Deeper by the Minute

February 23, 2024  |  Hochfügen, Austria
Sepp and Zenzi are getting a bit cold out there.

Sepp and Zenzi are getting a bit cold out there.

Dumping snow on the Zillertal Shuttle gondola at Hochfügen.

Dumping snow on the Zillertal Shuttle gondola at Hochfügen.

The Abfahrts Hütte - not a bad place to stop at the end of a day at Hochzillertal for a celebratory beer and Käsespätzle on...

The Abfahrts Hütte - not a bad place to stop at the end of a day at Hochzillertal for a celebratory beer and Käsespätzle on the way back down to Aschau!

I've been anxious all week waiting for this big snowstorm that the weather forecasts have been predicting. Would the forecast pan out? Would I find fresh tracks? Would it get tracked out immediately? Would I miss the bus and be late? After three mostly dry weeks the anticipation was building. Powder panic, you could say.

This morning I woke up to pouring rain outside and I could see on the webcams that not much snow had accumulated yet up on the mountain. But it was snowing up there, and the forecasts called for 1"+ per hour during the day! Sure enough, halfway up the Hochzillertal gondola the rain turned to snow - and it was absolutely nuking. My first couple runs were about 5" of powder on top of smooth groomers... well, that was a great start! Then I ventured off piste and by then it was more like 7-8" inches - still skipping off the old base beneath but feeling good. It was piling up fast. So I headed back towards Hochfügen and found a beautiful open gladed zone which now had a good 10" of fresh snow, and getting deeper by the minute. Totally untracked. Nobody around. I couldn't believe it.

I ended up lapping that zone probably more than a dozen times, for 5 hours straight. Each ~1600-vertical-foot run through the glades was deeper than the last and soon enough after 12" through 16" of powder I wasn't scratching the bottom at all. Never saw anyone else back there, never had to share the gondola or wait in any line. I basically had an entire mountainside of powder to myself! After a while it actually started to feel a bit gluttonous. Finally I had to leave my sweet spot and make my way back towards Hochzillertal before the lifts closed. I kinda felt bad leaving so much powder untracked back there, but there's only so much one man can do.