Wind Loaded

January 27, 2024  |  Hintertux, Austria
Olperer (3476 m / 11,404 ft) overlooks the Hintertux Glacier on a windy day in late January. According to Wikipedia, the glacier...

Olperer (3476 m / 11,404 ft) overlooks the Hintertux Glacier on a windy day in late January. According to Wikipedia, the glacier is up to 120 meters (390 ft) thick at its deepest, though this will undoubtedly shrink in the coming years as the glaciers in the Alps melt away.

During the winter, snowcats plow these series of large berms over wide expanses of the glacier between the ski pistes; I surmise that the purpose is to act as wind fences to catch as much snow as possible to boost the snowpack and prolong the life of the glacier. Indeed, in just a week or so I've seen these berms fill up with windblown snow (for instance, see the mostly buried berms on the far right side of the photo). Further evidence of care for this glacier is visible in Google Earth, where you can see that in the summertime large sections of the glacier are wrapped in white coverings to shield them from the sun.

Rietzer Grießkogel (2884 m) in the top center, as seen from the Hintertux Glacier about 50 km (31 miles) to the southeast.

Rietzer Grießkogel (2884 m) in the top center, as seen from the Hintertux Glacier about 50 km (31 miles) to the southeast.

It's been stormy and windy up at Hintertux lately and this morning was the first clear sky since the last snowstorm began several days ago. The wind had worked its magic once again overnight, buffing the powder into a smooth buttery surface. Fast and firm powder is my favorite type of snow, when I can really throw my weight into each carve and feel the force of gravity. (Plus I've been working on my gravitational power the last few weeks by drinking lots of hefeweisen!) This morning might have been my best yet here... I have snowboarding dreams like this! 😌