Update Transalp – On the road with the AV Academy

Adventure Transalp – our most alpine update in mountain biking: In four days you will master challenging classic alpine crossings as part of a round trip. On the Transalp Tour you will learn to plan meticulously, to observe the weather course and to orientate yourself perfectly in the terrain. In addition to decision-making and group dynamics, the advanced training also covers riding technique and safety aspects on alpine trails. On the four stages all material must be carried by yourself. The goal of the course is to gain extensive planning as well as to lead bike groups safely through alpine terrain over several days. Here is the link to the update: Alpenverein Academy

A field report by Benjamin Köglberger

Transalp tours in the Alps are the highlight of a mountain bike season. Long climbs, alpine trails and rustic huts are the ingredients that make a Transalp something special. In order to make such offers possible in sections as well, the AV Akademie has created the Transalp Update course. In June, we, four participants and one instructor, set out for a four-day round in the Stubai and Ötztal Alps to deepen our knowledge with regard to planning and conducting multi-day tours.

We’re not even on our bikes yet, but in the car, doing the third round of the traffic circle. Where was the parking lot again? The search for a parking space is the first hurdle of our Transalp. Finally the cars are parked and after a bike check the guide of the day starts – short explanation: we participants lead the group alternately on one day of the tour. We start into the Ridnaun valley in the direction of Schneebergscharte. At the beginning, the ascent is on a gravel road that is easy to ride. Before the first carrying passage is due, we fill our stores in the cozy Moarerbergalm. Then it gets exhausting: we shoulder the bikes and trudge 500 meters up to the Scharte. Here we keep discovering relics of mining in the region. This was done with quite an effort and for an amazingly long time. The last miners did not leave the tunnels until the 1980s. On the saddle we can briefly get our bearings and enjoy the immense panorama. The views reach as far as the glacier-covered peaks of the Ötztal Alps. We can already see the Schneeberghaus, the destination of today’s stage. A trail still separates us from the hut. In the S2 area, in a great atmosphere, we descend to the time-honored refuge, which used to serve as the mining company’s mansion. For a guided tour through the tunnels we lack a little motivation after the day, instead we discuss in the evening what this house must not have experienced.

A long day in the Ötztal

The second day starts right away with a descent thanks to the overnight stay in a hut. And all this in sunshine and pleasant temperatures. Gottfried, our guide for today, has conscientiously done the map study and guides us safely down to the Timmelsjoch road. The trail is perfect for warming up. The following ascent to the Timmelsjoch is completed with a smile on our faces in view of the fantastic mountain scenery all around. At the top we enjoy the great panorama but only briefly, because an icy wind drives us to hurry. This haste then almost leads us to take the wrong path. But the technical start of the right path then quickly sharpens our senses again and warms our clammy fingers. Sometimes flowing, sometimes technical and with great views it goes down towards Sölden. High-fives and friendly words are exchanged with the many oncoming E5 hikers; mutual consideration works perfectly here. In Sölden, unsurprisingly, the bear is stirring. We digest the small culture shock with pizza. I have to have my brakes serviced and learn shortly afterwards that the braking force of a freshly serviced brake still leaves something to be desired – so the subject of asphalt rash is also checked off. Fortunately, everything is not so bad. In Vent we again enjoy a real feast and review the day. Improvements in daily planning are suggested and “lack of leadership” moments are highlighted.

One minestrone is not enough

Day three begins with the climb to the Martin-Busch-Hütte, probably one of the most beautiful climbs in Austria. We drive through the high alpine valley with its still impressive glaciers. The trail to the Similaun hut begins at the Martin Busch hut. Uphill flow is also there for us powerless bikers – it’s just casual to fight your way up the blocky, but still rideable terrain. We pass the place where Austria’s most famous mummy was discovered, which is actually Italian – which probably didn’t matter in the past. At the end of the ascent there is an old snow field to cross and then we reach the Similaunhütte, where we enjoy a soup. What follows is probably the most difficult downhill of our round. For us driving technique normalos is rather not to think of driving. Coach Markus shows what is possible. After a short hike, the trail then becomes rideable for the rest of the group. What follows is 900 deep meters of concentration, choosing a line, shifting the center of gravity – a demanding trail that spits us out euphoric but also tired at the Vernagt reservoir. At a short stop we already celebrate the day and the trail, the admonishing interjection from the coach that we are not yet at the finish is somehow lost. On the ascent into the Pfossental valley, the lack of a proper lunch takes its revenge. Everyone is struggling in the face of a clearly negative energy budget. On the sunny terrace of the Eishof, however, the painful meters of altitude are quickly forgotten. The scenery in the back of the Pfossental valley contributes to this, because it is simply tremendous. The high valley is framed by spectacular mountains like Hohe Weiße and Hintere Schwärze and is certainly one of the scenic highlights of the tour. Over a fine vegetarian dinner, we critically review the day and come to the following conclusion: a minestrone is not a full meal for a Transalp stage and several small breaks do not replace a proper stop.

Back to Sterzing – A long day out

After a wonderful breakfast, the food at the Eishof impresses with regional products, we crank and push up to the Eisjöchl, a legendary Transalp crossing. We reach the modern newly built Stettiner Hütter, where the trail down into the Pflerschtal begins. The varied trail inspires and is rideable throughout. In Platt we treat ourselves to a good portion of shepherd’s macaroni – we have learned from the last day. Over easy trails it goes further down to St. Leonhard, where the question arises, who finally decided not to organize a shuttle for the Jaufenpass. As the guide of the day, I have to take the blame for that. One last uphill, then. Once at the top, we put the Jaufen in the category “next time with shuttle”. The XXL cake in the Edelweißhütte tastes all the better for it and the mood is relaxed despite our tiredness, because as a finale we still have a long trail to Sterzing ahead of us, whose line on the map bodes well. Our hopes are coming true. The trail is great and unlike those of previous days no longer high alpine and technical, but fast and flowing. We enjoy the last descent of the trip to the fullest and reach the cars in Sterzing again, satisfied. Over Coke and shandy, we toast the successful course and discuss once again the challenges of leading a group. Then it’s back home again, with new knowledge, a few scratches and many good memories in the luggage.

The route as GPS track