Amazing powder at the Arlberg

Today was one of those very special powder days. It snowed 50 cm on top of a decent base in the Arlberg region during the past 24 hours, the deepest powder we’ve had since around 3 years. Although we were a large group of 9 riders – some friends came up from Innsbruck – we skied a lot of excellent runs in the lower elevations (below tree line) in St. Anton where the stability was good. I took my longer and wider Kästle BMX108 in 188cm out today, a good choice for today’s conditions where you could just point your skis and haul arse.

Waiting for the St. Christoph chair to open this morning during avi control work

 

Martin stoked after landing a sweet backflip in the pow pow. This pic was taken before the big dump on Saturday.

 

This week, I’ve really enjoyed skiing the shorter and 4mm narrower FX104 in 184cm, a wood/metal laminate ski, light, regular camber, long side cut (the radius feels longer than 26m). I definitely found it easier to turn in tighter terrain and the ski felt really lively and gave me great control. A really noticeable difference to the BMX108 is how much easier it carves on the groomers.

Kästle FX104

The Kästle FX104 in 184cm

 

On the last run today I dropped a cliff and landed in a big bomb hole, smashing my knee into my jaw. I had to get 4 stitches under my chin which sucked, but knee/teeth/tounge are all good so I got lucky! Skiing again tomorrow!

Winter is on!

Last week it snowed up to 1 meter from the northwest – the ideal weather direction for the Arlberg region – winter is on! I’ve had some great days skiing with the girls at Stubai Glacier and first off-piste runs in St. Anton with Stefan, Björn and Geli. My legs feel really strong and snappy, without the quad burn I typically have at the start of the season. For my first day skiing off-piste again I used my Kästle BMX108 in 188cm, a ski I know well and use for competition. This week I’ll be testing the new Kästle FX104 in 184cm, I’m curious to see how the shorter length will suit me. I’ll report back to you here.

The snow in St. Anton on Saturday was surprisingly good and what we like to call “creme cheese”: a rather compact yet soft snow layer which carries a skiers weight easily, so no breaking through to rocks. Right now I’m mainly focussing on good technique and keeping my weight over my skis. I’m trying to keep the pace high and ski all the way to the bottom of the run without stopping, something I have to do anyhow if I want to keep up with my skiing buddies Stefan and Björn. We were lapping “Bachseite” in St. Anton, perfect terrain to get your freeride legs back. More soon!

AS WE ARE in Lech am Arlberg

Our girls ski movie “AS WE ARE” presented by Gore-Tex® was shown in the Postgarage this Thursday in Lech am Arlberg. It was pretty funny because after having toured around with Warren Miller for 2 years to places like Boston, Berlin and Hamburg where there were sometimes over 2,000 people per show, I was so nervous! Would there be enough people there? Would they like it? Did our camera man/director/cutter Mathias Bergmann have to use that drop of me where I didn’t know where I was going…and so on. In the end there was no reason for worry, the audience loved the movie and how motivating it is to start freeriding and doing some fun airs and pillows. People enjoyed finding out more about each of the athletes and how they came to be the skiers they are today. The venue itself was awesome, the perfect place for a film night. Big thanks to my sister Tamara for these pics!

The venue in the Postgarage Lech

Our moderator Stefan Jochum was great as always, and he loved the movie 🙂

Thanks guys for coming!

KJUS KLUB Freeride Camp St. Anton

This weekend I skied with 11 participants of the KJUS KLUB Freeride Camp in St. Anton am Arlberg from 27 to 29 January. The group of men and women were awesome, the vibe great and the skiing level high. On day 1 we took advantage of the perfect weather and booked a helicopter to the Mehlsack, one of only 2 allowed heliskiing drops in all of Austria – both of them in Lech am Arlberg. Most of the KJUS KLUB skiers were first-time heliskiers so there was plenty of excitement and nerves in the air.

Heliskiing Mehlsack, Lech am Arlberg

Heliskiing Mehlsack, Lech am Arlberg

Snow quality was great although we had to keep a sharp eye out for rocks – we still have below average amounts of snow at the moment. Other classics around here followed: Spielmäder, Liezen and a run out towards Juppenspitze. We were stoked!

Lisi getting fresh tracks skiing the Mehlsack, Lech am Arlberg

Lisi getting fresh tracks skiing the Mehlsack, Lech am Arlberg

On Day 2 Andy Thurner guided us on a beautiful tour to the Rendelscharte – Malfontal. This is good choice for long, gentle slopes where you can still find powder many days after a snow fall. The afternoon was spent photoshooting with photographer extraordinaire Sepp Mallaun – an amazing chance for the KJUS KLUB participants to have professional skiing pictures taken of them. Everyone was stoked! And I realised how much I love coaching again and seeing people stoked on skiing. Thank you all for joining us – we’re definitely organising another freeride camp at the Arlberg next winter!

My mate Tom and I, stoked after our run in the Malfontal

My mate Tom and I, stoked after our run in the Malfontal

Warren Miller Film Shoot @ Lech Zürs am Arlberg

Last year I was lucky enough to film a segment for Warren Miller’s “Dynasty” in the Lyngen Alps, the very north of Norway. So when Kästle told me I was to film with Warren Miller again this season, what’s more in my home town, I felt like the luckiest person on earth.

For once, snow and weather conditions totally cooperated, the film shoot from 7th to 17th March was a huge success with cold powder and one sunny day after another. My Kästle buddies Karine Falck-Pedersen and Hugo Harrisson were with me, and I found myself guiding the crew including camera director extraordinaire Tom Day and camera assistant Hanno Mackowitz to my favourite spots around Lech Zürs.

Setting up for the perfect shot. From left to right: Tom Day, Peter Mathis, Hanno Mackowitz

Hugo Harrisson shredding the pow in Zürs

The segment will touch on the long history of skiing at the Arlberg, as well as my own family history in Lech, which goes back 400 years. One of the oldest families in Lech, the Huber family resided in the “Huberhus” for 200 years, one of the oldest buildings in Lech and currently a museum.

And here's a taste of what's to come in next year's Warren Miller movie!

Freeride Project: Mission III Granatenkogel

What started out to be a super short notice decision turned out to be one of the best runs of my season. The 3304 meter high Granatenkogel in Obergurgl, Ötztal, was the goal of our third mission for our documentary movie “The FreeRide Project”. Our crew consisted of Mitch Tölderer, Bibi Pekarek, Martin Mcfly Winkler, Flo Edenberger, Xandi Kreuzeder (photografer), Carsten Darr (camera) and myself.

We knew the conditions were perfect: Mitch had checked the face a couple of days before and on the 21st April we headed up with the last chair lifts in Obergurgl so we could make camp at around 2500 meters in the Gaisberg valley and make an early start tomorrow. The ascent was 743 meters in total, ending in a great hike over the ridge to the summit which we reached in 2,5 hours. The run down was incredible, the snow perfect for skiing top speed. It was the fastest and one of the best lines of my season and I was visibly bouncing with energy from the experience for the following 12 hours.

Freeride Project: Mission II in Sellrain

Getting the best lines often involves lift or heli access. But sometimes the most rewarding runs are the ones you reach using your own two feet. Mitch Tölderer, Bibi Pekarek, Flo Edenberger and myself set out on a mission a few days ago with the intention of telling a story about the trials and tribulations of accessing high alpine freeride lines without lift or heli access. Our mission took place in the Sellrain valley, 30 minutes outside of Innsbruck, starting from Haggen. The idea we had involved hiking up to 2550 meters where we wanted to make base camp for 2 nights. From our base camp we could access 2 impressive faces with multiple freeride lines.

After only the first 100 meters I seriously thought I wouldn’t make it. My backpack, filled with a thick down sleeping back, air matress, skiing and safety equipment, food, water, a change of clothes and fuel, weighed over 30 kilos, more than half of my body weight. My glutes where aching already. The 800 vertical meters ahead of me which would otherwise seem like an easy stroll where grueling to say in the least. However, after I repacked my backpack to make it more top heavy I felt much better. A good pack is essential. The 800 vertical meters took us a good 4 hours (normally I would hike this in half the time). In two sections we were forced to take off our skis because of the steepness of terrain and icy conditions. However, eventually we made it!

After a break we busied ourselves with setting up camp. This included shaping an even surface for our tents and setting those up, and building an area to cook food and water. I have slept in the snow before, in a snow cave, however never in a tent. Thankfully I had a very high quality goose down sleeping bag and air matress but even then I was quite cold the first night.

I had an excited and nervous churning in my stomach the next morning. What will the face and conditions be like? Will the effort and toil pay off? “Face 1” as we called it was accessible after a short hike of 45 minutes. We left our skins at camp and boot packed up the steep ridge. I found it hard going after the hike yesterday, thankfully I drank heaps of water the day before.

I wasn’t disappointed. The snow was good due to the altitude and aspect of the face. Lower down the warm weather and strong sun had made the snow to dangerous wet mush. After studying our lines we skied them one after the other and watched our buddies from below. Half the fun is watching your mates have a great time! Harry Putz was in position to film us. Here’s my first line:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go8TQMg7Ifo]

After a warm up line I chose quite a more technical line, dropping in through a small chute lined with rocks. Lucky, didn’t hit any! Then a hard turn to the skiers left to get away from the slough. 3 big turns, then some smaller ones…keeping my speed…and launching off a 5 or 6 meter cliff at the bottom of my line:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1ylwWSxIOo]

It was so much fun. After 3 lines I was exhausted and although there were more lines to do, I was only interested in getting back to camp and having something to eat and drink.

The following day we hiked up to “Face 2”, another North facing ridge. I couldn’t make it work today. The lines I chose were too hard for me, although on a normal day I had the ability to ski them. Maybe the hiking and sleeping at high altitude was taking its toll. The face was also sloughing like crazy, but the snow was good.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6WG5YFkgvM]

I still had fun and enjoyed watching Bibi who ripped an amazing steep line with 3 drops. She showed no hesitation and was strong on her feet, awesome! We all put on an action packed show and Harry was stoked with the footage.