Autumn fun: beer, glaciers and gear

Summer is over and autumn has arrived. For me these mean that a few traditional things must be done.


First is a short visit to Oktoberfest beer festival in Munchen. By short I mean just one beer because otherwise the next day is wasted. Here is a short 20 second video what Oktoberfest looked like this year:


Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn

Week ago we decided to start the ski season this time in Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn glacier in Salzburgerland Austria

Since it was still early autumn and days have been warm we actually went camping but due to rainy weather decided to camp in the car. An X1 BMW with a folding front seat makes an ok'ish campervan where two people sleep on the folded back and front seats. We added a rain cover to one side so that window can be kept open and there is enough fresh air in the car. This is a paid add since I work for BMW.


First day on Kitzsteinhorn glacier was a misty and rainy one. Pistes were actually nice and soft due to some snow from early September but goggles and clothes were soaking wet after a few hours.

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Second day was much better and the gondola punched through the clowds in to a sunny glacier day! It was of course colder too so the soft slopes were pretty icy now.

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The sceneries and attractions in Kitzsteinhorn are nice. The gondolas take to the top where they have a small train to the top restaurant which also hosts long tunnel to a viewing platform to the other side of the peak where the view to glacers shows how open the crevasses still are.

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Since the tunnel from top restaurant and train station to the viewing platform was downhill, we decided to not hike back in ski boots and instead traversed down to the ski area on the side of the peak. Snow was a bit hard here but it was much less work to traverse than to hike uphill at 3000 meters from sea level.

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At the bottom lift station of the glacier area these machines were keeping the whole resort operational. Diggers and trucks keep also glacier ski resorts open in the Alps nowadays.



Yesterday, first Saturday of October, was a supposed to be a sunny day after big snow storm, but sadly the big snow storm didn't dump much snow to Pitztal Gletcher. Sun instead did turn up all the way to eleven.

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Weather was cold and winter like and luckily on the side of the blue pistes there was some 10 cm of fresh snow to draw tracks on. Yeah!

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Some dare devils also went to the standard off piste routes, but I decided to keep next to the prepared pistes to avoid killing my skis in the rocks. But the tracks they left looked cool!


A view from the top gondola shows how little snow there is on top of the rocks and also the snow making reserve pool is not frozen yet.


View to the big glaciers around Pitztal show how crevasses are still wide open.


Next to the pistes there is plenty of space to lay down your own tracks in the ankle deep snow. This is cool!


In the afternoon I decided to open a small hiking route at the top section next to the slopes. For the first hike I took out the skins.


Views from the tiny top were nice!


And skiing was pretty good as well! Here's a short video summary.


Vaude Backpack

My old Black Diamond Convert 35 backpack is beaking down. Last year I already started looking for replacements possibly with ABS avalanche gear while stiching it up. After a few long afternoons in local shops I found that Vaude ABScond FLow 22+6 liter backpack was fitting to me and my needs well, but the price of over 500 € was at that time too much. Few weeks ago I suddenly saw that backpack for 175 € on Amazon so it was a no brained to by it, even though it was the red variant and not the cool blue one. A few small adjustments are still needed to get perfect for my anatomy, and I'm still missing the ABS bottles and trigger handles, but so far it is working well.

CAST touring bindings

I've been using Salomon Guardian bindings for past four or so years. They fit to standard alpine boots but enable touring by hinging the whole binding frame from the front.

I've had some problems with them. Currently they don't reliable keep my boot in in rough icy places like steep pistes and hard landings in park kickers and rails. The front binding is moving a bit too much in the frame and that causes premature ejections quite often when I'm charging harder. I don't want to go too much over 11 in DIN values since I want the bindings to keep my knees healthy. I had similar problems with my old Marker Jester bindings before them.

The bindings have been setup in local shops but in the last one they have broken them twice when installing into new skis.

I'm don't think Marker Duke's would be an improvement and I would not trust AT pin bindings in park and kickers so I've been following CAST and their touring setup for the past few years. They modify Look pivot bindings with a switch plate so that front binding can be replaced by an AT pin binding for the up hill parts. The setup seems to be popular with hard charging FWT athletes so I've decided to try them out. New bindings and switch plates have been ordered and I'm looking forward to the delivery. Here's how an older version of their setup works:

Puzzle continues though since I don't have AT touring binding pin holes in my ski boots yet, and I don't fancy sending them to the US for modifications. I'm hoping to find some shop in the Alps to modify the boots or do the modification on my own. Let's see how this goes.

In the perfect world, I will finally have a reliable ski and binding setup for park, rails and kickers and for ski touring after a park day.

Interesting times ahead :)