My only thought is: "Hopefully the rope does not get stuck when we pull it down..." - My friends and I we are hanging on two bolts in the middle of a 80m high cliff, climbing up again is no option, below our ski boots there is just empty space. The slippery rock slab that we are attached to is super uncomfortable and the harness is painfully cutting my legs. The reason why we are here? Skiing...
It's 6:30 am and my good friend Manu, my girlfriend Kathi and I we are skinning up the east face of Hohe Munde in Tyrol. The warm sun is rapidly heating up the snow while we and a lot of others are hiking up the constantly steep slope. After 3,5 hours we reach the summit in misty conditions. Normally you can see all over the Inn valley over to the Stubai Alps and the Wetterstein mountain range in the north, but today we barely see the western peak that is just a few hundred meters away.
As we are having a break, sharing some chocolate and preparing our gear, I can feel this excitement and tension that always shows up when I am about to ski a steep and high consequence line. However I do feel pretty comfortable and confident about our project: We checked conditions the evening before and I know that our group is forming a solid team that everybody can rely on.
Time for the adventure zone
As the sun breaks through the mist, we decide to drop in and enter the adventure zone. The snowfield is shaped like a funnel and at the end there is a rocky drop off that we have to rappel down. From the first minute on falling is not allowed anymore, but the snow is good and therefore we can fluidly cruise down to the rocks.
Now we have to find the bolt and as the terrain is getting more gnarly and rocky, we put the skis on the backpack and make use of our crampons and ice axes. In the end it turns out that we are a little bit low and have to climb up again to reach the anchor. Kathi is going first, then Manu follows while I am taking some pictures of them.
We are at the bottom of the first rappel and on top of the second, very short snowfield. I pull down the rope and now there is only one way to go: Down! Skiing the second snow patch is not difficult and actually a lot of fun, but we are absolutely aware of the fact, that right at the edge, there is a 80m drop off so we better approach the cliff without a lot of speed.
Now it's time for some rope work. We easily find the bolt and connect the two 60m ropes. We can not see exactly where we have to go as the wall is already slightly overhanging. Manu needs to run along the wall from left to right to reach the next anchor that is just a few meters sideways where we actually thought. We have to be extremely careful as we follow, because the rock quality every falling stone will hit our friend at the belay stand.
We make it down safely and hang at this tremendously uncomfortable rock slab without enough footholds for us three. The harness is cutting in my legs and hip as there is no way to get some weight off the thin webbing and we obviously don't want to spend a lot of time up here. Nevertheless, the abyss under our ski boots urges us to be concentrated. We pull the rope and hope that it won't get stuck, otherwise we were trapped.
Everything is working out smoothly and this time I am in charge of going down first. I put the rope through my belay device and start lowering myself. The wall is now extremely overhanging and i am just hanging in space, about 15 meters away from the rock. My skis are attached to the harness, i can see my friends above and our ski descent below me. It's intense!
Touchdown! For a moment i am sitting in the snow, happy to be back in solid terrain. Later my mates told me it looked like i was landing on the moon... Then I climb up a few meters to the rock wall and have to cross a nasty slab. I slip and get pretty scared so I let my friends know that crampons might be very useful.
Then, finally it is time for skiing! The snow is pretty good, the route through the rock sections is easy to find and knowing that the hardest sections are behind, we are able to pick up some speed and enjoy the ride!
After 8,5 hours we are crossing a big avalanche and climb up to the forestry road - mission completed!
Walking down to the parking lot, we are already thinking about our next objective... Let's see where we will end up next challenging ourselves, sharing intense hours on the mountains and riding some epic slopes in the Tyrolean "Little Chamonix"