so snowy – or winter #2 in south tyrol

one of the good things of the winter in merano is the tourist-free period starting in january right after the epiphany holiday when the crowd leaves the town and the christmas market finally disappears. time then for merano to turn on hibernation mode. suddenly it's all quiet, the atmosphere feels cosy, intimate and friendly, paths are deserted, a delight. 

this winter was the pure opposite of the dry and sunny one before, starting sooner and bringing record snowfalls, windstorms, high danger of avalanche through the season, and obviously avalanches too – january weather has been a turbulent one. in the evening of the 22nd, snow reached 2.5 m in the mountains. on some days, we were overwhelmed by the feeling of being living in the clouds (yes, much like in hamburg), though each day with a different landscape. on the sunny days however we enjoyed gorgeous mountain scenery.

what's more, with the new year we got the chance to catch another good thing of a snowy winter in the mountains – the joys of outdoor activities on snow. no, not skiing nor snowboarding but winter hiking. oh wow. on very sunny days it's just gorgeous. we walked our first winter hike on a cold and beautiful blue sky sunday through the snow-covered larch forests of avelengo, up on the sunny mountain plateau of merano 2000. we returned one week later for our first snowshoeing hike. 13 km from falzeben (1621 m) to passo della croce (kreuzjöchl 1984 m), monte spieler (2080 m) and back.

snowshoeing requires a good level of fitness if your excursion exceeds one or two hours, though it's easier to reach and explore areas of powder snow that would otherwise be inaccessible with common hiking boots. and you really can expect to have tons of fun. the nature experience is unique and intense. far from the full ski slopes you dive in a quiet and soothing environment. the tranquillity has something meditative, everything is peaceful and quiet. there's just your little you and the huge nature. never before i was expecting to get on a winter hiking kick some day, uphill-downhill for hours, trampling on and in the snow ;)

and so it came that i celebrated my big birthday snowshoeing up to monte fumaiolo (glaitner hochjoch) at 2389 m in the stubai alps. a difference of 812 m in height from our starting point. challenging, fun and gorgeous scenery.

the last days of february, a siberian cold hit europe, in the mountains of south tyrol temperatures went down to -30 °c, which forced us to postpone the next tour, intended for another birthday. this belated birthday happening took us on another snowshoeing tour of 16 km in 7 hours from zeppichl (1684 m) to passo sopranes (aka spronserjoch) at 2581 m and back (and in fact further than planned). unfortunately, it was too cloudy to glimpse the lakes of sopranes. instead, we got kudos from our mountain guide michl for this amazing achievement. summer or winter, this place has no secret for us anymore – well… except for the winter lake scenery.

some evidence? this way please.

and while i'm writing this, merano just ended hibernating. after a slowly start this year, spring is finally here, it's all flowering and blossoming, the warming sun shows up, german and austrian tourists are making their powerful comeback… it's getting frenetic again!