Only a few days after the final exam from my last episode the Snowboard Führer course and exams started.. turning the page, into the next chapter. Long it did look like the course would be a disaster due to the lack of snow, as till the last week of April it was only melting (fast) and we hadn’t had a proper snowfall for a long time, till the 3 days around my exam which provided us over a meter of snow.
This last snowfall was, in terms of the exam we had previously, a bit a misfire from mother nature but it got us pumped for the next course. The Snowboardführer isn’t, just to clarify, an instructor qualification for teaching or learning, it’s all about guiding and more in terms of mountaineering. Different goals, different equipment, different skill set, everything different. The most equivalent known to the biggest part of the world is “mountain guide”, but it isn’t the same. A mountain guide includes more though, as they also work in summer, and that’s something that doesn’t exists for me..
Funny was that the course was held in the area around the same mountain as I summited by the end of March as part of the practice and training for this course. Where the conditions “should have been” more like springtime, even way above 3000m, they were pretty much ongoing “mid-winter”. We climbed several peaks around the Kürsingerhütte near the Großvenediger, one of the highest peaks of Austria, riding the best powder in May!
Since it was a training and exam, it wasn’t just about choosing the lines and getting them done, we’ve done heaps of serious stuff as analyzing the layers in the snow, building emergency shelters, navigating with map and compass and using rope rescuing techniques to get people out of crevasses. But weather turned against us halfway through the week which limited us too much in our training options and we had to relocate. So we prepared to head down the mountain and head towards the city of Innsbruck.
Just before we reached our hut for the last time, I convinced my buddy Markus to do a small detour to find some climbing equipment that I lost from my belt on the first decent from the hut that week, nobody believed in finding it in such a vast open area. But I was really confident on the location of the crash where I lost it, but also realistic in finding it, but I somehow wanted to clear my mind from losing the equivalent of over €50. We looked for it, not seeing anything that made me happy. Mainly to cheer myself up, I dropped the comment “Hey I’ve found it!” To which Markus replied with “Impossible, because I’ve just found it.” I took it as a joke since I was joking myself, but Markus turned around and said “Lets go!” and left straight away.. The moment I turned around and he took his first steps was the moment I saw my carabiners on his belt.. He found the needle in the haystack!
Back down in the real world around Innsbruck the next two days were less exciting, since also at lower altitudes the weather was crap, but the risk was manageable and we were flexible with the locations. We stayed in the resort of Kuhtai for a bit, which was already closed, sleeping in the car with a few others. But the last person leaving Kuhtai had forgotten to close everything down, so since it rained outside and the cars were quite small for a living space we stayed in the bathroom from the main chair for a while. We were thankful that the heater was working and the water was running, and to celebrate this we build our own little cinema.
The last day was sunny again, we headed towards the Subaier Glacier for one last tour. It was a beautiful finish from a beautiful time, not only from those 10 days of exams but also a goodbye from Austria for a while.. the last time riding on Austrian land for a while.. It gave me a weird feeling.. but the world is bigger and is more to explore. I’ve been on snow from half October till half May, almost ongoing.. by far the longest season I’ve ever had..
It wasn’t easy, there’s still sooo much (more) to learn, in such a complex and comprehensive environment where no situation is the same as one you’ve experienced before. By the end of the course I was under the impression that I didn’t pass all bits and pieces, but a little later the certificate arrived in the mailbox, all signed and stamped!
In the meantime I’ve already arrived in New Zealand from where the next episode will come soon!
Thanks for reading,