Austrian Dreaming - Dec/Jan Trip Report

blueandwhite

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Yes, our general inability to adequately learn a foreign language does result in these clusters of catered chalets in certain places like Mayrhofen. It's all a bit embarrassing really sometimes. I'm always a little envious of the ability of people from other countries like Austria and Germany to speak multiple languages so well. I am a bit of an outlier though as I can speak French, English and Australian...

I did stay in catered chalets in Meribel and also Les Deux Alpes many years ago mind you and it was brilliant. But it is very much like living in a bubble and you have to go out of your way to get some local culture or you can miss out entirely.
 

Heinz

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Yes, our general inability to adequately learn a foreign language does result in these clusters of catered chalets in certain places like Mayrhofen. It's all a bit embarrassing really sometimes. I'm always a little envious of the ability of people from other countries like Austria and Germany to speak multiple languages so well. I am a bit of an outlier though as I can speak French, English and Australian...

I did stay in catered chalets in Meribel and also Les Deux Alpes many years ago mind you and it was brilliant. But it is very much like living in a bubble and you have to go out of your way to get some local culture or you can miss out entirely.

For multi-lingual ability it is hard to beat the Swiss. Most will learn German, French, English, their own Swiss German dialect (Schwitzerdootsch) and some also Italian.

Austrians do learn English and younger people and those in the tourism industry do speak it. To what extent though I'm not entirely sure from personal experience as when I am in Austria I make a point of trying to stick with German only.

It is good that you have clearly made the effort to try the language, get out of the bubble and experience the local culture. :thumbs:
 

blueandwhite

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The red pistes at Krimml Express and Teufaltal are cruisy. Some excellent terrain on the other side at the Kapauns Chairlift also.
I think they may have been rebadged since you were last here as none of those lifts appear to exist any more!
 

Kletterer

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I think they may have been rebadged since you were last here as none of those lifts appear to exist any more!
Oh I thought you meant the slopes at Krimml Alm - linking Gerlos to Zell. You meant the Plattenkogel area . Its also nice and a bit quieter. We got good offpiste powder there when other areas were tracked out. Have a look at the trip report me and DidSurfNowSki did there a few years back.
 

Kletterer

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To answer your question about Hochkrimml- this was a bit of lift accessed fun in 2018 . We did laps of this with barely anyone else around.
Plattenkogel 2018.jpeg
 

Rabid K9

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Sheer Terror in Niederau
After partially sleeping off a four course meal and schnappsfest we were woken at 5am by a child that had slept through dinner the night before and was now fully rested and primed to reap revenge on a pair of mildly hungover parents. Over pre-6am coffee and omelettes we perused the trail map and zeroed in on Niederau, a smaller ski area in the next valley that was still part of the Ski Juwel group and therefore still available on our superski passes.

Whilst it boasted significantly less vertical and altitude than the primo Ski Juwel mountains it still had a gondola, a toboggan run and a number of lengthy looking red and black runs. We have skied most of the pisted terrain on the big ticket mountains now and while I would happily do it again and again I do love exploring new terrain. Add to that the need to keep the kids interest and also to give Sam's legs some respite with a shorter day and it seemed a decent option.
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I was also fascinated by the prospect of a toboggan run that the trail map preposterously suggested ran from the top of the chairlift at 1621m to the very bottom at 828m (see wiggly purple line above). The brochure went further and indicated that this mythical sled run had a total length of 6km and a vertical drop of more than 730m. This is almost Buller top to bottom twice, and on a toboggan FFS! Talk about taking the piss!

I must confess that I feel like I know more than your average guy about tobogganing and therefore I was highly skeptical that such a toboggan run could exist. When I was a kid and we got snow in England my friends and I would pull out our toboggans and use a heavily sloped farmer's field nearby to master our craft. In fact it was actually two fields with a very spikey hawthorn hedge bisecting them and a narrow gate in the middle. The trick was to launch from the top and be sufficiently good at steering to get through the open gate at the mid-point of the run just as you reached peak velocity. Failure to navigate through this 4m wide gap meant slamming head first into the hawthorn hedge and the simultaneous removal of significant volumes of skin and pride. All up the vertical on this run would have been about 50m at best. So you can imagine my skepticism when some Austrian tells me they do toboggan runs in excess of 700m vertical...

Here's a picture from the marketing. Check out these guys, they look like they are having a great time! Nothing really says kook quite like sunglasses and a helmet does it. And note also the bank of snow along the the sheer drop at the edge of the run to stop errant tobogganers from falling to their death in the event of a minor steering error. I shall return to this point later.
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But I digress, we quickly set sail for Niederau in the mighty Tucson. We made a very quick stop in Alpbach to drop off the now unrequired rental skis and to organise some ski lessons for our final day in Alpbach on the 27th. My request for private lessons for the kids was met with incredulity all round. In Australia this is a bread and butter request and ski school are selotaping your credit-card laden hand to the eftpos terminal before you can say mastercard. But in Austria it seems children do not have private lessons but must join a group of covid-riddled schoolkids for the day and be kept out of sight while the adults do the adult stuff. We got a straight no first up and at our second ski school a maybe. We were to return later when they had a clearer idea of instructor availability. If they ran out of adults then maybe a child might be considered. I sensed that my request was actually going into the 'special filing cabinet' once more...

After one of the best family driver-navigator team efforts in a long time we arrived safely in Niderau. The weather was dull and threatening and we overshot the gondola car park and ended up in the chairlift slash toboggan car park which I think it's safe to say is where the real action is at. Further irritation occurred at the lift turnstiles when I was refused entry and realised that in my haste to leave I had forgotten to transfer my superski card from my snowboard jacket to my freshly arrived ski jacket. Bugger. I resigned myself to buying a day ticket and went to try and give the nice man 52 euros for my troubles. My Grune Pass then shat itself and went all weird again and I had to show him my international vaccine paperwork and my drivers licence. Finally he was happy with this and then my phone refused to pay and I remembered how I had wiped all my credit cards from Google Pay yesterday. This was not going well. Whilst I thought about offering my first born child I ended up simply pulling out some old fashioned cash and sloping off to the turnstile again in an embarrassed fashion.

To add insult to injury it then started to rain as we went up on the chairlift. Our pain soon turned to pleasure though as the rain switched to snow soon after as we ascended the very steep chairlift. The chairlift ride did give me the chance to eyeball the aforementioned toboggan run and I have to say it was impressive. Yes, literally top to bottom, winding it's way through the steep cliffside with numerous switchbacks, good snow coverage and a host of screaming and rather shell-shocked looking punters. Trying to ignore this we unloaded and set off skiing in the light snowfall.
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We took down a very nice red run over to the top of the gondola. The snow was soft but not slushy and on the fresh grooming it was a joy to ski on. The Wingmans (wingmen?) were performing admirably and I was very happy to be back on my trusted servants. We then went straight down the guts on a very long and quite steep in parts red run that was just one of those runs that has a great pitch and shape to ski on. We all really enjoyed it and to say it was quiet on that run was an understatement.
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Finally reaching the bottom it was to our horror that we came upon something that we had not seen since our arrival in Austria. This thing appeared to be composed entirely of people standing in a line trying to access something further downstream. Yes my friends, this was a queue for the gondola. Initially we were unsure what to do but eventually we realised that if you join the back of said queue you eventually reach the gondola and get to ride in it. So we did, but we also did manage to avoid sharing the lift with anyone else - a feat which we have managed 100% of the time to date due to the very sparse numbers.

Reaching the top we headed towards what looked like a very quaint looking church on a hill which was slightly random. There seems to be a great many churches and crosses in this part of Austria. This one was sitting randomly on the hill just near the gondola and made for a great picture.
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We hit up an access trail which had some good 'high trails' in the side wall which daughter enjoyed taking. The arrival of our luggage has also returned to us the kids camelbaks which I freely admit I frowned upon at first. But they have been amazing and the kids actually love them. Sam in particular absolutely drills the water in his and has to be the most hydrated child on the planet when we go skiing. So much so that when we had an emergency situation later in the day and a toilet closure at the ticket office facilitated the need for a bush wee by the car he was so hydrated that the snow in the blast zone was left entirely uncoloured by his aberration! A stealth wee!
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We then took down black run 24b which was in that same domain of could be a red run but we want a black on the map. It was still a heap of fun and frankly we are more than happy as skiing these marginal blacks boosts Sam's confidence and mine!
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A couple more laps followed including our first gondola sharing with an elderly German-speaking couple with adults fully ffp2'd up. Daughter decided to fire out her full repertoire of German which didn't seem to impress them that much. Started well with name, age, where I live. Ended badly with something along the lines of 'ich habe nicht covid aber ich habe durchfall'. Never leave an eight year old alone with an ipad and google translate.

We visited the aforementioned church after another pull yer own T bar arrangement and I have to say even though I am not religious it was a great piece of scenery. I'm not entirely sure if it's a church but it seems plausible.
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It was so good I felt compelled to take another photo from a different angle.
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After a couple of laps we stopped for chips and a very nice beverage which calmed my nerves in advance of the toboganning. Food today was a minimal and simple affair after the excesses of yesterday. Whilst in the food hut an English speaking dad who had ordered a cheeseburger and chips behind me berated his son for not thanking the staff and made him say thank you. Whilst I admired his manners I felt the least you could do if you aren't going to at least attempt to order in German is say Danke rather than thank you. Surely that is the minimum level of effort required when overseas.
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We were headed back to the car park to psyche up for the toboganning. Brutally, there is no way back to the chairlift car park other than a schuss followed by a very long black run. This was okay for us but could be a bit painful if you weren't a particularly confident skier! It also gave us a chance to use the rope tow - something I thought only existed in history books and Mount Buller...
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We hit the access trail and headed down an excellent black run that skirts the far edge of the resort. This was another great run and although Niederau has only a limited number of runs I have to say that I found them all to be really skiable and fun to do. We were very happy with our day's skiing.

Back at the car I knew the time had come. I hit up my friend in the ticket office and he informed me that toboggans (or sleds as we discovered Austrians call them during our staggered English/German conversation) could only be rented at a shop 'just round the corner'. This turned out to be partially true. It was around the corner. But not just. I eventually got the thing and man was it heavy. It was like carrying an ox on your back from the shop to the lift. It was a pretty nutsed up sled though. Proper shiny metal runners, solid wood frame and stretched canvas seat. Tidy.

Mum and son had no interest whatsoever in getting one of these deathtraps and I was left to accompany over-confident daughter on this suicide mission. The lifty hung the sled on the chair in front of us and we headed up the hill. Jeez the chairlift was steep. Yes, the toboggan run winds down with a limited pitch but if you go over the edge you're on a one way ticket to the krankenhaus. And that's if you're lucky.
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This is daughter prepping at the start of the course at about 1500m altitude. In a massive lapse of judgement I had opted for the beanie instead of the full crash helmet. Christ, even sunglasses guy in the marketing knew to wear a helmet! It is safe to say from the moment I sat on the sled behind my daughter to the moment I got off 6km later I was shitting myself. This has to be the most dangerous sport ever invented.

It's basically an almost unsteerable missile with brakes that function only sporadically (and not at all if you get up to proper cruisng speed) fired down a hairpin winding trail with no barriers and a 730m drop-off. I mean what could go wrong?? How they have never lost anyone I will never know. Maybe they have. Maybe that's what all the crosses all over the mountain are for!

And remember those banks of snow on the edge of the run in the marketing? I think they must have been photoshopped because they weren't there now. In fact if anything I reckon the run was cambered towards the edge! Absolute lunacy. I will happily pull out my phone to take a video of Sam while skiing down a black run but there was no chance I was getting it out for a video going down this puppy on the death machine. No chance whatsoever!

When we reached what I felt was the safest moment (and that term is relative) I managed to loose off one round on my phone but otherwise my hands were welded to the base of the sled and not letting go for anyone.
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It tells you something that this was the nicest view that I saw in the entire half an hour. This is us hurtling towards a hairpin bend with no barriers and a massive dropoff at the end. Look closely. There's a ****ing cross on the corner! What does that tell you!

I honestly thought we were going to be ended. Look on the left of that picture where the 730m drop off is. Snowbank? Barrier? Er, no, we don't need those in Austria... Daughter continually berating me for not taking my heels out of the snow. I tried once and we shot off like a cannonball. It was horrendous. After what seemed like an eternity we rounded the final corner and I lay gasping for air and ready for a bottle of Fireball. Daughter turns round and goes 'that was amazing Dad, lets go again!

In. Your. Dreams.

Had a good chuckle at this.

Not dissimilar to my experience with the rodelbahn. I tried to ride my snowboard down one when inadvertently intercepting the course after a long backcountry run & thinking it a merry relaxing way to get back to the village....

Was a sheet of glassy doom, runnels carved out by the sled runners, trees & rocks waiting to catch one slip up at sides, shrieking Austrian kids & dads hurtling past me as I tried to get down it unbroken. They seemed to be doing more steering than me. In my defence, some of the kids where bawling their eyes out on the way down. Also seemed an enternity of a course.

Far more dangerous than the rocky chutes & clifflines had negotiated in the alpine above.
 
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blueandwhite

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Love...Wetness
Having gone to bed with a couple of centimetres of snow on the balcony rail and with pukage coming down from the heavens it was more than a little disappointing to draw back the curtains in the morning and find that the snow had all gone. And it had been replaced by wetness. And no-one likes wetness when they are skiing.

Looking up the mountain it was also noteworthy that even the trees near the snowline were lacking in whiteness which did not bode well for the fate of last night's precipitation. In fairness the forecast had been pretty awful a few days out and yesterday's snow had been a bit of a bonus. Rain was always on the cards for today and whilst we were in a clear patch of weather right now this was ultimately to be sandwiched by rain on either side.

The now traditional breakfast timelapse looked thus:


I was getting resistance to skiing today and I had made the mistake of promising a lay day to the kids if and when it rained. Children, as any parents will know, have memories like elephants when they want to. So with daughter's skinned heel still looking a bit wet and son's legs having been put through their paces every day since we arrived I reluctantly said this could be a rest day. Except for me of course, I still wanted to ski come hell or high water.

After a buffet breakfast composed of the most random grouping of items imaginable I strode back to the room to prepare for my solo mission. I described yesterday the hotel's obsession with the word 'Love...' and I have also noted that in a seemingly unrelated bit of marketing they have plastered large room-height black and white posters on much of the vacant wallspace of the hotel. How they chose these slightly odd pictures I am not sure but the one in our bathroom I do find a little weird.
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This photo is taken whilst standing in our rather opulent oversized shower (don't worry, I was fully clothed at the time). So yes, staring directly at me every time I deem it necessary to cleanse myself is a five foot tall Austrian toddler sitting fully clothed in a large bowl of strawberries. Go figure.

We have actually been thinking of renovating our ensuite back at home in Torquay and how the idea of just such a mural has never struck me before I will never know. I hope they don't have copyright on it. What I particularly like is that if you try to avoid locking gaze with the rather freaky beady black eyes of the manchild and look to the right an even more sinister and demented version of the baby stares back at you via the mirror. It's like some kind of weird nightmare!

Back to the skiing. I kitted up and headed down to the diminutive boot room. A quick trip to pick up my newly serviced skis en route to the gondola and I was good to go. By this time it was lightly sprinkling with rain but hope springs eternal and when you enter a gondola and head upwards into the clouds you always hold out some kind of hope that the temperature will somehow magically drop about ten degrees when you step out at the other end. As we neared the top the signs of this on the window weren't particularly great.
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Exiting at 2,300m I was buoyed by the snow that had actually suddenly started falling although the rather rotund elephant at the top suggested that the depth may not be that great. I love a place that measures snow depth in elephants rather than the more traditional centimetres that we use in Australia.
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Regularly wiping my goggles of wet snow I headed down a red run to the Gipfelbahn. Through a combination of the wet snow and my terrible eyes I could see virtually nothing and I was at the mercy of the terrain and the steady hands of last night's groomers. I nearly lost it a couple of times when the terrain dropped away quickly and I didn't see it coming. Despite the elephant's early encouragement it did not feel like there was any fresh snow on the deck so I think this run may have been a late afterthought for the grooming crew.

I love snow on the ground but I hate it in the air. I know you need one to get the other but I'd really prefer it to snow all night and be sunny all day. I hate wearing goggles full stop. I just can't see the terrain in them properly and my skiing goes to crap. I will often ski in the falling snow without goggles and take the hits to my eyes just to get the better vision. I've tried all sorts of lenses from clear to yellow to mirrored to orange, you name it. And every time you say this someone tells you to buy X goggles because they are amazing in flat light or snow. Never worked and I've tried a few - I think it's just my eyes. Like my wacky shaped feet and my inability to put pressure on the front of my boots when skiing it's just a cross that I bear.

From the Gipfelbahn I descended toward the village and found that some of the trails must have been groomed a lot earlier and these had a lovely thin layer of untracked porridge on them.
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For an amateur like myself a fresh layer of snow on a groomed trail is like mana from heaven, even if it was like treacle. However I quickly discovered that the snow was rather two speed which led to quite a lot of leg burn. In honesty it looked better than it was. I love the electricity pylon in this picture below. How's the serenity?
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My mind was having a battle over whether it was better to brave the upper mountain with it's damp blizzard or the lower mountain with it's rain and better visibility. Going against convention I took the latter option and headed down to the valley with the idea of doing a reconnoitre of the Hoch Krimml resort on the other side of Konigsleiten.

Conditions turned out to be similar on that side of the mountain but the terrain is a little lamer than the rest of the Arena I thought. On a good groomer day it would have been great to carve on the wide open reds or on a big powder day the options on such an open mountain top would be almost limitless. But in these conditions it was all a bit meh. This is the Hoch Krimml mountain taken from our room in Konigsleiten.
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And here is the reverse view looking from Hoch Krimml back to Konigsleiten.
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I also noted that the lift infrastructure was (relatively speaking) nowhere near as modern as the rest of the Zillertal Arena - although that sets a pretty high bar. I couldn't help feeling that Hoch Krimml was a little bit of an unloved runt of the litter in the big scheme of things although I don't doubt that in better conditions it could still shine. So much depends on the day that you see a resort as to how you ultimately view it. This picture probably tells you how I view Hoch Krimml.
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Anyway, I headed back up the Sonnwendkopf gondola to Konigsleiten and fired down one of the better runs of the day where it was still snowing higher up. This was a decent way to finish a fairly ordinary morning of skiing by this trip's standards.
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Back at the hotel I hit the bootroom and the number of skis and boots still in the warmth and comfort of the bootroom at 1130am told it's own story. It seemed the Dutch and the Germans also weren't that keen to get out there...
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The remainder of the day was spent eating, drinking and covid incubating in the pool area while the rain came down lightly outside. Hopefully tomorrow daughter's heel will hold up and we can all get back to skiing. Weather is meant to be very warm for the next few days but sunny at least. We are planning on taking on the Konigsleiten to Zell return Journey on our last full day here (NYD) and then contemplating stopping at Wildkogel on the way to Kaprun on the 2nd January when we move on.

On a final and slightly self-indulgent note I would just like to mention an anecdote that came from last night's dinner. Son is obsessed with countries and flags and was discussing with me flags with weapons on them(!). He was insistent that a country in the Caribbean had a sword on it and I was therefore required to google 'national flags with swords' to try and corroborate this outrageous claim. Son later corrected himself and said it was a pitchfork rather than a sword and this eventually threw up the correct answer that Barbados has a trident on it.

However along the way the flags with weapons search threw up this rather unfortunate and previously unknown to me national flag that was attributed to an unidentified West African nation. I can only assume that the nation is unidentified because everyone who attempts to identify it has their head cut off. Gruesome!
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Right, lets hope for better weather and skiing tomorrow. I'm off for a shower under the watchful eye of the five foot strawberry-laden toddler.
 
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Rabid K9

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After a buffet breakfast composed of the most random grouping of items imaginable I strode back to the room to prepare for my solo mission. I described yesterday the hotel's obsession with the word 'Love...' and I have also noted that in a seemingly unrelated bit of marketing they have plastered large room-height black and white posters on much of the vacant wallspace of the hotel. How they chose these slightly odd pictures I am not sure but the one in our bathroom I do find a little weird.
810.jpg


This photo is taken whilst standing in our rather opulent oversized shower (don't worry, I was fully clothed at the time). So yes, staring directly at me every time I deem it necessary to cleanse myself is a five foot tall Austrian toddler sitting fully clothed in a large bowl of strawberries. Go figure.

We have actually been thinking of renovating our ensuite back at home in Torquay and how the idea of just such a mural has never struck me before I will never know. I hope they don't have copyright on it. What I particularly like is that if you try to avoid locking gaze with the rather freaky beady black eyes of the manchild and look to the right an even more sinister and demented version of the baby stares back at you via the mirror. It's like some kind of weird nightmare!

Right, lets hope for better weather and skiing tomorrow. I'm off for a shower under the watchful eye of the five foot strawberry-laden toddler.

Hilarious & disturbing at the same time. Can fully imagine it, have felt the weird distorted undertones many times in Austria, beneath the righteous, modern affluence.

Like your darkened sense of humour. Got to have a good chuckle about those things during travel....

One of my favourites is coming into Innsbruck late afternoon (would have told this tale before) & driving beside a large John Deere tractor (around 180-250hp class) towing an even larger trailer fully loaded with silage bales. As we ran alongside the tractor, couldn't help but notice it was piloted by a super hot Austrian fräulein around 30, easily six foot tall, very well dressed with skin tight clothing, make up, neatly done hair & knee high boots. Not withstanding she was also exceptionally shapely, which was exacerbated by the jaunty ride of the tractor at highway speed!!

My also very shapely Italian partner & I copped somewhat of an eyeful & just looked at each other to say "well, this is Austrian national pride...."
 

Rabid K9

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Rodeln is one of the best bits of Austro ski culture. That said, it is surprisingly dangerous (but most injuries seem to be from rodeln drunk).

> More than 2,200 people are injured in toboggan accidents in Austria every year. On average, annually two accidents are fatal. In the 2019/20 toboggan season, as many as five people died. Collisions with stationary obstacles such as trees are among the most frequent causes of death.


Hardly surprising.
 

blueandwhite

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And a Happy New Year
I didn't have time to write anything up yesterday unfortunately. I've got no idea how @elSpike manages to relentlessly keep his workrate up, maybe it comes with having older kids or maybe it's that Singaporean work ethic! Anyhow I shall simply combine New Year's Eve and New Year's Day into a single post. They were essentially almost identical anyway and the pictures will hopefully do most of the talking for me as the weather was stellar on both days.

New Year's Eve had a very nice start to the day. Nice moon, clear skies and as you will see we are also under a fairly busy flightpath...


Breakfast was taken and the bootroom was accessed. The bootroom was a total zoo. It's small enough already but when you squash in most of the hotel guests and their feral offspring all pushing and shoving to get their boots on and skis and poles out it became almost intolerable. Add to this the need for full skiwear and a mask and by the time you escape it's like you've been in a sauna for half an hour. I stumbled out of the hazy maelstrom into the great outdoors at the same time as a German dad and we literally both simultaneously wiped our brows, rolled our eyes and stood there panting. Words were not required - which was fortunate really as this situation had not been covered in my Deutsch Heute German text books in the mid-90s.

All speed to the gondola was made and the views from the base gondola station were excellent.
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The views inside the gondola station were sadly not. As would be expected on a bluebird day with top to bottom snow coverage on New Year's Eve it was a bit busier than your average day.

Europeans are good at many things but anyone who has skied in Europe will know that queuing is not one of them. My five year old is a three year veteran of queuing for the Bourke Street Express in all conditions and is therefore well accustomed to the close proximity of others, the lengthy waits and the general pain of queuing for lifts. However he entered the gondola in tears. It was a total rugby scrum. And more like one of those Rugby League scrums that nobody ever understands the point of rather than a properly regulated Rugby Union scrum.

The thing with queues in Europe is that you simply cannot afford to leave any lateral space whatsoever or it will instantly be filled by someone and your wait has just become longer as they then push in front of you. If there is any space, regardless of where that space exists in the current queue then you must fill it immediately. It's dog eat dog and there are no rights and wrongs. To continue the theme it's like playing rugby but with no forward pass rule, it totally changes the game.

Once loaded on the gondola things calmed down and in honesty although the mountain was busy we barely queued for the rest of the day which was fairly extraordinary for this time of year. I continue to remind the kids that to ski this week with virtually no queues is something that may never ever happen again! We are truly lucky to be here.

We headed over towards Gerlos and the views and the weather were magnificent.
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Initially the pistes were groomed but bulletproof. The grooming wasn't quite good enough to be able to go full mach which I assume was on account of the snow rather than the groomers skills. It was a bit bumpy, plenty of cookies and not quite perfect. It was nonetheless fast and fun. This (and the next day) would essentially be like Spring skiing in Australia. Solid early (see first pic above), Slushy late (see second pic above), and some sweet spots in the middle if you hit it at the right time. All of it was fun though.

After a quick trip down to Gerlos where the lower slopes were softer and more rippable we headed back up to the top in one of the numerous gondolas and then took the (to that point unridden) ten person gondola towards Zell. As I had suspected might happen we just kept going and ended up on the Zell side by about 1130am. This requires a bunch of lifts and ski runs across the top of the mountain range linking the resorts - but it wasn't as far as I had originally imagined and it was also a very nice trip. We'd originally planned on doing it the following day but with daughter's heel holding up we just kept going.

So did pretty much everyone else. It was a fun trip but it was somewhat of a super-highway of skiers as everyone else of course had the same idea and the snow became pretty scratchy rather quickly. The views were worth it though.
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Having been to the Zell side almost exclusively to use the terrain park previously it was nice to be able to explore some of the rest of the resort. We stopped for a snack and some New Year's Eve drinks at a nice spot overlooking the valley.
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And then we hammered it down to the gondola mid-station to take on the feared black run to the base of Zell. Well, if you're going to swim the full 50 metres you have to touch the wall before turning back, right?

There are a few nice runs on the way to the gondola although the snow was pretty scratchy here and it seems busier than the Konigsleiten side. There was a cool cloud layer hanging out down in the valley below though that was very photogenic.
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Much to our disappointment we got to the mid-station to discover the black run to the base was closed. It must have taken a beating from the rain and the holiday crowds as I'd skied it a few days prior and there had been plenty of snow on it. The kids were gutted although my wife seemed oddly chirpy.

With that done and a few tell-tale signs of unrest starting to show we resolved to head back to the Konigsleiten end of the Arena and we enjoyed the trip back which seems a better ski than the trip on the way there due to the ski/lift ratio in that direction.

A quick blast through the terrain park (see later) and we made a late stop at our favourite the Rossl Alm in Gerlos. It was obviously packed. You don't turn up at 2.30pm on a sunny New Year's Eve and expect to get a seat outside. But we happily sat inside by a window with a sweeping mountain view and daughter attempted to perfect the art of pouring a beer. Life skills. This one will go far - with a bit more practice.
919.jpg


All fuelled up we headed home. A brilliant day in the mountains and an epic trip for the family with lots of great memories for everyone. The day was finished with a 5pm meal in the hotel restaurant (living the NYE dream!), a swim and then watching the fireworks from the balcony of our room.

There were a bunch of minor fireworks early in the evening that the kids could watch but we all crashed before the main event only to be woken later by the official fireworks being set off in various strategic locations around the town. It was unbelievable. I presume the local council foots the bill for this but Konigsleiten with it's estimated population of 122 people had a firework display lasting longer than 27 minutes! I think that's longer than Sydney's display! Sure, they don't have a harbour bridge to drop fireworks off but it was still pretty epic. I think it's safe to say Austrians love their fireworks...

Here is a photo of the last rays of sunshine that we saw in 2021.
905.jpg


I shall be brief about New Year's Day as it was essentially the same as New Year's Eve but we didn't go to Zell. Rather we hung around in Gerlos, Konigsleiten and even made a late trip to Hoch Krimml. The morning had a nice sunrise and the gondola as you might expect was nowhere near as busy first up - a few sore heads still in bed methinks and one of the few benefits of having young kids - no hangover!
925.jpg


We hit up the solid groomers early. edit: Photo may have been NYE actually but it was total rinse and repeat...
917.jpg


And then headed down to Gerlos. Stellar weather again.
936.jpg


We then spent a bit of time in the park and naughty little brother snuck up on big sister - he's behind you!
906.jpg


Had drinks at a great spot half way up the Konigsleiten / Gerlos valley called the Alm Bar with the traditional deck chairs in the sun and a jump next to it. Great spot and blaring out classic Europop to boot. I do always wonder if they really like the music or if they are being ironic. I really think it might be the former. We were treated to a bunch of euro dance and discotheque along with Adamski, Vanilla Ice and to absolutely put the cherry on the cake the full length version of Barbie Girl by Aqua. It simply does not get better than this when you are sitting in a deck chair looking at an epic mountain view and sipping a large euro beer in the blazing sun.
938.jpg


But alas eventually it was time to go but not before daughter took down the Alm Bar jump on our way out. Here below is a few pieces of her work over the last couple of days, naturally with appropriate soundtrack.


We finished the day off with an unsuccessful trip to Hoch Krimml (very icy) and despite this headed home very satisfied and having even forgotten to have lunch.

Therefore an ad hoc and early trip to the Susi Alm in town (home of the Sexy Fitness Salad) was undertaken. A couple of beers in (and a hell of a lot of cheesy Europop) and I get the menu out for food. It is only at this point that I find I had missed a page in the menu last time out and in fact two further English titled meals are also available for those not sufficiently taken with the Sexy Fitness Salad. All hail the 'Business-Girl Sandwich' and the 'Gentleman's Steak-Toast' which sound oh so tempting...

Happy New Year to everyone. Here is hoping for a better 2022 for all and some return to normality (please?).
 

elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
And a Happy New Year
I didn't have time to write anything up yesterday unfortunately. I've got no idea how @elSpike manages to relentlessly keep his workrate up, maybe it comes with having older kids or maybe it's that Singaporean work ethic! Anyhow I shall simply combine New Year's Eve and New Year's Day into a single post. They were essentially almost identical anyway and the pictures will hopefully do most of the talking for me as the weather was stellar on both days.
As you now no doubt know, writing these are as much for yourself as anyone else. Go read your first day skiing report now and get reminded of all the little details you forgot.

But yes. I have a lovely period after skiing where the boys retreat to their room and their intelligent rectangles.
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
As you now no doubt know, writing these are as much for yourself as anyone else. Go read your first day skiing report now and get reminded of all the little details you forgot.

But yes. I have a lovely period after skiing where the boys retreat to their room and their intelligent rectangles.
This is so true. It is a great record to look back on.

I hope in a few years I have more time after skiing. The kids have intelligent rectangles but Master 5 can't read so needs me to read messages on the screen in his game for him every two minutes. Infuriating!!
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
Highs and Lows
Our last day in Konigsleiten. What had started out as a chance booking for the New Year period has turned out to be a terrific stay in a great ski resort to which I would definitely return. The resort is brilliant in bluebird conditions but would be equally amazing with powder as there is so much open space and the lifts seem really well placed to allow off piste in bounds skiing.

The snow depth is pretty much as good as it gets compared to most other resorts in Austria right now from what I can make out and having the village at 1,600m is a real bonus at this time of year. We loved the authentic feel of the place compared to some of the bigger ski areas we had passed through.

We awoke to another great weather day.
1005.jpg


We had considered leaving after breakfast to head to Kaprun and stopping in to ski at Wildkogel on the way but in the end we all voted to stay and ski another morning at Konigsleiten. Sometimes it is better the devil you know and we knew there was plenty of snow here.

So up the Dorfbahn a final time in the sunshine and down to a very long two seater chairlift that we had not yet visited. In our family you have to try and tick all of the lifts off before leaving the resort wherever possible and this one had somehow eluded us until now. The groomers were the expected solid morning corduroy on the way down and when we reached the top of the lift there was one of those little tourist windows set up that you can take photos through and I duly obliged.
1006.jpg


The snow began to loosen a little as we headed up the 'gamer chair' - so called by my kids because the 6 seats on this particular chairlift are moulded to your body shape and of two tone colour like the ones used by their favourite you tube gaming afficionados. And soon after we were hurtling down towards Gerlos in the sunshine just as we had done for most of our stay.
1013.jpg


Favourite runs were skied, and favourite gondolas ridden.
1007.jpg


A new kids tunnel was discovered.
1001.jpg


And the park received a final and triumphant last run. Daughter has been desperate to hit a full 360 and after managing a few 270s last season off small ramps she uttered the cliched words Dad, it's our last day here, it's time to go big or go home! In my mind I was thinking lets hope it's not go big and go home but nonetheless I asked her what she had in mind and she told me she wanted to hit a 360 off the jump.

She is highly proficient in various grabs off the jump and can do a nice controlled 180 but we have never gone big with the 360 attempt before. It has only ever been attempted off the side of a ramp or into the pond. But she was keen. And who am I to stand in the way of youthful exuberance.

So she went for it and comfortably made the rotation but just couldn't quite hold the landing. It is still an amazing feat for an eight year old and I cannot believe she has the courage and the skill to try it, let alone almost land it first go. As parents we are so proud of her enthusiasm and her talent. My skis can barely leave the ground and certainly can't do so with any kind of rotation! I sometimes wonder if they got the babies mixed up in the hospital...


It garnered a huge cheer from the peanut gallery and she came away with a big smile on her face which is the best thing of all. We headed off for food, drinks and so she could pester me to get her own you tube channel for the millionth time. No you can't.

We stopped at a new food place with a great view and with a few vacant deck chairs which is an important consideration when making these decisions I think.
1008.jpg


And then with a couple of runs left to do before home-time daughter fell after trying to do a very innocuous hop off the side wall of a run and sprained her thumb when she trapped it under her pole in the fall. It looked painful and she was unable to carry her pole or put her glove back on. It was gutting as we had been so close to heading in and we now had to upload and download a bunch of lifts to get home with her thumb swelling up and clearly upset. From the highs to the lows so quickly!

It took about an hour all up to get back to the car parked at the hotel. We had already checked out and packed the car so we just had to force the skis and boots in to the Tucson, talk nicely to google maps and then head off. It was about an hour's drive to Kaprun.

I shall miss Konigsleiten and as I said would definitely go back. I said after Alpbach that it would be hard to better that experience and this had really been just as good, albeit ina very different way. The hotel was the Ursprungs Panorama Hotel which is a 50m walk to the gondola and ski back in. Compared to our apartment in the farmhouse in Alpbach it was a lot more commercial and well, like a hotel. But it was a great place with friendly staff, top facilities and a brilliant location.

Anyhow, on to Kaprun and another very different experience. The first part of the trip from Konigsleiten winds through a very high mountain pass on a narrow road (if you can call it that). Snow was banked up on either side and I was very happy to be driving this road in dry, warm conditions rather than heavy snow. No offence to the Tucson meant of course...

At one point some roadworks were being done (although no sign of workmen) and in keeping with many of my other observations around Austria - occupational health and safety do not seem to be on the radar of most folk over here. The road surface appeared to be simply falling away down the mountain and to say there were no figs being given was probably an understatement.

Slightly further around the bend the ground beneath the road appeared to have given way, but it's okay because a small concrete barrier had been erected next to it. Phew! Again, the thought of doing this in snow where you might not be able to accurately guage the edge of the road in this condition is slightly scary. If this was in Victoria on one of the mountain Roads VicRoads would be having kittens.
1003.jpg


It was a very scenic drive though and as we slowly descended towards Wald im Pingzau and the Wildkogel area the snow receded to the mountain tops and the valley became green with old houses and farm buildings dotted around in a picturesque manner. At the valley base when we finally dropped into Wald im Pingzau the village had a beautiful church and in another interesting twist the snow returned.
1002.jpg


It was interesting that the snow covered the flat valley floor at this point and in fact all the way to Kaprun - despite the valley walls being green. Whether the sun simply never reaches the valley floor here or if they get some wacky temperature inversions I am not sure but it was quite striking. The temperature higher up the valley had been about ten degrees but it was down at one degree on the flat valley floor.

Further, a rail line ran along the valley floor although as you can see from the picture it appears to have a gauge about the length of my forearm! It seemed like it might be for a toy train until a real train did in fact come along and prove me wrong, much to son's delight.
1004.jpg


We powered through Neukirchen and Bramberg in the mighty Tucson before reaching the town of Mittersill where we inadvertently got caught up in some kind of demonstration by locals marching through the town. I'm not sure if they were anti-vaxers or protesting something else as my eyes were not sufficiently good to read their placards. It lasted bout ten minutes and there was a decent police presence as they all marched through.
1016.jpg


Once clear of that we quickly reached Kaprun which is a decent sized town compared to the places we have stayed to date. Our accommodation was on the outskirts of Kaprun conveniently located near to what was to be the highlight of the entire six week trip for the kids, the Tauern Spa Resort. We're not staying at the resort, we'd need to reduce my beer budget if we wanted to do that. So we're staying at a nearby Pension which gives us free entry to the Spa everyday! Here's the Pension St Georg when we arrived:
1009.jpg


And here's the view from our room with the mighty 3,200m Kitzsteinhorn towering above everything. You can see the lower Maiskogel resort in the foreground and the Kitzsteinhorn resort up on the mountain itself. They are linked by a gondola now which is a fairly recent innovation I believe.


After being shown around and welcomed by our host Simone (who spoke excellent English where necessary I might add) we unpacked. The place had received stellar reviews on Trip Advisor and everything appeared great with a games room for the kids, a nice breakfast room and a spacious two bedroom suite with a nice bathroom for us. The stairwell is very grand (will try and get a picture tomorrow) and on the landing is a large basket of books for the (all German speaking) guests to borrow. I'll let you decipher which of the books in said basket appears to be the odd one out for a bed and breakfast in rural Austria! Random!
1012.jpg


And now it was time for the main event. The Tauern Spa. This giant amongst attractions is actually a very expensive hotel with restaurants, bars, spa facilities - but most importantly in our case a pool with waterslides. The kids had been looking forward to this for about two and a half years ever since we started planning the trip. They care little for the mass expense and dream lifestyle of skiing epic resorts around Austria but froth relentlessly about the potential visit to an overpriced swimming pool with a couple of lame slides... it was ever thus. Here they are practically sprinting to get into the place.
1011.jpg


In fairness it is pretty awesome. There are about seven pools. Indoor, outdoor, some both. Slides, a river rapids thing, jacuzzis and even bar service at the outdoor pool! With snow on the ground it is fairly cool just hanging out in the 36 degree outdoor pool with steam rising, the sun going down behind the Kitzsteinhorn and a waiter bringing you a cocktail of your choosing... The kids loved it and with the free entry via our accommodation we will likely be here every night of our stay if the kids have their way. It got a big tick from me.

The only issue I have (there's always one!) is the OH and S again. It was ridiculous. I didn't see a single lifeguard! The indoor pools were bedlam most of the time. No lifeguards. The river rapids regularly sucked Sam under such were their ferocity and I would frequently pull him up from the depths - LET GO DAD!!! No lifeguards. The slides had no lifeguard at the top telling people when to go. One kid would take a ten yard run up and dive headlong into the pipe to start his slide! I am a stickler for the rules and this was clearly in contravention of the stated guidelines posted on the wall in both English and German... The bottom of the slide was a fairly brutal deepwater exit in a walled off room out of sight of everywhere else. No lifeguards.

Eventually I saw what I assumed was a lifeguards room with a few monitors showing various parts of the facility. But there was no-one in it. I just found it all extraordinary. In Australia this facility would require a legion of lifeguards and here I could literally see none. Rather like the Rodelbahn I just can't understand how they aren't losing people? And then of course I remember how someone further up this thread told me that they are losing people with the Rodelbahn. So maybe they are at the Tauern Spa too... I guess it just needs people to take responsibility for their own actions and child supervision over here which I guess is no bad thing. We certainly do this, you just have to hope everyone else does too!
 

Heinz

Fully vaccinated and travelling again!
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
29,289
17,001
1,063
Adelaide
The little railway you saw is the Pinzgauer Lokalbahn going from Krimml to Zell am See so pretty much following the route you took. I haven't been on it myself but I did include it on the virtual ski safari TR I wrote up last year (lots of spare time). Whether I get around to doing it in reality is another question.
 

Rabid K9

A Local
Ski Pass
Jul 15, 2008
6,225
7,299
563
Highs and Lows
Our last day in Konigsleiten. What had started out as a chance booking for the New Year period has turned out to be a terrific stay in a great ski resort to which I would definitely return. The resort is brilliant in bluebird conditions but would be equally amazing with powder as there is so much open space and the lifts seem really well placed to allow off piste in bounds skiing.

The snow depth is pretty much as good as it gets compared to most other resorts in Austria right now from what I can make out and having the village at 1,600m is a real bonus at this time of year. We loved the authentic feel of the place compared to some of the bigger ski areas we had passed through.

We awoke to another great weather day.
1005.jpg


We had considered leaving after breakfast to head to Kaprun and stopping in to ski at Wildkogel on the way but in the end we all voted to stay and ski another morning at Konigsleiten. Sometimes it is better the devil you know and we knew there was plenty of snow here.

So up the Dorfbahn a final time in the sunshine and down to a very long two seater chairlift that we had not yet visited. In our family you have to try and tick all of the lifts off before leaving the resort wherever possible and this one had somehow eluded us until now. The groomers were the expected solid morning corduroy on the way down and when we reached the top of the lift there was one of those little tourist windows set up that you can take photos through and I duly obliged.
1006.jpg


The snow began to loosen a little as we headed up the 'gamer chair' - so called by my kids because the 6 seats on this particular chairlift are moulded to your body shape and of two tone colour like the ones used by their favourite you tube gaming afficionados. And soon after we were hurtling down towards Gerlos in the sunshine just as we had done for most of our stay.
1013.jpg


Favourite runs were skied, and favourite gondolas ridden.
1007.jpg


A new kids tunnel was discovered.
1001.jpg


And the park received a final and triumphant last run. Daughter has been desperate to hit a full 360 and after managing a few 270s last season off small ramps she uttered the cliched words Dad, it's our last day here, it's time to go big or go home! In my mind I was thinking lets hope it's not go big and go home but nonetheless I asked her what she had in mind and she told me she wanted to hit a 360 off the jump.

She is highly proficient in various grabs off the jump and can do a nice controlled 180 but we have never gone big with the 360 attempt before. It has only ever been attempted off the side of a ramp or into the pond. But she was keen. And who am I to stand in the way of youthful exuberance.

So she went for it and comfortably made the rotation but just couldn't quite hold the landing. It is still an amazing feat for an eight year old and I cannot believe she has the courage and the skill to try it, let alone almost land it first go. As parents we are so proud of her enthusiasm and her talent. My skis can barely leave the ground and certainly can't do so with any kind of rotation! I sometimes wonder if they got the babies mixed up in the hospital...


It garnered a huge cheer from the peanut gallery and she came away with a big smile on her face which is the best thing of all. We headed off for food, drinks and so she could pester me to get her own you tube channel for the millionth time. No you can't.

We stopped at a new food place with a great view and with a few vacant deck chairs which is an important consideration when making these decisions I think.
1008.jpg


And then with a couple of runs left to do before home-time daughter fell after trying to do a very innocuous hop off the side wall of a run and sprained her thumb when she trapped it under her pole in the fall. It looked painful and she was unable to carry her pole or put her glove back on. It was gutting as we had been so close to heading in and we now had to upload and download a bunch of lifts to get home with her thumb swelling up and clearly upset. From the highs to the lows so quickly!

It took about an hour all up to get back to the car parked at the hotel. We had already checked out and packed the car so we just had to force the skis and boots in to the Tucson, talk nicely to google maps and then head off. It was about an hour's drive to Kaprun.

I shall miss Konigsleiten and as I said would definitely go back. I said after Alpbach that it would be hard to better that experience and this had really been just as good, albeit ina very different way. The hotel was the Ursprungs Panorama Hotel which is a 50m walk to the gondola and ski back in. Compared to our apartment in the farmhouse in Alpbach it was a lot more commercial and well, like a hotel. But it was a great place with friendly staff, top facilities and a brilliant location.

Anyhow, on to Kaprun and another very different experience. The first part of the trip from Konigsleiten winds through a very high mountain pass on a narrow road (if you can call it that). Snow was banked up on either side and I was very happy to be driving this road in dry, warm conditions rather than heavy snow. No offence to the Tucson meant of course...

At one point some roadworks were being done (although no sign of workmen) and in keeping with many of my other observations around Austria - occupational health and safety do not seem to be on the radar of most folk over here. The road surface appeared to be simply falling away down the mountain and to say there were no figs being given was probably an understatement.

Slightly further around the bend the ground beneath the road appeared to have given way, but it's okay because a small concrete barrier had been erected next to it. Phew! Again, the thought of doing this in snow where you might not be able to accurately guage the edge of the road in this condition is slightly scary. If this was in Victoria on one of the mountain Roads VicRoads would be having kittens.
1003.jpg


It was a very scenic drive though and as we slowly descended towards Wald im Pingzau and the Wildkogel area the snow receded to the mountain tops and the valley became green with old houses and farm buildings dotted around in a picturesque manner. At the valley base when we finally dropped into Wald im Pingzau the village had a beautiful church and in another interesting twist the snow returned.
1002.jpg


It was interesting that the snow covered the flat valley floor at this point and in fact all the way to Kaprun - despite the valley walls being green. Whether the sun simply never reaches the valley floor here or if they get some wacky temperature inversions I am not sure but it was quite striking. The temperature higher up the valley had been about ten degrees but it was down at one degree on the flat valley floor.

Further, a rail line ran along the valley floor although as you can see from the picture it appears to have a gauge about the length of my forearm! It seemed like it might be for a toy train until a real train did in fact come along and prove me wrong, much to son's delight.
1004.jpg


We powered through Neukirchen and Bramberg in the mighty Tucson before reaching the town of Mittersill where we inadvertently got caught up in some kind of demonstration by locals marching through the town. I'm not sure if they were anti-vaxers or protesting something else as my eyes were not sufficiently good to read their placards. It lasted bout ten minutes and there was a decent police presence as they all marched through.
1016.jpg


Once clear of that we quickly reached Kaprun which is a decent sized town compared to the places we have stayed to date. Our accommodation was on the outskirts of Kaprun conveniently located near to what was to be the highlight of the entire six week trip for the kids, the Tauern Spa Resort. We're not staying at the resort, we'd need to reduce my beer budget if we wanted to do that. So we're staying at a nearby Pension which gives us free entry to the Spa everyday! Here's the Pension St Georg when we arrived:
1009.jpg


And here's the view from our room with the mighty 3,200m Kitzsteinhorn towering above everything. You can see the lower Maiskogel resort in the foreground and the Kitzsteinhorn resort up on the mountain itself. They are linked by a gondola now which is a fairly recent innovation I believe.


After being shown around and welcomed by our host Simone (who spoke excellent English where necessary I might add) we unpacked. The place had received stellar reviews on Trip Advisor and everything appeared great with a games room for the kids, a nice breakfast room and a spacious two bedroom suite with a nice bathroom for us. The stairwell is very grand (will try and get a picture tomorrow) and on the landing is a large basket of books for the (all German speaking) guests to borrow. I'll let you decipher which of the books in said basket appears to be the odd one out for a bed and breakfast in rural Austria! Random!
1012.jpg


And now it was time for the main event. The Tauern Spa. This giant amongst attractions is actually a very expensive hotel with restaurants, bars, spa facilities - but most importantly in our case a pool with waterslides. The kids had been looking forward to this for about two and a half years ever since we started planning the trip. They care little for the mass expense and dream lifestyle of skiing epic resorts around Austria but froth relentlessly about the potential visit to an overpriced swimming pool with a couple of lame slides... it was ever thus. Here they are practically sprinting to get into the place.
1011.jpg


In fairness it is pretty awesome. There are about seven pools. Indoor, outdoor, some both. Slides, a river rapids thing, jacuzzis and even bar service at the outdoor pool! With snow on the ground it is fairly cool just hanging out in the 36 degree outdoor pool with steam rising, the sun going down behind the Kitzsteinhorn and a waiter bringing you a cocktail of your choosing... The kids loved it and with the free entry via our accommodation we will likely be here every night of our stay if the kids have their way. It got a big tick from me.

The only issue I have (there's always one!) is the OH and S again. It was ridiculous. I didn't see a single lifeguard! The indoor pools were bedlam most of the time. No lifeguards. The river rapids regularly sucked Sam under such were their ferocity and I would frequently pull him up from the depths - LET GO DAD!!! No lifeguards. The slides had no lifeguard at the top telling people when to go. One kid would take a ten yard run up and dive headlong into the pipe to start his slide! I am a stickler for the rules and this was clearly in contravention of the stated guidelines posted on the wall in both English and German... The bottom of the slide was a fairly brutal deepwater exit in a walled off room out of sight of everywhere else. No lifeguards.

Eventually I saw what I assumed was a lifeguards room with a few monitors showing various parts of the facility. But there was no-one in it. I just found it all extraordinary. In Australia this facility would require a legion of lifeguards and here I could literally see none. Rather like the Rodelbahn I just can't understand how they aren't losing people? And then of course I remember how someone further up this thread told me that they are losing people with the Rodelbahn. So maybe they are at the Tauern Spa too... I guess it just needs people to take responsibility for their own actions and child supervision over here which I guess is no bad thing. We certainly do this, you just have to hope everyone else does too!

The Australian Fisherman!!

Risk tolerance. Varies everywhere. The same Austrian’s that stare down daily avalanche risk, rodels of terror & unguarded pools, get their freak on about living in an ‘empty’ country full of dangerous reptiles & invertebrates, which are largely harmless & a minor consideration for most rural Australian’s.

I largely agree with the Euro’s (aside from the smoking thing). Responsible for your own decisions. Natural selection. Encourage a strong, resilient population.
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
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TQY
The Australian Fisherman!!

Risk tolerance. Varies everywhere. The same Austrian’s that stare down daily avalanche risk, rodels of terror & unguarded pools, get their freak on about living in an ‘empty’ country full of dangerous reptiles & invertebrates, which are largely harmless & a minor consideration for most rural Australian’s.

I largely agree with the Euro’s (aside from the smoking thing). Responsible for your own decisions. Natural selection. Encourage a strong, resilient population.
I agree, although once you've been indoctrinated into a world of strongly regulated OH and S it's always a bit weird going back to see the way things used to be!

My kids do hate the smoking though, they've grown up in a world where smoking barely exists in public so they just find it a bit strange that so many people smoke overtly over here. Austria certainly not the worst country in Europe on that count though...
 

teebee

One of Us
Aug 19, 2009
138
770
263
Sydney, NSW
And a Happy New Year
I didn't have time to write anything up yesterday unfortunately. I've got no idea how @elSpike manages to relentlessly keep his workrate up, maybe it comes with having older kids or maybe it's that Singaporean work ethic! Anyhow I shall simply combine New Year's Eve and New Year's Day into a single post. They were essentially almost identical anyway and the pictures will hopefully do most of the talking for me as the weather was stellar on both days.

New Year's Eve had a very nice start to the day. Nice moon, clear skies and as you will see we are also under a fairly busy flightpath...


Breakfast was taken and the bootroom was accessed. The bootroom was a total zoo. It's small enough already but when you squash in most of the hotel guests and their feral offspring all pushing and shoving to get their boots on and skis and poles out it became almost intolerable. Add to this the need for full skiwear and a mask and by the time you escape it's like you've been in a sauna for half an hour. I stumbled out of the hazy maelstrom into the great outdoors at the same time as a German dad and we literally both simultaneously wiped our brows, rolled our eyes and stood there panting. Words were not required - which was fortunate really as this situation had not been covered in my Deutsch Heute German text books in the mid-90s.

All speed to the gondola was made and the views from the base gondola station were excellent.
918.jpg


The views inside the gondola station were sadly not. As would be expected on a bluebird day with top to bottom snow coverage on New Year's Eve it was a bit busier than your average day.

Europeans are good at many things but anyone who has skied in Europe will know that queuing is not one of them. My five year old is a three year veteran of queuing for the Bourke Street Express in all conditions and is therefore well accustomed to the close proximity of others, the lengthy waits and the general pain of queuing for lifts. However he entered the gondola in tears. It was a total rugby scrum. And more like one of those Rugby League scrums that nobody ever understands the point of rather than a properly regulated Rugby Union scrum.

The thing with queues in Europe is that you simply cannot afford to leave any lateral space whatsoever or it will instantly be filled by someone and your wait has just become longer as they then push in front of you. If there is any space, regardless of where that space exists in the current queue then you must fill it immediately. It's dog eat dog and there are no rights and wrongs. To continue the theme it's like playing rugby but with no forward pass rule, it totally changes the game.

Once loaded on the gondola things calmed down and in honesty although the mountain was busy we barely queued for the rest of the day which was fairly extraordinary for this time of year. I continue to remind the kids that to ski this week with virtually no queues is something that may never ever happen again! We are truly lucky to be here.

We headed over towards Gerlos and the views and the weather were magnificent.
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Initially the pistes were groomed but bulletproof. The grooming wasn't quite good enough to be able to go full mach which I assume was on account of the snow rather than the groomers skills. It was a bit bumpy, plenty of cookies and not quite perfect. It was nonetheless fast and fun. This (and the next day) would essentially be like Spring skiing in Australia. Solid early (see first pic above), Slushy late (see second pic above), and some sweet spots in the middle if you hit it at the right time. All of it was fun though.

After a quick trip down to Gerlos where the lower slopes were softer and more rippable we headed back up to the top in one of the numerous gondolas and then took the (to that point unridden) ten person gondola towards Zell. As I had suspected might happen we just kept going and ended up on the Zell side by about 1130am. This requires a bunch of lifts and ski runs across the top of the mountain range linking the resorts - but it wasn't as far as I had originally imagined and it was also a very nice trip. We'd originally planned on doing it the following day but with daughter's heel holding up we just kept going.

So did pretty much everyone else. It was a fun trip but it was somewhat of a super-highway of skiers as everyone else of course had the same idea and the snow became pretty scratchy rather quickly. The views were worth it though.
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Having been to the Zell side almost exclusively to use the terrain park previously it was nice to be able to explore some of the rest of the resort. We stopped for a snack and some New Year's Eve drinks at a nice spot overlooking the valley.
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And then we hammered it down to the gondola mid-station to take on the feared black run to the base of Zell. Well, if you're going to swim the full 50 metres you have to touch the wall before turning back, right?

There are a few nice runs on the way to the gondola although the snow was pretty scratchy here and it seems busier than the Konigsleiten side. There was a cool cloud layer hanging out down in the valley below though that was very photogenic.
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Much to our disappointment we got to the mid-station to discover the black run to the base was closed. It must have taken a beating from the rain and the holiday crowds as I'd skied it a few days prior and there had been plenty of snow on it. The kids were gutted although my wife seemed oddly chirpy.

With that done and a few tell-tale signs of unrest starting to show we resolved to head back to the Konigsleiten end of the Arena and we enjoyed the trip back which seems a better ski than the trip on the way there due to the ski/lift ratio in that direction.

A quick blast through the terrain park (see later) and we made a late stop at our favourite the Rossl Alm in Gerlos. It was obviously packed. You don't turn up at 2.30pm on a sunny New Year's Eve and expect to get a seat outside. But we happily sat inside by a window with a sweeping mountain view and daughter attempted to perfect the art of pouring a beer. Life skills. This one will go far - with a bit more practice.
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All fuelled up we headed home. A brilliant day in the mountains and an epic trip for the family with lots of great memories for everyone. The day was finished with a 5pm meal in the hotel restaurant (living the NYE dream!), a swim and then watching the fireworks from the balcony of our room.

There were a bunch of minor fireworks early in the evening that the kids could watch but we all crashed before the main event only to be woken later by the official fireworks being set off in various strategic locations around the town. It was unbelievable. I presume the local council foots the bill for this but Konigsleiten with it's estimated population of 122 people had a firework display lasting longer than 27 minutes! I think that's longer than Sydney's display! Sure, they don't have a harbour bridge to drop fireworks off but it was still pretty epic. I think it's safe to say Austrians love their fireworks...

Here is a photo of the last rays of sunshine that we saw in 2021.
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I shall be brief about New Year's Day as it was essentially the same as New Year's Eve but we didn't go to Zell. Rather we hung around in Gerlos, Konigsleiten and even made a late trip to Hoch Krimml. The morning had a nice sunrise and the gondola as you might expect was nowhere near as busy first up - a few sore heads still in bed methinks and one of the few benefits of having young kids - no hangover!
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We hit up the solid groomers early. edit: Photo may have been NYE actually but it was total rinse and repeat...
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And then headed down to Gerlos. Stellar weather again.
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We then spent a bit of time in the park and naughty little brother snuck up on big sister - he's behind you!
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Had drinks at a great spot half way up the Konigsleiten / Gerlos valley called the Alm Bar with the traditional deck chairs in the sun and a jump next to it. Great spot and blaring out classic Europop to boot. I do always wonder if they really like the music or if they are being ironic. I really think it might be the former. We were treated to a bunch of euro dance and discotheque along with Adamski, Vanilla Ice and to absolutely put the cherry on the cake the full length version of Barbie Girl by Aqua. It simply does not get better than this when you are sitting in a deck chair looking at an epic mountain view and sipping a large euro beer in the blazing sun.
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But alas eventually it was time to go but not before daughter took down the Alm Bar jump on our way out. Here below is a few pieces of her work over the last couple of days, naturally with appropriate soundtrack.


We finished the day off with an unsuccessful trip to Hoch Krimml (very icy) and despite this headed home very satisfied and having even forgotten to have lunch.

Therefore an ad hoc and early trip to the Susi Alm in town (home of the Sexy Fitness Salad) was undertaken. A couple of beers in (and a hell of a lot of cheesy Europop) and I get the menu out for food. It is only at this point that I find I had missed a page in the menu last time out and in fact two further English titled meals are also available for those not sufficiently taken with the Sexy Fitness Salad. All hail the 'Business-Girl Sandwich' and the 'Gentleman's Steak-Toast' which sound oh so tempting...

Happy New Year to everyone. Here is hoping for a better 2022 for all and some return to normality (please?).
Thanks for the great report
brought back some wonderful memories for me
My wife and I had a week in Gerlos 2 years ago at a similar time in Jan before heading to Madonna Di Campiglio in Italy for a week
Loved cruising all around the Zillertal and the dollarmites too
Looking forward to getting back around that way soon
Safe travels
 

davekinkead

Hard Yards
Mar 29, 2015
55
121
83
dave.kinkead.com.au
Love the video of your daughter sending the little kickers. I remember mine going through that phase and what really helped was learning to rotate from the hips and not the shoulders ... I'd get her to practice in her bedroom with hands firmly on hips and jumping 90, then reverse 180, reverse to 270, and eventually 360. When she can do 180 to 270 in ski boots on snow, she has enough rotation for the small kickers. She'll love Kitzsteinhorn!
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
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TQY
The Big One
Warning: this post is going to be picture heavy with gondolas and lift infrastructure!

We woke to a fairly dull morning but with enough visibility to see both the Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn resorts from our bedroom window. The coverage at Maiskogel is surprisingly good given that the base station is at around 800m. I think they've hit it pretty hard with snowmaking and it also seems to stay much cooler down in the valley here than where we were in Zillertal previously.
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After a buffet breakfast we headed the one minute down the road to park in Kaprun with the intention of sampling the delights of the much vaunted 3K gondola linking the two resorts. To get there we had to ride the Maiskogelbahn to the top of the first resort and then transfer to the new 3K K-onnection gondola that takes you up to Kitzsteinhorn. This is some piece of engineering let me tell you. The gondola cabins take about 25 people and they are spacious and modern.
1102.jpg


They even have special holes in the floor so you don't have to hold your skis. Marvellous!
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It's an amazing ride. Fast and smooth and you are so high up! I had to take the photos in portrait to get the whole depth in...
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And once you arrive at Kitzsteinhorn you then need to start taking more gondolas before you can start skiing. The first of these was a round gondola, the shape of which thrilled my son as we'd never been in a round gondola before. The views were already pretty amazing at this point and we were still not near the top.
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From there we crossed over to the aerial tramway that would take us to the highest part of the mountain. We had been travelling by various gondolas for around three quarters of an hour now and still hadn't put our skis on yet...
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When we finally reached the top and climbed the last flight of stairs we were out onto a deck in the biting wind but with amazing views. The platform is around 200m shy of the summit so god only knows how windy it was right at the top!
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There is a restaurant at the top and a kind of museum explaining how the whole thing was built housed in a long tunnel through the mountain. The engineering is unbelievable. You wonder why they went to that amount of trouble when they could have stayed lower down the mountain a lot more easily but it's all pretty phenomenal.

You can't ski down from the site (well, we mere mortals can't anyway!), you have to take a very neat funicular railway about 200m down to the top of the skiable area. This provided yet another cool addition to my son's lift infrastructure collection.
1108.jpg


And when you finally get to the bottom of the funicular railway you then have to walk through a cave that has been impossibly hollowed out of the mountain to get to the point that you can put your skis on. It's all so wonderfully convoluted and extraordinary and I loved it!
1110.jpg


We finally made it out into the open and put our skis on. A regular gondola also services this point so it feels like you are back in the real world. There is an easier piste off the side but we were dead keen to do the narrow little chute that they'd roped off straight down the front.
1111.jpg


Finally we were on our skis and up and riding. It was 10.55am by this point! Maybe not a great route to take up the mountain on a powder day...

This photo gives a good perspective of it all with the bond villain style lair tucked away just below the summit and the skiable area just below it to the right.
1112.jpg


So to the skiing. As mentioned it was windy at the top and it's fair to say that not a lot of fresh snow has fallen here for a while. But as you might expect on a glacier there was heaps on the ground and it was dryer and lighter than what we had skied before which was nice. It was very fine windblown snow though and soon large piles of fine, dry snow (a bit like sand) would heap up across the busier runs which was not amazing to ski on. Maybe if we'd hit it at 9am instead of 11am it might have helped! First world problems though...

We cut a few laps around the upper section of the mountain and scoped the big jumps that were set up in the big boys terrain park. We also did a run through the junior terrain park and down the ridercross trail which was fun. The run down to the Alpin Centre reminded me very much of the bottom of Heavenly Valley at Hotham in that it seemed to funnel all and sundry into a very narrow area and cause general havoc with large soft moguls developing and a crazy mix of beginners and advanced skiers all vying to get through the chaos.

Interestingly the standard of skiing was way lower here than we had seen anywhere else so far. At Ski Juwel and Zillertal we had been amazed by the level of skiing but it was a big step backwards here. I assume this is because of the more cosmopolitan mix of people staying in Kaprun. We also looked over to Zell am See from the top and the snow lower down (from range I might add) looked very poor so maybe a lot of people went to Kitzsteinhorn to find better snow. We are going to Zell for a week from the 6th so we're praying for snow between now and then!!

We stopped in for lunch at the Alpin Centre which was a nice spot. I had a very tasty wurst with grostl, sauerkraut and an absolute bonus of grated horseradish on top. I love horseradish - normally in a roast beef sandwich - but it tastes great on the Grostl too! What the meal lacked in aesthetics it made up for in flavour.
1113.jpg


Back out into the fray and we then went up one of the cleverest lifts I have ever seen. It was a chondola with both gondola cabins and hooded chairs. However, at the bottom station the chairs and the gondolas would detach and run on separate tracks so they could be loaded in two different areas, before rejoining in a different formation for the trip up the hill. Even more was to come as there was a mid-station where the chairs would unload, turn tail and go back downhill whilst the gondolas continued on their lonesome to the top station before returning to the mid-station and intersecting between chairs again!

It was another amazing feat of engineering. I was so mesmerised by the intersecting chairs and cabins that I didn't have time to take a picture of the real action and only ended up taking one when we were already on it which is pretty useless!
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To finish off the Kitzsteinhorn adventure we hit the Superpipe. Daughter was dead keen to get a look at this six metre walled beast. We have been in a small half-pipe (more of a quarter pipe) at Nozawa once but it was small and had nice soft, snowy walls which invited you to scale them. This absolute leviathon was pure ice on the walls and two stories high!
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For scale here is daughter timidly trying it out. She has her freestyle lesson tomorrow and is hoping to get a better crack at this with some instruction.
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We took a nice red run down the outside of the resort all of the way back to the 3K station and then headed back across to the Maiskogel resort in the monster gondola. The view on the way back was just as good.
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To finish the day's skiing we headed down to the base station of Maiskogel. In my mind this small resort was just a sideshow but in fact it was about 800m of vertical and took a lot longer than I thought! The kids were very keen to get to the bottom though as they had been promised a ride on the alpine coaster and that appeared to take precedence over any ski-related activities...

Overall I quite liked Kitzsteinhorn. The engineering is amazing and I loved that side of it. We didn't see the resort at it's best as the wind was fairly strong up high, the snow was pretty tired and the light was very flat which in an open resort with no trees makes life quite difficult. I can see that on its day it would be epic though. We will return tomorrow anyway - but this time we'll drive to the Kitzsteinhorn car park and get the lift up from there!
 

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
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363
TQY
The Pain in the Backside
So it was an early start as we had to be up at Alpin Centre on Kitzsteinhorn for 9am so daughter could have her freestyle lesson with Jimi from Hartwegers Ski School. By the time I got up at 630am daughter was already up, fully dressed for skiing (including back protector) and ready to go. This never happens! So I think it was safe to say she was keen.

I packed the car, we had breakfast and we hit the road to drive the 6km to the car park at the base of the Kitzsteinhorn. The weather was pretty dreary and the snow at the side of the road is looking pretty old and dirty right now. The mountain is an impressive sight nonetheless though.
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We walked to the gondola and hopped in. Compared to the new 3K gondola discussed yesterday this is an old piece of junk but it still holds 25 odd people in each gondola and it got us up the mountain so who is complaining. The gondola ride is mighty steep and this is an impressive mountain to look at as we ascend in the creaky old lift.

We were sat in the gondola with a bunch of English skiers and an instructor. And what are the chances, but the instructor turns out to be Jimi! Jimi is from Holland and has two sets of skis with him for freestyle and racing. Jimi is a great guy and is very friendly. It also turns out that he taught at Perisher for a few years so is well au fait with the joys of Australian skiing. Interesting side-story is that he reckons working in Australia pays about four times as much as working in Austria. He may have been exaggerating. As I will outline later some of his stories seemed a little far-fetched...

Anyhow, we get to the top, sort out all of the gear and head up to the summit in the gondola. Jimi then takes daughter off and they flick 180s and ski backwards sporadically on their way down the hill while we mere mortals do all we can to just stay upright. Snow is okay but you wouldn't be going off-piste. In the picture below you can see the state of the off-piste in the background and the state of Jimi's moustache in the foreground.
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Annoyingly the light was very flat again in the morning which was not very helpful but we still had a good morning tearing around the various red and blue runs with son in tow. The visibility was at least good for which we were grateful.
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When we caught up with daughter an hour later she was hitting jumps in the park and taking her first real steps sliding a large metal tube.
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This innocuous looking piece of scratched up metal would later end our day but as the morning progressed she got further and further along the pipe. Jimi was very happy. He later told me that as a kid in Holland he and his friends would visit the local indoor snowdome where they had a couple of rails set up and just cut laps all day trying out new rail tricks. They got so good that they started competing around Europe and would look for the comps with the biggest prize money to target.

It was unclear to me if Jimi really was some kind of elite underground Dutch railmaster or was in fact just a fantasist of the highest order who'd smoked too much dope and drunk too much schnapps. His railwork suggested the former but his moustache certainly suggested the latter.

Either way when we picked up daughter for an early 11am lunch break there were tales from the J-dawg of massive 180s and an attempted 360 with an unfortunate upside down landing. He had already told us he was unimpressed with the construction of the park this year both for the lack of boxes and the overly steep grading of the jump lips in the junior park. But daughter seemed happy once we'd plied her with enough Nurofen and Kaiserschmarrn.

At the risk of being boring I'd hit the grostl once again. It's just a go-to meal when you need something tasty and filling washed down with a beer for good measure.
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When we emerged from the lunch hut the sun had started to make cameo appearances which was a welcome relief and meant I could actually see the terrain properly. Son was very keen to see the Gipfelwelt museum housed in a massive long tunnel in the mountain up near the summit so he went up the tramway with his mum while I went skiing. I stalked daughter's lesson for a while and then did a few top to bottom runs enjoying the slightly clearer weather.
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As you can see numbers were fairly hefty on some of the runs but generally lift queues were minimal. The lift system is pretty good. It's a bit random and poorly linked in places but the capacity seemed more than adequate given this was a primo week.

I got sent a couple of pictures from the museum team who had walked some ungodly distance in the underground cave and come out on the other side of the mountain to a spectacular viewing platform.
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It looked impressive. But I was busy uploading a t-bar that served two black runs near the top ridge that I had had my eye on since yesterday. Both were delicious with decent snow mostly untouched by the large volume of beginners that were merrily spudding up the remainder of the mountain. A few minutes later I went by the terrain park to check on progress and found rotational air being hit under Jimi's watchful eye.
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Sadly on my next lap I found tears melting the snow and our erstwhile Dutch railmaster slash fantasist trying to console daughter near the aforementioned large metal tube. It transpires that she'd made it almost to the end before slipping and falling on her back on the sharp cut-off end of the pipe. I had a look and the large red scrape just above her backside seemed like it would be pretty painful. I reckon it's going to be a ripping bruise when it comes up.

Jimi was unperturbed and was keen to keep lapping but she was a shadow of her former bold self which was a real shame. Freestyle is a risky business as you are always going to be pushing your own limits and unfortunately this comes with the inevitable falls and injuries. It is not nice to be a parent watching this happen and not knowing whether to stop it all or to push to keep going. I don't think Jimi has kids yet as he was firmly in the get back on the horse camp!

Despite the obvious pain she made Jimi stick to a promise made earlier in the day. The Kitzsteinhorn resort has a famous black run called the Black Mamba (really!) and this rather over-hyped and over-marketed run claims a 63% grade in a narrow gully linking the middle to lower sections of the resort. With the lax Austrian OH and S approach once again rearing it's ugly head the Kitzsteinhorn team had placed a large sign at the entrance to the run proclaiming something along the lines of "Black Mamba... give it a go!". Which I would imagine is the last thing ski patrol would have wanted.

Daughter had requested that Jimi take her down the Black Mamba at the end of the lesson and initially he had refused, citing the lack of edges on his rail-worn park skis. This surprised me as I would have thought a Dutch railmaster only just past his prime would eat this kind of thing up for breakfast. When daughter pointed out that he'd also brought a pair of race skis up the gondola with him he realised he had embarrassingly been backed into a corner by an eight year old and agreed that if there was time they could do it.

So off they went to the Black Mamba. And off I went... to the red run round the outside. Obviously I wanted to get to the bottom first to allow me to take a photo which is a perfectly good reason to take the red run. It had nothing to do with me not wanting to put myself in mortal danger. Far better to let an eight year old with two year old park-worn skis that have never been serviced take the thing on with a thirty year old moustachioed Dutch fantasist.
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That was the only shot I got at full zoom on my phone - daughter high, railmaster low. The gully goes behind a large rockface just after that so they get obscured from view until they shoot out at the bottom.

The long and the short of it is that daughter finished the day with a bruised and scraped backside from the rail, a mild concussion from the 360 head landing and a sticker and a T-shirt to say she'd skied the Black Mamba. Oh, and bragging rights over dad because he didn't ski it. All in all a pretty good day's work...

We uploaded to Alpin Centre while daughter told us it wasn't as hard as a couple of runs at Buller. At this point Jimi may have decided that in fact we were the fantasists but who knows what the truth is, I hadn't been game enough to find out. And then as we parted ways with our freestyle officianado we headed back down to the rickety gondola to head home.
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An hour at the Omicron Incubation Facility (or Tauern Spa as they call it in Kaprun), a slap up dinner at the Venezia Pizzeria and it was home to bed. The sun set on another day in paradise. There is talk of snow tomorrow. The fantasist tells me 70cm up at Kitzsteinhorn. Snow-forecast.com tells me 5-15cm in Kaprun. Maybe both are right. Either way we may not see this view tomorrow.
1211.jpg
 

PMG

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jan 3, 2011
4,121
3,217
363
Sydney
The Big One
Warning: this post is going to be picture heavy with gondolas and lift infrastructure!

We woke to a fairly dull morning but with enough visibility to see both the Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn resorts from our bedroom window. The coverage at Maiskogel is surprisingly good given that the base station is at around 800m. I think they've hit it pretty hard with snowmaking and it also seems to stay much cooler down in the valley here than where we were in Zillertal previously.
1101.jpg


After a buffet breakfast we headed the one minute down the road to park in Kaprun with the intention of sampling the delights of the much vaunted 3K gondola linking the two resorts. To get there we had to ride the Maiskogelbahn to the top of the first resort and then transfer to the new 3K K-onnection gondola that takes you up to Kitzsteinhorn. This is some piece of engineering let me tell you. The gondola cabins take about 25 people and they are spacious and modern.
1102.jpg


They even have special holes in the floor so you don't have to hold your skis. Marvellous!
1103.jpg


It's an amazing ride. Fast and smooth and you are so high up! I had to take the photos in portrait to get the whole depth in...
1104.jpg


And once you arrive at Kitzsteinhorn you then need to start taking more gondolas before you can start skiing. The first of these was a round gondola, the shape of which thrilled my son as we'd never been in a round gondola before. The views were already pretty amazing at this point and we were still not near the top.
1105.jpg

From there we crossed over to the aerial tramway that would take us to the highest part of the mountain. We had been travelling by various gondolas for around three quarters of an hour now and still hadn't put our skis on yet...
11006.jpg

When we finally reached the top and climbed the last flight of stairs we were out onto a deck in the biting wind but with amazing views. The platform is around 200m shy of the summit so god only knows how windy it was right at the top!
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There is a restaurant at the top and a kind of museum explaining how the whole thing was built housed in a long tunnel through the mountain. The engineering is unbelievable. You wonder why they went to that amount of trouble when they could have stayed lower down the mountain a lot more easily but it's all pretty phenomenal.

You can't ski down from the site (well, we mere mortals can't anyway!), you have to take a very neat funicular railway about 200m down to the top of the skiable area. This provided yet another cool addition to my son's lift infrastructure collection.
1108.jpg


And when you finally get to the bottom of the funicular railway you then have to walk through a cave that has been impossibly hollowed out of the mountain to get to the point that you can put your skis on. It's all so wonderfully convoluted and extraordinary and I loved it!
1110.jpg


We finally made it out into the open and put our skis on. A regular gondola also services this point so it feels like you are back in the real world. There is an easier piste off the side but we were dead keen to do the narrow little chute that they'd roped off straight down the front.
1111.jpg


Finally we were on our skis and up and riding. It was 10.55am by this point! Maybe not a great route to take up the mountain on a powder day...

This photo gives a good perspective of it all with the bond villain style lair tucked away just below the summit and the skiable area just below it to the right.
1112.jpg


So to the skiing. As mentioned it was windy at the top and it's fair to say that not a lot of fresh snow has fallen here for a while. But as you might expect on a glacier there was heaps on the ground and it was dryer and lighter than what we had skied before which was nice. It was very fine windblown snow though and soon large piles of fine, dry snow (a bit like sand) would heap up across the busier runs which was not amazing to ski on. Maybe if we'd hit it at 9am instead of 11am it might have helped! First world problems though...

We cut a few laps around the upper section of the mountain and scoped the big jumps that were set up in the big boys terrain park. We also did a run through the junior terrain park and down the ridercross trail which was fun. The run down to the Alpin Centre reminded me very much of the bottom of Heavenly Valley at Hotham in that it seemed to funnel all and sundry into a very narrow area and cause general havoc with large soft moguls developing and a crazy mix of beginners and advanced skiers all vying to get through the chaos.

Interestingly the standard of skiing was way lower here than we had seen anywhere else so far. At Ski Juwel and Zillertal we had been amazed by the level of skiing but it was a big step backwards here. I assume this is because of the more cosmopolitan mix of people staying in Kaprun. We also looked over to Zell am See from the top and the snow lower down (from range I might add) looked very poor so maybe a lot of people went to Kitzsteinhorn to find better snow. We are going to Zell for a week from the 6th so we're praying for snow between now and then!!

We stopped in for lunch at the Alpin Centre which was a nice spot. I had a very tasty wurst with grostl, sauerkraut and an absolute bonus of grated horseradish on top. I love horseradish - normally in a roast beef sandwich - but it tastes great on the Grostl too! What the meal lacked in aesthetics it made up for in flavour.
1113.jpg


Back out into the fray and we then went up one of the cleverest lifts I have ever seen. It was a chondola with both gondola cabins and hooded chairs. However, at the bottom station the chairs and the gondolas would detach and run on separate tracks so they could be loaded in two different areas, before rejoining in a different formation for the trip up the hill. Even more was to come as there was a mid-station where the chairs would unload, turn tail and go back downhill whilst the gondolas continued on their lonesome to the top station before returning to the mid-station and intersecting between chairs again!

It was another amazing feat of engineering. I was so mesmerised by the intersecting chairs and cabins that I didn't have time to take a picture of the real action and only ended up taking one when we were already on it which is pretty useless!
1114.jpg


To finish off the Kitzsteinhorn adventure we hit the Superpipe. Daughter was dead keen to get a look at this six metre walled beast. We have been in a small half-pipe (more of a quarter pipe) at Nozawa once but it was small and had nice soft, snowy walls which invited you to scale them. This absolute leviathon was pure ice on the walls and two stories high!
1115.jpg


For scale here is daughter timidly trying it out. She has her freestyle lesson tomorrow and is hoping to get a better crack at this with some instruction.
1116.jpg


We took a nice red run down the outside of the resort all of the way back to the 3K station and then headed back across to the Maiskogel resort in the monster gondola. The view on the way back was just as good.
1117.jpg


To finish the day's skiing we headed down to the base station of Maiskogel. In my mind this small resort was just a sideshow but in fact it was about 800m of vertical and took a lot longer than I thought! The kids were very keen to get to the bottom though as they had been promised a ride on the alpine coaster and that appeared to take precedence over any ski-related activities...

Overall I quite liked Kitzsteinhorn. The engineering is amazing and I loved that side of it. We didn't see the resort at it's best as the wind was fairly strong up high, the snow was pretty tired and the light was very flat which in an open resort with no trees makes life quite difficult. I can see that on its day it would be epic though. We will return tomorrow anyway - but this time we'll drive to the Kitzsteinhorn car park and get the lift up from there!
Good idea, you'll save a lot of time if you do.
You saw more of it than we did. We went there in a semi white out and there were only two runs open. Had fun though, limited as it was.
Fingers crossed for you to get some fresh snow. Zell Am See has some nice terrain. Lovely town too.
 

Kletterer

Thredbo Doughnut Tragic
Moderator
Nov 26, 2014
24,605
30,422
1,063
Canberra
Wed will be snowy- warm at first with rain in Zell Am See getting markedly colder as the front moves in.
 

Kash

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jul 9, 2007
1,006
1,386
363
Sydney
Wow, what a trip report.

What I am loving is that I havent even heard of most of the resorts you are visiting! I've only ridden Arlberg area, Bad Gastein and 1 or 2 small resorts (names escape me). It just tells me there is so much more to see and i love the pics of the small towns. Some of the scenery/mountain shots are next level. iPhone camera?

The ice on that superpipe looks downright horrible. Kudos to the little one for giving it a go.

Take your point that these trip reports would serve as an excellent travel diary to refer back on in future years. Particularly for the kids. Its a great idea. Your (and @elSpike's) effort is greatly appreciated by us stuck in virus hubs like Sydney and not able to travel this year!
 
Last edited:

Heinz

Fully vaccinated and travelling again!
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
29,289
17,001
1,063
Adelaide
Wow, what a trip report.

What I am loving is that I havent even heard of most of the resorts you are visiting! I've only ridden Arlberg area, Bad Gastein and 1 or 2 small resorts (names escape me). It just tells me there is so much more to see and i love the pics of the small towns. Some of the scenery/mountain shots are next level. iPhone camera?

The ice on that superpipe looks downright horrible. Kudos to the little one for giving it a go.

Take your point that these trip reports would serve as an excellent travel diary to refer back on in future years. Particularly for the kids. Its a great idea. Your (and @elSpike's) effort is greatly appreciated though by us stuck in virus hubs like Sydney ands not able to travel this year!

LOL Arlberg is great, but there is sooo much more to Austria. @blueandwhite is doing a great job covering several different areas but even then will still only be doing roughly a quarter of the ski areas available on his Salzburger Super Ski card.
 

Kletterer

Thredbo Doughnut Tragic
Moderator
Nov 26, 2014
24,605
30,422
1,063
Canberra
Looks socked in this am. North to Norwest winds - would suggest that perhaps the Zell am See slopes will provide the best option .
 
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davekinkead

Hard Yards
Mar 29, 2015
55
121
83
dave.kinkead.com.au
> Interesting side-story is that he reckons working in Australia pays about four times as much as working in Austria. He may have been exaggerating.

Slight exaggeration. My wife worked as an instructor in Austria for a few years and would clear €50 per day after social/taxes for a 6hr day. Instructors in Oz make around $28/hr gross so I'd say Oz pays a bit less than double.

That said, I don't think you'll find €4 pints on the mountain or amazing grötzl in Oz so it all balances out I guess.
 

teebee

One of Us
Aug 19, 2009
138
770
263
Sydney, NSW
Wow what a trip and amazing reports

Really appreciate the effort that's gone into those detailed reports, photos, etc

Obviously you've done a lot of research!

I've found the "Where to ski and Snowboard' website and series of books really useful when wanting to know more about where to ski (particularly in Europe)

Here's some links to their website and Austrian edition of the book


But this is the tip of the ice berg in terms of the number of places to ski in Austria 'skiresort-info' website lists 437 ski resort in Austria!. Not sure if this is entirely accurate but there are heaps
 

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
Wow, what a trip report.

What I am loving is that I havent even heard of most of the resorts you are visiting! I've only ridden Arlberg area, Bad Gastein and 1 or 2 small resorts (names escape me). It just tells me there is so much more to see and i love the pics of the small towns. Some of the scenery/mountain shots are next level. iPhone camera?

The ice on that superpipe looks downright horrible. Kudos to the little one for giving it a go.

Take your point that these trip reports would serve as an excellent travel diary to refer back on in future years. Particularly for the kids. Its a great idea. Your (and @elSpike's) effort is greatly appreciated by us stuck in virus hubs like Sydney and not able to travel this year!
Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I said at the start I'd just do a few photos but it's kind of addictive (if rather time consuming!) to write it up. We may only ever get one big trip like this with the kids so it will be great to look back on one day - that is what is keeping me up writing them while the rest of the family are asleep!

I take the photos on a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra I bought just before we left. I'm an android fanboy so don't have an iphone but they seem to take great photos - I'm guessing @elSpike has one as his landscape and food photos are always great! I reckon I take 50+ photos a day and discard the vast majority of them mind you. But it's worth it for the memories...

Mad Jimi wasn't mad enough to take daughter down the superpipe in the lesson. He had literally no edges on his skis so fair enough... he was mad for the rails though.

I also really struggled working out where to go as you say there are just so many resorts. In the end there were a couple we found good accomodation at and they were in the Salzburg/Kitzbuheler superski card and so the rest all had to be in that area so we could get the card, It would be mighty expensive to be buying day passes every day. The superski card is unbelievable value, even for the five weeks of the season we are using it for. I'm a total hound for fresh terrain so having the option to visit so many resorts so cheaply greatly appealed to me!
 
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Hyst

Enjoyer
Ski Pass
Nov 23, 2014
2,947
2,334
363
66
Copenhagen
www.ahmadjoudeh.com
Thanks, I appreciate the feedback. I said at the start I'd just do a few photos but it's kind of addictive (if rather time consuming!) to write it up. We may only ever get one big trip like this with the kids so it will be great to look back on one day - that is what is keeping me up writing them while the rest of the family are asleep!

I take the photos on a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra I bought just before we left. I'm an android fanboy so don't have an iphone but they seem to take great photos - I'm guessing @elSpike has one as his landscape and food photos are always great! I reckon I take 50+ photos a day and discard the vast majority of them mind you. But it's worth it for the memories...

Mad Jimi wasn't mad enough to take daughter down the superpipe in the lesson. He had literally no edges on his skis so fair enough... he was mad for the rails though.

I also really struggled working out where to go as you say there are just so many resorts. In the end there were a couple we found good accomodation at and they were in the Salzburg/Kitzbuheler superski card and so the rest all had to be in that area so we could get the card, It would be mighty expensive to be buying day passes every day. The superski card is unbelievable value, even for the five weeks of the season we are using it for. I'm a total hound for fresh terrain so having the option to visit so many resorts so cheaply greatly appealed to me!
When in Saalbach take the trip over to Fieberbrunn if you want a bit deep mountain feeling.

Your daughter might like the Zwölfer Kogel Abfahrt better?
 
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elSpike

I am a Meat Popsicle
Ski Pass
Jul 28, 2015
1,010
3,289
363
I take the photos on a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra I bought just before we left. I'm an android fanboy so don't have an iphone but they seem to take great photos - I'm guessing @elSpike has one as his landscape and food photos are always great! I reckon I take 50+ photos a day and discard the vast majority of them mind you. But it's worth it for the memories...
I’m pushing about 70-100 per day.

I take the majority of outdoor photos on my helmet mounted GoPro 7 silver using the voice activation feature. “GOPRO… TAKE A PHOTO!”

Indoor photos are on an iPhone 13 Pro Max* (or my wife’s 13 Pro if I’m in it)

*full disclosure: I work for the company but not in a marketing role.
 

bluestick

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 10, 2005
1,176
3,134
363
northern rivers
Thanks for the comprehensive reports, they do make a good record and something special to look back on. I’m usually too busy enjoying the skiing to take photos, they are always fun to look at afterwards though.
 
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Heinz

Fully vaccinated and travelling again!
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
29,289
17,001
1,063
Adelaide
When in Saalbach take the trip over to Fieberbrunn if you want a bit deep mountain feeling.

Your daughter might like the Zwölfer Kogel Abfahrt better?

Definately want good edges if attempting that or the Shattberg nord abfahrt!! :eek:
 

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
Let It Snow
Austria in December and January was always a bit of a risk for many reasons. From a snow perspective I was warned off by some friends in the UK who told me to go higher elsewhere. There are high mountains in Austria obviously, but a lot of the main resorts seem to have a fair bit of terrain down low compared to your other big-hitting euro ski countries. This is particularly true of the Salzburg/Kitzbuheler superski card area that we chose. So we were on a bit of a wing and a prayer really.

As it is we got pretty lucky with a massive early snow dump to low levels around the 14th December. Whilst this was before we arrived (which was the 22nd) it laid a solid base all the way down to the lower reaches of the resorts for us to ski. We have only had another 5-10cm up high since then and that was rained on a day later - so from the fresh snow perspective it's not been that great. But I'd happily take what we got. To be skiing Ski Juwel and Zillertal Arena top to bottom in the sunshine for two weeks in December and early January was absolutely awesome for us.

In fact the last week has seen records broken for warm temperatures in Austria including the alpine areas. Fortunately for this period we were at Konigsleiten which is up at 1,600m and now we are at Kaprun which may only be at 800m but has the Kitzsteinhorn glacier close by but two and a half kilometres further up in the sky. So despite double digit temperatures on the mountain we have still been blessed with fairly skiable conditions so far, even if we haven't had any real fresh snow.

However, from tomorrow we start to move to resorts with less altitude. We kind of assumed (hoped!) snow would arrive by early to mid January to low levels - so we have Zell am See, Kitzbuhel, Saalbach and Kleinwalsertal on the menu, none of which are particularly high from my understanding. My hastily concocted map showing our trip is shown below:
1303.jpg


I was starting to get nervous truth be told. I look at snow-forecast.com (for my sins). Not that I think it is accurate but it at least gives me an indication of if large snowfalls are on the way. And it's not been that pretty from a snow perspective. I use my phone for this mostly, but one day last week I logged in using my laptop. Holy smokes! Where did that come from? Snowmageddon!! We were in for about two metres of snowfall in the following week!

Except it turned out that the last time I was using my laptop on snow-forecast.com must have been three years ago because it was actually defaulting to Nozawa Onsen in Japan. Whoops. Someone in Nozawa is probably doing a lot of shovelling right now.

But today, finally some snow arrived in Kaprun. We awoke to rain, although in fairness I knew it would be snowing 2,500m further up the mountain. And during breakfast it changed to snow at base level as well which was very welcome!


It continued to snow for the rest of the day. Heaviest in the morning and lighter this afternoon. It is wet snow down here at base level - but it is white. Despite this I would guess we are looking at about 5cm of wet snow at base level so far which is kind of surprising as it felt like it would have been a lot more from watching it snow down here all day.

Yesterday Jimi the instructor had done a Bergfex check on the lift for us and had told us the glacier was probably best avoided today as it would be windy and a whiteout. No idea if he was just trying to keep the best snow to himself or if he was legit but we stayed away anyway. Five year olds and wind and whiteout don't mix that well so we try and avoid this unless we are at Buller and then it's game on and we take whatever we can get.

So we took our last visit to the covid incubation centre at Tauern Spa and enjoyed the snow falling on us in the outdoor pools and the pushing and shoving that comes with queuing for waterslides with Romanians. I wanted to ski but I knew I needed to hold my fire for the morning. It's hard though.

A quick lunch at home and I could be denied no longer. The kids wanted a day off and had a play in the wet snow that had fallen in the garden. But I wanted to keep my perfect skiing record intact and so I kitted up and headed to Maiskogel for a quick run out on the planks.

As mentioned there was about 5cm of wet Buller Pow at the base. I hopped in the gondola and ascended before switching to the chairlift to the top. Hooded chairlifts with heated seats are truly such a great invention. I did have a secret chuckle to myself at all the euro tourists with their toothpick-esque rented race skis while I had my all mountain green machines. Finally these babies might come into their own!

Unloading at somewhere around 1700-1800m above sea level there was about 20-30cm of fresh, relatively dry snow. It's amazing what 1,000m of vertical can do. As you can see below I wasn't the first person on Maiskogel to discover it! But I did enjoy the top couple of hundred metres, even if it was rather chopped up.
1304.jpg


I am not a great powder skier - I generally find powder tries very hard to avoid me when I go overseas so it's quite foreign to me. So any practice I can get is welcome. I estimate that I have spent maybe eight weeks in Japan since daughter started skiing five years ago. And in those eight weeks we have had perhaps three days where it snowed more than a couple of centimetres! I once estimated that we have copped about 300 millimetres of rain and have had maybe 80cm of snow in that eight weeks (and 60cm of that snow came in one day!). Anyone who knows anything about Japan will know this is not a great result! And don't get me started on New Zealand, Whistler and France which we tried in years before we discovered Japan. Grrrr...

But I digress. The snow was fun at the top even if the visibility was poor a lot of the time. I did enjoy my first couple of hundred metres!
1306.jpg


Slowly but surely the snow became more tracked and more wet. The altitude really did talk today. The snow became much harder to ski on with very hard packed powder bumps and poor visibility. This was at mid-mountain.
1305.jpg


The bottom was hard work. My legs and feet were mighty sore by the time I reached the bottom station. Even after the one run I was done. Vertically speaking it was 150m of pleasure followed by 850m of pain. I know this will infuriate those at home unable to ski but I did in fact pick up my bat and ball and go home...

Realistically it should groom up really well up high and weather permitting we will head up to the Kitzsteinhorn tomorrow to try and get a good day's skiing in. No doubt everyone else will have the same idea! But skiing semi-visible moguls in a wet blizzard just isn't for me and my terrible eyesight unfortunately - unless I'm at Buller of course where it is bread and butter stuff.

At least I'd kept my run going though. 15 days, 15 skis!

The forecast below (for mid-mountain Zell) is at least colder so snowmaking should keep things open lower down going forward. And they have a hell of a lot of snowmaking here let me tell you! We are lucky to be skiing at all and every day here is a blessing. I know how quickly this could all be taken away so we will take whatever we can get.
1308.jpg


We finished the night off with a covid test followed by a nice meal at the BaumBar in Kaprun which is half restaurant, half nightclub. I could hear the banging bass beats of the nightclub pervading over the top of the soothing restaurant motown classics as we ate which was all a bit weird but the food was very nice. Austrians seem to love spare ribs and so do I. They also love beer. I sometimes think I'd make a great Austrian. Maybe if I learn to ski better and learn a bit more German I can think about advancing this dream further.

Things are not entirely rosy here. The covid situation is now starting to impact the trip. I have upgraded our Green Passes to show our booster shots which is a big help but many places are now requiring 6-12 year olds to show a negative antigen or PCR before arriving at hotels. Our next hotel required this and tonight we did the antigen for daughter who thankfully came up negative.

The word I am getting from friends around Tirol and Salzburg is that Omicron is ripping through the place and many people are showing no symptoms but testing positive. With the kids unvaccinated and not wearing masks they are essentially sitting ducks. We try to take gondolas on our own but this week it has been hard to do that given increased numbers. The pool area was a big worry with so many people there and the restaurants are also a concern. But there is only so much you can do. Daughter is now wearing a mask. The numbers speak for themselves. They are spiking hard in Austria, just like they have everywhere else where Omicron has got a hold.
1310.jpg

We are into our next accommodation with daughter's negative test. How long can our luck last? We are doing what we can to limit exposure but with two young kids you can't live like hermits unfortunately. It just brings into focus the need to enjoy every day that we have here while we can.

Before we leave I also want to put a big shout out to Pension St Georg in Kaprun where we are staying. Simone who runs the place is absolutely brilliant. The pension is #1 on Trip Advisor in Kaprun for a reason. The place is great and she has also been so helpful and friendly to us. When the next hotel suddenly decided they required an official antigen or PCR for daughter she helped us look up testing places and when they were fully booked called ahead to the hotel and said she would watch us do the test and send a photo of daughter and test to prove it was negative for us. It's not right up in the mountains like our last hotel (nowhere in Kaprun is) but we have absolutely loved being here and would recommend it to anyone. Randomly Simone also skied Mount Buller many years ago! https://www.kaprun-stgeorg.at/de/

The views are also terrific.
1311.jpg
 

Rabid K9

A Local
Ski Pass
Jul 15, 2008
6,225
7,299
563
Let It Snow
Austria in December and January was always a bit of a risk for many reasons. From a snow perspective I was warned off by some friends in the UK who told me to go higher elsewhere. There are high mountains in Austria obviously, but a lot of the main resorts seem to have a fair bit of terrain down low compared to your other big-hitting euro ski countries. This is particularly true of the Salzburg/Kitzbuheler superski card area that we chose. So we were on a bit of a wing and a prayer really.

As it is we got pretty lucky with a massive early snow dump to low levels around the 14th December. Whilst this was before we arrived (which was the 22nd) it laid a solid base all the way down to the lower reaches of the resorts for us to ski. We have only had another 5-10cm up high since then and that was rained on a day later - so from the fresh snow perspective it's not been that great. But I'd happily take what we got. To be skiing Ski Juwel and Zillertal Arena top to bottom in the sunshine for two weeks in December and early January was absolutely awesome for us.

In fact the last week has seen records broken for warm temperatures in Austria including the alpine areas. Fortunately for this period we were at Konigsleiten which is up at 1,600m and now we are at Kaprun which may only be at 800m but has the Kitzsteinhorn glacier close by but two and a half kilometres further up in the sky. So despite double digit temperatures on the mountain we have still been blessed with fairly skiable conditions so far, even if we haven't had any real fresh snow.

However, from tomorrow we start to move to resorts with less altitude. We kind of assumed (hoped!) snow would arrive by early to mid January to low levels - so we have Zell am See, Kitzbuhel, Saalbach and Kleinwalsertal on the menu, none of which are particularly high from my understanding. My hastily concocted map showing our trip is shown below:
1303.jpg


I was starting to get nervous truth be told. I look at snow-forecast.com (for my sins). Not that I think it is accurate but it at least gives me an indication of if large snowfalls are on the way. And it's not been that pretty from a snow perspective. I use my phone for this mostly, but one day last week I logged in using my laptop. Holy smokes! Where did that come from? Snowmageddon!! We were in for about two metres of snowfall in the following week!

Except it turned out that the last time I was using my laptop on snow-forecast.com must have been three years ago because it was actually defaulting to Nozawa Onsen in Japan. Whoops. Someone in Nozawa is probably doing a lot of shovelling right now.

But today, finally some snow arrived in Kaprun. We awoke to rain, although in fairness I knew it would be snowing 2,500m further up the mountain. And during breakfast it changed to snow at base level as well which was very welcome!


It continued to snow for the rest of the day. Heaviest in the morning and lighter this afternoon. It is wet snow down here at base level - but it is white. Despite this I would guess we are looking at about 5cm of wet snow at base level so far which is kind of surprising as it felt like it would have been a lot more from watching it snow down here all day.

Yesterday Jimi the instructor had done a Bergfex check on the lift for us and had told us the glacier was probably best avoided today as it would be windy and a whiteout. No idea if he was just trying to keep the best snow to himself or if he was legit but we stayed away anyway. Five year olds and wind and whiteout don't mix that well so we try and avoid this unless we are at Buller and then it's game on and we take whatever we can get.

So we took our last visit to the covid incubation centre at Tauern Spa and enjoyed the snow falling on us in the outdoor pools and the pushing and shoving that comes with queuing for waterslides with Romanians. I wanted to ski but I knew I needed to hold my fire for the morning. It's hard though.

A quick lunch at home and I could be denied no longer. The kids wanted a day off and had a play in the wet snow that had fallen in the garden. But I wanted to keep my perfect skiing record intact and so I kitted up and headed to Maiskogel for a quick run out on the planks.

As mentioned there was about 5cm of wet Buller Pow at the base. I hopped in the gondola and ascended before switching to the chairlift to the top. Hooded chairlifts with heated seats are truly such a great invention. I did have a secret chuckle to myself at all the euro tourists with their toothpick-esque rented race skis while I had my all mountain green machines. Finally these babies might come into their own!

Unloading at somewhere around 1700-1800m above sea level there was about 20-30cm of fresh, relatively dry snow. It's amazing what 1,000m of vertical can do. As you can see below I wasn't the first person on Maiskogel to discover it! But I did enjoy the top couple of hundred metres, even if it was rather chopped up.
1304.jpg


I am not a great powder skier - I generally find powder tries very hard to avoid me when I go overseas so it's quite foreign to me. So any practice I can get is welcome. I estimate that I have spent maybe eight weeks in Japan since daughter started skiing five years ago. And in those eight weeks we have had perhaps three days where it snowed more than a couple of centimetres! I once estimated that we have copped about 300 millimetres of rain and have had maybe 80cm of snow in that eight weeks (and 60cm of that snow came in one day!). Anyone who knows anything about Japan will know this is not a great result! And don't get me started on New Zealand, Whistler and France which we tried in years before we discovered Japan. Grrrr...

But I digress. The snow was fun at the top even if the visibility was poor a lot of the time. I did enjoy my first couple of hundred metres!
1306.jpg


Slowly but surely the snow became more tracked and more wet. The altitude really did talk today. The snow became much harder to ski on with very hard packed powder bumps and poor visibility. This was at mid-mountain.
1305.jpg


The bottom was hard work. My legs and feet were mighty sore by the time I reached the bottom station. Even after the one run I was done. Vertically speaking it was 150m of pleasure followed by 850m of pain. I know this will infuriate those at home unable to ski but I did in fact pick up my bat and ball and go home...

Realistically it should groom up really well up high and weather permitting we will head up to the Kitzsteinhorn tomorrow to try and get a good day's skiing in. No doubt everyone else will have the same idea! But skiing semi-visible moguls in a wet blizzard just isn't for me and my terrible eyesight unfortunately - unless I'm at Buller of course where it is bread and butter stuff.

At least I'd kept my run going though. 15 days, 15 skis!

The forecast below (for mid-mountain Zell) is at least colder so snowmaking should keep things open lower down going forward. And they have a hell of a lot of snowmaking here let me tell you! We are lucky to be skiing at all and every day here is a blessing. I know how quickly this could all be taken away so we will take whatever we can get.
1308.jpg


We finished the night off with a covid test followed by a nice meal at the BaumBar in Kaprun which is half restaurant, half nightclub. I could hear the banging bass beats of the nightclub pervading over the top of the soothing restaurant motown classics as we ate which was all a bit weird but the food was very nice. Austrians seem to love spare ribs and so do I. They also love beer. I sometimes think I'd make a great Austrian. Maybe if I learn to ski better and learn a bit more German I can think about advancing this dream further.

Things are not entirely rosy here. The covid situation is now starting to impact the trip. I have upgraded our Green Passes to show our booster shots which is a big help but many places are now requiring 6-12 year olds to show a negative antigen or PCR before arriving at hotels. Our next hotel required this and tonight we did the antigen for daughter who thankfully came up negative.

The word I am getting from friends around Tirol and Salzburg is that Omicron is ripping through the place and many people are showing no symptoms but testing positive. With the kids unvaccinated and not wearing masks they are essentially sitting ducks. We try to take gondolas on our own but this week it has been hard to do that given increased numbers. The pool area was a big worry with so many people there and the restaurants are also a concern. But there is only so much you can do. Daughter is now wearing a mask. The numbers speak for themselves. They are spiking hard in Austria, just like they have everywhere else where Omicron has got a hold.
1310.jpg

We are into our next accommodation with daughter's negative test. How long can our luck last? We are doing what we can to limit exposure but with two young kids you can't live like hermits unfortunately. It just brings into focus the need to enjoy every day that we have here while we can.

Before we leave I also want to put a big shout out to Pension St Georg in Kaprun where we are staying. Simone who runs the place is absolutely brilliant. The pension is #1 on Trip Advisor in Kaprun for a reason. The place is great and she has also been so helpful and friendly to us. When the next hotel suddenly decided they required an official antigen or PCR for daughter she helped us look up testing places and when they were fully booked called ahead to the hotel and said she would watch us do the test and send a photo of daughter and test to prove it was negative for us. It's not right up in the mountains like our last hotel (nowhere in Kaprun is) but we have absolutely loved being here and would recommend it to anyone. Randomly Simone also skied Mount Buller many years ago! https://www.kaprun-stgeorg.at/de/

The views are also terrific.
1311.jpg

Good honest TR.

Kids are doing well at that age. I'm a big fan of the western Austrian area (west of Innsbruck). Have found it so reliable, terrain to match anywhere, snow quality & quantity most consistent.

Have ended up some of the big names places in Switzerland & France & just wanted to get back to Austria every time.

Another thing I like about Austria is neatness & they build shit well, so always things to learn with various engineerings there. The right wing conservatism, it's there for sure, occasionally get snapshots of these undertones, but goes with the territory.
 

Apiraclubby

Addicted
Jul 14, 2015
113
237
113
I’m pushing about 70-100 per day.

I take the majority of outdoor photos on my helmet mounted GoPro 7 silver using the voice activation feature. “GOPRO… TAKE A PHOTO!”

Indoor photos are on an iPhone 13 Pro Max* (or my wife’s 13 Pro if I’m in it)

*full disclosure: I work for the company but not in a marketing role.
Desperately trying to get my hands on a iPhone 13 here in Melbourne before I fly out early Feb, don’t suppose u have any leads?
 

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
Ka-Pow
Our last day in Kaprun. We were hoping that the fantasist railmaster's claims of 60cm of snow up at the glacier were legitimate. We were also hoping that the weather might clear enough that we could actually see the snow. We ended up with perhaps one and a half of these things which seems like a pretty good result.

We had packed the previous night but it is still no small task to mobilise a wife and two young children to be checked out, breakfasted and out of the door by 8am. And in fact we didn't manage this, but it was close enough. The car park was like an absolute ice rink. The wet snow of yesterday had frozen solid as the cold front marched through and layered everything with a solid coating of ice. The car park was crunchy and slippery, the car doors were stuck shut and the windscreen wipers required slowly prying away from the windscreen.

But soon we were off up to the Kitzsteinhorn car park with fresh snow on the ground and only a single unexpected loss of traction en route. I must confess that overall the mighty Tucson hasn't really met my expectations on a number of levels. It has very little boot space for what might be classified as a mid-sized SUV and the rear vision is appalling. Add to that the front wheel drive and the total lack of grunt in the lower gears and it's not really a particularly saleable package for a family of four on a six week ski trip. It has good fuel economy and that is about the only good thing that I can say about it.

Anyway, we soon reached the car park and although we ended up in the exact same car park space as we had two days ago the gondola station was pretty empty.
14001.jpg


We hopped on board the GletscherJet 1 and set sail for the heavens.
14002.jpg


There was fresh snow all around and the visibility on the trip up was relatively good, stoking hopes of a good day's skiing. Sadly when we reached the mid-mountain area the visibility had diminished. Daughter fired off at rapid speed into the deep snow to the edge of the piste and was followed by her brother whose 100cm race skis weren't really up to the challenge and who therefore immediately face-planted into the powder.
14003.jpg


When someone lifts their face from the snow with a ring of white powder around their goggles it rarely ends well. Particularly when it's a five year old. So there was quite a lot of consoling to be done before we could continue and Sam's day had really not started that well. Not for the first time he was told not to follow his sister and to forge his own path, preferably down the middle of the piste rather than around the edges. By this time however daughter was long gone...
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Piling straight into the deep powder is fine if you have a decent pitch on the run but not so good if it flattens out and you can't hold your speed. She definitely had boots and skis attached to her legs when she went in.
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I went in to help like the great dad that I am but suffered the same fate and lost my boots and skis.
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Whilst the majority of the snow had fallen yesterday and much of it had been skiied on there was still at least 20-30cm of fresh snow on top of this that was more than willing to bury our lower limbs should we be stupid enough to lose speed mid-run. Overall I was happy to concede that mad Jimi may have just about got his 60cm prediction right overall.
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We don't stray far off piste. That would be pretty foolish given the poor visibility and our total lack of resort knowledge. But the margins of the pistes were enough to get a good feel for the snow depth. And it didn't always end particularly well and on one occasion the Wingmans even got a bit over-exuberant and bucked me off. This may not have been great for my powder-skiing confidence but it did galvanise the father-daughter relationship.
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However, this was not a great day for little brothers and the cold wind and driving snow was not endearing itself to the smaller and less robust members of the family who decided they needed a timeout in the warm while sister and dad cut a lap. Mercifully during this lap the sky began to clear and we could begin to see the terrain again.
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And the challenge was immediately thrown down for dad to take down the Mamba. This required skiing down an access trail and this gave probably some of the nicest views of the day as the visibility improved. Suddenly the terrain around us was uncovered and we could see where we were going and how much fresh snow was all around.
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But there was business to attend to and we took down the Mamba together, albeit under slightly less icy conditions than daughter had found two days ago. This was actually quite good fun.
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The mad Dutchman had given her four stickers upon completion of this run and I duly claimed my sticker. She wasn't happy but she couldn't deny me my rights. I had conquered the Mamba without so much as a single stack and I wanted my reward. As we headed back up the lift there was even talk of a full family assault on the run and when I put it to Master 5 he was more than keen. He didn't really give a crap about doing the run but he loves animals and the offer of a t-shirt with a snake on the front was all the reward that he needed to take down the steepest run on the mountain.
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As the number of stickers in daughter's sweaty little hand dwindled even mum claimed a sticker! And the flying Dutchman's description of the Mamba as 'pretty heavy' was quickly waved away as one of his rather frequent over-exaggerations. In honesty it wasn't very difficult and I really didn't see where the 63% grade was? There are about four sections to the run and a flatter spot in between each section. I am happy to admit that if it was icy and bulletproof it would be pretty challenging but even for a hack like me it was relatively easy with snow on it. Fortunately for me the sticker doesn't specify what condition the run was in when I skied it!

With the clouds parted the masses had started attacking the fresh powder and it didn't take long to start getting pretty tracked.
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On the way back up the lift however we did find these two dudes who seemed to know their way round the mountain.
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The kids were hungry so we stopped for food and drinks, even though I was keen to crack on and follow in the footsteps of the dudes now that we could see where we were going. Annoyingly when we came back out from the restaurant it was puking again and visibility had dropped right down again.


We took the gondola up and skied back down but it was pretty horrendous and Sam was not enjoying the biting cold and the lack of visibility at all. Frankly neither was I. So after a trip to buy Sam his well earned if rather tacky Black Mamba t-shirt we decided to call it a day and head to Zell to set up camp at our new hotel. It had been a really fun day and we'd had a crack at the powder without really ever getting far away from the piste. When the visibility had cleared up for an hour I had harboured hopes of getting a proper full length off piste run in but the family Mamba challenge had taken precedence and after drinks the weather had totally closed in again. C'est la vie, or whatever that is in German. Skiing with kids is full of sacrifices and we'd had a great day even without a big powder run.

We fired across to Zell in the mighty Tucson after a quick pitstop at the local Spar. This particular journey I had not really been looking forward to. The hotel is half way up the hill at Schmittenhohe and this requires a drive up a very narrow single track road ascending up to 1,200m. Most days this would be no problem but with yesterday's wet snow and subsequent freeze the road was not in the best of conditions.
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This was the flat section. There were a number of much steeper sections and the Tucson with it's front wheel drive and large amount of luggage in the boot was not enjoying the ascent. Despite the winter tyres and my low revs we still got a lot of wheelspin. I think if a car had come downhill towards us and we'd had to stop we might never have got started again. We do have wheel chains but it would have been a pain to put them on and so we soldiered on until we eventually reached the Berghotel Jaga-alm.

We got the final spot in the car park and checked in. A hotel dog seemed to live in reception which pleased Sam greatly and they had also upgraded us to the top apartment in the hotel which greatly pleased me. This is one of those cases where I was glad to be using my Australian rather than British passport and I think it may have greatly helped our case for an upgrade! When we got up to the apartment the view was spectacular to say the least.
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The apartment is massive and it seems like a great spot to stay for the next 5 nights. We headed down to the restaurant for afternoon tea and as I sipped my beer I noticed out of the window that on the stroke of 430pm the snow guns came on. Austrian efficiency.
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And to top the day off as we sat down for dinner an hour and a half later it began nuking down outside. How's this for a good end to a good day!
 

Heinz

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I know you will be heading to Saalbach later, but will be interested to see how you find the link to the Glemmtal. It looks like you have to take the link lift down to Viehofen then skibus to the lift.
 
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blueandwhite

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May 26, 2016
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The Bluebird in Zell
It was one of those beautiful windless days where the sun came up and then didn't seem to go in until sundown. That said it was still blardy cold. Making a rookie error I'd assumed that because it was sunny it would be warm and we were pretty much just t-shirts and jackets. Sorry kids.

I left the trusty timelapse on the balcony while we went down for breakfast and caught the sunrise over the lake.


We then kitted up, hit the adequately sized bootroom and wandered the 50 yards down the road to the launchpad. Daughter tried to ski it but the gravel liberally sprinkled on the road surface said no. Fair to say it was a nice day though.
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With skis attached we launched the kids down the adjacent red run and told them to wait for us at the gondola station. It was rather tempting to then just get a coffee and sit on the sonnen terrasse and make them wait it out down the bottom but the snow and weather just looked too tempting.
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The hotel we are staying in is half way up the mountain. The base of Zell is at about 750m, the highest areas are around 2,000m and our accommodation is at around 1,300m. I love ski-in ski-out places and this one seems pretty good. When we headed up the Trass Express gondola we got a good view back across to the hotel. Realistically it's not a hotel that beginners would really want to stay in. You could probably hold a plough all the way down but yer legs would be toast by the end of it.
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With the snow expected to be in good condition and the grooming freshly minted we had the Trass on our minds. In the Kitsteinhorn - Kaprun - Zell ski pass area the two black runs they really talk up are the Black Mamba (tick) and the Trass (hold my beer). Having been slightly underwhelmed by the Mamba we were keen to try out the Trass and once again it appeared to be fairly heavily marketed by the powers that be with a big starting gate and a finish line.

Pitched as four kilometres long with over 1,000 metres of vertical it was described as a leg burning black for experienced skiers only. Naturally being the over-enthusaistic and over-confident ski parents that we are we took Master 5 straight down without a second thought... They claimed a pitch of up to 70% but I really think these guys need to get their protractors out as I didn't think this was as steep as the Mamba and that was only marketed at 63%. It was also way wider and flatter (and groomed!) which made it a joy to ski. Once again I happily admit that conditions were close to perfect so maybe on it's day it is somewhat more fearsome!

And I'm certainly not trying to big myself up - I am a highly average skier and I am well aware of it. But maybe that's what these runs are for, to build confidence in average guys like me! Perhaps if they didn't groom it and they didn't have snowmaking on it then it would be a totally different ballgame - and maybe that's why the blacks at Buller seem a lot more technical and difficult in my mind - because they are often heavily moguled and much, much narrower. The Trass was more of a super-G course and the test was to see how fast you could go rather than can I make it down without falling, ejecting both skis, twisting my knee and bouncing off fifteen moguls.

No complaints from me at all though, it is a really great run - I think I'm just conditioned to think of black runs differently having skied them mostly in Australian conditions. As a late-comer to skiing maybe I am just a bit naive when it comes to these things as well!

Here is Master 5 near the top of the first genuine black section (the first kilometre of the run is essentially a blue run on the ridge and then it drops into the valley where our hotel is situated and becomes a black).
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And daughter tucking for the finish line from a long way out!
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Here is a view of the run from our hotel. The Trass is number 14 and is on the right of the photo. Number 13 is on the left (also black) and we found this to be steeper and more difficult in sections, but it also has some staging areas in between which gives your legs a rest!
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Both runs were great fun and well worth doing. However I think Master 5 was a bit disappointed that there is no animal related t-shirt on offer for completing the Trass... A pack of Gummy Bears seemed to be sufficient to overcome this issue in the short term though.

Once back at the top the views were stunning. The weather was pretty epic and you could see for miles.
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On our way down a top to bottom route that intuitively took in piste numbers 4, 3, 2 and 1 we got a great view of yesterday's conquest at Kitzsteinhorn. I had to zoom in a fair bit on my camera phone to get this shot mind you. But it looks pretty baked...
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And in portrait you get Maiskogel in the foreground as a bonus.
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As noted yesterday we are inexperienced in deep powder but groomed pistes in the sun are right in our wheelhouse so we really enjoyed the descent down to the bottom of the valley on the red trails. We did manage to stop for a team photo part way down though.
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And the kids were of course up to their normal tricks. With so much snowmaking (and there was a LOT) the results were even better than normal - assuming you were the sprayer and not the sprayee of course...
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Realistically without snowmaking they would be in trouble right now. There is a lot of terrain down low in this area and although I saw about 20-30cm of fresh snow on unused tables and benches near the very top of the resort, down low they only got a few centimetres and are almost entirely reliant on snowmaking. Luckily the temperatures seem to be very low right now and they can seriously pump the snow cannons.

One other interesting point related to that is the way that the artificial snow skis over here. In Australia I find those newly formed and ungroomed whales of artificial snow a total stack-trap and turning on them when they are untracked will often result in your rail becoming bogged leading to some very unsavoury stacks or wobbles. Over here the whales were soft and perfectly skiable. Maybe it's to do with the lower temperatures giving drier snow? Or maybe it's just my skiing!

The mountain continued to put on a show.
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It was in fact relatively busy - although my photos don't reflect that of course. We tend to look for gaps when we ski to give the kids (and us) more space where possible rather than follow the crowds. But this was up there with New Year's Eve at Konigsleiten in terms of business. No major lift lines so still way under par I imagine but everything is relative.

We took a run through the kids area which had some fun tunnels for Sam to ski through but alas no terrain park. Wo ist der funpark? This is my daughter's current favourite saying. So with no funpark we decided to do a drive by of the hotel.
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It's a solid red past the hotel and whilst it was decent during this flyby, when we went home later in the day it was an icy, mogully sheet of doom. Right down my alley!

Over lunch I was absent-mindedly googling the Trass and I stumbled upon the fact that the fastest recorded time for the full length run was by Manfred Mandler in 2017 at 3 minutes 30 seconds. That is seriously going some. Challenge accepted! We arranged to meet son and mum near the bottom of the mountain and they would head down in a more sensible manner. We however headed for the start line.

The whole thing was going to work on a trust system because I knew daughter would reach the finish line before me. We would start together, I would have the timer on my phone and then when she crossed the line she would start counting until I crossed the line so we could deduct this from my time to get hers. As it ended up she took pity on me and waited for me at the final bend. But still finished eleven seconds ahead of me! Here she is at the rather grandiose start line.
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As you can see the first kilometre is just a blue down to where the real action starts. I'm pretty sure Manfred would have taken this baby down in good quality conditions and didn't need to weave through hordes of Dutch punters trying to get their skis off to get some munch in the local alm bar. But if I said that it would sound like I was making excuses already...

We set off and tried to generate enough speed to make it to the main event without losing too much time. The snow was pretty bumpy and the old man in me isn't great on these bumps at high velocity so I'll happily admit there was some unscheduled turning taking place at this point. We reached the turn into the black and while I had visions of airing Kitzbuhel style into the run I ended up bottling out and taking rather a lot of speed off before we set sail down the black.

Unlike the smooth, groomed morning run that we had enjoyed so much it was now a much bumpier and much scratchier affair. And as the marketing had warned me my thighs were burning! And I was less than half way down the black. It was achingly slower than this morning and I could feel my daughter's eyes burning into me. How is it possible to go so slow!

As she waited for me on the final bend I straightened up and followed her (a fair way back) over the line. 7 minutes 21 seconds. I mean that's not bad for 1,000m of vertical down a scratchy black run but I'm pretty sure Manfred would have been horrified. He'd have been in the pub on his third beer by now! Anyhow, we have vowed to take it down early doors one day this week and improve our time. But it was a lot of fun and my legs have pretty much recovered now, four hours later.

With a few more runs including a long run right down to the city we decided to call it a day. A perfect bluebird day with lots of snow and heaps of fun.
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The lower runs and the run down to our hotel were very scratchy by this point but hopefully it all grooms up okay again for tomorrow. If the weather and snow are half as good we will be very happy.
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LDJ

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Apr 23, 2017
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I know you will be heading to Saalbach later, but will be interested to see how you find the link to the Glemmtal. It looks like you have to take the link lift down to Viehofen then skibus to the lift.
Great report absolutely loving it. Im also interested in this as the link was pretty much built when I was there but not fully active. When you are going back to Zell I can highly recommend the 68 blue (the restaurant halfway down is amazing) and 61a red starts from same place and is one of my all time favourite fast sweeping reds
 
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