2018-04-16

FISCHER TRANSALP 2018 - A Blind Date with the Alps

On Saturday, March 31st, the eighth Fischer Transalp came to an end. With heavy snow, fog, strong wind and rain, the group faced the toughest conditions there could be for crossing the Alps. It is said the journey is the destination. In this spirit the group faced down all challenges that were put in their way.

With the US, Norway, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Austria represented, the eighth edition of the Fischer Transalp had the most international cast ever. This year’s tour started where Fischer’s roots run deep: at the brand’s headquarters, where the creation of brand new touring gear was inspected in detail before the group headed out with top-flight new gear and their mountain guides - extreme athlete Axel Naglich and Fischer’s own Transalp pros - towards the mountains. In Hinterstoder everyone clicked into their skis and immediately started quickly logging serious vertical meters.

Day two already had a tempting highlight: the High Dachstein peak, begging to be climbed. Through nasty whiteout conditions, with rising wind and snowfall, the crew ultimately made it through one of the Eastern Alps most impressive geologic formations to stand on the summit. The fantastic panorama with the distinctive peak of the High Tauern and the almost endless view into the Upper Austrian mountainscape were unfortunately denied. The weather barely allowed a view of the nearby summit cross.

Conditions didn’t improve in the following stages, but the group still fought its way as far as the Malta Valley. The retreat came on day five. The plan called for an absolutely epic stage with 2200m (7200 ft) of vertical climbing. The summit of the Hochalmspitze was calling, but 40cm (16 inches) of fresh snow, powerful winds, and low visibility forced the team to retreat just short of the prize. Even though the hard climb was rewarded with perfect powder and improving visibility on the descent, the fact was that this was the last day on the planned route.

Difficult, demanding stages were in the plan for the last few days of the Fischer Transalp- with deteriorating conditions and massive amounts of fresh snow. It was decision time. The route would be revised. Without further ado the group headed back toward the Northern Alps and the Dachstein, with the tease of a window of visibility. Having arrived there, the team started early in the morning under a blue sky, which quickly hid itself. After just a few meters it was time for more snow to fall. Once again with poor visibility the Dachstein range was traversed, onward to the Wiesberg lodge, and ultimately through sloppy snow and rain to Hallstätter Lake.

Following the return to Upper Austria and still no outlook of improving weather, the 2018 Transalp crew was forced to throw in the towel on their adventure. Six strenuous, demanding days are behind them. They fought hard under time pressure in bad weather conditions, which brought them close as a team. They climbed in a snowstorm, crossed glaciers in thick fog, and braved the rain. The Fischer Transalp 2018 shows us that an adventure like this can at times be frustrating, unpleasant, and yet also a thoroughly rewarding experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Working with like-minded teammates, all the challenges this tour offered up were overcome. And at the end of it all each participant had a smile on their face.