In winter season when finding snow demands either winter alpinism and/or carrying your skis to snow for hours it feels like we are chasing a childhood memory: white wild slopes with deep snow and pure ski fun. Good thing we didn’t stop searching because that’s what we found on this trip ski touring in Carinthia.
We wanted great snow conditions, steep lines, and in general winter to come back, but it turns out that what we needed was something else. First, a mountain hut that’s high enough. One sitting at 1.800m altitude with dozens of peaks nearby, brilliant food, and hospitality. The best logistics behind what ski touring Carinthia offers. All that accessible only via a steep 2h hike to keep the crowds away.
Secondly, a group of likeminded friends. This came in the form of an annual-get-together of ski tourers from Croatia. The event we love as we always meet the friends we haven’t seen in a while and is there a better place to make new ones. It feels very cozy to bump into people you know on the way down to the hut in the middle of this fun Carinthian mountainscape. This year there was 22 of us, the youngest being a 6 year old. Who says you can’t do it? 🙂
Thirdly, a weekend set aside just for fun. You don’t need the highest peaks, steepest couloirs, technical climbs or strenuous mountain endeavors to have a great adventure. Just a bunch of peaks with stunning views, an open mind to play in the terrain is all it takes and friends to share it with.
Add to it a bit of luck with the weather, no phone signal and you have a pretty much magical getaway in the mountains. See how it went.
We arrived to Fraganter Schutzhaus in the night, so we got the first view of the landscape only for breakfast.
Just outside, other beings were having their breakfast, too. It looks like pumpkin seeds. Not too different from what we were eating. 🙂
The forecast for the weekend wasn’t too gloomy – precipitation and clouds were bound to hit in the afternoon. With around five interesting touring peaks nearby, we said we’ll need to hurry up and climb to at least two on day one while we can still see anything. Plan is to do Sadnig (910m altitude) and Magernigspitz (753m altitude). Touring route goes past the private huts.
The huts are meticulously maintained, each one with fun details. A wooden flower cutout on this one.
Above the treeline, occasional Larch tree, the two framing views of our first target: Sadnig peak.
Perks of bad weather is that you get to enjoy the mountain on your own. Skinning the first line up.
Up on the ridge we walk up to Kleiner Sadnig.
From the top on Sadnig (2.745m), stunning views of the valley and Schobergrupe chain.
For descending, we choose a north-facing side of the mountain and a wide large couloir with a lot of accumulated snowdrift – best snow conditions of the season. On this side, views of Hochalmspitz and Ankogel peaks.
Down by the tree line, we take a number of fun jumps. Some landings were less fun than others. 🙂 Here an aerial shot just at the moment of Neven’s landing.
Down in the valley, we put the skins back on and head up to Magernigspitz. We are slightly behind the plan but should make it back to the hut before dark.
For the last section of the climb, we choose a summer hiking route. Snow is more compressed and it makes climbing faster.
Last few meters before Magerginsiptz (2640m).
From the top, we see Sadnig, the peak from this morning. An absolutely stunning area if you are up for touring and skiing. We also see that the forecast is materializing.
Last descend of the day with the sun illuminating mountains around – last we’ll see of it for the next few days.
Next morning we get together for the last group photo only to find out that we are standing right next to the helicopter landing place. One of the Austrian clients had a knee injury and is promptly picked up. We hope all is well with her knee.
Skinning up the valley again. Clouds were getting lower with every passing minute.
Pretty soon we were in the cloud and snow started falling.
We spotted two mountain goats. They spotted us and hopped casually away from sight.
Minutes later we were on Ofenspitz (2.398m). Given the visibility, we opted to ski the same route back – following our ascent tracks helped with navigation.
Down in the forest, great snow again.
Neven going for smooth jump.
And a great way to end the week. A few more turns to the hut and then a descend to the valley.
Even though it started snowing, there was enough snow cover to ski only halfway down. The rest was a walk down the hiking path. The walk was almost like a physical buffer between the magical snow-covered pristine mountainscape high up and the green pastures and rain down in the valley below.
Ski touring, for us at least, is all about adventure: exploring the mountains you have not been too, sharing it with friends, improving your outdoor skills for the way up and the way down.
Complement this piece with a photo essay about climbing and skiing Mangart, a video about ski touring in supposedly one of the longest couloirs in the Julian Alps – Žleb Hude Police, a ski mountaineering trip on Mala Mojstrovka.
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‘Moving your limits’ isn’t necessarily about the highest mountains, biggest caves, deepest canyons or oldest ruins. But it is about great adventures. It’s about that constant pursuit of the world’s secrets – cultural as well as natural. It’s about how we move in nature and raise our expectations about each and every place in the world, moving our mental and physical limits on the way.