Snowday #7, Pazola Stock, Oberalppass

I’ve been trying to find good snow and good weather all weekend, without luck. After a foggy day at Grand St Bernard I decided to just head towards Andermatt on Sunday night. The forecast was optimistic for Monday; sunny – though with a fair bit of wind. Sleeping in my car Sunday night the wind was howling. Not a good sign, but I decided to at least head up to Oberalppass and have a look. Lots of fresh snow and huge amounts of wind is never a good sign when venturing into the mountains, especially alone like I was.

On a side note, I have the feeling that they’re used to quite bad weather in the Oberalppass. They have their own working lighthouse up there, for instance…

Clearing up
Lower part of the bowl. And my finger.

The forecast said it was going to start getting sunny at 9-10, so I arrived at 0850 and was met by a blizzard. I actually skinned up in the waiting room at the station. Following the remains of some skintrack from a few days before I (very cautiously) made my way up from the station via the west side of the Pazola Stock. At times I simply had to stop, visibility was practically zero. Not a good thing when you don’t know the mountain except for having looked at it on a map. Luckily it started clearing up, though the wind was not going anywhere. By the time I made it to the SE ridge under the peak, it was actually quite pleasant, even the wind was less of a problem. I literally stumbled upon the massive bowl that essentially forms the S face of the mountain and couldn’t resist it. It had tons more snow than the rock-jagged west face I was planning to ride. I decided to ride it from the ridge, as summiting would have either forced me to skin up the S side, which was loaded with wind-transported snow – or bootpacking the ridge, which I didn’t feel like doing in heave wind with a huge snowboard on my back acting as a sail. From the ridge where I stopped there’s another 190m of vertical to the peak.

The south face is simply made for snowboarding. Lots of microterrain, lots of features, windlips, stuff to play on. I knew that I had to cross the bowl to make my way out on the skiers right side without getting into heavy terrain, so from where I entered it became a bit of a traverse, but still. Insane terrain. The snow was as perfect as you can expect, the wind having done very little damage inside the bowl. I simply rode down to the winter-closed road and switched to ski-mode. Without too much effort I could slide down to the village south of the Oberalppass and catch the train back to Andermatt from there.

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Waiting for the train. Getting some tan.

Bowl visible in the background

All in all, a super-nice day!

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