where does the trail end?
this is the report of our last adventure in this winter season. looking back at the season, i’m really happy that we took the risks involved to spend 3 months in the snow, although austria hasn’t seen a winter with such little snow (well, except for carinthia and east tyrol) in the last decades. we had to accept the circumstances and made the most of it, resulting in a lot of great experiences in return.
would i do it again? yes, i absolutely would!
i have learned so much this season, both riding-wise and for life (although i didn’t reach enlightenment :P). i know that being surrounded by nature is very important to me, and what’s a better way to spend time outdoors than to shred down a mountain that you’ve just hiked up? this season has left me very calm and satisfied. and for that (and so much more), i’m grateful.
now enough with the nostalgic babbling and onto the report of our last adventure!
enourmous edelgriess experience.
on the 27th of march, it was time for us to give one of the legendary, classical freeride routes of austria, the edelgriess descent from the dachstein glacier, a shot.
after riding up with the gondola, the first difficulty is the 20 meter long climb up over ladders and stemples. then you reach the rosmarie-stollen, a tunnel which enables you to get to the other side of the mountain without climbing over the top (although there is a via ferrata over the ridge as well). there you can catch your breath (maybe even take a break on the small bench after the tunnel with a breathtaking view) before you begin traversing a steep slope to the edelgriess glacier. most of the traverse is easy to walk, there are some difficult sections nonetheless and you shouldn’t slip and fall in general, because underneath the path is a rock fall.
when you have mastered the traverse, you stand atop the edelgriess glacier and the 1600 meters in vertical height of descent.
we had soft, slushy snow in the top part of the slope, a little bit of powder in the middle section and then hard-crusted, difficult to ride snowpack in the last part. it wasn’t actually THAT breathtaking to ride, but it was a lot of fun! it’s always great to have such a long descent, feeling far away from civilisation (which you actually aren’t, also there are usually plenty of people riding the edelgriess to. when we rode it, there were only 3 other people. when we were at the parking lot again, we saw about 7 people walking across the traverse, so we were kinda lucky).
a word on fear of heights and anxiety issues.
what made this adventure so special, is my fear of heights (or more precise: fear of falling). i want to talk about this issue a bit now, because i feel that it’s still a taboo and that’s a problem, because it makes people with anxiety issues feel like they’re out of the norm, or not as capable (read: good) as others. so, i will try to talk about my issues openly, to show others that you can improve and achieve things you once thought were impossible.
i get scared on a lot of occasions, be it steep traverses when hiking with the splitboard, climbing parts, exposed sections… i guess, many people who are scared of heights would just not bother to try stuff like that, which is understandable to me on one hand. on the other hand, there’s my hunger for challenge, for learning and getting better. i don’t want to be limited by my fear.
and of course there are many great descents that are only reachable with a bit of climbing involved. and i want to ride those!
the funny thing is, that i’m not scared when i’ve got my board strapped onto my feet. i’ve mastered steep slopes or very steep parts of faces without being bothered much. of course, i also feel slightly nervous, but in those situations, my nervousness only helps me to stay focussed, it doesn’t make my palms damp, it doesn’t make me shiver and i don’t panic. without my board, nervousness turns into panic quickly, which makes it hard to plan smart moves.
i enjoy bouldering, rock climbing and via ferratas, which are all activities where i have to go out of my comfort zone at least now and then to get better. during this winter season, i have slowly worked my way up. by the end of the season, my confidence was big enough to give the 20 meter ladder and the traverse a shot. yes, i did use my via ferrata set to belay myself. yes, it took me quite a long time to reach the target. yes, i was scared sometimes and had moments where i felt that i wouldn’t be able to reach the target. but i still made it! do i still seek improvement? yes. maybe sometime in the future i will be able to climb up a 20 meter ladder without getting scared. but at the same time, i’m proud of myself for overcoming my fear. and i wish to encourage others, that overcoming fears and obstacles in ones life is possible. no matter, if it’s a fear of heights or anxiety when you’re on the bus.
sometimes you might need professional help, sometimes a friends help will be enough, sometimes you will be able to help yourself. the most important factor is a positive attitude towards your own capabilities. and if you can’t yet honestly feel that way, fake it till you make it.
others might be doing better, but you can be successful in your own zone and that’s a huge step forward!