This was my first splitboarding session of the season and I’m not feeling as fit as last year, so this was going to be interesting. If you don’t know, splitboarding is just like ski touring, but with a snowboard that splits in half to create skis to climb the mountain with.
I have never climbed Nordkette in winter, only in summer. It can be tough depending on what path you take. In the summer, it becomes the steepest mountain bike trail in Europe that holds events such as the Nordkette Singletrail. Not only is it difficult because of the elevation, but the altitude affects kick in at about two thirds of the way up. Add snow and ice and it can get a bit tricky.
Hungerburg – the start
I started at Hungerburg which is about 800m above sea level. There is a cable car train from Congress in the city to Hungerburg, which is very convenient. From there, it’s just a short walk to the starting point.
I went the wrong way to begin with. I was meant to take the main track, which zig zags up the mountain side and is more manageable. But the scenery looked so good and it didn’t seem too steep to begin with.
Then I realised that I was going straight up and it was easier to keep going than to turn back. It was icy in places and at one point I felt like I was playing snakes and ladders. I stopped and put my crampons on.
Crampons are teeth like blades that are placed underneath the bindings, so you can cut into the ice and get a better grip. Without these, it would have been near impossible in certain sections.
I reached the path after the steep ascent that was tougher than I thought it would be…yes!
It was lovely on the main path: the view of Innsbruck from different perspectives, the sun rising over the mountain peaks, the birds tweeting and the wood peckers pecking…fantastic!
This is what I love about splitboarding, it takes you away from the “norm” and places you right into nature. You become an adventurer where you can go wherever you want. It’s a good way to clear the mind, especially if you’re very busy. It’s also nice to be away from the digital world for a change (minus a few photo moments for the blog ;-)).
So I made it to the chair lift, this is the final stretch where you have the Seegrube lift station and restaurant in full view. I had to take a few breaks on the last bit, I’m not completely mountain fit yet. I could really feel the pressure of the altitude at this point. I had a banana break with some coffee from my backpack for a boost.
The skiers and snowboarders had arrived and were also enjoying the views as I was near the top.
A Tyrolean came past. We had a little chat and I said I was from England and not used to the altitude. He said to go slow and next time you’ll be able to go quicker. Some nice encouragement from a local who moved on with speed and power. I find it amazing how fit the Tyroleans are and can see why many athletes and sportsmen and women from all over Europe train here at high altitude.
Seegrube – the finish
I made it to Seegrube and what a feeling. Looking down at the city where I started and to think I climbed for over 4 hours to get here was just amazing. Some locals do this a few times a week, if not daily which is unbelievable! What was also great was meeting my mate Miguel from Blossom Kollektiv, a local record label. He is hosting the Iglu -Arctic Rave party on 24th March at Cloud 9, where I DJ for Silvester (NYE).
He was there with Wolfgang Sauter of Pro Performance who distributes Lambda Labs speaker systems. They are providing their special sound system for this one party in Cloud 9. What they do is analyse the acoustics and combine the perfect system setup with the venue, to create the best possible quality of sound, very interesting stuff.
Now for even more fun: putting the board back together and surfing down the mountain.
Unfortunately, because of the conditions near the bottom, the piste was closed beyond the chair lift, so check before you head up there if you want to go all the way down.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos: © Ashley Wiggins.