Ski touring on Malgrübler above Volders, Tirol, Austria

Malgrübler at 2749m takes some commitment. Starting at Volderwildbad at 1104m, the slog into Voldertalhütte at 1376m can take up to 2 hours and the 500m climb is wasted on a descent out the same road. However, for those willing that swallow that pill, unusually wild untracked backcountry slopes await. Skiing down to Voldbergalm at 1657m and a bit farther is a long consistent slope of perfect skiing terrain. The start is quite alpine broadening into may different ski options before coming back together in a wide glad of trees for the second half. The fact that this quality of terrain remains nearly untouched just outside Tirol's capitol city of Innsbruck, Austria makes this must do for those that can do. There are several different approaches, but be warned, along the ridge is often complicated by thin snow over boulders.

February 22, 2012 was an avalanche level 3 above 1800m equally on East, North, and West aspects. The original plan was the NE flank of Rosenjoch. However, there were signs of many natural slides on the East facing aspects. Due to one obvious steep and exposed section we decided to stay on and climb the west side of the valley, putting us on the Malgrübler. About 20 minutes after the decision was made, Kerstin and Andula informed me that what I thought was a jet was in fact a spontaneous point release on the east face that ran 1000m. Take home reminder: the avalanche warning broadcast is only one tool that will never replace terrain assessment.

Technical Note: This was a trial using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 instead of my Canon 7D. I had more shots that were unusable due to over-exposure and movement. The images are also too sharp for film quality. However, the speed at which I was able to capture shots gave me much more material to work with, resulting in an acceptable run-and-gun video that had minimal impact on the day's experience. Between the light weight and unusable LCD in sunlight, camera movement was the biggest challenge for any longer shots (before the cross). I will try and lightweight tripod next time, but this will greatly impact the deployment. Summary: While not functional for professional level productions, the DMC-TS2 can be a great option for fun videos as long as you keep the lens clear of snow.

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