Hochschwab-Salza loop trip planning

Diurnal instability triggering daily thunderstorms, the airmass in the boundary layer moist enough to keep the base of cumulus clouds low enough, often obscuring the mountain summits in fog, temperature at 1500m around a warm +11°c during the first few days with till Thursday 30 to 60mm of precipitation calculated over the mountains by the ECMWF model. That seems to be the weather I may expect on a traverse of the Hochschwab massif during next week, a limestone mountainous plateau in the east of the Austrian Alps. On Thursday a coldfront passage is expected giving lots of rain, possible snow at the end over the highest summits. Afterwards the 850hPa temperature of the operational run, although the ensembles plume is diverging significantly by that time, drops to slightly above freezing. Might become cold towards the end of the trip even though that remains premature to consider as a certainty at this point.

Hochschwab 201305
Packed for the Hochschwab-Salza loop.

This forecast may sound discouraging to many. To me it sounds very exciting! It’s been a long time I have had such unstable weather on a trip. I like thunderstorms in the mountains even though it demands special safety considerations while planning the trip beforehand and while out on the terrain. I will start the 8 day loop on the Salza river with my packraft. The river has some beautiful canyons with up to class III white water. I will put out on the second day before the hardest part on the river near Palfau and then hike back over the mountains with a traverse of Hochschwabs summit itself (2277m) if conditions permitting. Winter has been snow rich, higher then average, but the recent warm temperatures have made things evolve rapidly when looking at the local webcams (Wildalpen with Salza river in the valley, Tauplits Alm at 1656m, Bergstation Polster at 1800m). The big question: carry snowshoes or leave them home? The only pair of snowshoes I own are 25inch MSR Lightning Ascents. That’s in general too big for spring snow and I will probably not walk on snow for at least about 60% of the hiking distance. The absence of night frost and all the rain will keep compacting the snow. If the snow has become portable enough I can done the snowshoes. Will assess the conditions just before starting the trip and decide what to do best.

Will be continued…

3 thoughts on “Hochschwab-Salza loop trip planning

  1. Hans, I was thicking the same. Dzjow, could you make a packlist if you have some spare time? I’m really interested in seeing how you get your pack volume down!

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