When you wake up to this, you know it’s gonna be a good day!
Doesn’t get much better than this!
Today the GRP skiers had a long OD in the morning with multiple options. We were all planning to ski up at the Dachstein in the morning, so we headed up the tram bright and early. However, we’ve found that the quality of a ski workout up there quickly drops off after 2 or 2.5 hours, mostly due to the altitude and the track breaking down to slush. So we all planned to add some distance in with running. One group took the tram down and ran from there to the base station, an 1 hour descent to the valley floor. Another group came up with an even more adventure-some plan: to send our skis and gear down with some of our really nice teammates (thanks guys!) and then venture off the glacier and pick a route around the tallest mountains, eventually ending at the house. We weren’t sure exactly what we would encounter on the trail, or how long it would take, but that’s why they call it an adventure, right?
Tram cables heading up into the mist
Once we got up to the glacier, Kait Miller and I couldn’t resist heading up the mountaineering trail above the usual groomed trails. We had a tough 15 min climb, but were rewarded with awesome views, a freshly groomed track, a sweet hut tucked into the cliff face, and a ripping downhill!
Skiing up the mountaineering trails, with hikers in the background
Dizzying heights. A 3,000 ft drop-off to the base of the tram
Most of the big mountains around here have big crosses on top, which only adds the picturesque beauty. Here’s Kait soaking it in
Cliff face? Sure, seems like a good place to build a hut
The regular ski trails down below. If you look really closely, there are some skier ants way down there!
We then did a few laps on the trail, and then laced up our running shoes. The first bit of the hike was the most exciting. In this part of the world there are normal hiking trails and then there are “Kletterstieg” routes, more commonly known in Italian as via ferrata. These consist of steel cables and iron ladders built into the rock face, and can make serious mountaineering routes more accessible. The real way to do a via ferrata route is with a harness and two bungee cords that clip into the cables. We ran into a little bit of via ferrata on our way down, but luckily it was all really easy, nothing that required special equipment.
Steel cables to help with the climb down
This is some serious Klettersteig, nothing like what we attempted. This one comes straight up the cliff face and ends at the hut on top of the glacier
Looking back towards the lower glacier trails
Once we got below the lowest lift tower of the glacier, we had a great running traverse ahead of us. The landscape started out looking just like the moon, with no vegetation in sight. Gradually we reached mossier sections of the trail, and finally saw the mountain pass we needed to cross in order to get down to Ramsau.
Rugged terrain, but the worst of the descending was still to come!
Ladies enjoying the day
Luckily for us, the entire trail was well marked with Austrian flag blazes. If you see a flag, you know you’re on the right path
Dramatic peaks in all directions
This way to the Guttenberghaus!
Here’s a game, find the GRP skiers behind the giant cairn!
Can’t get enough of these mountains..
Our mountain destination was the Guttenberghaus, a high-altitude hut tucked into the pass above Ramsau. There are huts like this dotted all over the hillsides around here, and they all seem to serve food, coffee, and most importantly, beer! The treckers around here don’t have to carry much with them when they can restock at every hut along the way.
At this point in the hike, it was just myself, Caitlin Patterson, Kait Miller and Nick Brown, our wax tech. We could see the Guttenberghaus, but we could also see a nearby peak, Mt. Sinabell, that looked temptingly close. Turned out the opportunity was too good to pass up on such a nice day, so the girls quickly hit the top and enjoyed the views of the valley and the surrounding alps.
Mt. Sinabell drew us upwards
We had one more climb in our legs
And we made it! Looking down towards Ramsau from the top
A high-altitude mountain top pasture on Mt. Sinabell
We found this little guy with his black sheep mama hanging out on top
Successful day all-around! Psyched to be here enjoying the awesome training, beautiful scenery, and great company.
It was a long descent from there down to the valley floor, and we had to dodge hikers, overcome rolled ankles, and fight off the “burning quad” feeling, but we eventually turned up in the driveway of our house, extremely tired, hungry, and happy to be be done after almost 5 hours in the books. Now my watch and my body are both telling me it’s time for some recovery, so we’ll take tomorrow off before finishing up the last week of camp.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more updates during our final week here.