wakesurfing on the danube – DANUBESURFER

i recently took part in an online competition where the grand prize was a year long full membership at the DANUBESURFER homebase in vienna and one free ride behind the wakesurf boat. somehow i was lucky and won the competition.
on the 13th of july, i visited the DANUBESURFER homebase to claim my prize.
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wakesurfing on the danube - danubesurfer
the weather was great, so were our moods and wakesurfing was awesome once again!
-> here’s a report about that!
the DANUBESURFER crew has set up a really nice place to hang out and relax near the danube for all the wakesurfers, so visit the DANUBESURFER homebase near the marina in vienna (U2 Donaumarina for the public transport crew, and there are also enough parking lots nearby if you need to come by car) and check the waves there!

enormous edelgriess experience and a word on fear of heights and anxiety issues.

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where does the trail end?
 
this is the report of our last adventure in this winter season. looking back at the season, i’m really happy that we took the risks involved to spend 3 months in the snow, although austria hasn’t seen a winter with such little snow (well, except for carinthia and east tyrol) in the last decades. we had to accept the circumstances and made the most of it, resulting in a lot of great experiences in return.
would i do it again? yes, i absolutely would!
i have learned so much this season, both riding-wise and for life (although i didn’t reach enlightenment :P). i know that being surrounded by nature is very important to me, and what’s a better way to spend time outdoors than to shred down a mountain that you’ve just hiked up? this season has left me very calm and satisfied. and for that (and so much more), i’m grateful.
i want to thank my sponsor PIEPS and also powderguide.com for supporting me!
now enough with the nostalgic babbling and onto the report of our last adventure!
 

enourmous edelgriess experience.

on the 27th of march, it was time for us to give one of the legendary, classical freeride routes of austria, the edelgriess descent from the dachstein glacier, a shot.
after riding up with the gondola, the first difficulty is the 20 meter long climb up over ladders and stemples. then you reach the rosmarie-stollen, a tunnel which enables you to get to the other side of the mountain without climbing over the top (although there is a via ferrata over the ridge as well). there you can catch your breath (maybe even take a break on the small bench after the tunnel with a breathtaking view) before you begin traversing a steep slope to the edelgriess glacier. most of the traverse is easy to walk, there are some difficult sections nonetheless and you shouldn’t slip and fall in general, because underneath the path is a rock fall.
when you have mastered the traverse, you stand atop the edelgriess glacier and the 1600 meters in vertical height of descent.
we had soft, slushy snow in the top part of the slope, a little bit of powder in the middle section and then hard-crusted, difficult to ride snowpack in the last part. it wasn’t actually THAT breathtaking to ride, but it was a lot of fun! it’s always great to have such a long descent, feeling far away from civilisation (which you actually aren’t, also there are usually plenty of people riding the edelgriess to. when we rode it, there were only 3 other people. when we were at the parking lot again, we saw about 7 people walking across the traverse, so we were kinda lucky).
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climbing the ladder.
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rosmarie-stollen and the view at the end of it.
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the traverse.
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starting the ride down edelgriess (to the left).
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we happily succeeded.
 

a word on fear of heights and anxiety issues.

what made this adventure so special, is my fear of heights (or more precise: fear of falling). i want to talk about this issue a bit now, because i feel that it’s still a taboo and that’s a problem, because it makes people with anxiety issues feel like they’re out of the norm, or not as capable (read: good) as others. so, i will try to talk about my issues openly, to show others that you can improve and achieve things you once thought were impossible.
i get scared on a lot of occasions, be it steep traverses when hiking with the splitboard, climbing parts, exposed sections… i guess, many people who are scared of heights would just not bother to try stuff like that, which is understandable to me on one hand. on the other hand, there’s my hunger for challenge, for learning and getting better. i don’t want to be limited by my fear.
and of course there are many great descents that are only reachable with a bit of climbing involved. and i want to ride those!
the funny thing is, that i’m not scared when i’ve got my board strapped onto my feet. i’ve mastered steep slopes or very steep parts of faces without being bothered much. of course, i also feel slightly nervous, but in those situations, my nervousness only helps me to stay focussed, it doesn’t make my palms damp, it doesn’t make me shiver and i don’t panic. without my board, nervousness turns into panic quickly, which makes it hard to plan smart moves.
i enjoy bouldering, rock climbing and via ferratas, which are all activities where i have to go out of my comfort zone at least now and then to get better. during this winter season, i have slowly worked my way up. by the end of the season, my confidence was big enough to give the 20 meter ladder and the traverse a shot. yes, i did use my via ferrata set to belay myself. yes, it took me quite a long time to reach the target. yes, i was scared sometimes and had moments where i felt that i wouldn’t be able to reach the target. but i still made it! do i still seek improvement? yes. maybe sometime in the future i will be able to climb up a 20 meter ladder without getting scared. but at the same time, i’m proud of myself for overcoming my fear. and i wish to encourage others, that overcoming fears and obstacles in ones life is possible. no matter, if it’s a fear of heights or anxiety when you’re on the bus.
sometimes you might need professional help, sometimes a friends help will be enough, sometimes you will be able to help yourself. the most important factor is a positive attitude towards your own capabilities. and if you can’t yet honestly feel that way, fake it till you make it.
others might be doing better, but you can be successful in your own zone and that’s a huge step forward!

obertauern freeride #2.

on wednesday, we once more enjoyed the great freeriding possibilities in obertauern. after one ride at zehnerkar, we were joined again by our dear friend k. and together we rode zehnerkar two more times. the top entry surprisingly offered a lot of snow, much more than the last time we were there. the middle section before you need to choose your descent route was awesomely powdery as well and the bottom parts were full of tracks, as expected.
shortly before 1 pm, we went up to the seekareck with the chairlift, hiked up to the summit and then started the ride down to the gnadenalm. we had great conditions in the upper part and then fought our way back down to the street ;)
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r. and k. hiking up the ridge to the summit of seekareck.
we took the bus back up to obertauern and roman managed to forget his backpack in the bus. while he chased the bus, k. and myself had a great time at the spotival, where 2 bands played a live gig.
after about an hour, roman was able to get his rucksack back and joined us for another radler and some celebration.
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someone was very thankful to have his pack back.
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live gig by the reggaeband sysiphos.

planneralm freeride paradise.

we had one of the best – if not THE best – freeride days today at the planneralm. after 2 days with snowfall and fog, it cleared up today so we could finally see in detail where & what we were riding.
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our boards in front of the jochspitze.
we did about 9 runs from the glaeserkoppe (short hike up from the glaeserboden t-bar), first going for the descent straight ahead, then traversing to the left, in direction of the jochspitze. later we switched to the rotbuehel, hiking up for the first run and then traversing into the face from the slope.
we happily left our tracks in perfect, light powder. i had the best run of the whole season in the morning, dropping and jumping and speeding down with delicious turns like it didn’t matter. i was beyond stoked after that run!
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two happy campers with two happy tankers.
i’m very very very happy that we haven’t already packed our bags last week and said goodbye to the season and the mountains. it looked like winter was done, but luckily that one more dump came to help us round off the season for good.
we will leave on saturday, until that, we will ride as much as possible.
i’m tired now. tired & happy. a good combination :)

FWQ** Open Faces Freeride Contest Kappl

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packed bags for contest weekend
this weekend, we’ve been to kappl (near ischgl in tyrol) to compete in the fwq** contest there. originally, i thought i would have to compete in kappl alone, because roman didn’t make it onto the starting list immediately, but a few days before the weekend he received an e-mail that a few slots had opened up again. he agreed to take one of the slots and we were both really happy about it.
previously, the freeride world tour contest in fieberbrunn, that was meant to take place on the 1st of february, had been postponed due to the snow conditions to the 3rd of february, and took place on the same face in kappl, on which we were going to compete in the fwq** contest. since we were able to watch the fwt contest on the live stream, we had a good chance to check out the face and think about possible lines.
luckily, it had snowed a bit more since the fwt contest and we were optimistic, that we would have good conditions.
on saturday, we arrived in kappl, bought a ticket & went up to the top station of the albittkopfbahn to do a face check. the face looked pretty good, but not as powder-y as expected. as it was already late afternoon, the snow on the ski route 17 that we followed for a short bit had already thawed a bit, so it was rather surfy to ride – but on the other hand, we knew that there might be a crust on top of the snow the next morning. and so it was …
sunday started early at 5:30 am, we packed our bags, had a quick breakfast at 6 and then left the guesthouse at 6:30. at 7, we arrived at the valley station of the dias-bahn, met fellow contestant chevy in the accreditation queue and waited for accreditation to start.
we filled out the waiver and picked up our bibs and goodie bags – i got bib #3 and roman got bib #23. that was a rather funny coincidence, as friends of us, bea & steve pacher (check out my article on mizzi.at about actioncats to find out more about bea, who is one of the leaders of that awesome group), who were going to compete at the fwq** in goldeck on the same day, had received the same bib numbers. maybe those are reserved for married snowboarder couples? ;)
afterwards, we took the gondola up to the sunny mountain restaurant, where the riders meeting was going to happen at 8:30. we received lots of useful information as usual, especially concerning the snow conditions and of course the time table. this time it was crucial to start the hike up to the starting gates early enough, as the hike was estimated to last about 40 minutes. i have no idea how long it actually took me, but i was stressed a bit because i knew i was late. i had not brought my watch with me, so i messed that up. next time, i’ll wear my watch for sure!
we were asked in advance to bring a climbing harness, as the ascent had some pretty steep parts in it, but in the end, it all was covered in enough snow to ensure safety without being belayed – the mountain guides and contest organizers made sure to form safe steps in the snow for the contestants to climb up in. there was one steep section were two mountain guides kept an eye on the contestants, which gave me a good feeling, although i didn’t need any help. i just strapped my board onto the backpack and made sure to focus on the next steps instead of looking around too much.
shortly before reaching the starting gates, i could hear the announcer talk about the contest start being delayed for 10 minutes – i breathed a sigh of relief, as i knew that i was going to be able to make it up in time. i reached the starting gates, took my board off the backpack and quickly put my bib on. i was a bit surprised by the entrance into the slope, as it looked more spicy than expected. luckily, i had the chance to watch 2 riders enter the competition face before i had to start, that gave me at least a bit of a chance to estimate where i would want to drop in.
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the contest face. the start was at the peak on the right side of the picture, the finish is visible at the very bottom of the picture, marked by the flags.
then my time had come – after a countdown, i started my run.
i chose the steep, rocky traverse over to the riders right section of the face and made it across safely. then i dropped in and… one of my binding straps came loose. i bent down and closed it again, but was bummed about this small mistake.
next thing i know, i picked up velocity and then saw a few small rocks in front of me. i quickly made the decision to jump over them, pointed my board straight onto them, ollied off, landed and managed to ride away straight. i was very happy about that, as i often have the problem of braking after a jump or drop. not so this time! :)
sadly, i was so focussed on stomping that jump, that i didn’t pay enough attention to the entrance of the gully that i was planning to ride and missed the chance to make it through the small valley before the gully. i came to a halt and then had to lie down and whip my board around. i was bummed out! also, it added to my exhaustion and when i finally came up again, i started to ride again and tried to catch my breath.
i rode through the gully – the judge later told me that i should have gone a lot faster, but i saw an improvement in my riding, as i was able to ride the gully rather fluidly. of course it was not fluid enough to achieve a good amount of points, but it made me happy to witness my own progression.
in the bottom section of the slope, i jumped over a small windlip and ended my run by going through the two flags. i was content with my ability to ride down the whole face without being extremely exhausted (although it was very exhausting still). i know that i wouldn’t have been able to do that 2 years ago.
i stopped next to the other 2 women who had already completed their run and sat down. we talked about our experiences and watched the other riders master the face.
i waited until roman had his run (he chose a safe and mellow, but very fun-looking line and made it down without a fall) and afterwards we rode to the public area to view the rest of the contest. fatigue kicked in and i rested a bit on my board (did i mention that i bought a k2 fastplant in 154? it’s an amazing board!).
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roman watching the contest
at 2:30pm it was time for the prize giving ceremony. i was very nervous somehow, although i knew for sure that i hadn’t been able to perform good enough to be on the podium. talks were given and the winners were announced (congrats to all, especially to chevy, who placed 3rd in the snowboard women category – well deserved).
when the ceremony was over, we talked to the snowboard judge a bit to find out what we could improve in the next contests. we also got to know our results – i placed 4th and roman placed 13th. not so bad!
then we rode down to the valley, threw our stuff into the car and started our looooong drive home – only interrupted by a delicious pizza in a restaurant in see. the drive home was not as long as the one to kappl (it took us 5 hours instead of 4 due to traffic jams), still i didn’t manage to stay awake the whole time. good that i wasn’t the one behind the steering wheel ;)
our next plans are a trip to the guttenberghaus in the dachstein massif, where we’ll stay in the winter shelter room, and the fwq* contest at the weißsee gletscherwelt resort in uttendorf.

riding obertauern again.

obertauern

had a nice day at obertauern again. first we met up with shredbuddy k. and rode zehnerkar together, then k. had to leave and we did another 2 runs at zehnerkar. in between, we went to the blue tomato snowboardshop & looked for a new pow-shred board for me.

what to buy, what to buy? i’d like a board about 153 – 155 cm long, suitable for freeriding but still funny, with good pop & easy turnabiliy. and it should be a k2. because i’ve ridden lots of other boards in the past and since i bought my first k2, i stuck with them, as their boards are awesome to ride and very durable.
have to make up my mind about that…

on our last run, we found a pow ski, that seemed to have been lying there for at least one season. if anyone is missing an atomic ski, we turned the ski in at the valley station of the zehnerkar gondola.

obertauern freeride.

yesterday we went to obertauern to look for powder there and we were successful!
we rode some zehnerkar variants and the fuchsloch route. both feature hard-packed entries, zehnerkar has surprisingly good powder in the lower area.

obertauern

obertauern – zehnerkar.

planneralm – hintergullingspitz

yesterday, we took the gläserkoppe t-bar at the planneralm again. like on tuesday, we hiked up to the großer rotbühel. we descended from there to the plientensattel and started to bootpack up to the hintergullingspitz. the ridge was partly free of snow, so we didn’t need to skin up.

when we reached the summit, we decided not to ride down to the plientensattel directly, instead we kept walking along the ridge in direction of the kreuzberg.
we dropped in to the left, rode down to the bottom of the small valley and bootpacked up again on the ridge on the other side of the valley.

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descent from the hintergullingspitz ridge

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looking back to hintergullingspitz

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we hiked up on the ridge in the right area of this picture

next descent was to the plientensattel again & skinning up to großer rotbühel to end the tour of the day.

today, we went to schladming to ride the slopes of planai and also did some laps in the park. nice weather, not too many people, but the snow conditions were not really satisfying.

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planai.

wonderful wednesday: riesneralm – kleines bärneck – gstemmerscharte – hintere mörsbachalm – donnersbachwald.

today, we went to the riesneralm, took the chairlifts up to the top and then descended towards the hintere mörsbachalm. then we started our ascent up to the kleines bärneck. from there, we rode down to the mössnakar. after arriving in this valley, we put our skins onto our splitboards again and hiked up to the gstemmerscharte, which allowed us to pass to the hintere mörsbachalm again. we followed the path to donnersbachwald and walked back to our car by foot.

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view from the top of the kleines bärneck.

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before the second descent.

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the second descent.

exploring plannish columbia.

yesterday, we arrived in our new temporary home at the tauplitz. we unpacked our cars and then directly went to the tauplitz to snowboard. we enjoyed 2 hours of riding on the slopes (not enough snow off piste there, sadly), with perfect sunshine and only a few other people.

today, it was time for the first freeriding / touring day. we drove up to the planneralm (we jokingly call it “plannish columbia” in our little powder in the east circle of friends), took the rotbühelbahn chairlift and then checked the conditions. we decided that it would not be a good idea to hike up to the plannereck and descend towards the east. instead, we rode down to the valley and took the t-bar to the gläserboden. the conditions from there on seemed a lot better and we also talked to a group of guys who had just finished their hike back up again and confirmed, that taking this route will be pretty nice.

we hiked up a bit towards the großer rotbühel and then strapped in. the snow was okay – about 15cm of soft snow (from 2 days ago) on a layer of harder snow.

we dropped in and descended for about 300 vertical meters. after that, we switched our boards to walk mode and went up to the ridge. i struggled with my switchbacks a bit, so we determined that it would be a good idea to repeat this hike a second time.
we hiked up towards the großer rotbühel again, picked a line and enjoyed a few turns. then it was time to walk up again.
when we arrived at the ridge, we did a little switchback & riding in split-mode training, had a cup of tea and then rode back down to the slopes and to our car again.

-> see the map on bergfex.

planneralm

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