Honestly, last year when I was snowboarding, I took the lift basically four times a day, with the only aim to drive down the most beautifully powdered free-ride hill in the whole area. Back then, the idea was born to go one step further, away from the overcrowded skiing areas and expensive lift passes, more towards hidden and powdered slopes. So this year, I went on a ski tour for the first time.
We took a self-catering hut as our base, lying on a high plateau in the Austrian Alps. The hut was unheated, but a chamber of firewood allowed us to use the furnace hearth and to heat the common room. The summits surrounding the hut were untouched since the last snowfall (and more snow was falling steadily during the first days after our arrival), allowing us to make the first traces in the snow and finding our own way through the hilly plateau to the steep slopes below the summits.
Every morning, after reading the avalanche report, we took our split-boards and touring skis, and decided which mountain to climb. For the steepest parts and most exposed slopes, we had to take snow profiles for deciding whether to continue ascending or not (the chamois didn’t care too much about it, though). To learn to read maps according to avalanche reports and to learn to read the profile of the snow for decision making was a very informative and interesting part of the whole thing.
When arriving at the tops, we were rewarded with some beautiful views on the surrounding mountains as well as on our little plateau with the hut, and after stowing away the ski and split-board skins, we realised how worthwhile it is to spend energy, time and body power to reach mountain tops without crowds of people and lifts; instead having runs through untouched and soft powdery snow.
Again, again, again.