Follow along, as we check out the Mountainbike Trails in Trailland Miesenbach in Austria. This time, I have even cut a trailer to prepend my videos with, so you can witness the premiere of that as well in this video :)
Last weekend, we finally made it to the mountains with Burli! We met up with our friends “Pacher’s on tour” (check them out on Instagram, Facebook and visit their website!) for some winter camping days. First, we visited the Gemeindealpe in Lower Austria (or, as us Lower Austrians call it, the “Gmoa Oim”) where we did some fun laps and enjoyed the view to the Ötscher, one of the most characteristic and highest mountains in Lower Austria.
The Ötscher is incredible!
After that, we continued our trip to the Planneralm, which is always a safe bet for a good amount of natural snow. We have visited this rather small resort a lot of times already, because we dig the fact that they only have natural snow on the slopes. Also, the feeling up there is very raw and rural – after all day skiing guests have left and the lights in the few houses up there are on, it feels like winter wonderland straight from some kitschy fairy tale. Besides of riding on the slopes, the resort also offers a freeride area and out of bounds lots of terrain for freeriding and touring is available.
We indulged in snowboarding in the resort, freeriding, a splitboard tour up the Karlspitze and also went ninepin bowling – my first time, so far, I have only played tenpin bowling. Ninepin bowling was much harder for some reason, haha. Then, the Pacher’s left in direction of Fetzy’s World for some ice bathing and running through fire (yes, the Pacher’s ARE a bit wild ;)), whereas Roman and I went for the softer version and visited the Grimming Therme for a decent after-ride-chill.
Roman hiking towards Karlspitze on his splitboard.
Looking back towards the Planneralm ski resort on our way to the Karlspitze.
this winter imposed a special challenge onto me. i will try to make a long story short. in september, my husband and shredbuddy Roman tore the patella ligament in his right knee while stepping out of our camper in France. we were lucky that the campsite was situated closely to a hospital specialized in chirurgical surgery, where Roman could undergo surgery the day after his accident. thanks to the professional care in this hospital, we were able to leave France and head home two days after the accident, which was only possible because our camper has enough space to prop up ones leg while still being correctly belted. of course, i was the designated driver for all those kilometers home, which was strenuous, but i was just so happy about the possibility of getting closer to home and our families that i pushed on until we reached Austria 2 days later. although the healing process had been going very well, Roman was not ready to hit the mountains again. thankfully, Roman is not the only person that i knew would like my company during a splitboard tour or freeriding, but it makes things a bit more complicated if your planning efforts aren’t just like “tour?” “yep” (of course we do plan all our off-piste endeavours much more in detail, i’m only cutting a corner for the sake of an entertaining story). the second special thing about this winter were the temperatures and the ost-stau. most of the time, we have nord-stau in Austria, meaning that regions from Dachstein on west-ward will get a lot of snow on their northern side, and that Lower Austria (where i’m situated) won’t get as much snow. i’m very grateful that the weather decided to flow over to us from Russia, bringing us snowfall and temperatures of about -15 degrees celsius for quite some weeks in january. the snow was meant to stay this time! :) this allowed for lots of splitboard and snowboard trips in the eastern alps. i really enjoyed spending time with friends in the mountains, increasing the number in my shred counter.
i also took part in two contests this winter, the FWQ* Hochkar and the FWQ** Gastein. i was planning on entering the FWQ** Goldeck and the FWQ*** X Over Kitzsteinhorn, but sadly due to lacking snowpack, Goldeck got cancelled and i couldn’t collect enough points to make it into the FWQ***. i was able to take home the 2nd place at the FWQ* Hochkar and landed on the 5th place at the FWQ** Gastein. my focus this year was on selecting a line during the facecheck, imagining how it will look like from above and then finding the line as well as incorporating a few jumps. it might sound like an easy task to ride down a hill, but in a contest it’s really something different. you will have to take the conditions as they are, keep your senses together even tough you’re nervous, look out for landmarks where you have to turn right for example, keep up your speed, watch your riding style and on top of that, throw in some jumps, ideally with tricks. while i was happy with both my contestruns, i know i could have stepped it up speedwise in Gastein. i got a lot better at remembering my line, setting myself up for jumps and landing them safely, next i want to work on improving my speed. still, miracoulosly, my ranking in the Austrian Freeride Series this season is better than ever (i placed 6th). i have to say that this fact helps me keep my motivation. i wanted to quit contest riding after the last season, but this season it was a perfect way of collecting experiences for me and i have enjoyed it a lot more than last season. we have had temperatures above 20 degrees on some days now, it felt nearly like summer already, but last week we had an unusual amount of snowfall in the eastern alps… we’ll see if the season is really over for me now or if we might be able to smuggle in one more day of riding/touring in this prolonged winter. thanks to all the friends that i was lucky enough to ride with, to the Open Faces crew for organizing these amazing contests and to my sponsors PIEPS and Julbo Eyewear for supporting me!
—- UPDATE —- i was hoping to squeeze in maybe one last winter adventure for the season in may, but had a bit of bad luck and broke my middle finger at the beginning of our holiday in may. this meant that i could focus on bettering my stamina with lots of walking, running and hiking, but no splitboarding adventures, no climbing, no sauna… my finger has nearly healed completely in the mean time and i can’t wait to put it to good use soon again ;)
Recently, I’ve spent as much time outdoors as I could, to soak up the last warm sunrays. It’s already noticeable that autumn and winter are around the corner and as much as I love winter (all seasons, really), the lightness of living in the warmer months of the year has a certain feeling to it that I really enjoy. On a sunny september saturday, Roman and I went to a climbing spot near Scheibbs, where I layed out my bouldering mat and tried to solve some rocky problems. I havn’t been climbing a lot lately, so it took some time to get used to it again, but after about an hour I nearly solved the problem I had chosen. Do you know that point during a climbing session, when you suddenly find the solution to mastering the chosen route, but your body just isn’t capable of climbing it anymore? Yeah. Still I felt a bit of success, even if it only was of the “hurrah, I haven’t unlearned it all”-type.
Sunday was an early shift for me, because I had a hiking rendezvous with 3 friends. We met up at 7am and then headed towards the infamous Oistal near Gaming. Our plan for the day was a roundtrip hike leading to the peaks of Scheibe, Scheiblingstein and the Bärenleitenkogel. Together with a lot of other people we started our ascent, luckily only a few of them also wanted to do the whole tour, most only walked until the Scheibe.
…Hence the name “Scheibe” (which means “Disk”)
This is the view from the Scheibe down to the Lunzer See.
It was a steep, sweaty ascent, followed by multiple descents and ascents in rocky terrain. After summit number three all of us were ready for a refreshing stop at the Herrenalm, which was closed, but where the hosts were kind enough to leave drinks cooled in the fountain for the hikers. Putting some money in the glass jar, we all picked a lemonade to restore our sugar balance.
Looking over to the Ötscher in Lower Austria
Stef walking in green surroundings.
About 8 hours and 1100 meters in altitude difference after the start, we arrived at the parking lot again. We were tired, but all the gorgeous views, delicate smells (I LOVE conifers!) and wonderful memories were totally worth it! I’m in love with the seasons! <3
are you aware of all the work that has to be done to ensure safe paths in the mountains? do you know how much time has to be dedicated to refreshing markers and mounting signposts? are you informed about the people who take care of handrails alongside steep paths? well, i wasn’t, at least up until the first weekend of july 2016! after years of splitboard touring, hiking, freeriding and some (easy) climbing in the alps, i decided it was time to give something back to the volunteers who generously donate their free time to ensure safe paths in the mountains for everyone to use free of cost. in may, after getting inspired by an article about path maintenance, i contacted the Alpenverein to ask about possibilities to help out. i quickly got a reply, offering the chance of joining a team which takes care of the paths on and around the Schneealm in Styria. this sounded like a great opportunity to me – to be taken under the wings of experienced people, getting initiated into the vast field of knowhow around path maintenance. although the weather was forecasted to be a bit capricious, i set out for Altenberg an der Rax in the morning of the 2nd of july 2016. i arrived at 10pm and met up with Otto from the Gebirgsverein Südwien-Mürzer-Oberland. after a short stop at my accomodation, the Lurgbauer-Villa, we quickly began our drive up the Schneealpe. our first tasks were improving the mounting and cleaning some signs. we then moved on to the Kutatschhütte, which is a small shelter on the Schneealm. to ensure a welcoming hut experience for all visitors, we cleaned up a little, sweeping the floor, emptying the trash can and folding the blankets.
then we continued our trip across the Schneealm plateau, stopping every few meters to either rectify existing posts with marking or to hammer new posts into the earth, to allow for good orientation even on foggy days. every post needs a bit of barbed wire wrapped around it to keep the cows which graze on the mountain pasture from playing with the posts. they love a good scratch just too much! after a short break in one of the huts, we continued our work and repainted the letters on some signs. they get worn out by the weather so much that they need a bit of refreshment now and then.
later on, we drove back down towards the valley and stopped at the Knappensteig. we ascended a short bit, carrying a cordless screwdriver and a cordless brushcutter to the path. we enhanced the mounting of a sign and then proceeded to mow the grass covering the path. since a lot of people like to use this path for trailrunning, we made sure to uncover the path as good as possible. at 5pm, just before the thunderstorm, we ended our work day and i headed back to the Lurgbauer-Villa for a very relaxing night of sleep.
on sunday, the weather was not too friendly – grey clouds and rain greeted me in the morning. still, we had work to do and met up at 10am. this time, we were 4 people in total, since we were joined by Peter and Nikos. we packed all of the needed equipment into the all-terrain car and drove up to the Nasskamm. at the end of the road, we noticed that a handrail had been partially destroyed, probably by an avalanche in late spring. our first task for the day was found!
we searched for the missing parts of the handrail and tried to figure out how they could possibly fit together. after getting a general idea of the situation, we started with pulling up one of the longer logs with assistance of a rope to the path over the steep slope. we hammered a shorter pole into the ground and Peter used the chainsaw to even out the ends of the longer log, so that they formed a flat surface to lie upon the tops of the vertical poles. after using long nails to fix the log, the first part of the handrail had been restored successfully. the rain got more intense and we had to use a hoe a few times to chop steps into the steep, slippery path between working on the handrail. after about 2 hours, we were done with repairing the handrail. luckily, the weather had gotten better again, so we grabbed spar varnish in red and white, a sledge hammer as well as a chainsaw and started a 20 minute hike upwards to a meadow. orientation in the fog would be a problem here, since the marking on the trees had already faded out too much and the posts with marking were too far away from each other. so we started enhancing the situation. Nikos and Peter added posts and cut away some branches to reveal the paint marking, Otto and I refreshed the spar varnish on the trees.
after this, we took a short break and then proceeded to the last place of action of the day, a path further down the mountain. we followed the path by foot, added posts with marking and cut away the grass around all posts. when we reached the car again, we packed all equipment into the trunk and headed back down to the valley, where we ended the day at the Altenbergerhof.
although I was tired after two days of work, I was very happy that I decided to take part in this project! especially the hard work on sunday was great, because you could see the results directly afterwards. I was able to learn a lot and I was not aware of all the work that needs to be put into maintaining a safe network of paths. my goal is to keep participating in these missions to learn enough so that I can contribute on my own in an area near to my home one day.
on the 18th of march, we packed our gear into our camper and headed west to kaprun. at half past six we dropped into the baumbar to sign up for the fwq*** x over at the kitzsteinhorn. we ran into many familiar faces and it was really nice to see everybody again. after the cancellation of the fwq** in kappl due to high avalanche risk the fwq*** x over was the first contest of the season for us. roman still was on the waiting list for the contest at the time and we both hoped that he would be able to make it onto the starting list. it looked bad at first, but then a phonecall brought the change – one of the riders on the starting list wasn’t able to come, so roman was given a starting place and a bib number. he was going to drop in as number 46, whereas i had gotten number 16. needless to say, we both were very cheerful. we left the bar shortly after and quickly hit up a supermarket to shop for much needed alimentation. then we found a good parking spot for our camper and called it a day, after discussing our lines for the contest. after a night with only a bit of sleep we met up with the others at the gondola at 7am. the sun was already shining when we arrived at the public area to check out the contest face. the start of the contest was postponed for a few minutes at the riders meeting to allow the crusty surface soften up a bit in the sun.
shortly after the face check, we took the second gletscherjet gondola up to the alpine center and started our traverse and hike up to the start of the contest. i really enjoyed the hike a lot – i didn’t have a lot of chances this winter to hike / bootpack or go on a splitboard tour, so it was a very welcome change for me to finally be able to move upwards powered by my two legs.
the tension rose while we waited for our turns at the start. somehow i felt a bit more nervous than usually. i watched rider after rider drop in and swoosh away through the soft-looking powder and my urge to cruise down the face got bigger every minute.
then it was my turn! i strapped in, nearly got a cramp in my left leg, and then it was time to ride! i rode the upper part pretty quickly, jumping over two bumps. i tried to find my way into the couloir i had chosen, but got a bit lost and then had to traverse a bit to get to the right entrance. i was rather happy with my riding in the steeper bottom part of the face. i had two hand drags, but nothing serious. when i crossed the finish line, i was stoked and a bit exhausted, due to the cold i was suffering from at that time. i exchanged experiences with the other riders who were waiting in the finish area for the other women and then moved to the viewer area. a short time afterwards the results of the snowboard women category was shown on the big screen. i have to admit i was a bit bummed to find out that i had gotten second to last. i didn’t understand the result at first, as i hadn’t crashed and felt pretty good about my run. when we talked to the snowboard head judge after the contest, he filled me in that the cause for my bad placement had been the traversing i did in the middle section. well, too bad. it still was a very enjoyable ride! about an hour after my run, it was time for roman to drop in. he rode smoothly and safe, which secured him the 6th place in the end. we continued to watch the whole contest and were able to witness some spectacular and inspiring runs, as well as getting our goggle tan on ;) we went to eat lunch after the end of the contest and then came back for the prize giving ceremony.
after the prize giving, khantu suggested that we should put the rest of our day pass to use and go ride. this was nearly the best part of the day – we hiked up to the womens start of the fwq* contest from 2014, everyone picked a point to drop in and then we were able to carve turns into an untouched field. the view was nice up there, our mood was fine and we indulged in the few slushy powder turns we were able to make. here are some pics to show you what i mean :D
with this good feeling we left the kitzsteinhorn, checked into a camping site with sauna and then fell into our bed where we slept like babies.
last weekend, we decided to venture out on a short trip to the tauplitz, where the snow forecast had predicted about 40cm of fresh snow. coincidentally, we met two riding buddies of ours there, mat and oli, and so we enjoyed two days of riding in a group of four snow hungry friends. the question of the weekend that caused some fiery discussions between mat and oli: does riding hellbents make you unlearn how to ski? what do you think? post your opinion below! ;) [vimeo 152908204 w=700 h=393]
since july, roman, his parents and i are the proud owners of a campervan. we didn’t make the decision light-heartedly, roman and i had been thinking about it for a long time. pondering about the costs, the endowment we would like to have, the maximum age and kilometers we would accept and the downsides of travelling in a camper as well as the financial commitment involved. we had already been on a few camping trips and since we overall mostly liked the experience, we decided to start searching for a campervan after romans parents agreed to also invest in the camper, so they can use it as well. the search ultimately started in may and it took us until late june to finally find a nice vehicle. campervans are very requested, so you have to be fast to score a good one. we found “burli” (the name the previous owners gave the campervan) at a local camper shop, we checked it out on the same day and agreed to buy it the next day. it was a quick decision and so far i can only say it was a good one. burli is about 12 years old but in very good shape, on the inside as well as on the exterior. we upgraded the camper with a solar panel to supply us with enough power to be able to spend a remote night. luckily, the camper already came with a built-in ski storage including a drain, as well as with a bike rack. we have already travelled with burli, visiting friends and family, and went for a 3-week-surftrip to france, spain and portugal. read more about that in the next blog post! so far, it’s a dream come true for us and we cannot wait to go on many more adventures.