Winter Ski Ascent of Zuckerhuetl 2007 or why I love the section "Plans & Partners"
Some weeks ago I red the posting in "Plans & Partners" of Walter Denzel searching a partner for ski ascents in Tyrol. I contacted him and told him that I would be interested to do some trips with him, but that I wouldn´t have much time in January or February due to the fact that I am in a change of employment. Via Email we thought about some weekend trips. In late January my change of employment was unexpected successful a week sooner. It took not much time to recognize that this was my chance to do some winter ski trips. Okay, planning, planning, what could I do, Cevedale, Zuckerhuetl, Saas Fee, or doing a ski holiday with my girlfriend. Due to the bad snow conditions this season I decided to make a ski holiday in the cold Stubai valley. The ski resort of "Stubaier Gletscher" is absolutely perfect and there is the possibility to make a one day ascent to Zuckerhuetl 3.507m, the highest summit of the Stubai Alps. By using the cable car you can reach the summit within 3 hours. I arranged with Walter Denzel for making a ski ascent to Zuckerhuetl on Saturday or Sunday. So my girlfriend and I drove to Stubai valley on Tuesday and we had some nice but very cold (-20° to -25°C) ski days. First, the weather forecast for the weekend looked very good and the danger of avalanche was 3/5. Walter and I were excited to do this trip together. We decided to make the ascent on Sunday. But my girlfriend asked what she should do during our trip. My suggestion was to sit in the sun on the glacier and drink 7 hours Hot Chocolate. Accepted!
On Saturday morning I got a bad presentiment because the cable car was closed the whole day. The reason was strong wind up to 100km/h. I thought about what would happen if the wind would blow also on Sunday. If the cable car would be closed or open lately, I wouldn´t get a ski summit this season. So I hoped that the wind would calm down over night. In the afternoon I went to the alpine guide office of the Stubai valley. I asked the locals about the conditions and the forecast for our trip. They counseled that the conditions on Zuckerhuetl were bad. Much wind, less snow, icy passages and open crevasses. They suggested some powder routes in the Wipp valley. I consulted Walter and we decided to try Zuckerhuetl despite the conditions. Next morning the wind decreased a little bit. I met Walter at the parking at 8am. But due to some cable-car-wind-problems we got delayed to the origin at Gaiskarferner. We skied down a couloir to the lowest part of the Pfaffenferner. We prepared ourself for the ascent and decided to leave the rope in the backpack. The larger part of the snow was handy and excepting the wind we saw no problems on this trip. I took the lead on the lower part of the Pfaffenferner and we got through the icy crevasses without problems. Walter took the lead on the upper part of the Pfaffenferner. Due to some windslabs, Walter broke in sometimes. On Pfaffenferner the wind came up, it was a amazing feeling to walk through the blown snow and push myself against the wind. We reached Pfaffenjoch very quickly. This is the notch between the two glaciers Pfaffenferner and Sulzenauferner. The notch was rocky and we walked with the skies slowly above the rocks. *KNACK* - While sliding through some small rocks one of my lovely Black Diamond Expeditions poles broke. After a loud "Sh**!!!" we continued our ascent on the Sulzenauferner towards Pfaffensattel the notch between Zuckerhuetl and Wilder Pfaff. Without the plate at the end of the pole I got out of rhythm and this was a little bit annoying. (But this little incident should help me later on this trip.) A second team came over the Pfaffenjoch and overtook us on the Sulzenauferner. In retrospective they chose the better line. We chose the direct line in the icy shadow of the Zuckerhuetl North Face. They ascended in the warm sun. First we thought they would summit Wilder Pfaff but then they turned towards Zuckerhuetl. At Pfaffensattel the snow was completly hard and frozen. We all ascended just a small part of the east face and made the ski depot lower than normally did.
At the ski depot we secured our backpacks and skies with an ice screw. Walter had some problems with his crampons and I was trying to warm up my camera. The rechargeable battery froze and broke down everytime I made a photo. The second annoying thing. We ascended the east face the last few meters to Zuckerhuetl summit. At home we thought the east face would be blank due to the strong wind, but the face was covered with powder snow. The other group ascended first and churned up the snow. While ascending we thought about that this ~55°-60° passage could be very tricky on the descent. We reached the top of Zuckerhuetl. We had to hold on at the summit cross not to blown away by the wind. We had a fantastic summit view. See the big panorama below! We took some photos and left the summit after a few minutes. On the descent we were a little bit worried about the steep passage. Now, here came the moment for my broken pole. Due to the missing plate I could drive the pole deep into the snow. Now I had a secure handhold while pedaling with the feet in the slack snow.
After getting safely to the ski depot I thought about my new job and rubbed my face with a extra portion sun cream. Now it was time to leave and to ski down. We skied the Sulzenauferner towards Pfaffenjoch. The wind was very powerful at Pfaffenjoch. The Pfaffenferner was very interesting to ski, icy passages and windslabs. At the end of Pfaffenferner we had to chose, skiing the long flat way or skiing the steep version through the icy crevasses and sparing time and height for the ascent to the ski resort. We chose the steep version. Walter was the hero and tried it first and made a salto. I never skied a more funnier passage. After a little traverse we prepared ourself for the 20min ascent to the ski resort. After reaching the ski resort we used a small t-bar-lift to reach Eisjoch and skied down on the piste to Fernau. Due to bad snow conditions in the lower part of the ski resort we had to use the cable car to Mutterbergalm. We met my girlfriend who was enjoying a day without her mountain-addicted boyfriend. We drunk a Radler and a wheat-beer and arranged to go on further trips together.
Personally, I had a wonderful mountain day and I want to say "Thank you" to Walter and to SP for providing this website.