Enjoy the best snow conditions in spring and summer on an e-bike with Nicholas Wolken
“We should really put our foot down in spring, when the best of the steep slopes suddenly become passable again on a splitboard or touring skis! If only there weren’t those never-ending ascents to the snow...,” I say to my friend Luggi. He breaks into a smile and starts telling me about his FLYER e-bike, which he has already taken on numerous tours. He gets more and more enthusiastic and I start to think about what I could possibly do if I had an e-bike, too. It’s perfectly clear that an e-bike and a splitboard setup or an e-bike combined with climbing gear would definitely make sense for me! That’s how I came by my first FLYER e-bike – the Uproc7.
I get up on a bit of an “iffy” Sunday morning in spring, the birds are singing but the weather looks a little capricious. It’s the time of year when only die-hard endurance tourers think about snow. In different circumstances, I would probably have taken a trip to the overcrowded bouldering gym on that sort of day, but I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to take a quick look on the mountain with my e-bike. I set off right outside my front door and ride through the waking city with the splitboard strapped onto my back and my boots in my panniers, passing the occasional puzzled face that can’t make any real sense of what they’ve just seen. I easily climb the winding road with its hairpin bends, quietly and without much effort, only stopping briefly to watch a black grouse performing a courtship display. 1500 meters in altitude are soon left behind me and I manage to get to just below the SAC hut, where I park my bike at the snow line and marvel at my fresh pair of legs. With my ski boots strapped on, I set off with the splitboard. The weather is certainly not ideal; thick patches of fog repeatedly obscure the view and alternate with clear spells and plays of light, too risky for the summit, but still nice to discover a new area on your doorstep.
I make good progress, the fog and silence have a charm of their very own. When the fog clears, I study the mountain in front of me looking for possible routes that I might be able to follow on a day when the weather is more consistent. I simply make the most of being outdoors and enjoy the chamois I discover. After a while it’s time to return home, so I pull off the covers and assemble the splitboard to weave my way back down to my e-bike on the corn snow. I’m anxious about riding downhill with the board on my back, and take things easy on the e-bike at first. Slowly I begin to feel more confident and start to get faster. Despite all the luggage, it is very easy to ride on the gravel road. Seeing a trail that leads off from the side of the road, I take it and have no problems thundering over roots, leaning more and more into the bends despite my luggage. Now that’s fun! It feels like I get home with a smile on my face in next to no time. The end of a fantastic little micro-adventure, simply immerse yourself in nature and be back home 4 hours later, that felt really good! I take several short tours like this in the surrounding mountains as well as longer ones in the Engadin, such as up the Palü or Piz Linard.
My e-bike gradually became the ideal tool for snow-free spring adventures or exploring tours. In fact, it has now become indispensable for me. It lets me get away from the masses and find solitude very easily, opening up completely new possibilities in terms of distances, altitudes and times. It helps greatly expand my sphere of action, especially in spring when snow line rises and the climbing season begins! With the help of my e-bike, I can save valuable energy for the planned tour in the snow or on the rock face before enjoying a fast ride home back down the mountain on my e-bike without wasting any time.
A few useful tips...
I recommend carrying the skis or the board on your back (fixed to the backpack) for shorter tours. But for longer adventures, I fasten my splitboard to the frame with ski straps. Although this takes a bit more time, it makes for a much more pleasant ride on the saddle in the long run. Armed with a rack and 2 panniers, I can also easily take my tent, stove, sleeping bag and food with me.
It is particularly important to pay attention to the weight distribution of your luggage on very steep paths. In this case, it’s best to have the luggage on your back. However, the best option on longer tours is to place the bike bags or the weight on the front wheel, because otherwise you may find yourself “wheelieing” up a slope very quickly and landing in the next thorn bush, just like I did once.
If there is still some snow from old wet snow avalanches along the route, you can simply dismount and use the pushing aid in most cases, which works very well, even with a loaded bike. The right shoes, which should be waterproof and offer good grip in the snow, are certainly not out of place here either. In spring, when the snow is still frozen in the morning, it is surprisingly easy to ride over it, but remember that it will be soft on the way back! In this situation, it is advisable to leave your skis on in the afternoon and push the minimally loaded bike to the next dry road with the help of the pushing aid.
My e-bike gradually became the ideal tool for snow-free spring adventures or exploring tours. In fact, it has now become indispensable for me.