Escaping everyday life and going on an inspirational trip to experience some fresh air again is compelling to all of us. So it is for Tom Fritzmeier and his girlfriend Simi. They didn’t care about colder temperatures in winter and went on a SUP trip to paddle 6 lakes in 3 different countries. It shows us SUP can be done anywhere, anytime by everyone. Read their interesting SUP story, get to know about their SUP routes, get some advice on paddling in winter and see the photo's to get inspired for your next trip!
Introduction & background
My name is Tom Fritzmeier and I’m a guy from Bavaria (south Germany). I’m a paddle boarder, beer and beard lover. And now somehow even a blogger.
Actually, I am a journalist, for whom freedom means to be on the go. To explore nature. Climb mountains. Hit the road with my Caddy. Or just float around on my Stand Up Paddle Board. I used to be an ice hockey pro (loooong time ago). Then I switched the sides and became a sports editor of a daily newspaper.
More fun than watching sports is exploring! So I quit my job and hit the road, seeking for adventures. With my board I paddle through the world. On my SUP board I discover our planet from a whole new perspective. Sometimes gentle, sometimes wild. But always beautiful. Most of the time a board and a paddle are enough for me to be happy. If not, then there is still beer. And if you are wondering what I do during winter-time – I paddle. Just see the pictures below for yourself.
„So I quit my job and hit the road, seeking for adventures.“
My winter SUP trip: 6 lakes in 3 countries
The fresh snow is glittering. The sun is shining. Awesome. Let’s go boarding. Not on the slopes. On the lake. Sounds weird. But it’s not. It is great. Winter and Stand Up Paddling match perfectly - as long as you do not dive in the water.
The idea: as soon as the first snowflakes fall, we load our car with our inflatable SUP boards and start the adventure. Check our list of gear below. On our bucket list were three countries (Austria, Italy and Germany) and four lakes. However, we also wanted to explore. What means to be spontaneously, what means to change plans. What means to experience even more than you had expected. After a week, there were six lakes and the most impressive Stand Up Paddling trip in our SUP diary.
The idea for a winter SUP trip started in summer. On a SUP-hiking-tour. Me and my girlfried Simi (she takes most of the pictures) were looking for new SUP spots in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, exploring various small mountain lakes. The view from the water to the surrounding peaks was breathtaking. But, we quickly agreed: mountains are most beautiful when they are covered in snow.
Before we start just a hint: when you roll out your Stand Up Paddle Board in deep snow, people will stare at you. Always. Get used to it. Believe me: Most people are happy to see you. And inspired. Just smile at them. Even if they call you crazy. That’s a good thing.
„After a week, there were six lakes and the most impressive Stand Up Paddling trip in our SUP diary.“
Winter SUP destinations & routes
We started the trip shortly before Christmas. Because there was hardly any snow in Germany, we headed directly to Austria - and after just a few kilometers we changed plans.
Below the Fernpass road we had discovered lake „Blindsee“. Breathtakingly beautiful. So: car parked, inflatable Stand Up Paddle Boards on the back. We always use inflatable SUPs. Why? Imagine carrying a hard board up or down a mountain.
The 30-minute downhill hike through the knee-deep snow was an experience itself. Arriving at the lake .... just WOW. A scenery like in a fairy tale. All around white mountain peaks, snow-covered trees and a bright blue sky.
Unpack the board, inflate, hit the water. By the way, if you need a good snowfree spot to start: A SUP paddle is also perfect as a snow shovel.
„Arriving at the lake .... just WOW. A scenery like in a fairy tale. All around white mountain peaks, snow-covered trees and a bright blue sky.“
Pragser Wildsee (a.k.a. Lago di Braies, Italy)
In the afternoon we went on towards Italy. Destination: Lake „Pragser Wildsee“ (Lago di Braies). On Instagram there are millions of pictures of the lake. But none with a Stand Up Paddler on it during winter. Well, there is one now.
We were lucky. The lake was frozen only at the front. At the very back we discovered a bit of water. So again: Backpacking the Stand Up Paddle Boards - and let’s go. The path ... well, not easy to walk. Skates would have been helpful in some places. Slipping over the ice on the butt also worked.
When we finally arrived on the water, we experienced the highlight of our trip. While we were paddling the sun went down behind the mountain peaks. Temperature dropped and the water around us began to freeze. No joke. It was very impressive!
Okay, to be honest, on the water I was a little bit scared. But back on the shore I thought it was soooooooooo cool.
„The sun went down behind the mountain peaks and temperature dropped. Then, the water around us began to freeze. No joke. It was very impressive! Back on the shore I thought it was soooooooooo cool“
After an icy cold night in the Caddy (minus 12 degrees Celsius, two sleeping bags and a thick blanket were necessary) we drove back to Austria, pumped up our boards at lake „Vilsalpsee“. The lake is also super-beautiful in summer. But in winter it is even more beautiful.
This time we skipped the walk around the lake and headed directly on the water. In the middle of the lake a thin layer of ice had formed, but large parts were freely ridable. As the sun sped out from behind the mountains, fog rose from the ice. Just WOW.
„As the sun sped out from behind the mountains, fog rose from the ice. Just WOW.“
It was even a bit colder the next day on Lake „Plansee“ (Austria). At minus 16.5 degrees Celcius, we left the bus early in the morning. After all, the lake was completely ice-free. After a coffee around the campfire we were still frozen but ready for Stand Up Paddleboarding. Again: the view, the feeling on the ice-cold and crystal-clear water: unreal.
„The feeling on the ice-cold and crystal-clear water: unreal.“
Lake „Eibsee“ below Mount „Zugspitze“ (the highest mountain in Germany) reminds in the summer of the Caribbean. In winter you feel like paddling in Canada.
„Eibsee reminds you in the summer of the Caribbean. In winter you feel like paddling in Canada.“
The final stop of our tour was lake „Walchensee“ (Germany). This was definitely my favorite lake and the glassy waters with snowy mountain peaks were simply amazing!
Best board for a winter SUP trip: Yarra 10.6
When you are going on a winter SUP tour, it is essential to bring the right equipment. I was travelling with my Jobe Yarra 10.6
. This board is an all-rounder, floats smoothly on the water. My feet did not even get wet during the entire tour. In addition, the Jobe waterproof backpack, which is a kind of oversized wetbag, is super-practical in snow. Bonus for all Insta freaks: the board looks fantastic on pictures.
To be safe in winter I recommend wearing a drysuit. Who does not have one, can also use a neoprene suit. But then you should paddle close to the shore. Because if you dive after all, you should get back to land quickly and get changed. Gloves are also essential. At temperatures well below zero degrees Celsius, the paddle feels like a giant icicle.
TIP: When you are done paddeling, free the board from ice with a small broom and roll it up quickly. Otherwise the board will be really hard and difficult to fold.
Our trip in numbers
Three countries: Austria, Italy, Germany
Six lakes: Vilsalpsee, Blindsee, Plansee (Austria), Pragser Wildsee (Italy), Walchensee and Eibsee (all Germany)
1036 km distance travelled
My winter SUP gear
Winter Hiking Boots
A lot of warm clothes
3 sleeping bags
A lot of food
Thanks Tom for sharing this amazing story with us! Did Tom inspire you? Share your story with us using #jobemoments.