Thursday, February 21, 2019

Frühlingsskifahren and Praying for Snow

Today (Thursday) I snuck off for my mid-week morning tour up one of the local ski areas for exercise and views.  This time, rather than Patscherkofel, I went to Mutterer Alm, mainly because it has a bit more of an eastern exposure and was likely to soften up earlier in the morning.  We haven't had snow here in some time and it has been unseasonably mild, so it is essential to adapt to the Frühlingsskifahren (spring skiing) conditions.  In addition, the ski area is relatively low angle, so skinning would not be too difficult if I found a frozen surface. 

The tour ended up being far more interesting than usual, if only to observe how these resorts encourage diverse user groups to enjoy their terrain.  For example, on the ascent, I passed many tourers. 

I am no ski-mo animal.  There were lots of tourers out, many of them not necessarily strong climbers, but taking advantage of the sun and the low-angle ski terrain.  Good for them. 

The resort maintains a rodeln (tobogganing) run that drops the full length of the gondola, which must cover about 2000 vertical feet.  People rodeln all over the place here and I am constantly seeing people get on and off the busses with their sleds, which are sort of like mini luges. 

I also saw fat bikes going down the rodeln run.  So, you have a resort that is encouraging alpine skiing, ski touring, rodeln, and mountain biking. 

Mutterer Alm is like a number of the local resorts here in Innsbruck with decent vertical and just a run or two covering it.  The route I took up covered about 830 vertical meters (2700 vertical feet), with a gondola covering all but the last 180 vertical meters.  The run that gondola accesses is low angle and solidly lower intermediate.  Talk about great for kids.  It's like Albion Basin on steroids.  Indeed, there were many kids on the hill. 

The other option is to ski to the town of Götzens.  Another gondola servicing about the same vertical with one trail.  Let's hope Vail doesn't find out about the expansion possibilities. 

Below is a panorama from the summit showing the Nordkette on the far left rising above the Inn Valley and Innsbruck on the left, and the Tux alps on the right.  Such a beautiful setting.  Some nice wave clouds as well. 

I mentioned multiuse.  Here's a road crossing near the bottom of the lone trail to the gondola base.

Transitioning to the weather, we've had winter interuptus here in the Alps.  It's been in the 50s for highs the past few days in Innsbruck.  We've basically had a ridge dominated pattern and this week a monster cyclone developed over the north Atlantic, reinforcing the ridge. 

Our main hope for snow comes late tonight and tomorrow when a short-wave trough dropping down the downstream side of the ridge crosses the Alps. 

The northern Alps east of Innsbruck will probably do best.  Hoping we will get something into the Innsbruck area mountains. 

The extended is ridgy, but what is interesting is it is a very short-wavelength, high amplitude ridge, so that the UK is exposed to Atlantic storms and the boot of Italy and southeast Europe are cold with unsettled weather. 

Sadly the Alps are in the dry sandwich.  Send some powder my way from Utah.

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