With Altai Hoks in the Swiss Mountains

Posted on 01 April 2014

The winter was a total failure, so why should not I post a short report of trip from last year winter and the experiences with the Altai Hoks 145.

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My last trip on New Year’s Eve was not successful. OK we were a really cool  group, but in the end I disappointed the others with my broken snowshoes and we had to cancel this trip. Hope we can do it again guys. But I did not wanna finish my winter season with this canceled trip, so I contacted Anatol to ask if he have some time for a last trip. This time I did not wanna use snowshoes and I decided to buy some Altai Hoks 145 skis, telemark boots and binding. This was a complete new experience for me. Until then I made my only  ski experiences on BC skis on a prepared trail. It was an crazy experience to go without ski skills into the mountains, but I wanted to try it.

 

This time we arrived at Buffalora late in the evening and we decided to spend the first night in the car to get up quick in the morning. The conditions were perfect and Anatol played with his new Nikon D5100 camera and a fish lens in the evening and he made superb photos.

After a ham and eggs breakfast we packed everything and were ready to start. Our plan was to climb up via the Val Müstair, crossing the Jufplaun Plateau and find a nice spot for the first camp in the Val Mora. We were barely move and it happened.  I failed at the first small hillocks. My skis were faster and I rushed. Oh this could be an interesting trip I thought.I scrambled to me and continued. Slowly but successful I skied the next metres without a crash.

We followed the groomed trail through the Val Müstair. The trees were covered in snow and the sun was shining and the view was excellent. Meanwhile, I could get used to the ski and it was easier for me to handle them. The gradeabillity was perfect and I could climb up steep hills without problems. These Altai Hoks with integrated skins are perfect. You are significantly faster with them than on snowshoes, because you can slide forward.


Several times we stopped for photos. The sun was very hot und the snow deep

We followed the tracks of ski tourers up to Jufplaun. On the plateau we stopped at a mountain hut for late breakfast snack and a hot coffee.

The wind was blowing and formed this snow wall.
After our break we crossed the Jufplaun plateau and started the downhill into the Val Mora.

With baggy knees I started the downhill and I was happy that we were alone on the way into the Val Mora and nobody could see my bad ski skills. It looked like a drunken person wants to ski.  Meter for meter I climbed down into the valley. Anatol was a lot faster, because he can ski very well. After long long 20 minutes I did it and I was happy that I managed this downhill without bigger accidents. Ok several time I fell on my butt, but I had expected this.

Meanwhile it was two o’clock in the afternoon and we decided to stop for another break after this exhausting downhill and melted some snow with the Bushbuddy Ultra for a warm soup and a coffee. The sun was perfect on this afternoon and we enjoyed a longer break and photo session before we tried to find a campsite for the night.

 

After our break we skied round about two hours into the valley. Next to some trees we found a superb campsite with a nice view. It took a long time to pitch the tents, because the snow was very soft and deep and you could not make any step without skis. The evening ended with an extensive dinner, a good dram of whisky and some photos of the crystal clear night.

Brrrr. It was f*cking cold during the night. -27°C on the thermometer, but it was cozy and warm in my Katabatic Gear Sawatch quilt. I never want to miss this excellent quilt.

 

Our down garments kept us warm in the morning and after a warm coffee we decided to walk into the valley for some more photos.

No step without skis!!!

Timelapse stop.
Here is my result. It was the first time that I made a timelapse with my GoPro.

 

Because of the short breakfast we stopped in the midday sun at the Alp Buffalora, dried our gear and had a warm soup. It was unbelieveable. During the night we had -27°c and during the day we had warm 4°C. The sun was really aggressiv so that I got a really bad sunburn in my face.

 

Fresh and cold mountain streams next to the trail for a quick refreshment.

 

Crossing the Plateau of Jufplaun was not easy as expected. It was a torture. The snow stuck on the skins of our skis and moving foward was really slow because we had to stop every hundred meter to put the snow from the skis away.

Late in the afternoon we reached our camp. It was getting dark and we pitched our tents in the twilight. Preparing the ground for the tent was again hard work and after that we collected some wood for a fire. Under a big stone pine we foud a comfortable place for our dinner.

 

 

This night was not cold as the night before. Before we started our descent to Buffalora we ventilated our sleeping bags and other gear.

Rossignol BCX11. It was my first time that I used skis with 75mm binding and then in alpine terrain, but it was a cool experience. These boots still kept me warm in the evening when it was very cold and they were also very stable in the shaft. I hope I can write some more notes about the shoes in the future.

 

The normal way of the ski tourers was very icy, so we decided to took a way cross-country down to Buffalora. For Anatol it was no problem to ski down this steep slope, but for me it was hard work. After some accidents and enough snow between my clothing I decided to walk down this slope in a zicktack style. This was safer than skiing.

 

Last but not least a short video made by Anatol.

Val Mora – A Backcountry Ski Journey


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