Zillertal was the place where good friends of mine took me freeriding for the first time in my life in the winter of 2013. Since then freeriding/skitouring has been my favourite hobby – sometimes you could say that almost an lifestyle. There is something magical hiking up mountains, listening them speak to you and when the time is right, carving your own mark to the pristine white faces.

Because Zillertal was the place where it all started for me, it will always feel special. But it also feels special, because it’s always so damn good – and it didn’t let down this time either. It was perhaps the best three days of skiing this year (or maybe the Hütte was the best. Or. I don’t know. But it was goooood!).

 

Day 1 – Zillertal Arena

To be honest, at first I had ZERO expectations for this trip. Well, fortunately the first turns proved us all wrong.

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The snow was something you rarely see here in the alps. Big nice & dry flakes which had been let to settle down for a couple of days. Suuuuppper fluffy and light with absolutely no tensions in the snowpack. No weak layers, no wind packed hazards. Just safe and fun to ride.

And this wasn’t even the deepest & steepest we did – we just didn’t have the time to take any photos of those, because it was just too good.

Did I already mention that the sun was shining the whole day?

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Teemu is scouting out the next lines – tomorrow will be an early wake-up.

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Just follow the signs for five-star-skiing (but seriously, don’t).

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Day 2 – Gerlos

A good morning always starts up with some nice skinning up!

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…because always most of time it pays out.

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The snow was plenty.

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Teemu enjoying the scenery and his new Jones Solution splitboard.

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Guidebooks are awesome – I really do recommend them – and I always bring one with me. But sometimes you should take a detour.

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…because always most of time sometimes it pays out.

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These alpine meadows in Gerlos (by the way, called an alp, plural the alps) remind me of Brunni – the sunny side of Engelberg.

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Svante didn’t have his splitboard, but he was still the fastest. Respect.

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Jussi all smiles after a hard day of skiing. I’ll have to take my hat off for this guy. Two years of not skiing and he still came with us with an open mind – and skied everything without any problems.

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Day 3 – Hochfügen

After two perfect days in Zillertal Arena, the third one didn’t look out to be so good in Hochfügen. Snow was horribly windpacked and/or tracked out.

Here’s a group hiking up a windy ridge. Looked nice, but stony, so we didn’t bother – because we had something else in our mind. Hopefully, it would turn out to be powder.

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I think Jussi is actually enjoying himself, although he looks suffering.

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One of the nicest hikes I’ve ever done. Varying, going up and down, sometimes exposed, but still safe and easy (although strenuous) with awesome views to the valleys of Inn and Zill.

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It’s starting to look promising. Almost untouched faces, with new snow.

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Last meters before the Gipfelkreuz of Wetterkreuzspitze.

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Silent approval of Jussi.

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The last traverse down from Wetterkreuzspitze looked sketcy, but turned out to be top-notch snow.

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Teemu can’t help smiling: after an hour of hiking there was over a kilometre of untouched powder to ski down.

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Well, as we sometimes say in Finland: ”it didn’t go as in Strömsö”. At some point a thick fog surrounded us and navigating became at the least challenging.

NOTE TO SELF: Buy a compass.

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We only missed the route by a kilometre. Not bad, considering that the mountain had four almost identical rivers running along its slopes surrounded by huge forrests and cliffs. Time to skin up, boys!

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Well, the original time plan of 2,5 hour turned out be more like 4 hours. But that just makes the Wienerschnitzel and Weißbier taste better.

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Zillertal is truly a nice place to ski. Easily accessible from München (1,5h by train, an hour by car) or Innsbruck (35mins by car/train), it provides you with endless opportunities. We only skied in two of the ski areas of the valley, but there are many more. There is even a train servicing the skiers, shuffling through the valley.

Though all this easiness comes with a price. Zillertal is maybe one of the most touristic places in Austria. If you come here, be prepared to be horded by the vast flocks of Beneluxians and Germans rushing through their winter holidays. Aprés-Ski you will find everywhere (sometimes, not a bad thing).

But freeriders there are absolutely none. I couldn’t believe that after three days of the last snow fall even most of the lift-assisted off-pistes were untouched. On the whole trip we saw in total one group – which was a group of 40+ people with guides, probably paid by some company.

On-piste = bad time. Off-piste = good time.

For accommodation I would recommend The Bluebird Mountain Hostel, run by the cutest couple ever in the coziest old farmhouse ever.

 

 

P.S. I promised for Jussi to take a picture of him, if I saw him stretching.

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