Ischgl, Austria, Feb.1-2, 2017

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Ischgl, Austria, Feb.1-2, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:55 am

After 2 weeks of dry weather in the Alps we decided to take a break to start the third week the third week, spending Jan. 28-30 in Venice. If the dry weather continued we could spend a day admiring the Dolomite scenery while skiing among the1,000km of entirely manmade snow. Then we would move on to Ischgl, which has the best reputation for snow preservation in Austria.

On the 4.5 hour drive from Saalbach to Venice I browsed online to see If I could get a good online deal to replace my Blizzard Bonafides, and it turned out an Italian site https://www.nencinisport.it/en/ had them for 419 Euros, a far better price than I could find on a US site. The catch was that NenciniSport would only ship in Europe, so I reserved Feb. 1-2 at the Hotel Sonne in Ischgl and had the skis sent there.

While in Venice the weather changed and a moderate storm hit the northern Alps Jan. 31. This was a relatively warm storm so rained to 5,500 feet, which likely trashed the surfaces at the areas we skied our second week. But 90% of Ischgl’s skiing is above 6,500 so at least a foot of snow there. We drove back to Austria on Jan. 31 and spend the night in Landeck, then got up the next morning and drove the last half hour to Ischgl. We arrived at the Hotel Sonne about 10AM in fog and drizzle, and fortunately they let us check in early.

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We decided to go out for a half day Wednesday at 12:30 to get oriented for what would was expected to be a clearing day on Thursday. Light was flat and avy report high so only tested powder next to pistes. With then high rain/snow line new snow was cement, not the fluff of 2 weeks ago. Thus powder was very tough skiing unless completely untracked, plus I’m no longer on skis with rockered tips to float more easily over the heavy snow.

We rode the Fimba gondola to Idalp and first skied busy blue pistes off the B2 and B1 lifts. We moved to C2 where I first tested the heavy powder near the piste. We then rode the D2 to Palinkopf and skied the long black piste 30 with a bit of a break in the light to the base of the E lifts. This convinced me that the E sector was where we wanted to start skiing Thursday.

We went back through Idalp and rode the B8, skiing pistes 5 and 1a to the base. Down low the dizzle had softened the snow to a pleasant and not too heavy spring consistency. Liz remarked that she had occasionally seen this in the Northeast. We skied 11,900 vertical and have no pics worth posting Wednesday due to the weather.

On Thursday we arrived at Idalp on the Fimba gondola to see what James calls the “Grand Central Station” of Austrian skiing.
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Skier density around Idalp is chronically high with so many high speed lifts. Samnaun on the Swiss side has an analogous but not as extreme concentration of lifts/people in the Marmotte area.
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But I’m guessing today was an extreme example
1) Lots of people out yesterday due to new snow and bad weather prior 2 days.
2) Low altitude places got rain from the storm so maybe some flexible people went for the place that got snow.
3) The Euros stick to the pistes, and with still low tide conditions off piste perhaps even more so this week.

But I don't care if areas have "grand central stations" as long as they also have outlying sectors within more wilderness ambience. Areas as expansive as Ischgl have many, so we skied the 38 piste to the E sector.
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This was one of the few days of our trip with any wind, but it was mainly on the ridgelines like at the top of E2 here.
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Ischgl had lots of Gasex installations, but even more of these taller towers in similar locations.
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Anyone know what they do?

The E4 lift covers about 2,500 vertical and with good coverage would be great off piste playground, a mellower version of Zermatt’s Hohtalli.
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I followed a low angle line near the lift where I had observed a small guided group while riding the chair.
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My second E4 run was to skier’s right and Liz took some pics.
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I’m surprised to see that much spray because the snow was a lot of work and I took a few rest breaks on these runs.

On the last time up E4 we branched of to the long scenic 80 piste which drops 2,900 vertical to Samnaun in Switzerland.
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Halfway down, the run has been alongside a narrow gully which presumably absorbs most of the potential slide activity.
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Samnaun is higher than Ischgl but there is just a tram to get back up above tree line. In Samnaun we checked out the N2 and M2 lifts with some remaining powder but also some flat and thin spots, including one that put a core shot in one of my K2 Recons. We took Samnaun N4 to the D1 lift that reaches the Austrian border at the 9,420 foot Greitspitze high point of skiing. I skied some tracked powder near the lift while Liz skied Piste 72.

We returned to Austria via piste 13, which had filled with windsift on its skier’s left. It was now about 3:30 so this busy day we took pistes 12, 3 and 37 to the Fimba mid-station to avoid a likely crush on the 1 and 1a runs to the base. We skied 14,900 vertical at Ischgl, 9,400 at Samnaun, about 6K of heavy powder.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Tony Crocker
 
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