Sunday, April 21, 2019

Tirolean Figln

It waited until the very end of the season, but I finally got to ski the Nordkette area above Innsbruck on Easter Sunday morning.

On paper, it's an appealing resort.  You can get to it by funicular from downtown Innsbruck.  It has two trams spanning 1400 vertical meters (4575 vertical feet).  And, it is steep, with some great freeride lines dropping back to the Inn Valley.

On the other hand, I don't think trails 2 and 3 are groomed and everything below the bottom of chair 1 is essentially backcountry.  Thus, one needs to ski it wisely (and today there was  no snow below the lowest chairlift).  Then, there's the issue of the south aspect, which means the snow is tortured quickly by the sun.

However, it's currently severe clear here in the Tirol and afternoon highs in Innsbruck have been around 24˚C.  I figured the Tirolean firn (what we call corn snow) would be great in the morning, so I headed up for a couple of hours of laps.

However, when I got on the tram, I was oddly the only person carrying alpine skis.  The tram was half filled with tourists, which is not unusual, but the other half were skiers carrying very short skis, often stuffed in their packs.

It turns out that "Figln", skiing on extremely short skis in corn snow, is extremely popular in some parts of the Tirol and strongly encouraged at Nordkette.  In fact, the entire month of April is Figl season at Nordkette.

You can even pick up a pair at the souvenir shop at the top of the tram.  Strap 'em on your feet and you are ready to go (I stuck with the Alpine planks).

Given my early start, my first hour of skiing I had the area pretty much to myself.  Unlike alpine skiing, figln is best when the snow is really soft.  I was literally the only alpine skier around for a while.  I kept wondering if I was breaking a code or something.

Eventually the figlers came out, and like the whos in whoville on Christmas day (yes, I know this is Easter, but let me go with it), they had a great time skiing down narrow gullies, holding hands, faceplanting, you name it.  Their laughter was everywhere.  It was enough to cause the grinch's heart to grow three sizes.

There's even extreme figln.  The Hafelekar tram to the Nordkette ridge serves up some serious skiing.  I've wanted to ski the line under the tram since I first visited the area one October and saw what a great run it would be.  Sadly, the run had been figled to death.

One might think you could ski across those figl trenches or even along them in a pair of Alpine skis, but let me tell you, going across them is like riding a bucking bronco and going down them is absolutely terrifying.  I elected to ski elsewhere.

Fortunately, a figler clued me into a run called the Directissima.  It's pictured below dropping toward the Inn Valley.

It's a great run, and today had some smooth skiing in some places and some figl damaged areas in others, but not so bad to throw you.  I foolishly never took a picture looking directly down it, but here's one looking up.

It reminded me a bit of skiing Mt. Superior, but the Directissima is potentially much longer.  I was a bit disappointed to have to make a hard right to get back to the chairlift rather than continuing down, but I would have eventually run out of snow, with a long walk to the bottom to follow. 

The views from the peak above the Hafelekar tram never disappoint.  The panoramas below are looking eastward along the Nordkette Range and down the Inn Valley (top) and southward toward Innsbruck and up the Wipp Valley (bottom).

Thank you to the figlers for letting me share the mountain.  Its worth reading a bit more about figln on the Tirol Blog.

1 comment:

  1. I gotta bookmark this website it seems extremely helpful very useful. Thanks for sharing.