The Zillertal is – and has always been – one of the most popular Tyrolean valleys. The Choice Adventure Company´s home of choice also has a lot to offer, when it comes to splitboard touring and freeriding far away from the crowds. For this year´s Choice „friends“ advanced level camp in early February, a bunch of experienced splitboarders gathered at the cosy Diggl Freeride Farm during a snow storm. But as we all know: after the storm, comes sun again! So they finally got blessed with three days of perfect splitboard touring, bluebird and fresh powder.
As every year, the Choice Adventure Company organised a splitboard camp for long-term customers and friends in 2020. The cosy Diggl Freeride Farm and mountain guide Gerhard Hoerhager´s former family home, was considered a worthy base for an advanced level splitboarding experience into the Zillertal´s remote alpine world. All those who are willing to walk the extra mile, know that they will always find some untouched powder faces in the Zillertal mountains.
Winter had taken over the valley and the crew was happy to apply snow chains to arrive safely at the mountain hut in the back of Ginzling´s winter wonderland on the 4th of February, 2020. After a yummy welcome dinner by chief cook Eva Lynn Haberl, the sauna got fired up for a first relaxing round. It kept snowing all night and the mountain cabin was completely covered in white gold. The storm did not calm the next day and all resorts were closed due to strong winds, heavy snowfalls and poor visibility. Considering the high avalanche risk, the group decided to stay home and do a proper avalanche and safety training behind the house. In the afternoon, the boys hiked up the hill behind the cabin to score some powder turns right into the garden. No doubt, that the Diggl Freeride Farm is the perfect hide-away on stormy days like these.
For Thursday, the forecast predicted bluebird. So the Choice friends took first lifts up and shredded the powder runs around Mayrhofen and Finkenberg all day long. With a big smile, they happily returned to the Diggl in the afternoon. And after the daily sauna session and celebratory meal, the splitboards were prepared for new adventures. It seemed like the clerk of weather was on the Choice friends´ side, forecasting sunshine and wintery conditions for the upcoming three days.
Mountain guide Marco Hilpert took the hungry mountaineers on a splitboarding mission to Haslspitz on Friday. They went up with the gondola to Rastkogel mountain station, did a a few warm-up runs on the slopes and changed to hiking mode right at the bottom of the tobaggan track to start touring. Passing the gouge, the group advanced into steeper terrain, enjoying spring temperatures and a perfect view while splitboarding. When the splitboarders approached the summit (2.547 m) it started to get windy and sharky. The group decided have a break on the ridge south of Haslspitz and to skip the summit. Quickly changed to riding mode and the riders were ready to drop into a versatile face filled with fresh powder and many little side hits, while the sun started declining. Back at the cabin, the first photos were sighted with joy and everybody was off to bed, early.
A longer splitboard tour to Hobarjoch was on the schedule for Saturday. This time, without lifttickets. The cars were parked at 1.600 metres on the small mountain road close to the „Geislhoefe“ in Vorderlanersbach. From there, the group started touring up the little alpine track, that was heading west towards the back of the valley. After Hobalm and at 1.950 hm, they turned right, heading for the ridge between Almkogel and Hobarjoch and climbed Hobarjoch peak. On their way splitboarding up, the snowboarders walked past beautiful mountain faces while sweating under the strong midday sun. When they reached the summit, everyone was blown away by the amazing panoramic view over the Alps.
After a short lunch break, the boards were changed to riding mode and the group was excited to drop into the following 912 hm downhill run. The first drop into steep chutes was followed by wide powder fields and the run ended on the forest road, that lead them back to the starting point, where the cars were parked. At the end of another amazing day, the splitboarders had tracked more than 10-kilometres of finest splitboard touring and everyone was happy to return to Diggl for another sauna session and dinner.
Sunday was already the last touring day. The cars were packed in the morning to head to Gerlosstein and straight home afterwards. After a single gondola ascent to Gerlosstein mountain station (1.600 m) the splitboarders took the t-bar to arrive at the entrance of the valley east from the impressive „Gerlossteinwand.“ From there, the group started splitboarding south bound towards Heimjoechl. Having the massive rock face to their right, they were passing open woodland and entered a beautiful winter wonderland on their way towards Hochfeld on 2.350 metres. Just below the ridge, the riders decided to stop, change and go for a first powder run. Great choice!
Even on the third day, they still got rewarded with fresh and fluffy powder. At the bottom of the versatile face, the splitboards were quickly changed to hiking mode and everyone was frothing to tour up again. This time, they were heading in the direction of Geiskopf (2.277 m). The weather was about to change, winds had been freshing up in the afternoon. So they decided to stop on the lee side below the summit and prepare for the last run of the day. The afternoon sun performed its magic on the wide Hochfeld face, that transformed into a sparkling and dreamy playground. Riding down, everyone picked their own, individual line and they all had a lot of fun, enjoying earned turns in fresh powder. Another short, little boot-packing hike back to Heimjoechl and then all the way was downhill: they were passing wide meadows, riding beautiful chutes and cruising through an open forest, until everybody arrived back on the slope safely. To end the day, they took it with a 6-km valley run and finished the camp with tired legs and hapoy faces on the parking!
What a week! From storm, whiteout and heavy snow falls, to perfect freeriding days and up to beautiful splitboard touring with bluebird and fresh powder. „It´s been a great experience that needs to be repeated,“ the Choice friends agreed. The date for next season´s Choice Friends Camp at the Diggl Freeride Farm is already confirmed: 11.-14. February 2021! Save the date and don´t miss out on the action!
A special thanks goes out to Gerhard Hoerhager and his hospitality at the lovely Diggl Freeride Farm. Big up to Marco Hilpert for professional guiding and a great shout out to all partners for supporting the Choice Splitboard Camps in 2020: Jones Snowboards, Never Summer Snowboards, Karakoram, Spark R&D, Deeluxe Boots, Ortovox, Penguin Clothing, Smith Optics, SN Supernatural Merinowear, Protect our Winters Austria, Dana Beanies, Kohla Tirol
all photos by Tobias Tröscher