A dream in white, coming true - The Three Towers

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
Vorarlberg, Austria/Switzerland, Europe
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Mar 4, 2002
Activities:
Skiing
Season:
Spring, Winter
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A dream in white, coming true - The Three Towers
Created On: Mar 2, 2006
Last Edited On: Mar 3, 2006

Some thoughts

Some of you know already that I'm less a mountaineer than more a mountaineering skier. That's not the complete story, actually I like skiing more than anything else, and some call me an addict. :-)
Therefore my first trip report is about the best tour in my recent past, though I ascended meanwhile a lot of mountains with skis, many of them being much higher than the one described here, some of them having even better snow than here, but ...

... you know - there are some days with this special touch, everything just fits 100%: the people with you, the conditions, the landscape, the weather, you can't really tell WHY this was a special day, you just know that it was.

The trip

In march 2002 we went for a week to Vorarlberg, to ascend some summits in Raetikon. Weather was bad when we arrived at Lindauer hut, where we wanted to spend 3 days. It snowed heavily in the evening, we knew that the austrian weather forecast for this special area is just worthless and we had no access to the swiss forecast. So we didn't expect much for the next day and went to bed after a long cardgame evening.
For some reason I woke up around 6h30 and looked out of the window: clear sky, with a touch of first blue in the black resulting from early dawn!
Drumming on the room table and singing loudly "breakfast, breakfast ..." brought my 3 mates very fast out of the bed. An hour later we were on our way to Sporaalpe to ascend the highest of the Drei Türme (Three Towers, 2830 meters, 9285 feet).
Drei Tuerme in winterThe Drei Türme

The SporaalpeThe Sporaalpe

It was very cold, and the very light and fine fresh powder had a height of approximately 10 inches, it was like raising dust with every step. We knew we had to be cautious because of the avalanches, especially the south slopes would be dangerous today, but ours is a northslope. Here at the foto with the good view to Öfapaß we turned left and had the first view into Gamstobel.
View to OefapassView to Oefapass before turning left to Gemstobel


Traverse to SporatobelAt the crest of the traverse to Sporatobel
But this was not our target today, so we soon turned left again at a place below the rocky walls of Gamsfreiheit to traverse into the Sporatobel. Soon thereafter we catched a first view of our target: The Sporatobel with the Sporatower (8166 feet) on the upper left side, a spectacular look!
The SporatobelThe first look up to the Sporatower after the traverse


We saw that a strong wind blew on the ridge, and already feared that we would not reach the summit because of the avalanche situation, but we wanted to go as far as we thought to be safe. The ascent took some time, because we checked the snowconditions sometimes and we also left a major gap between every person.
Skiing at Drei TuermeThe slope becomes steeper after Sporatower


In the upper third of Sporatobel there was the steepest part, and to be on the safe side we only passed it one by one, while the others waited at a good place behind a rocky wall.

The view from here to the smaller southern face of Sporatower and beyond it to the other mountains of Vorarlberg cannot be described well with words, and also the panoramafoto is only a poor copy of reality.
The SporatowerPanoramic view to Sporatower south side and beyond


Now it was not so steep anymore until to the last slope up to the ridge. 100 meters (300 feet) below the ridge, at an elevation of approximately 2650 meters (8700 feet) we recognized some big areas of snowcoverage, which were blown in to the leeward side of the ridge, and so we stopped here. We didn't want to challenge our luck, which was so noble to us until now.
The windy ridgeWe stopped in close view of the ridge


We knew that a great downhill awaited us, we'll do the first fresh tracks in 1000 meters (approx. 3000 feet) height difference of untouched powdersnow! We took some minutes to eat and drink, and prepared the equipment for the downhill. Then - hmm, how to explain that ?
People as addicted as we are, know what I'm talking about, and I believe it cannot be explained well to the others.
One by one we skied down like hovering over the surface or something, it was like heaven to be able to move fast through this fantastic landscape in such a nonexhausting way, hidden until up to our hips behind a snowcloud. We took special care at the one steeper slope and used only it's very left side, then we proceeded down the whole Sporatobel, waiting for each other approximately all 500 meters and watching who was doing the most beautiful track.
Sporatower from NorthDownhill through a fascinating landscape


We didn't talk much, everybody was just excited about the conditions, only while cruising you could possibly hear sometimes a calm rhythmic song from one or the other.
Skiing Sporatobel at best conditionsA powderdream comes true ...


Looking back to the tracksLooking back enjoying the mountain, the snow and the fresh tracks

Being back at Sporaalpe we didn't want to ski back to the hut immediately, because it was quite warm in the sun. We digged out a small dry place on the south side of the Alm and rested in the sun for a while, letting him warm up our bodies after being in the shadows for a long time.
After an hour or so we packed up slowly and returned to Lindauerhut, still dreaming of a powderday, which was just the beginning of one of the best ski mountaineering weeks of my life.

PS: Two days later, before we left the hut to traverse across a pass to Switzerland, we heard that 3 people entered the slope, which we avoided, from the ridge, all three at the same time.
They initiated an avalanche, but were lucky: only one was completely buried, and was digged out by the others in minutes.
It was good to see that we made the right decision.
However, am I cautious enough ?
Apparently not: Only a few weeks later I was in an avalanche by myself, though I think I'm a really cautious skier. But I'm also addicted, and the avalanche doesn't know you are an expert ... :-)






Comments

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Viewing: 1-10 of 10
Vid Pogachnik

Vid Pogachnik - Mar 2, 2006 8:49 pm - Voted 10/10

My, oh my!!!

I can understand your feelings, Herbie! Enjoyed every word and bit of pictures!

herbie

herbie - Mar 3, 2006 7:03 am - Hasn't voted

Re: My, oh my!!!

Ah, a related soul! :-)
I know, it's more a picture report than a text, but there isn't anything more to tell, and I wanted to share more an idea of that winter landscape.
Thanks for understanding! :-)

cedad

cedad - Mar 3, 2006 1:11 pm - Voted 10/10

Be careful

The slope in the picture of the upper part of Sporatobel appears to be about 40° and traverse it after a snowfall is extremely dangerous.
Herbie, be careful, I like your report and pictures and I want to read more from you.
Cheers from a mountaineering skier who in his sixties has reduced the winter trips by ski and is now enjoying the snowshoes in a less dangerous environment.

herbie

herbie - Mar 3, 2006 2:03 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Be careful

Hi cedad, thanks for the kind words!
I know, even after all sorts of avalanche training refreshments every year and more than 20 years of skitouring there is never 100% safety.
(One of my mates is 64 and retired and always goes out alone for a ski tour during the week. I'm always in sorrow about him ...)

Eric Sandbo

Eric Sandbo - Mar 3, 2006 5:15 pm - Voted 10/10

Perfect!

A wonderful day and spectacular pictures! Thank you for showing us what skis and a camera are for.

Mathias Zehring

Mathias Zehring - Mar 4, 2006 9:57 am - Voted 10/10

memories

very nice picture trip report! To be the first to do the track on this popular route must be great but of course risky in this steep terrain. You report awokes great memories as I climbed Grosser Drusenturm in Feb. 2001, also with great powder snow

herbie

herbie - Mar 4, 2006 10:39 am - Hasn't voted

Re: memories

Right, therefore we were very cautious and also didn't reach the summit this time. But the snowconditions were great, though a little bit at the limit of what I normally accept from an avalanchedanger point of view.

dadndave

dadndave - Mar 4, 2006 9:16 pm - Voted 9/10

Top Day

Sounds like a bloody great day out,Herbie.

herbie

herbie - Mar 4, 2006 9:26 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Top Day

Yes, it was, Eric and Dave, it was.
But most days are great if you have skis mounted on your boots... :-)

bbirtle

bbirtle - May 8, 2006 4:26 pm - Voted 9/10

Cool!

Looks like a really awesome area. Great pics too!

Viewing: 1-10 of 10


A dream in white, coming true - The Three Towers

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