The arrival of the finalists
Around 800 ski touring enthusiasts from all over the world have applied for the Fischer Transalp this year. To ensure safety on the mountain, only six participants have been chosen in the end. On Monday, March 2nd the lucky ones - Kaja Brodtkorb (NOR), Ulrich Sperling (GER), Pascal Waser (SUI), Franziska Kofler (ITA), Angelika Zeilinger (AUT) and Sergey Turikov (RUS) - made their way to the Fischer headquarters in Ried im Innkreis.
The production of brand new touring gear have been inspected in detail at Fischer before the crew headed out to the starting point in Italy, outfitted with the latest Fischer setup, Löffler apparel, ESKA gloves, Deuter backpags and Evil Eye eyewear.
Day 1: From Sella Nevea to Tarvisio
The Carnic Alps celebrate lots of fresh snow at the moment. For the Fischer Transalp 2020 this means: change of plans! Up to 80cm of fresh snow and continuous wet snowfall unfortunately did not allow the planned ascent or descent from the Mosesscharte with a inclination of more than 40°.
Hiking on days like these means choosing flatter and wooded terrain - we found this with Jof di Sompdogna (1889m). At least we managed about 600 meters of altitude up the mountain until we had to stop here. The huge wet and humid snow did not allow to go further.
Even though we were wet all over when we arrived the vaelley - the atmosphere is still great! We are glad that we could finish the first day of the Fischer Transalp 2020 with a bit of "exercise" ;-).
Day 2: From Tarvisio to Kötschach-Mauthen
Back to Austria, we unfortunately encountered the first hurdle before the tour: we had to take the heavily snowed-in forest road in Stranig to reach our starting point. Some participants already reached the maximum pulse of the day at this point ;-)!
Finally arrived, it was quite clear that nobody had been skiing in the area after the heavy snowfalls – so our guides were looking forward to making knee-deep tracks. Shortly before we reached the Straniger Alm the sun welcomed us. Fresh snow, sun and a magnificent panorama - what more could you ask for? After about 4 hours we reached the Straniger Kopf, a good place to be on days like these.
After almost 18 kilometres and 1200 metres of ascent we look back now on a wonderful day 2 and are already eagerly planning the new route for the upcoming days, since the planned route still seems unfeasible under the current conditions.
Day 3: From Kötschach via the Wasserköpfe back to Kötschach
For safety reason we needed to skip the planned crossing of the Plöcken Pass and the ascent to the Hohe Warte. Going for the best day tour in the region as an alternative turned out to be the perfect choice.
From Obergail the route led us to the Wasserköpfe. The omens were ideal: blue sky, sunshine and finally an ascent track, which allowed fast touring. Arriving at Obergaileralm, we had to make knee-deep tracks again. The weather became duller, the slopes steeper - but after about 1100 meters of ascent we made it to just below the summit.
The descent couldn’t have been better: protected, untracked, light larch forest with lots of space for "powder turns". Not many words were needed until we unanimously decided to put the skins back on to go for another 200 meters of ascent and enjoy turns in the free areas in perfect conditions. Overall - it was a brilliant day!
Based on the weather forecast we will have to change the planned route for tomorrow and will go for a tour near Kötschach-Mauthen again.
Day 4: From Kötschach-Mauthen to Obertilliach
We saw thick snowflakes passing by the windows during breakfast – also the forecast did not look too promising. For the planning it was therefore once more necessary to choose a tour that is feasible with avalanche warning level 3 and low visibility.
The starting point of today's tour was St. Lorenzen (Lesachtal) - the destination: the Samalm (1966m) followed by a descent to Tuffbad. Visibility was better than expected and after 20 minutes of touring, we lost a bit of trust in the weather forecast as blue skies and sun appeared.
Our route led us through flat terrain surrounded by numerous idyllic huts. After around 800 meters in altitude we finally reached the Samalm. The weather was inviting to take an extensive summit rest, but we preferred untracked powder snow. The perfect "tree-skiing" terrain even bet yesterday's great downhill run.
We are now looking forward to a special guest: Alpinist and Fischer testimonial Simon Gietl will join us today and talk with us about his expeditions. Further, he will accompany us on tomorrow's tour. With a bit of luck we will continue on the planned route in the last two stages – outlook is good!
Day 5: From Obertilliach to Kartitsch
This morning the thoughts of some of the participants still revolved around Simon Gietls' presentation yesterday and his expedition experiences. It was really an enrichment to have Simon with us on today's stage as well.
The tour started directly at our accommodation. From there we headed towards the Porzetal. After about 900 meters of altitude, the first short descent from the Heretriegel awaited us with perfect knee-deep powder snow.
We had to skip Wildkarlegg, our destination for the day - drifting snow and steepness made the ascent too dangerous. Instead, the route led us to the adjacent Filmoresattel. What followed is difficult to describe, but the statement of our guide Reini Ranner gives a hint: "Even the Arlberg can't keep up with that". We enjoyed about 800 height meters of untracked, white gold.
No idea how our final stage can top this – in addition we already feel a little bit sad about returning back home already by tomorrow.
Day 6: From Kartitsch via Hollbrucker Spitze back to Kartitsch
The expectations on the final stage of the 10th Fischer Transalp were high. The weather forecast predicted 100% sunshine and it was to be expected that the northern faces still carry lots of powder.
Today’s tour kicked off in the Hollbruckertal. From there we toured up around 1300 meters of altitude to the Hochgräntenjoch. At our arrival, we need to decide: should we go back the uphill route and ski perfect snow conditions, or should we ski crusted snow southwards towards Sexten, our planned destination. At the end the decision was easy - because arriving ski tourers ascending from the south told us about very bad conditions.
But before we went back to Kartitsch, we topped this day with the ascent of the Hollbrucker Spitze (2573m). Over a narrow ridge and after some easy climbing we finally reached the summit without skis. On top we enjoyed an unbelievable panorama and a view to the Drei Zinnen.
Almost free choice of tracks with perfect conditions awaited us on our way back into the valley, where we fell into each other's arms with cheers and joy after 6 tremendous days! What a week - with a lucky twist regarding the weather conditions. Apart from the change of plans, in summary we can look back on great touring days with a perfect team, lots of fun and ... lots of powder!
Good bye East Tyrol. Good bye Fischer Transalp 2020.