today i went on a little solo hiking mission on my beloved muckenkogel. the muckenkogel is a mellow mountain in lower austria, just a 30 minute drive from my home, which offers 4 different routes to the summit from one starting point and a few more from other points in the valley. the muckenkogel is only a bit over 1200 meters high, still you will have to master 900 meters altitude difference when you start your hike in the valley. all these facts make the muckenkogel a perfect mountain for me to work on my endurance. other than that, it’s also really beautiful there, thus i want to sing an ode to the great outdoors (not odors… post-hike odors are not ode-worthy in my book).
the summit of the muckenkogel in the upper middle of the picture.
hiking is not a badass activity. it’s not glamorous, neither is it very exciting. still, i get excited on a regular basis when i’m hiking and this emotional high is due to the wonderful feeling that being in nature gives me.
i love to take in the vibrant colors of the sky, the plants, the rocks, the animals. when i’m inside a coniferous forest and i inhale the wonderful smell of a warm forest floor covered by needles from the trees it feels like a short holiday for my brain. watching butterflies twirl around in the air delightens me. and discovering a lizard or a beautiful bird is natures version of a surprise egg to me.
these sensations, combined with the physical demand of walking uphill and downhill, make hiking one of my favourite past-time activities.
waterfall number 1 of 5.
and just so you know: science has just proven that being inside a forest is beneficial for our health (which we had already assumed before, hadn’t we? ;)). it reduces stress and the terpenes that plants emission to communicate with each other increase the power of our immune system.
we should all go for as much hikes as possible!
found a broken glass bottle in the forest and picked up the shattered pieces.
please don’t leave glass in the woods, it can cause a fire!
(the great odors)
on monday, i took the day off work to have the chance for some spring splitboarding and new experiences.
we went down south across lower austria to reach the border of styria and parked our car near the small town of niederalpl. no one else was around, and we took off to a lonely tour up the rodel, a wellknown skitouring route, often-times flooded with people.
the normal route leads over a small ladder and then up to the veitsch, but we turned right before that ladder to reach the bottom of the east facing walls of the großer wildkamm, as we had a different mission in mind.
we changed from splitboard to crampons, mounted the boards on our packs, put our helmets on and then started the hike up the wide couloir.
i had quite some respect mixed with a slight feeling of fear when we approached the start of the hike, but i immediately noticed again how well crampons hold onto a hard, slightly icy surface. roman went first and broke the trail for me. i was very thankful for that, this way, i didn’t have to focus on much else than following his steps and maybe looking up from time to time to avoid being hit by snow or rocks falling down. no need to scout the best line to climb, i knew i could trust him. this was a huge relief for me, because i can blend out my fear of heights better when i have something to stupidely focus on.
the steeper parts were actually easier to climb, because the footsteps are supported by more snow underneath and you can rest your legs a little. it gets tough to climb for about 45 minutes solely standing on your toes.
exhaustion kicked in when we were about half way up, but hearing that we had already made it to the upper half of the climb motivated me enough to keep pushing it.
we had to traverse to the right to get out of the couloir and i was nearly done with my nerves there. i was fueled by the thought that we’d be on top of the mountain in a few minutes and quickly made my way to the right.
when we reached the flatter part near the summit, i was overwhelmingly happy, surrounded by a feeling of safeness, thankfulness and pride. it was only a few steps more to the summit, so we left our equiment there for the last meters.
as we stood on the summit, i was so emotional i couldn’t prevent a few tears from running down.
we made an entry in the summit book (and found an old entry from the G and roman, “wos brauch i tirol” ;)) and then quickly went back to our little ski depot, where we took off the crampons, had a little bite to eat and something to drink and put our boards back into ride mode.
roman drew the first line and then i followed. the snow was perfect – not too hard anymore and not yet too soft and slow.
it was an awesome cruise down. i even tried a bit of McNab’s riding technique advice (great article, read it here), finishing one turn completely before starting the next one and it really made my turns more balanced and soft.
from the bottom of the couloir on, the snow was very warm already, making it a lot more exhausting to ride, but we had fun nonetheless. the last bit through the forest was a tad bit strenuous, but i still enjoyed it with every pore.
maybe this was our last splitboarding trip this year. maybe not. anyhow, it was a perfect day, crossing over the border of my comfort zone a bit and still feeling confident.
i’m very happy that i was able to achieve something i had never done before. it feels good to see signs of development and improvement.
here’s a video from the longboard day that was held recently by Action Cats in graz, austria.
seems like everyone had a pretty good time :)
as 2013 ends, i’m looking forward to big changes in 2014. Roman and i have given up our flat in vienna. we have already moved out – it was a lot of work (and foiled my plans to work out as much as possible), but it was worth it, knowing the reason for this decision – we will do our first winter season.
we have dreamed about spending more time in the mountains for the last years and finally we were brave enough to commit ourselves.
we will be situated at the tauplitz in styria for 3 months. we hope for lots of great experiences and wish to get to know more dedicated people to ride with. may there be lots of room for improvement in our skills and many emotions to share.
i enjoy writing about my adventures a lot and luckily have had the chance to have my articles published in different magazines. one of them is the website powderguide.com – after winning the mountain mastery contest in 2012, i stayed in contact with the magazine staff and this summer, the opportunity to contribute more to powderguide.com popped up. of course i agreed and have recently written a story about being a mountain addict, living in a big city in the flat land in the east of austria (in german, click here to read). i’m looking forward to continue reporting about my winter season and also writing about other things, like contests or events.
i plan to compete in a few freeride contests again and i hope that i will be able to come up with a video recap of my adventures by the end of the season.
(and in april, i will be back at the office to continue working as a web developer, in case anyone is wondering ;)).
wishing you all a wonderful winter! make sure to check back for updates!
Vera Janssen has been at the kaunertal opening and was lucky enough to witness one of the first dumps of the season.
on the 3rd of march, a small part of the “p.i.e. – powder in the east” group, guido, roman and myself, went to the schneeberg to ride one of the famous steep couloirs of the eastern alps. originally, we aimed for the “Breite Ries”, which is a wide couloir with a very steep entry (possible entries vary between 35° and 50°), but due to heavy winds the upper area was very hard and icy. we didn’t have ice axes with us, so we decided that it was wiser not to try our luck on this day.
but first things first. we started our ascent on a glouriously sunny day by using the chairlift (which saves about 1 hour of hiking up the slope) and then continued our way up on the fadenweg. somehow we missed the beginning of the hoyosgraben, but found another nice way up the mountain. the higher we got, the windier it got. when we reached the plateau, the wind was blowing heavily. we walked to the beginning of the “Breite Ries” and inspected the entry. another group of skiers also checked out the descent but decided to choose another way down.
we also turned away from the “Breite Ries” and continued our hike to the “Lahningries”. The “Lahning-Ries” is another steep face on the north-eastern side of the Schneeberg, with a slope angle of approximately 40°.
the snow there was not ideal, pretty hard mostly, but there where softer spots as well. the “Lahning-Ries” ends right next to the official slope, so we didn’t have to hike back, whereas the “Breite Ries” ends kinda in the middle of the mountain and if you’re not lucky, you will have to walk all the way back to your starting point.
although i was pretty tired already (maybe i shouldn’t do extensive workouts the day before hiking and riding :P), i made it down the steep face safely and was very happy afterwards.
austrian wakeboarder Astrid Schabransky shows her skills.