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/ Silvretta ski tour advice

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michaelmurray - on 12 Feb 2018

I was looking for some advice on a 3-day ski tour I'm planning in the Silvretta in early March. The general plan is:

Day 1: Start in Ischgl, lift up to Piz das Val Gronda summit, ski down to Heidelberger hut.

Day 2: Heidelberger hut to Jamal hut via the Kronejoch (climbing Breite Krone on route)

Day 3: Jamal hut to Galtur via the Weisbadner hut. I was planning to descend to the Silvretta Stausee from the hut then out via the road. Would then get the ski bus back to Ischgl.

I had a few questions:

1. How severe are the glaciers on the proposed route? We've spent several weeks mountaineering in the Alps travelling on glaciated terrain (unguided). Additionally we have skied on glaciated routes before (e.g. Vallee Blanche), but only guided. How crevassed are the glaciers on this route? Is route finding difficult thought the crevassed sections?

2. I've read about high avalanche risk possibility in some of the "escape" valleys and also possibly on the proposed descent from the Weisbadner hut. Are the avalanche prone sections avoidable or are there any safer alternative routes?

3. How challenging is navigation in poor weather?

Many thanks for your help,

Mike

Post edited at 14:46
vscott - on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to michaelmurray:

Hi Mike,

Did this 2015 - suspect there could be a lot more snow than 'usual' this year so with this caveat...

Glaciers/crevasses - don't recall anything too bad or complex. The approach onto the glacier above the weisbadner (for Silvrettahorn, piz buin etc., + over to silvretta hutte) briefly passes under some seracs, otherwise 'main' routes generally steer clear of obvious hazards.

Retreat valleys - as with all steep sided valleys exposed to avalanche. Hut guardian's well informed on conditions, and from the weisbadner its possible to climb up behind the hut and descend the next valley over which is more open (and worth doing in any case as a better ski than following the valley track out).

Navigation - had mixed weather and generally found ok as routes not too intricate + if it's really horrid you'll likely stay put (all parties get pinned and the guardians call round to next huts to postpone your reservations etc.). 

If you haven't already got, worth having the Austrian ski maps (http://www.stanfords.co.uk/Silvretta-SKI-ed_9783928777377) which show the main routes and alternatives etc.

Enjoy!

daWalt on 12 Feb 2018
In reply to michaelmurray:

Was there last year.

Glaciers are generally very wide and quite flat; when we were there it was completely covered in deep snow, couldn't see anything suspicious looking - we had rope & rescue kit; but everyone [not just us] was skiing the glaciers like a piste.

Av risk - (obv very much depends on the day and what's happened before)  The tracks / road going out tend be on the valley bottom, yes they're below steep slopes but I'm not aware of anywhere that's a specific concern outside the norm.

nav - can be a challenge in a white-out (we had one bad day in the week we were there). the glaciers are quite wide and the landscape a bit undulating in places; but there isn't too much to avoid and as long as you can find the right pass you want to go over....

personally I would be tempted get to the Heidelberger on day one via early uplift from Ischgl; you'd want to start early - could be a long day.

skiing out form Weisbadener via silvretta-stausee is quite boring really - just a very gentle gradient with a flat skate over the (very likely empty) reservoir and a trundle down the road...

Weisbadener does excellent Germknoedel (with mohnbutter - the connoisseur's choice) - that'll perk you up after a hard day.  

the free swiss maps aren't quire as finely-details as the Austrian ones linked above: (imho)

https://map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo.pixelkarte-farbe&layers=ch.swisstopo.zeitreihen,ch.bfs.gebaeude_wohnungs_register,ch.bav.haltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swisstlm3d-wanderwege,ch.swisstopo-karto.skitouren&layers_visibility=false,false,false,false,true&layers_timestamp=18641231,,,,&layers_opacity=1,1,1,1,0.8&X=191853.38&Y=803395.67&zoom=6

 

 

Post edited at 18:16
michaelmurray - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to vscott:

Many thanks both for the great advice.

vscott is the alternative valley you refer to the Bieltal? If so it might be better to head from the Jamal hut to the Rauhlkopfscharte then we could head down the valley from there (route 75a on the Swiss maps in daWalt's post)?

 

 

Post edited at 09:44
daWalt on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to michaelmurray:

(route 75a on the Swiss maps in daWalt's post)?

yes, that's the one. we didn't ski it because we were keen to get down quick on our last day; and it's a steep skin up from the hut right from the off and no one fancied the beasting on the 8th day :-D  but it's the way to go if you want to actually ski something, rather than just trundle along.

side note:

Heidelberger is an arguably nicer hut, more like a normal alpine hut.

The other two are massive big modern barn like things. The service can be a bit impersonal; but they have a hundred folks to feed and you're just one. they are invariably rammed and booking ahead is vital.

Jamtal will sell you cheapy slippers; they're not expensive.

 

 

 

Post edited at 10:23
gali - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to michaelmurray:

x2 for bieltal valley and strudel . I remember the breakfast in the Heidelberger being very nice and everyone coming down to dinner looking very smart at the Jamtal . lovely ski off the ochsensharte, a bit tricky getting upto it from the Jamtal in poor vis.

vscott - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to michaelmurray:

yes - as daWALT says route 75a either from Weisbadner or jamtal is a much more fun ski out.

 

Misha - on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to michaelmurray:

Interesting thread, thanks all. Are the huts generally very busy in peak season (which is I guess is mid March to early April round there)? As in Cham Zermatt busy and need pre booking? I note a couple of huts have been mentioned as busy above. I'm thinking of the Silvretta as an option for a fairly relaxed tour with comfortable huts but don't want to commit to booking huts more than a few days in advance in case conditions are good for mixed climbing instead.

daWalt on 13 Feb 2018
In reply to Misha:

yes,

and yes,

many years ago my partner and their group had to kip on the lecture-theatre floor of the Jamtal because of a booking mixup; hut was full when they arrived but they put them up. sleeps 182 apparently https://www.alpenvereinaktiv.com/en/huts/#fu=1&zc=12,9.99533,46.81463

Couldn't say how far in advance you need to book, but it's pretty essential for all the huts in this area.

n.b. If you're planning a few days in the area take a trip over to the swiss side and ski the Chammgletscher above the Silvrettahutte; highly recommended (we had it all to ourselves, feels quiet remote, while there were hoards skiing on the Austrian side.....)

 

Post edited at 13:43

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