PD, 4.1/4.2, E2
A quite popular and frequently skied steep chute, some say the most spectacular skiing the valley has to offer.
As we could already see from the parking site there was hardly any snow in the upper entry of the intended chute, making it impossible to set off from the summit with skis on. We decided to leave any extra gear in the car and bootpack the whole thing bottom up. This way we would have the possibility to check the snow conditions instead of dropping in blindfolded. It is actually the first time we ski here and have not more than a vague idea of what to expect.
We soon leave the existing skintrack and find ourselves in a shady winter world with soft snow and immense crystals of surface hoar. The further we go the more old ski tracks we discover in spots where we don’t like them to see. All emerging from the only possible origin: The nice north-facing chute down the Elferkopf. Above the treeline conditions change from settled powder to more wind effected snow. In the meantime we counted 13 different ski tracks, making us number 14 and 15. Motivation started to fade away as we had hoped for better than skiing tracked out breakable crust.
We already found an alternative goal, an untracked and even better looking but smaller chute nearby. Then, all of a sudden, all previously seen tracks vanished under a smooth surface of wind effected hard packed snow. If it’s like this further up, it might be worth skiing and so we decided to give it a try.
Skiing on two edges
A local mountain guide who came across reported delicate conditions when he down climbed the steep top bit. He was the only guy we saw skiing it that day but he also told that among local skiers this chute is very popular due to its all time presence above the village of Mittelberg. We figured that it must be a dream run when filled with soft snow. Of course it is far less steep than most statements on the internet let assume. It is still 42° in average over a length of roughly 300 meters, making it a serious undertaking in bad snow. The really steep entry from the top allows sidestepping only when found with excellent snow coverage and only then increases the overall ski difficulty a little. Otherwise it either requires some rope work or climbing skills on mixed (rock/snow) ground.
One edge or the dark side of snowboarding
All pictures by Adrian/Jonathan. Location Elferkopf/Kleinwalsertal. Date 2017-01-28.