Ski touring in spring also means fundamentally different conditions. Here are our tips on how you can best cope with them.
Late risers have a hard time
«Leave early, return early» is the motto in spring. This ironclad basic rule ensures safety. Because if you start too late, you live dangerously. On concave firn slopes and glaciers, temperatures can sometimes reach 20 degrees or more in the late morning. In a few hours, the snow changes from hard to light and then to heavy firn and finally to black ice. The basic rule is that by midday you should be back in the valley or at the hut. And it is not only about safety. The firn does not wait. Who wants to start the descent in wet and lazy «Hax’nbrecher» snow?
There are many tools available for tour planning. In a number of forums on the net, tourers report on their undertakings. You can also use webcams to get an impression of the situation on site. But be careful: you should always compare the personal and therefore subjective information from the web with the avalanche reports.
These are among others:
For digital planning, there are, for example, clever tools with www.alpenvereinaktiv.com and www.whiterisk.ch, which help you to plan taking into account the avalanche and weather situation, create tracks and download them to the GPS or smartphone. But you also need to take a look at the «analog» map. Here you can identify potential danger spots, for example steep areas above 30 degrees or the danger spots indicated in the situation report in relation to the cardinal direction.
Harsch and crampons
Often the ascent track is in an unpleasant state in the morning. Overnight it has frozen like a glaze on de chocolate cake. Hard like concrete and sometimes bumpy like a field. The skins quickly reach their limits in steep places. You’re constantly slipping back. That costs strength. That’s why crampons should be in your backpack on every tour. The same applies to crampons. Steep cirques or gullies can mutate into tough «needle bites» that cannot be tackled without a twelve-pronged crampon. Maybe even a short pick makes sense. However, you should be clear about whether you can master these mostly last meters in the descent. Most of the time it makes sense to leave the skis before or to finish the ascent at the depot.
Wax your skins
Just a moment ago you were skiing in the sun, now the ascent is in the shade. And already it has happened: Thick lumps stick to the skins and make walking really hard. Even if the skins tend nowadays because of their good quality less to the Stollen, sometimes it happens nevertheless. Then a fight is called for. If you don’t want to scrape away the studs with a stick at minute intervals, treat the skins with a special skin wax or spray beforehand. Our tip: A fur wax belongs in the spring to the basic equipment.
Drink a lot
Even a loss of fluids of about 1 percent of body weight causes a noticeable drop in performance and is reached faster than you think. For a man weighing 80 kilograms, that’s 800ml of water. That is quickly sweated out. Therefore, you should take plenty to drink with you. The basic rule is: rather more often and less than rarely and much. You should drink about 500 -750ml of liquid per hour. Best in regular intervals. A water bag with a hose makes sense, because it allows you to drink regularly without having to take off your backpack.
The higher position of the sun in spring makes the UV radiation reflect more strongly through the snow than in winter. Therefore, a good sunscreen with a high sun protection factor and lip protection are standard equipment. Glacier goggles with dark category three or four lenses are also a must when the sky is overcast. And even if it gets warm during the day: Hard or softshell, including several layers of clothing, hat, gloves and a change of underwear naturally belong in your luggage.
Take care of your feet
On some tours, you have to walk a long way before you come into contact with the snow for the first time. In touring boots, this can be quite a challenge for your feet. If you’re smart, you can walk this distance in sneakers, which you then put under a rock or hide in the bushes at the actual start of the tour. A bicycle can also make sense for particularly long approaches or is indispensable for some tours.
Spring ski tours are an absolute highlight for us at HAGAN. Pleasantly warm summit rest, effortless turns in the firn and apple spritzer or bike on the hut terrace in the sun: heart, what more do you want.