.

Overall, we’ll be returning to Styria for some more ski touring.

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Here's a few tips for doing this trip on your own.

The route

Ascents were to Triebenkogel and Kleine Bossenstein from two different valleys.

Logistics

There is only one hut in the area open in January – Edelrautehutte. It is 5km (and 500m above) Hochetauren. The road is normally covered in snow so you can ski up and down. You can also go by car (it was 6EUR) but you’ll need snow chains.

Start point

We started from two valleys (see on the maps below). There are several valleys in the area. Each one with different climbs and it is easy to move from one valley to another. It’s good to bring snow chains as some roads are completely covered in snow.

Duration

2 day trip

Route planning resources:

Route description Bosenstein (Grosse and Kleine just split at the top): http://www.bergsteigen.com/skitour/steiermark/rottenmanner-und-woelzer-tauern/grosser-griessstein-aus-dem-triebental

Route description for Triebenkogel is here:

http://www.bergsteigen.com/skitour/steiermark/rottenmanner-und-woelzer-tauern/triebenkogel-aus-dem-triebental

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‘Moving your limits’ isn’t necessarily about the highest mountains, deepest canyons or oldest ruins. But it is about great adventures. It’s about that constant pursuit of world’s secrets – cultural as well as natural. It’s about how we move in the nature and raise our expectations about each and every place in the world, moving our mental and physical limits on the way.