< Spring Classics Kaunertal Videoclip online
23.08.10 Age: 4 Jahre
It was about that time of year when most of the resorts in the Alps had shut down for the season and our annual HOTZONE.TV team trip was about to take place. This year’s destination: Sweden! We had in mind a few easy park and backcountry days. Two days before our departure we got some news from our man on the spot, David, that we’d have the chance to join an „expedition“ into the Swedish backcountry with him and some of his friends . We agreed immediately to a couple of days of outdoor action. Never pass up the opportunity to go on a trip with locals. The crew consisted of Werni, Rudi, expedition leader Gery, photo dawg Eli and filmer Julian.
Werni and rudi Powderturn
Hiking, all photos by Christian Eberl
The crew: David Larsson, Johan Olofsson , Christian Eberl, Gery Margreiter, André Larsson, Mikael Andersson, Rudi Kröll, Werni Stock , Julian Pintarelli
Gery Rudi and Werni sledding
getting of the heli
the crew in the heli
Fully motivated we headed for the airport. On our way to the departure gate we popped by a supermarket to get the „Austrian sausages“ - it seemed to be quite a great desire for our Swedish friends since the sausages had been mentioned twice on the expedition list! Four hours later we arrived in Oslo where a bald guy, namely the chief in charge of the excess luggage department, tried to lighten our weight of Swedish crowns. But we were prepared for this hassle since we’re no rookie travellers – we brought our travel guy Tobi from back home into the game and after one phone call he got the situation managed which included stopping the volcano Eyjafjallajökull from erupting. Nice one!
When we finally arrived around midnight our expedition guide was already waiting. We made our way to Björkliden over various passes and in an – for us- unnaturally bright night. It was time for us to make a plan when we arrived at our final destination at 2a.m. But it turned out, that the Swedish guys had made a plan already: „ We´re about to fly to the foot of a glacier and will camp there – for 5 days! Start is tomorrow at 9 a.m.“. Baaaam – it was 4 a.m. by then, which meant we had only 5 hours left to get ready for a mission that had totally taken us by surprise and for which we weren’t really prepared. Plus, we hadn’t even slept a second. No way! That was just too stressful, having been on our journey for 12 hours already. We managed to convince the guys to delay our departure until afternoon. No sweat! The luxury of a proper bed one more time before it gets uncomfortable...
Well-rested we had to decide what to take with us into the backcountry due to transport limitations of the helicopter and the sleds. Since we weren’t prepared for a 5-day-expedition-trip we were lucky the Swedish guys – Johan, David, Andre and Mikkey – were. Finally the heli took off, heading for the backcountry! When we flew out of the foggy weather we were presented with a breathtaking view of the mountains in the bright sunlight. Johan knew approximately where the pilot should navigate the heli to for the best place to set up our base camp. The heli landed, dropped us there, said „see ya in 5 days at 8 a.m.”, and off he went!
We didn’t know where we were nor had we any contact to modern civilization. Meanwhile, David, Mikkey and Andre were on their way to meet us with two sleds, loaded with tents, our luggage and cooking equipment. They needed to sneak through the protected area of the Swedish native people called „Sami“ – an area clearly off limits for snow mobiles. Our concern was whether they’d make it or not because the thought of spending the night without tents and sleeping bags at a temperature of about minus 20°C wasn’t exactly comforting!
We started to flatten the snow surface of a designated area so we would have a solid ground for our tents. Additionally, we constructed „sanitary facilities“ which was in fact nothing more than digging a big hole next to a marked stone at some distance from the camp. First things first!
The guys on sleds hadn’t shown up yet so we decided to get our „welcome line“, which meant hiking up a ridge to the summit on the west side of our camp. There had been a blizzard a week earlier so it was kinda wind blown, but we made some really nice powder turns on the east side.
Our line led us straight back to the base camp and when we arrived we could hear engine noises approaching. Shortly thereafter the guys showed up on their sleds. An hour later everything was built up: two tents, one tipi, a gas oven and a snow bar. We felt settled, almost cosy. Then the Swedish guys went crazy cooking up a gourmet meal. Yeah!!!
The first night was …. interesting. Temperatures around minus 15° degrees was something to get used to. A short briefing we received the night before had alerted us to the fact that it would be smart to put the stuff we’d need the next day into our sleeping bags. That meant boot liners, gloves, socks, batteries or water containers – one can imagine that it was getting pretty tight! And of course there are more exciting things in life than stepping outside of the warm sleeping bag into the freezing cold morning. It was helpful that somebody else had gotten up to make some coffee. „Team Sweden” had brought about 150 hard boiled, green painted eggs – preparation is everything!
After using the quite chilled „sanitary facilities“ and fully recharged and strengthened we were on our way to the southern peak. It was absolutely bluebird and no wind at all - ideal conditions for this two hour hike. When we arrived on the very top we were rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view. But the biggest reward, clearly, was the awesome ride down back into our base camp.
We were preparing sandwiches while Werni was mixing up martini-water when Team Sweden came back home. So we hung out in the sun on some reindeer skins and were satisfied. Our peace and quiet was suddenly interrupted when another heli came our way and dropped 5 tourists on a peak close by. The skiers started to desecrate the mountain with their choppy rabbit turns. We couldn´t just stand there and do nothing so we made our way up the mountain for another line. To conclude an awesome day, our Swedish friends served a legendary reindeer-rice meal, accompanied with wine and Bacardi. We witnessed a most beautiful and amazing sunset in this so called Abisko national park. That night not even Werni was disturbed by the bright night.
Is it bright again or still? Compared to night temperatures the inside of the tent could be considered almost warm. The sunlight of another beautiful day had been heating up the tent. A great reason to do an early bird morning tour. The last blizzard’s strong wind had made it really hard to tell the snow conditions and which parts had been hit by the wind most, making the snow shit to ride. We decided to ride down the southeast slope. Werni wanted to drop in over a big windlip and I decided to drop in a bit further down the ridge into a steeper part of the slope. As soon as we had dropped in, it became clear that we had miscalculated the snow conditions. The wind had frozen every single snow crystal which felt more or less like riding an icy ocean with loads of sharp „shark fins“ sticking out! Not really relaxing....better to chill out at the base camp.
But first we had to sled to the lake nearby to get some water. After we had drilled a hole into the ice we could fill the canister with a water bottle. Now we had enough water for the remaining Martini and for cooking.
After that short break Team Sweden decided to hike up to the eastern peak to have a sunset ride. Team Austria shot some powder turns close to the base camp. It was an amazing atmosphere when the sun set behind the frozen lake painting the sky with all colors. Back at the base we organized an international sausage party – accompanied by the obligatory wine, Bacardi, Cognac and some Schnaps. Around midnight the first guys disappeared into the warmth of their sleeping bags while the sky was still super bright! The night evolved into a hazy tea party, Johan style. Since tea was essential to keep us warm Johan had started pouring every little bit of the remaining alcohol into it... Johan, David, Gery and I witnessed a sensationally beautiful sun rise at 4 in that morning before we crawled into our warm sleeping bags as well.
This trip had become a real expedition. Except for Johan, none of our crew had ever been on a mission like that before. The freezing cold temperatures made it essential to adapt! That meant keeping our boots dry in any event because it would be nearly impossible to get them dry once wet. We had to bury the water canisters in snow so it would not freeze. They recommended wearing only our boxers in the sleeping bag to allow for a maximum of warmth to be generated. We were pretty much acclimated to the cold temperatures after the fourth day and slept lots better.
We slept in late. Just around noon the camp awoke. It was bluebird again but the wind had increased. We could see the wind producing small cyclones over the ridge. After a relaxed breakfast with lots of coffee we decided we’d rather spend our last day in and around the base – it was simply too windy. I grabbed the NoFish board from Johan and had some fun runs. The rest of the day we relaxed in the sun. Alcohol and cigs were gone, so we enjoyed tea instead. After the sun set, the wind picked up again and we headed to the tipi. The guys hat put a small pellets stove inside – a science of its own….but it did generate some heat in addition to all the smoke and fumes! Midnight was time to get some sleep. We had to take down the whole camp and be ready to have the heli pick us up at 8 a.m.
It was a stormy night. The tents were being pushed from side to side by the strong wind and we have to admit - it was more than daunting. I took a glimpse out of our tent and it was all white, windy, freezing cold and no visibility at all. That’s when I realized how lucky we had been with the weather the last four days. With stormy conditions like this all week we wouldn’t have had the chance to do anything aside of staying in our tents and waiting. We had no connection to the helicopter transport anyway.
We packed our belongings and the tents. We were worried whether the heli would be able to land at all. The backup plan was to go 10 kilometres to a nearby lake at a lower altitude. Nobody liked that plan...
Johan started marking the helicopter’s landing area with the rest of our coffee powder, making a big circle with a cross in the middle. We were hoping that would give the pilot enough visibility to land. At 7.30h a.m the guys who had sleds started their journey back to Abisko. They wanted to avoid being seen by the helicopter pilot since it wasn’t appreciated (not to say forbidden) to have snowmobiles in a national park. Regardless, they must have assumed we had sleds to help us out. So there we were left, a crew of six people, waiting for the arrival of the heli. Just shortly after 8 o’clock we could hear some heli „ratatatat“ and some seconds later the black shadow of the heli came out of the fog. The pilot was hesitating for some seconds but then set for the landing zone when he saw the coffee-crossed circle. We made it out before the weather got even worse. During the flight back to civilization we started to realize and reflect upon what we had experienced these last 5 days.
Back in modern civilization we went straight for the Abisko Mountain Lodge accommodation. We were so stoked about simple things like lying in a proper bed or just going to the next supermarket. And there is nothing better than a cold beer in a sauna! That was also the place where Gery realized that he froze his big toe during the night we had our tea party. The toe was kinda black and totally numb. By now it seems to have regained full functionality and we’re all super stoked about that!
That evening we were invited for a deluxe meal of reindeer and wine. Afterwards we rolled on to a summer party. It was still minus temperatures and stormy outside when we realized at 2 in the morning that there was no more alcohol available at the party. Sneaky as we are, we „organized“ some more liquor, one could say we borrowed it, and headed on to the after hour party at some random apartment. We didn’t realize until later that we were partying at the barkeeper’s home...
On our way back to our lodge Johan was hardly able to keep himself on his feet and we found Julian up on top of an 8 meter flagpole scoping out the way home.
Everybody except Werni woke up with a massive hang-over. He had snuck out from the party the night before. His own fault, I’d say. When our brains started to work properly again we decided to drive up to Rikksgränsen to rent some snowmobiles for just racing around in the backcountry. And of course I was the unlucky one with my sled. After only a ten minute ride my transmission chain ripped apart and Eli and I had to drive back to the rental place to get us a new sled. During that trip Eli had to learn the hard way that it is possible to get tossed off a sled. The sled was still going while Eli and Julian raced to catch up with the sled as it was heading straight towards a big rock. They managed to stop the machine barely half a meter before the rock! That could have been exhausting and expensive!
In the evening Johan wanted to teach us how to ice fish at the Torneträsk, the seventh biggest lake in Sweden. With our snowboards strapped on he towed us 10 km to the other side of the lake with his sled. One could say that is was quite a frosty undertaking without a facemask to protect from ice crystals and wind. To start fishing everybody drilled himself a hole in the lake and cast his rod. Gery was the first to catch a fish, but it was a tiny one so he threw it back in the lake. We all just caught the tiny ones and at the end of the day we still had nothing for our dinner. So we made our way back and went to bed early because our flight was supposed to depart at 6.00 a.m from Narvik the next day.
David brought us to the airport and we had to say good bye. Our Swedish friends, their planning, organization and support had made this awesome trip possible and we’re super grateful.
We arrived in Oslo in plenty of time before our next flight was scheduled to leave. However, the flight was delayed until 12 o’clock, so we decided to cruise to a nearby restaurant. When we came back 10 minutes to 12 we couldn’t believe our ears – the lady behind the desk told us that the plane had taken off 10 minutes ago! They had called out our names at least three times, she said. As it turned out we were in the wrong sector of the airport and therefore didn’t hear the calls. Ok, ok, a bit of a rookie traveller move, we admit. After swearing and cursing we calmed down and managed to redirect our tickets to a night flight to Düsseldorf. Once we landed in Düsseldorf we had to rent a car and drive six hours to Munich. Finally we arrived on Tuesday at 6.00 in the morning, 26 hours delayed. In the end, this mishap seemed minor and couldn’t diminish our enthusiasm for such an incredible, amazing, once in a lifetime experience.
Thänks guys, it was a pleasure!
Category: Teamblog, Rudi Kröll, Werni Stock