I’d been eyeing up this peak for a number of years. I’d seen some tracks, but never that much traffic. It was a nice pitch and caught the sun really well, so on the right day it would be epic. However, when looking at various maps both on and offline there was no obvious route out. There were some mountain huts half way up, so there had to be some kind of summer track hidden in the trees that covered the lower slopes. With nearly 1000m of descent compared to around 175m ascent then it would certainly be worth investigating.
When I’m coaching getting the opportunity to scope out new routes can be tough. Typically I’m looking to grab some spare time at the end of each week or on the mid week chill day. Not ideal as the conditions need to be super safe to allow me the opportunity to explore and figure out the logistics of making the run something decent for the regular clients.
One such day arose on a sunny change over day in Jan 2018. You never want to head off piste alone, so I had a few solid clients who had an extra day of shred with me for support. The conditions were mixed with some wind packed snow around the peak, but the split up was stable and straight forward.
The run down looked endless. You could see a few tracks in the distance that might help us figure a route out, but more importantly we did have some fresh untracked snow to enjoy before then.
The initial tracks led us to the summer huts and from there could see the slope naturally flowing towards a path in the trees. We took a punt on the path and it happened to lead us all the way back to the piste and a lift. Pretty damn awesome.
It was time to fully test this route on a mega powder day, and that time had come. We drove over to the resort to get a head start on the locals and it was wicked to see our ultimate objective from the car park untouched. Temps were low and that helped to keep the snow super fresh. A few lifts and a quick 45 minutes hike and we were at the peak and ready to hit the pow. It was so enjoyable that we headed back up for another run.
I’d been thinking of pushing my splitboarding and the concept of a sunrise shred was appealing. What better adventure than hiking up in the night and getting to shred perfect untouched powder as the sun comes up. It had been a crazy week of intense snow and a lot of the slopes had been closed. The poor weather was start to clear and the slopes were due to open so Craig and I decided to get on it.
Starting around 7pm we parked up and ran across the slope avoiding the groomers still working and got to our start point at around 1500m altitude. Our target was the peak at 2420m. A mammoth ascent in the day let alone in darkness. We kicked off our tour and instantly realised we were in for a battle. The snow was so deep that you couldn’t take your ski’s off. If you did you were screwed. You just couldn’t get back up easily without a buddy helping you. I had a mental picture of the route with a Garmin GPS and a traditional compass with pre-set bearings to follow.
The moon was full which created a surreal atmosphere in the trees where you could see pretty surprisingly well. With the snow being so deep every step was becoming a battle. We traded breaking trail but after some 3hrs of constant effort we looked to settle in for the night and call it quits. We managed to climb to around 2000m and dug in our base camp for our bivi’s and settled in for a night looking at the stars and being excited for the morning. The only downside was -15c temps. It was frigging cold. We learnt about making a hot water bottle for future missions.
We woke up mega early to some all time snow. Almost too much snow. We got some sweet shots and shredding back to civilisation. The funny thing was it took longer to de-ice the car than ride down. Once that was done it was off to McDonalds for a much needed double serving of breakfast.