Saturday, March 29, 2014

If Carlsberg made Ski Tours...

I have been in the South Tyrol of the Italian Alps this week with friends Simon, Gareth and Simon for a week of ski mountaineering. I had an epic drive down from North Wales last weekend in a big snow storm. The 80cm of fresh powder meant we delayed our tour by a day and hooned off piste from the lifts of Sulden on Monday. 

Tuesday saw us begin our tour proper and were lucky enough to have great visibility in the morning and fresh tracks on the 1000m ski down to the Zuffalhutte from the lifts of Sulden. The clouds came in after coffee at the hut which gave for a nice skin up to the Martellerhutte (2610m) which was our first nights stop. 

From the Martellerhutte we skinned up the Zuffallferner glacier with the intention of climbing the Zuffalspitz (3757m). I had a transceiver issue en-route which saw us dive down to a nearby hut to try and seek a replacement. I think it was caused by wearing my iPhone in my pocket next to the transceiver as once it had been left off for a bit and switched back on it seemed to be OK again, the iPhone lived in my rucksack from then on anyway. By the time we were back on track the weather had closed in so we missed the summit and descended to the Branca Hut via the Pizzini Hut. This gave an amazing descent on bottomless fresh powder surrounded by stunning peaks. 

The following day we enjoyed a day tour to climb another amazing summit but were beaten back my strong winds, no visibility and windslab about 200m from the summit. Nevertheless we had a great 1000m+ descent on fresh powder once more and a second night in the Branca Hut. 

On Friday we skinned up to the summit of Mt Pasquale (3553m) and enjoyed another amazing descent of the Vedretta di Cedec to the Pizzini Hut. 

Our final day saw us climb the Zuffalspitz (3757m) that had eluded us earlier in the week and we had a stunning bluebird day. The summit ridge is really quite narrow and felt an exciting place to be on skis, in ascent and descent and we enjoyed fresh powder again for nearly 2000m of descent back down to Sulden.

The week was incredible, staying at some fantastic huts, enjoying some great food and climbing some beautiful summits along the way too. Every descent gave us fresh tracks on incredible powder and despite some poor vis early in the week the weather just got better and better. As we sat and drank beer this afternoon in the sun the general agreement was it was the best week of skiing any of us had ever had. I am off to Chamonix for a couple of weeks now so fingers crossed for some more great weather! 

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