Fellhorn summit in winter
© © Reit im Winkl - Hannes Heigenhauser Mount Inspire Photographie

Ski touring: professional tips from the mountain rescue service

date: 21.03.2022
from: Hannes Heigenhauser

We accompany Veit Heigenhauser from the Reit im Winkl mountain rescue service on the "Om Umme" ski tour from the Fellhorn to the Steinplatte. He explains to us what is important on a ski tour, from preparation to execution.

Here we go - material and planning check

"Weather and time are the decisive components, not only on this ski tour." With these words, Veit Heigenhauser greets me shortly after seven o'clock at the tour parking lot in Seegatterl. We made an appointment to go on tour together. Our goal, the ski tour "Om Umme". A real classic that leads from the Fellhorn over to the Steinplatte mountains. Veit Heigenhauser is a trained member of the Bavarian mountain rescue service and also a nature conservation warden for Reit im Winkl. In these functions, he is very familiar with the region and the special features of this ski tour.

Bright sunshine is forecast for today, so we can enjoy the tour to the fullest. Nevertheless, we don't take our time unnecessarily, check our material again and do the obligatory avalanche transceiver check. This ensures that our avalanche transceivers (LVS in German) are switched on and work smoothly. And after the check, it's off to a good start.

At first, the tour runs leisurely uphill via the Nattersbergalm to the Hemmersuppenalm. Green signs of the alpine club show us the way in the direction of the Straubinger Haus hut. Time enough to talk about today's tour and its special features. Veit explains:

“Previously, this tour was only done in spring, when the days are getting longer and the weather is more stable. But meanwhile, many tourers are out and about even in the height of winter. They underestimate the time it takes to get to the Steinplatte on the high plateau. And before you know it it will be dark.” Time is no problem for us today, Veit leads the way with a brisk step and we reach the alpine pasture area around the Straubinger Haus, which is closed during winter. There we can enjoy the spectacular view of the Kaiser Mountains.

Up to the Fellhorn - terrain check

Because of the fantastic weather and the fantastic view, we decide to add the Fellhorn summit to our trip. The summit panorama is unparalleled, although you should always pay attention to the mighty summit ridge! At the summit, Veit explains the rest of the route to me:

Two thirds of the tour lead over Austrian territory. He points across to the mighty boulder of the Steinplatte, on the front of which the ski slopes are clearly visible. “In good weather, orientation is easy because you can always align yourself with the Steinplatte to get across the high plateau. But in fog or darkness - no chance. There are hardly any trees or bushes to orientate yourself by. And on the Austrian side, the plateau drops very steeply and over cornices. It can quickly become dangerous there.”

»Orientation is easy when the weather is good, as you can always align yourself with the Steinplatte to get across the high plateau. But in fog or darkness - no chance!«

Veit Heigenhauser, mountain rescue service Reit im Winkl

On the plateau - snow check

We peel the skins off our skis and descend from the Fellhorn along the ascent route. From the Straubinger Haus, the path to the Durchkaseralmen begins above the Steinplatte car park. These alpine pastures are also not managed in winter. In spring you can also go on the tour with cross-country skis if the firn cover is strong enough. If you are in good shape, you can almost skate to the Durchkaseralmen. In midwinter, on the other hand, it is better to use backcountry skis and leave your skins on your skis all the way to the alpine pastures.

Although we are not that slow, it takes us almost two hours to get to the alpine pastures in the Steinplatte area. The view can hardly be put into words, you always move above the trees in the middle of a dreamlike mountain scenery, with views of the Großglockner and Großvenediger.

The snow is well compacted and pressed by the wind, so it doesn't matter that we're walking with skins under our skis. The path is partly marked with snow poles, which makes orientation easier.

View of Reit im Winkl
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Finale - descent to Seegatterl

At the Durchkaser Almen we take a long break in the sun and enjoy the fantastic weather. Then we ski down to the Steinplatte car park, continue to the Schwarzloferlift valley station and climb up to the Winklmoos-Alm. Then it's off down the ski slope to Seegatterl.

It is now just after 3 p.m. and Seegatterl is already in the shade. Although we didn't take much time, we were "on the road" for eight hours. A long day of touring comes to an end, which requires excellent physical condition but is rewarded with magnificent views. But also with the realization that every tour should be properly planned and prepared.

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Skitour Om Umme
© © Reit im Winkl - Hannes Heigenhauser Mount Inspire Photographie

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About the author Hannes Heigenhauser

Hannes Heigenhauser is a freelance copywriter and spends every free minute in the mountains around Reit im Winkl. For him, the most beautiful thing is the diversity and variety of the region, whether in winter or in summer.

His texts deal with experiences on the mountain, the right preparation and personalities in Reit im Winkl.