Lost in Austria

Hungry of snow, we took the road last week to Austria. The team was composed of Sébastien Baritussio, Yan Hardy & myself.

Since this winter, we are working closely with WePowder for the Snow conditions update. Geared with the Salomon powder Quest app, we have a precise view of the best snow condition through Europe.

For this first trip of 2015, we were heading far East of Austria, close to Slovakia & where the Alp rise. This area isn’t a classic destination for the freeride scene, but offer a excellent variety of terrain, cold temperate in low altitude and a descent snow pack. It is the Dachstein Area, it propose 6 ski domains : Feuerkogel in Ebensee, Karkogel in Abtenau, St. Martin at Tennengebirge, Lungötz & Freesports Arena Dachstein Krippenstein ; cumulating 140 km of slopes but also offering a large variety of freeride & touring routes. Our focus was on the Krippenstein Freesport Arena, less high and steep than Dachstein Glacier, it was a safer way to ride, knowing the instable situation of the snow pack due to the strong wind.

Our first impression about the domain was the strange architecture of the terrain. It seems that the landscape have been sculpted by the wind and it looks sometime like a giant desert. The ground is also full of cave and giant hole probably a vestige of glacier and its deadly crevasse, maybe the ice have melted but this holes are not less dangerous. About the danger: the terrain can make you really exited, so you need to stay focused, because a great pillow line can usually end with a giant cliff or a deep cave. This area is definitely not for beginner freeriders, but even with experience, we got lost sometimes. We had to hike up more than once during this week, our powder hunger got our brain less focused I guess…

This area has been more lucky than the rest of Europe, a strong snowpack and a cold temperature have created a great base in the forest and also on the steepest parts. As promised the fresh snow was there and we enjoyed some of the best runs of this shy season. These 4 days were too short to discover all the secret spots that these mountains have to offer: steep forest, pillow lines and great cliffs. If you know your line, you can expect to spend more time in the air than on the snow…

The Dachstein is full of lodges, camps and backpackers. You can find accommodations for all budgets. Our first stop was Chalet Base camp in St Martin. Bruno & Viv Verhoeven-Mans gave a us a warm welcome in their place and advised us for the rest of our trip. The nice appartements & heavy breakfast is the perfect start of your day.

On our last night of the trip, we were welcome by Gjiad Alm lodge, beautiful and big chalet lost in the mountain ( 1700M ). Located on the start of the glacier, this place is a perfect base camp to explore the area and to do beautiful touring in higher altitude. Our bodies and brains were pretty exhausted, but thanks to our host, the sauna, the dinner and the Schnapps we managed to survive long enough to watch the beautiful sunset and the stars rise. Warmed up by a fire in front of the lodge, we could really feel that the time stood still so that you could just enjoy the scenery in front of you…

The temperature went warmer when arrived back in Innsbruck. The next day was my first freeride contest in Axamer lizum and sadly, it got cancelled due to the heavy rain of the night before. The organisation made this difficult call, but it was the right one for the safety of the riders.

On Saturday we headed back to Val de Bagnes, our heads full of memories and happy to finally have found the snow. We realized that it is a luxury to be able to discover new places, to got lost in the forest or the mountain, to warm up around a fire, to hike up or drive 1000 miles, not knowing where you are heading. All these little things made this trip special.


Photo Credit : Sébastien Baritussio Photographe, Mirte Van Dijk

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