a Passion for Ski Mountaineering
David Kögler is 22 years old and comes from Hirschegg in Kleinwalsertal and is training to be a police officer.
I am rudely awoken from my dreams by my alarm clock at 5.15 a.m. I climb out of my warm bed and take a glance out of the window at the clear starry skies. I quickly eat a bowl of muesli, throw on my clothes, put my stuff in the car and head off to the Kanzelwand lift valley station.
Who could imagine being at the Kanzelwand lift at 6 o’clock in the morning? There aren’t even any lifts running yet. This is not a problem as I don’t need one because I am a ski mountaineer.
This is no problem at all because the workers at the Kanzelwand lift have done a really great job. Even though the surrounding areas are all still green, the pistes themselves provide optimum conditions.
I climb up along the route of the downhill run by the light of my headlamp. A special kind of silence prevails at this time of the day. I can hear my own heartbeat, the quickness of my breath and the crunching of my skis. I reach the mountain station in 50 minutes and look down into the valley that is gradually waking up. I quickly pull the skins off my skis and set off down the same stretch that I have just climbed up. When I reach the mountain station for the second time, the sun is slowly rising from behind the distinctive outline of the Allgäu Alps.
I rest for a short while, have a chat with a few ski instructors and explain to a few interested visitors exactly what ski mountaineering involves and how it works. A quick glance at my watch tells me that I have already put 2,500 metres of altitude behind me. This is not bad at all and I can end my training session with a good conscience, however, the Hammerspitze climbing area is smiling down on me resplendently in the sunshine. Ok, why not? I fasten the skis to my rucksack and head off towards the Hammerspitze over the ridge.
This is also part of the training session. It is often necessary to strap your skis to your rucksack and cross steep and exposed ridges during races. Pushing yourself to your physical limits whilst running at competition pace can be quite dangerous and you do not have the luxury of making any errors.
I scramble over the snow and rocks towards the summit. I reach the summit in the brilliant sunshine and I am rewarded with an awesome view over Kleinwalsertal and neighbouring Stillachtal. I allow my gaze to wander over the local mountains. Even though I have already climbed them all, I will never tire of seeing them. I get to see many places during the race season, including the whole of Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France. As beautiful as the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, the Ortler, Mont Blanc, ... are, I always take so much pleasure in taking part in ski tours on my local mountains.
I was satisfied with my achievement and you have to accept that this type of bad luck can happen :)
***Schönleiten Trophy*** During a different weekend during advent, I went to Saalbach (Salzburg) to take part in the Schönleiten Trophy. Three races are held in this competition. I set myself the challenge of taking part in all three races. The Vertical (= pure mountaineering race) started on the Saturday afternoon. The crème de la crème of the German-speaking ski mountaineering scene were all there so the leading positions were occupied by the various World Cup athletes. The race would involve conquering a torturous and extremely steep 550 metres in altitude. I was very pleased to be ranked 23 considering I was among such talented and strong frontrunners. The sprint took place in the evening and I managed, even among such a strong starting line up, to make it into the quarter final. I only missed out on qualifying for the semi final by a few seconds. I was very happy to end the day with this achievement. The individual event took place the next day which involves putting 1,400 metres of altitude behind you. My legs were still tired from the previous day. I was able to keep pace with the top end of the middle of the field, however, I was unable to reach my full potential. I came 18th with a time of 1 hour and 39 minutes.
I spend the afternoon at home relaxing in my hammock in the sun and looking forward to the next day. The same programme awaits me.
The Kleinwalsertal mountain scenery in the winter is unbelievably beautiful. However, some people underestimate the dangers. If you want to embark on a tour during the winter and discover this magnificently beautiful alpine landscape, it is recommended that you seek advice and assistance from the professionals at the Bergschule Kleinwalsertal (Kleinwalsertal mountaineering school).