Posts Tagged ‘Madloch’

Learning the Ropes without a Rope


Robi Brendon in Zürs backcountry, Austria

A Ski Mountaineering Adventure
By Randall Richards

Mountaineering, and ski mountaineering mishaps that don’t kill you are chalked up to experience – a learning experience. I had one such experience in Lech and Zürs Austria when working for Strolz Boots G.m.B.H. I was still a greenhorn in the Alps. The Alps was a whole other ball game than the mountains of the western U.S. This was my first year in the Alps

I was just graduated from the University of Utah where I’d spent three years getting a basic, but great  mountaineering education through the U of U recreation department with such climbers and teachers as Harold Goodro and Dennis Turville.  It’s here where I cut my teeth, the Wasatch Range, in beginning rock climbing and mountaineering, snow shelter building and backcountry emergency medicine classes. Harold was the consummate old mountain man.

The author getting "mountain experience", Austria

In the late seventies, he was involved in teaching all the classes, and would observe other instructors manage the top rope sites. But he was always hands-on.  On another day in my education there,  I remember ascending Stairs Gulch with other Utah students under the tutilage of Dennis Turville. Our little group of neophytes were wide-eyed at one point on the ascent, when a few auto-sized blocks of snow and ice came tumbling down the slabs, bowling for students. Two in the group, by running this way and that, managed to avoid being mowed over. Dennis seemed somewhat nonplussed by the event, but that might have just been my perception at the time. Later on the narrow ridge which divides Big and Little Cottonwood, we carefully picked our way up to the summit of Dromedary Peak. Our eyes were still bugging out of our heads for the rest of the day due to exposed terrain and our lack of experience.  We were quickly getting our mountain legs.

Fast forward to the Lectaler Alps in Western Austria. I usually had most of the day to explore the wild mountains above and around Zürs, St. Christophe and Lech on skis and out of bounds, having to report at the Strolz ski boot shop in Lech around 3pm.  It was my first experience where the ski area trails and the high backcountry merged into one big ski experience. I went nuts, cutting it up, (more…)

Nose to Nose with Mr. Marmot


An Unexpected Encounter While Bouldering in Lech, Austria

Marmot scrambling up a boulder

Marmot scrambling up a boulder

Bouldering on the Madloch trail just west of Lech Austria, I had quite a startling experience one afternoon.  I had walked up the summer  trail after working at Strolz Boots one day. During the winter,  this area high above Lech, sees skiers flying by after having taken the lifts up from Zurs.  They then ski around the backside of the Madloch mountain, and take the long trail headed for Lech. But this spring day was quiet, and no hikers in sight. I had found a nice slabby boulder to climb, with small nubbin holds, requiring delicate footwork. I monkeyed around on block for about a ten minutes near the bottom of the face. I decided to go for the top of the boulder, working delicately. The only activity was a small breeze which blew on the cloudless blue sky day.  I reached for the final moves on the boulders ridge line, and pulled up slowly.

Marmot's whistle at point-blank

Marmot's whistle at point-blank

As my face cleared the boulder’s ridgetop, a marmot that had been climbing up the other side, also made his final move for the ridge from his side. We met  nose to nose. For a second, I stared at him, and he stared at me. Second number two- He let out his marmot’s alarm, a shrill whistle at point-blank range.  Without thinking I reached for my ears, covering them, which set me rolling back down the boulder. I assume the marmot didn’t stick around either, and ran back down his side. I saw, (more importantly heard) no sign of him.  I picked myself up, inspected my few minor bruises and continued on the trail for a great afternoon of being in the Austrian Arlberg’s Lechtal.  Aside from the ringing in the ears I had a nice scramble. But I’d had enough bouldering for the day.