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Stuiben (1921m), January 15 2005

After a good, precipitous start into the season, the Bavarian winter of 04/05 took a break in early January with very mild temps and a dry spell of almost 3 weeks. The snowpack on sun-exposed slopes was becoming thin but avalanche conditions were good. On Friday night we came up with two options on where to go skiing the next day but couldnt really make up our minds. The first idea was to skitour the Wannig (2493m) close to Biberwier in Austria. The second one was to spend the day on the lifts in the Zugspitze ski area and then ride down via the Gatterl to Ehrwald. Driving towards Garmisch Saturday morning we saw the very tip of the Alpspitze being illuminated by the first sun rays. The mountain looked so pretty we decided to diss our original plans and tour up to the Stuiben, a mellow ski touring hill allowing for spectacular views of the Alpspitze.

  Leisurely 9am start at the Kreuzeck parking lot

We didnt feel like skinning up the ski slopes so we bought a single ticket for the tram up to the Osterfelder - 14 Euros bloody rip-off!

Peter gettin' ready to get his ass lifted up to the Osterfelder

Being 9am on a blue bird Saturday morning, there were surprisingly few skiers taking the tram up to the Osterfelder. Once we got to the top, the Alpspitze North Face looked enticing to say the least! Some people have skied it actually through a series of gullys and snowfields but I couldnt really make out in the face where that route would possibly go. I guess only a deeper snowpack would make this undertaking feasible.

The snow in the area between the Osterfelder tram station and the North Face of the Alpspitze still looked powdery and we decided to go over there and check it out. We ended up taking a number of really short but deep powder runs hucking cliffs here and there and taking pictures with Peters camera.

At 11am we had enough fooling around in the powder below the Alpspitze since the slopes started to dissappear in the shade already. We telemarked down to the Bernadein lift station where the easy climb to the Stuiben hut begins.

Skinning up the Stuiben Highway, Alpspitze Oberkar visible

After 20 minutes we reached the hut and decided to eat our lunch. This hut must rank among the most beautiful, cozy huts in the Bavarian Alps.

We chilled out for a while, sitting in th sun and chatting with an army dude who claimed to be up there testing the German army's newest secret gimmick. The device he was playing with looked like an ordinary mobile phone and hey it turned out to be one!

Can you spot the Stuiben hut in the background?

After half an hour relaxing in the surprisingly warm January sun, we took off over the gentle slopes up to the Stuiben summit.

Skinning up towards the Stuiben summit

The upper slopes were unfortunately already dissappearing in the shade and the sudden temperature drop was big. Brrr! Just before the summit we got a good glimpse of the Alpspitze east face again. Jealously we looked into the Oberkar, prime ski tour terrain!

Ballistic missiles spotted between Hochblassen and Alpspitze

The Alpspitze Oberkar - a dream ski tour

The final meters to the Stuiben summit, Dreitorspitze (2700m) in the background

Finally at the top, Stuiben summit (1923m)

A Bergdohle hanging out at the Stuiben summit

A friend of Peters had told him about a cool variation on the classical Stuiben ski descent. Instead of skiing back to the Stuiben hut, we decided to drop into the gully below the Mauerscharte. Even though it hadnt snowed for more than 2 weeks, there were only two old tracks visible.

And powder we had

The snow turned out to be of fantastic quality! We surfed the light fluffy powder on our tele boards into the basin below the Stuiben wall and then traversed back through the forest to the Bernadein ski lift. What a ride!

Gettin your ass lifted No.2

Our lift ticket from earlier this morning included a single ride up the Bernadein T-bar and we were happy we wouldnt have to skin back up on the slopes to the main ski area. We skied over to the Kreuzeck ski circus and then drifted - not skied - down the Kandahar piste. I had never experienced this piste as icy as today - a result of the thawing-freezing cycle of the last few days. Just before the end of the slope we ran into a traffic jam. A rescue heli was picking up an injured skier. I wasnt surprised. The whole slope was one big ice sheet!

Jealous of free heli time

Here is a picture (taken earlier in the season by Peter) of the run we took from the Stuiben down via the Mauerscharte.



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