Austrian Dreaming - Dec/Jan Trip Report

blueandwhite

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The Wrong Way
The day dawned above the housing commission outside our hotel window and I could already tell the weather was going to play ball today. Our good run with the sun and the wind looked set to continue for at least one more day
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We had all slept pretty heavily after the trauma of Listeria-gate the previous night. I was feeling much better although wife was still unable to eat more than a token breakfast when we went down to the dining room.

The previous night we had met Roland the hotel manager who seemingly does the rounds of each table every night at dinner. He spoke great English and was very welcoming to us and the kids. At breakfast this morning we then had Rudi - Roland's father - doing the rounds. Rudi rattled off some very rapid German at us. And when I told him (in German) that I was sorry but we didn't speak German he said that seemingly I did speak German and then continued to speak to us in German...

We managed to have a fairly lengthy conversation in complete German sentences for a few minutes discussing where I had learnt German, where we now lived, skiing in Australia and our travel around Austria to date. But by the end of it I had exhausted almost my complete supply of vocabulary learnt from school and from this trip and I am now dreading our next breakfast encounter as I really do have nothing else left in my language locker!

The hotel offers a little tractor-drawn train that takes skiers to the lifts since the hotel is not located in the centre of town and we had promised Sam that we would go on the train on the first morning we were in the hotel. Having organised to meet @Kletterer and @DidSurfNowSki at the AsitzBrau at 1140am we needed to head towards Saalbach to get the lift from there. The lift system is so massive it means you need quite the lead time to get from one end of the resort to the other so starting at Saalbach was fairly critical to my plans.

What I hadn't banked on was that the train would head off in the opposite direction and take us to Hinterglemm instead of Saalbach. This seemed illogical as Saalbach is far closer to our hotel so it had never crossed my mind that it wouldn't go to the Saalbach lifts. General manager Roland aside almost all of the conversation in this hotel has been undertaken in German and therefore a percentage of each conversation gets lost as my mind scrambles to translate each sentence using the limited vocabulary I possess! Anyhow, with the train now having been used, next time we shall just get the regular bus I think!

Arriving in Hinterglemm I was still hopeful of making lunch. We got into the gondola and I whipped out the piste map. This was the first time I had looked at the map since my visit last week and it soon became apparent to me that getting to Asitz from the top of Hinterglemm is really not that easy. There is no linear way of doing this at the top. If we'd downloaded the gondola back to the valley, walked to the main road and got another bus back towards Saalbach and then uploaded another gondola we could then have started making our way across towards Asitz, but frankly with the family in tow this wasn't going to happen without some blowback!

So having made profuse apologies and reluctantly aborted that mission we came up with a new mission to try and look around the top end of the valley since we were here already. We skiied over towards the Reichkendelkopf under sunny skies.
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And then we smashed out a couple of runs in that area with great views from the top.
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We took down a very nice black run with plenty of loose snow on the surface. I felt like daughter and I were going a decent lick down that one only to be overtaken at some pace by a guy in a fairly lairy ski jacket. Always slightly disappointing. Although more heartening to find him sprawled across the run after a huge double eject on the far side of the next berm in the run. Hehehe, nothing quite so humbling as a five year old overtaking you on a black when you're sprawled on the deck. Tortoise and the hare mate, tortoise and the hare...

With that area under our belt we skied right down to the valley on a heavily snow-making assisted run and took the Zwolfer Nordbahn to the top of the other side of the valley. This was an old gondola with no seats in it - really old skool! Once more we were in search of the sun. And we found it.
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There was some lovely looking terrain for a powder day up here but alas today was strictly a groomer day.
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We took down a couple of blues and reds and the kids funslope a few times and headed for drinks at this very nice spot. The groomed runs up here are as wide and open as you could ever hope them to be!
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It was exhausting stuff.
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Following drinks we descended back to the valley and headed up the 12er Kogel gondola to the top. In the gondola there was a further addition to our Austrian tour de signwriting. You may remember the excellent groomer warning sign where the pisten bully had a lance attached to the front and was spearing the errant skier during winching operations. Well this was a variation on that theme, only I feel that the signwriter in Saalbach had taken even more artistic licence than the one in Zell! It was gruesome. And where are the guy's skis? It must have been the king of double ejects!
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Fortunately there was no grooming happening so we were to all intents and purposes relatively safe. Well, safe from winch cats anyway. On our next red descent under the gondola we discovered that someone wasn't quite so safe and had needed the chopper to come and take them way after a bad crash off the edge of the slope. It's always slightly sobering seeing these things when you are hammering down a fairly scratchy red with young kids. Sam however did love seeing the helicopter...
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It was a good, long red down to the base of the valley again although the bottom section was very scratchy and icy. We headed back to the top and I stopped to get a few pictures from the Zwolferkogel which had typically excellent views.
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We then hit a very nice short black run which had good groomed snow and was a lot of fun to ski. Sam smashed the first half of it and then decided for reasons known only to him that he wanted to do a lookaway powerslide for the entire second half of it. Each to their own.
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This led us to the incredibly short Schattberg Sprinter gondola. Which took us back up to the Zwolferkogel. Schattberg is just one of those words that doesn't sound great in the English language no matter what context it is in. But there is Schattberg everywhere on this side of the valley.

In search of lunch we headed down a blue run and very randomly and at high speed on a connecting flat section Sam double ejected and took a massive slide on his belly. This was a bit weird and has not happened on the trip before but I turned around to see a mess of child, skis and poles strewn across about 25m of piste! No idea how he managed that but he was not happy.
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At the bottom of the run we tried to get into the very nice looking SimalAlm but they fairly pointedly told us that we would not be allowed to eat at a table inside (all of which were empty) but would have to eat outside (for which there was a queue waiting for tables ten deep). So we left and went elsewhere. As indicated before the German language can be very harsh and a lot of the time you do feel you are being told off.

Yesterday at the top of the gondola in Kitz someone had the temerity to be carrying a toboggan as they went up the magic carpet and a lift guy came running over literally screaming "DAS IST VERBOTEN!!! DAS IST VERBOTEN!!". The poor woman wasn't even using the thing, just carrying it. I was thinking calm down mate she probably doesn't even know. So harsh.

But I digress, with our collective tails between our legs we went up the lift and went to the slightly ordinary but does the job Sky Rest. I had a very good double pork steak and potato salad and wife had the standard Tomaten Suppe. I was very tempted by the Sky Toast although it does sound a little like something people might have taken at a rave in the 90s.

The kids were fairly cooked by this stage and so while they mopped up their chips I downed my beverage and shot down the Schattberg Ost red run under the Schattberg Express by myself and with the kind of gay abandon that only a person who has just downed half a litre of beer can have. It was pretty icy and ordinary but I powerslid my way down to the mid-station of the gondola. I stopped there as I had been given the heads-up by other forumites that the following black section leading to the bottom of the valley was a hideous death trap to be avoided at all costs. Even my half litre of beer wasn't enough to talk me into that.

Back to the top and we all reconvened and headed down the very long blue run to Vorderglemm to get the bus home. It's a ballsy move calling this a blue in its current condition. Parts of it are flat and like a cat track but other parts are red-like and with most of the run being sheet ice covered in icing sugar it was a slippery slide to the bottom. There were a few beginners on that run that looked genuinely shell-shocked!

The snow is getting very, very thin down low and it's amazing how much has been lost in the week since I last visited. Here is what it looks like now looking back over the valley to where I skied last week.
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There is literally just a strip of snowmaking left to make sure people can ski to the bottom. And yet a week ago that run looked like this with off-piste all covered and skiable:
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That is some quick meltage.

So we took the bus back which is a pretty decent service along the valley and headed back to the hotel. At dinner we discovered that the only other children in the hotel had gone home to Germany today which has left our kids as the only children. My daughter had been working up the courage to introduce herself to them in German tonight and was most upset. It's really quite lonely for the kids with literally no company for them in any of the hotels. Roland said all of the families had cancelled due to the difficult restrictions being imposed by various countries.

Anyhow, tomorrow I have said the kids can have a rest day and I am going to try and get across to Fieberbrunn. Oh and it may snow. Stay tuned.
 

Heinz

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The Zwölferkogel red run is also a World cup downhill run. Doesn't host World cup every year, but has been used as a substitute at short notice a couple of times in recent years. And would also have been used in previous World Championships. So you can say you have experienced two world cup courses in the last week.
 

PMG

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Hope you get some snow before you leave. There's a lot of fun off piste terrain there.
It won't take much to freshen it up. 10-15 cm should do the trick to get rid of some of those brown patches in the pics above..

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LDJ

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Your experience on the long blue to vorderglemm and the photo reminds me how much skiing in resorts is so condition based. When I was there 2 years ago there was deep snow all the way to valley floor even off piste and that run was stunning, fast and fun. I loved fieberbrunn skiing although there was some weird lift connections you will enjoy shortly ;)
 
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Heinz

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Your experience on the long blue to vorderglemm and the photo reminds me how much skiing in resorts is so condition based. When I was there 2 years ago there was deep snow all the way to valley floor even off piste and that run was stunning, fast and fun. I loved fieberbrunn skiing although there was some weird lift connections you will enjoy shortly ;)

Last time I was there I was skiing the long Jausern run to Vorderglemm end of day to my pension at which time it was normally heavy spring slush bumps, so words like 'stunning, fast and fun' weren't quite the ones that came to mind.
 
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blueandwhite

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The Zwölferkogel red run is also a World cup downhill run. Doesn't host World cup every year, but has been used as a substitute at short notice a couple of times in recent years. And would also have been used in previous World Championships. So you can say you have experienced two world cup courses in the last week.
Yes that was a really nice run, and long too. We actually really liked that whole side of the valley from Zwolferkogel all the way down to Vorderglemm. Some lovely big wide runs for all abilities.
 

Heinz

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I tune in to Guten Morgen Österreich on ORF 2 most days. I find it useful for keeping up to date on things in Austria. They have various short snippets of stuff. This week that feature a few stories from Tirol (not surprisingly given it is Hahnenkamm week). They had an interview with one of the local ski instructors (Stefan Hinterseer - don't know if related), talking about how the season is going, the issue with corona clusters from ski schools, the illegal Apres ski parties etc.

Also coverage on how the vaccine mandate will be implemented. Appears to be 3 phases, initially without fines, then later fines only after random control checks and later again a general check. But the mere fact that they announced probably mandate a couple of months ago appears to have significantly speeded up the vaccination rate in Austria much more than other Euro countries without mandates.
 
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Whiteman

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I tune in to Guten Morgen Österreich on ORF 2 most days. I find it useful for keeping up to date on things in Austria. They have various short snippets of stuff. This week that feature a few stories from Tirol (not surprisingly given it is Hahnenkamm week). They had an interview with one of the local ski instructors (Stefan Hinterseer - don't know if related), talking about how the season is going, the issue with corona clusters from ski schools, the illegal Apres ski parties etc.

Also coverage on how the vaccine mandate will be implemented. Appears to be 3 phases, initially without fines, then later fines only after random control checks and later again a general check. But the mere fact that they announced probably mandate a couple of months ago appears to have significantly speeded up the vaccination rate in Austria much more than other Euro countries without mandates.
I wonder if Stefan is any relation to Hansie Hinterseer????
 
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Heinz

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I wonder if Stefan is any relation to Hansie Hinterseer????

Wasn't sure, but had a look now. It looks like from this he a grandson of the famous skier / instructor Ernst Hinterseer father of Hansi. He is not Hansis son, so he would be a nephew of Hansi. Hansi and father Ernst had a major falling out long ago and have nothing to do with other.
The story here is about a documentary being made about the wonder team from the 50's & 60's Toni Sailer, Ernst Hinterseer, Fritz Huber, Hias Leitner, Anderl Molterer und Christian Pravda. Two of them are being played by their grandsons including Stefan. The guy in the picture does look like the one in the ORF interview I saw.
 

blueandwhite

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There was a centimetre of new snow this morning. We didn't see it fall so it must have come while we were sleeping. The kids had elected to have a day off given the cloudy, gloomy conditions but I was keen to hit my 27th consecutive day of skiing - sorry everyone back home!

We hit breakfast and I knocked back one of Michael the chef's fry-ups and some bircher muesli - in that rather unconventional order. Two cappuccinos later and I was ready to leave the rest of the family and head up the mountain.

I had ascertained last night that If I was able to get ready by 830am the choo choo train would be able to take me to Saalbach rather than Hinterglemm and I had plans to then head straight over to Fieberbrunn to meet the other forumites currently in the resort. The train was not busy this morning, in fact it was just me. Nobody else seems to want to go to Saalbach - and later in the day I discovered why.
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I must confess I felt a little foolish as the party train limped along the main road blaring dance music and hooting it's horn with just yours truly in the back. It's presumably normally a bit of a thing for the kids but here was a grown adult hanging out on his own at the back. No matter, they'll never recognise me on the slopes with my subtle bright green skis and unique skiing style...

Having reached Saalbach I had to get out at the Schattberg express as this is the only stop for the train. I strode up the stairs to the gondola station and assessed the lie of the land. The Schattberg express goes up the wrong side of the valley for today's expedition but there are two more gondolas at Saalbach that go up the right side of the valley.

On the trail map it looks pretty much like all three gondolas converge in a similar location which would make perfect sense. Not in Saalbach though. What we need to do is ensure that the base stations of all three of these gondolas are as far apart from each other as is physically possible and then also make sure it is physically impossible to ski from the pistes each gondola serves to any of the pistes that any of the other gondolas serve. I'm not sure but I'm starting to wonder if the local taxi drivers designed the resort so they could maximise their short trip revenue. In short it's a ridiculous layout.

So I slung my skis over my shoulder and set off on my epic trek up through the village to find the BernkogelBahn. Along with a large number of other people walking up and down the village at this time in the morning.
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Despite first appearances from the road the village is actually slightly nicer than I had envisaged. In the morning with a little snow on the ground and away from the multi-story car park and ugly apartment blocks the main village is half-decent. You can tell it would be a bit Bali-sur-Neige in the evening with the rather tacky fast food outlets and table dancing posters but that aside it was okay. And after quite the uphill trek I finally reached my target.
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I did wonder why it was so quiet but I just put it down to my early arrival. At the top of the gondola I had planned to get the Bernkogel 6 seater chair but this was not yet running so I did a lap of the blue under the gondola. It was quite enjoyable as the 1cm that was laying on top of the fresh grooming gave a nice soft run most of the way down. The light was very flat but there was virtually no wind and there weren't many people around. In retrospect this was probably the best run of the day.
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Back up the gondola and the 6er chair had opened so I was able to head up to the next level. This was a real nice gamer chair with heated seats, tinted blue hood and the Saalbach logo printed neatly on the multi-coloured chairs. We had seen this logo yesterday around the resort but just as a silhouette motif - and we had been trying to work out what on earth it was. Some kind of dragon had been our best guess. How were we to know that it was actually a demented clown with his trousers on fire.
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At the top of this lift lies the world's shortest red run and a matching short chairlift. The run was 100-200m at best and was really just some kind of link to get to the next lift beyond it. The lift was still closed so I just went back down the blue run from whence I had come and re-loaded the same chair I had just done. The blue was more like a cat track and I needed to push with my sticks. I impatiently did it twice more while I waited for the next and very short lift to open. And finally the short chairlift opened and I tasted the forbidden yet short-lived fruit of the mini red run. I enjoyed the extra steepness, for the ten seconds or so that I was on it. I lapped it three times and saw no further progress in lift openings downstream. In fact the chairs weren't even on the next lift. Didn't look good.

The information board was indicating that the links to Fieberbrunn, Zwolfkogel and Lengau were all shut and this was attributed to the 1cm powderstorm that we were bravely enduring. Yes, they used the word storm... I checked the weather stats and the webcams at the peaks were showing winds of 30kph with gusts between 30-40kph although it was very calm low down. Mein Gott! 30-40kph! Close the resort! I had to have a little chuckle as this kind of wind is your daily drive when skiing in Australia but seemingly enough to shut all but the lowest lifts down in Saalbach.

Essentially I was trapped. The bizarre layout of lifts and pistes in Saalbach meant that whilst I had three lifts available to ride in this sector they all serviced just a single blue run and a tiny red link run that went nowhere. No other terrain at all. If I wanted to do any other runs I would need to ski down to Saalbach, unclip my skis and trek across town to the next gondola. The app was showing 50 lifts were open (yes 50!) although I rather think they are in the Buller school of lift counting here and include magic carpets, rope tows, skidoo rides and anything else they can think of to bump this number up. But despite this I was trapped with three lifts and one run. So I skied back to Saalbach and went walking again.
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With the link to Fieberbrunn closed and my ski.com.au lunch in jeopardy for the second day running I decided that I would spitefully give Saalbach a bloody nose by going back to the Schattberg Express and disdainfully skiing the black run that I had been warned off previously. So I trekked back down through the village and eventually got back to the first gondola. When I got there it became apparent that they had closed the top half of the gondola (those 30kph winds!) and were only loading the bottom half.

Nonetheless I went up the gondola and skied the black run thrice. And on my third time I went head to head in a mano-a-mano race with an arse sliding skier. I was on skiers left of the run, he was on skiers right. I was standing on skis, he was lying on his arse and facing head down towards the bottom of the run and moving at high velocity. I did beat him down but it was quite close. We were both trying to retard our speed using our skis but in very different manners!

It was quite amusing as many people were clearly not aware that this gondola leads only to a black run and when they got out and the horrific truth was laid bare there were many that were not prepared to undertake the download of shame and therefore put their big girl and boy pants on and tried the run anyway. This included numerous side-sliding snowboarders - a sure fire way to ruin any already quite icy run very quickly (sorry snowboarders, for clarity I still think of myself as a snowboarder and not a skier so lets consider it self-deprecation rather than a snipe...)
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After three runs on the black (which was of course the only run serviced by the gondola) I called it quits and arranged to meet the rest of the family in Saalbach for drinks and to entertain some retail therapy. I should point out that in keeping with the rest of Saalbach's layout the run under the Schattberg gondola does not actually end at the gondola base station. You have to unclip and walk across a lengthy bridge each time you finish the run. And their signwriter is very clear indeed that you shouldn't be skiing this bridge if you plan on using the tuck position. And look out for breakdancers while you are crossing too...
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Whilst crossing the bridge at one point I also discovered that the Saalbach road clearing team were busy desperately trying to keep the road open to general traffic in the wake of this massive storm that was currently invisibly shrouding the mountain. It was most re-assuring to know that despite the 1cm that had fallen so quickly they were onto it and I would be able to get back to the hotel unhindered by snow later in the day.
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We met at the gondola station and I carried my skis through town for the third time today. We bought Sam a new helmet, new poles for Alana and hand-warmers for tomorrow in case the storm should still be battering the resort and the kids hands were getting cold or they were getting buried in the mammoth volumes of snow. This was followed by hot drinks before they all went home to play Minecraft again.

I then took my fourth ski-laden trek through Saalbach village and tried to find the elusive third gondola - the KohlmaisBahn. This was at completely the other end of town and required an ascent up a windy road past a nice church with a view across to the Schattberg black run in the background.
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People who live in Saalbach must spend a fortune re-heeling their ski boots with this amount of walking. We had this problem back home in Australia when we used to drive up and use the day car park every day. The boots would be fine but the heels and toes would constantly need replacing. Quite an expensive procedure.

Eventually I got to the third part of the Saalbach hiking triangle and I went up the gondola. The views at the top were very nice for a brief moment when the clouds parted.
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I then did a couple of long runs from top to bottom and moved across to the Panorama 6 seater chair. In its defence this third gondola does provide better access laterally to other parts of the resort and I was able to sidle my way slowly across towards Viehhofen. With a number of lengthy blues and reds under my belt my legs were getting fairly sore. It was that time of day when icy pistes liberally sprinkled with icing sugar start to rear their ugly and slippery head and whilst it's always nice to be skiing it wasn't exactly primo. We really do need some more snow. Although if we were to get 5cm or more it scares me as to how the mountain team might react with lift closures and road clearing!

I headed down 161 red towards Viehhofen which was fine but very chattery on the skis and my legs. I could see across to yesterday's descent to Viehhofen which was the lengthy and sketchy icing sugar blue run.
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At the bottom of the valley I waited for the bus and headed back on the long bus ride to the hotel. The final insult came when we finally reached the hotel and I pressed the button to stop the bus and it didn't register for some reason and I ended up having to walk 500m back to the hotel from the next stop. Walking along the main road being sprayed by traffic with dirty meltwater was the final nail in the coffin. Saalbach sorry but I think I actually hate you...
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This all sounds like a massive whinge and it probably is. But I like to think that I call it as it is and there are millions of things about this trip that I have enjoyed and have thought were brilliant. But Saalbach is not one of them!

I maintain that I am very lucky to be skiing at all and I always enjoy the skiing of course - but after 27 days of straight skiing it is unsurprising that some level of grading might be coming into my assessment of each resort. Saalbach will need to come up with something pretty massive to gain redemption when compared with SkiJuwel, Konigsleiten, Kitzbuhel and Zell.

None of those had epic snow but they were just better thought out, better connected and more logical resorts in my mind. Saalbach just seems like a bunch of poorly connected lifts and pistes that someone has at some point decided to try and turn into a big resort. The minute a lift closes the whole thing falls over though which - as a punter - is pretty rubbish. The amount of walking and bus journeys required is pretty crazy.

If you were on holiday with a bunch of lads and here for the beers I'm sure it's great. If everywhere's open and there is heaps of powder I'm sure it's great. But there's not and it isn't unfortunately. So in my personal estimation I struggle to rate it - although I have no doubt others will have had a better experience and I fully get that.

Being here with a family and all wanting to ski together (and not walk for miles with kids in ski boots) it just doesn't really work for us. Maybe we should have stayed in Leogang or Fieberbrunn where the lift system is less linear and prone to disconnection. Obviously you learn with experience!

So I was home by 1pm and I took the kids down to the wellness area. There is no pool but there is an ice bath which was of some fascination to the kids. And though daughter got her toe in and bottled it dad had no such problems. I did surf in Scotland for many years you know. This was like Hawaii by comparison!
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Kletterer

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@blueandwhite There is a new ski path from Bernkogel base to the Shattberg car park 300 metres long that saves you from walking through town. it goes through a 25 metre tunnel i think. Lift closures were over the top today . Usually takes a lot more for them to close. Once you get to know the area you will find it is well linked.
 
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blueandwhite

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Yeah I did wonder if they saw the forecast and with the low visitor numbers just decided not to open in advance to save on staffing numbers. It was just a bit weird. I would understand them not opening the Fieberbrunn link lifts - I'm sure it gets pretty wild and woolly across there. But to not open that short D6 lift effectively cut off Saalbach from the whole other end of the resort for no real reason. I wasn't the only one pissed off waiting for that lift to open I can assure you! They never even had the chairs on it so I don't think they ever had any intention of opening it.

I didn't see that path from Bernkogelbahn to Schattberg. It doesn't show up on google earth or streetview either. Is that a new route they have made? That would have saved me a lot of walking if it was open!
 

Kletterer

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Yeah I did wonder if they saw the forecast and with the low visitor numbers just decided not to open in advance to save on staffing numbers. It was just a bit weird. I would understand them not opening the Fieberbrunn link lifts - I'm sure it gets pretty wild and woolly across there. But to not open that short D6 lift effectively cut off Saalbach from the whole other end of the resort for no real reason. I wasn't the only one pissed off waiting for that lift to open I can assure you! They never even had the chairs on it so I don't think they ever had any intention of opening it.

I didn't see that path from Bernkogelbahn to Schattberg. It doesn't show up on google earth or streetview either. Is that a new route they have made? That would have saved me a lot of walking if it was open!
Yep new this season
 
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Heinz

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Sometimes you just have one of those days. ;) Large new unfamiliar area and lift closures probably not a good combo.
I've not had that lift closure experience on my two trips there, but they were both in spring.

When you do get to Fieberbrunn you will see that it has it's own quirks. There is an old gondola there on the front side which is one of the shortest I have seen anywhere. But it is also a stop on the World Freeride tour circuit as it has a large amount of ungroomed open terrain, so if there is some fresh certainly worth checking. The times when I was there though the conditions weren't so good so stayed mostly on piste.
 
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PMG

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Sometimes you just have one of those days. ;) Large new unfamiliar area and lift closures probably not a good combo.
I've not had that lift closure experience on my two trips there, but they were both in spring.
blueandwhites's sad tale reminded me that we had a similar experience there two years ago. Woke up to upper lift closures due to an incoming storm so we made the decision to drive over to Zell Am See where we scored 30 cm of fresh during the day and the upper mountain open.
We concluded that they make the decision the night before that they're not going to run the gondolas and that's it. Even if the forecast storm doesn't warrant being called a storm. I'll be interested in how they handle the snowfall that's coming later in the week.
 

DidSurfNowSki

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blueandwhites's sad tale reminded me that we had a similar experience there two years ago. Woke up to upper lift closures due to an incoming storm so we made the decision to drive over to Zell Am See where we scored 30 cm of fresh during the day and the upper mountain open.
We concluded that they make the decision the night before that they're not going to run the gondolas the night before and that's it. Even if the storm doesn't warrant being called a storm.
@Kletterer, this might be worth considering.
 

Kletterer

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I just look at the lift status every morning and take it from there. also on storm days Saalbach has always had more to offer on storm days - particularly off piste Staff availability is another factor that might make things different this season.
 
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blueandwhite

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Redemption
After yesterday's debacle we woke to clearing cloud and by the time breakfast had been wolfed down the sky was blue. Michael the chef told us today and tomorrow would be great days for skiing and that was good enough for me. We waited for the choo choo train and hit the road. The driver was off the Black Eyed Peas and back onto his EuroPop this morning though...
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Having dismounted the party bus in Hinterglemm we headed up the gondola and then on to the next lift up to the top. The sun was shining, the snow was groomed and all seemed well with the world. So we traversed across a bit and took down a great red run to the bottom of the Sunliner lift that would take us up to the link over to Fieberbrunn.
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The link to Fieberbrunn consists of a linear network of five gondola lifts with red and blue runs beneath them. When we reached the start point we were in blazing sunshine but a quick look over towards Fieberbrunn showed that there was still some cloud down in the valley although a few mountain peaks were still just about visible.
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We dropped onto the first red run and headed down into the valley and the cloud. The snow on this side of the ridge was instantly better, probably because it hadn't been skied with yesterday's extensive lift closures.
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After a lengthy red down to the valley we headed up the next gondola and back into the sunshine. The views on this section of the journey were fantastic.
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There is a chairlift at this point that you can take to get up to the top of the mountain but you don't strictly need to do it if you are just transiting towards Fieberbrunn. I was keen to get a look from the top though so we skied down to the chair and then ascended to the top. The scenery on the way up was pretty rugged.
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But the views at the top were pretty awesome with a massive panorama of which this was just a small part.
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There was still time for a family photo before we headed back down to the next run.
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The view as we dropped off was pretty special as well.
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The next run was on the shady side of the ridge and the snow was really nice, so much better than the snow we've been skiing in Saalbach and Hinterglemm. We had a lot of fun hammering down this run towards Fieberbrunn.
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Another gondola and another red run and we were pretty much there. As we dropped into Fieberbrunn the cloud was back but the snow was still great.
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As we reached our destination we still had time for one more lift before we were due to meet up with the rest of the forum crew. In a surprise to no-one Sam elected to choose the slightly weird multi-gondola lift which has groups of five gondolas all attached together rather than strung out along the cable. Quite why or how this is better than a standard gondola installation I am not sure but I'm sure they have their reasons. I guess it's more covid safe than a single tramway or ropeway...
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We were trying to work out what the collective noun for a group of gondolas is. A gaggle of gondolas maybe? Nonetheless it did the job and we got to the top and subsequently skied back down for lunch.

I thought about holding a red rose so @Kletterer and @DidSurfNowSki could recognise us but fortunately a private message with a picture of the table did the trick. Introductions were made and general travel and Saalbach tips and tricks were exchanged. It was great to meet some other forumites after two aborted attempts and after a decent lunch at the Enzian we agreed to hit a few runs together.

We headed back up the banana gondola (yes, it's yellow) and skied down to the Larchfilzen four seater chair. He may not surf any more but he can ski.
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After hitting the chairlift we then followed the advance party down the red run from top to bottom but with only minimal action occurring on the piste. @Kletterer was a hound for the limited powder that was available and we all simply followed his lead. The Leogang team lead the way...
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And the two new junior powder disciples followed close behind...
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Even with the limited snow conditions we had a great fun run and we all headed straight back up the lift again. But alas it was time to start the journey back towards Saalbach at this point and we parted ways and left Team Leogang to probably go and do something slightly more adventurous! Just time for a quick picture with masks included of course. It is 2022 you know...
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And with that we headed off back from whence we had come. The snow was still lovely and we had a terrific ski back along red and blue trails in the sun. The link between these two areas is truly breathtaking and the skiing is brilliant. It helped that the snow was so much better than at Saalbach of course but it really was a worthwhile trip to head over to Fieberbrunn.
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Finally reaching the end of the link lifts we headed back down the scratchy and worn pistes of Hinterglemm and used the only remaining lower valley piste to get to the village itself. The lower pistes were like spring skiing in Australia (ie total mush) but this can obviously still be a lot of fun and we undertook a mini corn harvest for our final run down to the village.
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It had been an awesome day and the only slight disruptions to our delight were the transport problems that continue to plague our visit to Saalbach and Hinterglemm. Having skied down to the bottom of the main gondola in Hinterglemm it became apparent that the buses that run the length of the Saalbach valley don't actually stop in Hinterglemm. Rather they go through a tunnel under the village and head off towards Zwolferkogel.

If you actually want to get anywhere on a bus from Hinterglemm you have to walk more than half a kilometre along the road (I measured it!) to get to the nearest bus stop near the tunnel entrance. You guys are killing me. So with four sets of skis and poles and wearing our ski boots and full outerwear we dragged the kids kicking and screaming the half a kilometre to get to the bus stop and waited for the bus to come. Despite an awesome day of skiing I therefore maintain that the connectivity in this resort is awful if you have kids (or you are prone to blisters when walking in ski boots!). I think tomorrow we'll just screw the public transport and use the car.

This was a minor issue in the big scheme of things though and was swiftly put right when we finally got back to the hotel. It has been our best day in this resort and we will have great memories of the trip across to Fieberbrunn for sure.
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Heinz

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Leogang day tomorrow? Some nice cruisy runs over there. If you like forest trails, there is a quite pleasant but very gentle blue run as a brief diversion. Take a right around halfway down the run under the Asitzbahn, it takes you down to the Steinberg gondola.


355_Leogang.jpg
 
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Heinz

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We were trying to work out what the collective noun for a group of gondolas is. A gaggle of gondolas maybe? Nonetheless it did the job and we got to the top and subsequently skied back down for lunch.

These are referred to as Pulse gondolas. eg.
http://leitner-poma.com/product/pulsed-gondolas/
https://www.doppelmayr.com/products/pulsed-movement-aerial-ropeway/
I've seen a few examples of these. There was one at Hochwurzen near Schladming that I believe has since been replaced. Also the one in La Grave. They do require a bit of a different protocol for boarding as you stand in groups at the spot where each gondola stops. Was funny in La Grave at seeing people being yelled at for boarding the wrong gondola while they were still moving, ahead of the people standing waiting.
 

blueandwhite

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Just Cruising
This was mooted as the last sunny day for a while - maybe even for the whole trip. We have just 7 or 8 days of skiing left and the forecast is looking snowy. At least the forecast is looking snowy for Saalbach, particularly on Saturday - when we are leaving! In traditional blueandwhite on tour style we will likely be leaving just as the real snow arrives in order to drive for almost five hours to somewhere that this storm is not impacting! Such is life. We are resigned to riding groomers in the sunshine for the rest of our lives and that's not such a bad thing really.

After a wonderful day in Fieberbrunn yesterday we decided to have a fairly cruisy day around the slopes today. We had the traditional Saalbach transport cock up this morning where we missed the choo choo train due to a five year old's morning meltdown and ended up walking to the bus stop instead. As we waited and waited for the bus to arrive more and more people arrived to wait until we were pretty much spilling off the pavement onto the main road.

After almost half an hour a single already nearly full bus turned up and very luckily it stopped with it's middle doors literally right in front of us. Wife and I immediately aggressively blocked off any chance of the expected euro queue jumping and we muscled our way onto the bus before we could be pushed aside by the rampaging horde. It was like the 8.35 train to Calcutta on the way to Saalbach. I'm not sure if people were sitting on the roof of the bus but it felt like they should have been. God only knows what this is like when it is actually busy in the resort.

At the Schattberg Express the bus mercifully emptied and we decided to stay on and ride all the way to Viehhofen rather than trek the kids up through Saalbach on foot. We then jumped the SchoneleitenBahn and glided upwards over the grassy meadows and up to the snow. Great views available at the top as usual.
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We headed over to my old stomping ground from the day when I came across from Zell and actually thought I liked Saalbach - and we dropped down to the SportBahn along a newly cut trail with rollers along it's length that you could get some decent air from.
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We had already ridden the blue-hooded Polten chairlift and we now headed to the AsitzgipfelBahn with its orange hoods. The kids were fascinated with the coloured hoods and on a warm spring-like day we were most definitely the only people with the hoods on the chairs down but it kept them happy!
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Bahn is a German word that seems to get thrown around a lot. The gondolas are Bahns, the chairlifts are Bahns, the train station is a Bahnhof. And yet the ski train we catch is a Ski Zug and not a Bahn in sight. I've never quite ascertained exactly what Bahn means but it seems to cover a multitude of sins.

Views continued to be excellent with mucho untracked powder in areas that were inaccessible by lift. Owning a set of skins in these here parts would clearly be of high utility.
6005.jpg


Our signwriting tour also continued and Saalbach is such a massive resort that they must have two signwriters in order to cover off all of the signs that they need - as today we saw the second of the Saalbach winch-cat warning signs. Unlike signwriter numero uno who had elected for a double ejecting skier being speared in the leg, signwriter number two had gone for the upside down, still got skis attached but stabbed through the chest option. Simple but effective. And the party poppers in the bottom right to celebrate were an added bonus.
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There was another great sign that I didn't have time to snap but hope to soon. It involved some kind of unexplained exploding ball but I don't want to give too much away at this point in case I can snare it in my remaining time in the resort.

We took a quick trip through the terrain park which seems oddly located on a very steep run compared to most parks. Daughter hit the three boxes and after successfully negotiating the first two she hit the third at high speed and disappeared from my view very rapidly after a large unexpected drop-off on the other side. She landed it but was a little shaken up! It's not really a beginner friendly park that is for sure. The first and easiest of the boxes did provide a good photo though.
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We headed down towards Leogang. There are two gondolas and a chairlift down this way and the two long blue runs provide a very nice ski and panorama and are great for carving and generally blowing off steam.


Having missed Ketterer's memo about lunch we stopped at a spot half way down to Leogang and cleaned them out of chips and currywurst. More great views.
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We then took a small black down the hill and the kids did a very nicely set up racecourse.
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After a few more runs we decided to start heading back towards home. We hit a few more of the runs in Asitz, bumped into Kletterer and then headed back towards Saalbach.
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The snow on this side of the mountain was Aussie Spring afternoon mush but it wasn't totally ruined so was still fun to ski. I did also find this reminder of home where someone seemed to have managed to transplant a small piece of primo condition rock solid Wombat run from Buller all the way to Austria! I skied over it just to remind myself how we normally live...
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The kids wanted to ski the Magic 6 seater chairlift (just because it had magic in the name) so we did that and then headed home. It is easier just to ski down to Viehhofen than try and ski to Saalbach or Hinterglemm. It involves considerably less walking but a longer bus journey so we headed down the trusty 161A red which was really fun in the spring-like conditions. The kids hammered it and we trailed behind.

Back at the lodge we changed and headed out for today's hotel entertainment. Rudi throws a Wednesday barbecue out the back of the hotel and he had an amp and a microphone and was pumping the most eclectic mix of tunes you could imagine. He also had some food cooking, some sweets for the kids, gluhwein and schnapps and very randomly a pineapple.

He doesn't speak a word of English but in his wellington boots and cowboy hat he gestured for the kids to have some sweets and offered me a burger. Being polite I readily accepted. I must confess it was slightly odd though. It was a large bun cut in half into which he placed what I would describe as a meatball. This only took up half of the available floorspace between the buns and so he filled the other side with a large pickled gherkin which lay alongside the meatball. This meant that any given bite into the bun would yield bread and one of the burger or the gherkin - never both. I don't mind a gherkin as such but if you offered me just a gherkin in a bun I would probably decline. I'm maybe being a little harsh but I feel like a little more legwork in ingredient preparation on Rudi's part could have yielded a much better burger result.

In addition to the burger he also handed me a sizeable dried sausage. Forgive me but I don't know what the Austrian equivalent of saucisson or salami is but it was that kind of thing. He then whipped out the biggest squeezy container of mustard you have ever seen in your life and literally coated the thing in mustard about an inch deep along its full length while I was holding it! Whoa there cowboy! I like mustard as much as the next man but that is a shit-ton of condiment you've just piled on there! If my hands weren't full of gherkin and sausage I'd have taken a picture but rest assured it was one Kaiserschmarnn short of an Austrian picnic!

Thinking it might be a test I wolfed it down pronto and then tried to dilute the large ball of mustard now sitting in my stomach with a cup of warm gluhwein. I was hoping the gluhwein might work as some kind of sophactant and break up the rapidly coagulating mustard and gherkin medley.

To finish proceedings Rudi turned down 'Just wanna dance the night away' so that he could fire off some jokes in German (mostly involving schnapps) and then make a presentation to a couple from Berlin who were in their tenth year of visiting the Hotel Barbarahof. I was frankly amazed the couple had made it through ten years without being struck down with mustard poisoning but they seemed to still be okay. To much revelry they were presented with some commemorative plaques, some schnapps, and most randomly of all an umbrella! Was Rudi expecting rain?? I don't know, but this was met with riotous laughter and more joke telling over the mic and the amp. I didn't understand the jokes but even if I had I feel like British and German/Austrian humour may be so far apart that it wouldn't have mattered!

Here is the lucky recipient clutching his award while Rudi demonstrates the use of the prize umbrella to him. I felt at this point that it was probably time to take our leave...
6011.jpg
 

Heinz

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Bahn = track / way / rail
Eg Autobahn = Freeway
Seilbahn = Ropeway, Cable car
Bahnhof = Railway station

Zug = train which may (or not in your case) travel on rails
 
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blueandwhite

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A Quiet Day
After a lengthy day in the sun yesterday we knew there was a big change in the weather coming today. We gave the kids a day off and yours truly went out for a scoot around the mountain this morning. It was snowing outside the window when we woke up, but just a sprinkling on the ground by this point. I used the the other window to normal as this building provided better contrast with the snow than the housing commission!
7001.jpg


Breakfast done I did a bit of admin and got a late start with a bus ride to Zwolferkogel and a ride up the 12er Kogel gondola. There were plenty of people out and about and at the top it was a moderate wind and snowing quite hard. I hadn't yet had a crack at the red and the black under the Zwolfer-Nordbahn gondola so I dropped into that and headed down to the valley.

I have previously detailed my hatred of wearing goggles and the inability of my eyesight to pick out any kind of terrain in snowy conditions. It was therefore a case of guesswork near the top to see what was coming. I get quite dizzy in the whiteout when I can't see the terrain or any nearby trees or dark objects - does anyone else get this? Maybe it's just me! Anyway, this picture makes it look much clearer than it was - I think the camera obviously has no goggles on and has 128 megapixels that work better than my ageing eyes.
7002.jpg


There was no more than 5cm of snow up high at this point and less lower down - and it was on a very hard packed - some would say icy - base after yesterday's freeze-thaw cycle. It was still fun as I careered down blindly misreading the terrain. The visibility improved lower down and I dropped into the black at the bottom which had a very steep lip for the first 10 metres or so but was pretty nice after that and provided a run down to the HochalmBahn gondola up the other side of the valley.
7003.jpg


At the top of the HochalmBahn are two chairlifts, the Spieleck and the Hochalm 6 seaters. I gave them both a go. I love the hooded chairlifts. I know they'd swing wildly in Australian conditions but it would be amazing to have these and heated seats back home!
7004.jpg


The visibility at the top was not the best!
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But I edged my way down a few reds and blues with visibility improving lower down and some nice soft powder lying at the edges of the pistes which gave me some nice turns.
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I worked my way slowly across towards Saalbach using various lifts and gondolas and at the last minute decided to drop down to Hinterglemm. And that was my day done. I'd got my daily ski, had a few nice turns and could go home satisfied for today.
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After the standard public transport trauma (15 minute wait, missed bus stop, blah blah blah) I got home and we decided to go back to Hinterglemm for lunch but in the car. So we hit up a nice spot for lunch and had a wander around the shops. Hinterglemm is a much nicer village than Saalbach although it did slightly let itself down with a table dancing bar which I didn't feel was entirely family friendly. But it had a much nicer feel than Saalbach and we enjoyed a few hours there in the snow.
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And that was pretty much that. We went home, did some more admin tasks and had a late afternoon irish coffee. This is the life...
 

blueandwhite

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There is some awesome sidecountry terrain out there but in bad vis is a bad idea. @DidSurfNowSki can attest to how good it is.
Off topic, have just been checking the PCR testing options at Munich Airport for our return. Sheesh, might need to extend the mortgage! Pretty sure the cost has gone up since I last looked. Amazingly makes Australian testing seem cheap!
 

blueandwhite

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Just to follow up on the airport testing mentioned above for the benefit of @Kletterer and @DidSurfNowSki I see that today the Australian government is saying an RAT is now sufficient to re-enter Australia (taken within 24 hours of departure). This rule comes into effect from this Sunday. This reduces our costs as a family of four at Munich from approx $1000 to about $250. Result!
 
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blueandwhite

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> This reduces our costs as a family of four at Munich from approx $1000 to about $250.

€44 for a PCR and €22 for an antigen in France. RAT home kits are 5 for €10.
Er yes but I'm talking about Munich Airport. You also need the correct documentation with the test to enter Australia so home tests are not valid.
 
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blueandwhite

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The Last Stand (Part 1)
Our last full day in this hotel and this town. It's no secret that Saalbach and I have not been the best of friends but this report is going to be a two parter so you can draw your own conclusions as to how good the last day here was.

We are paying a fair amount for this hotel and I just want to tell you that despite that I have been sleeping in a dwarf-sized top bunk bed for the course of this week to accommodate the sleeping whims of our needy children. Occasionally as I toss and turn in my tiny couchette my feet hit the stainless steel cable holding the diminutive bunk up and I tend to therefore wake up at night quite a lot. And each time I woke up last night I could hear machinery. Scraping noises and the like.

I didn't think a huge amount of it at the time but when I woke in the morning it all clicked. It had been snowing overnight and they were clearing the roads. I hadn't been expecting snow overnight, my forecast had said there would be a break before the main event on Saturday (when we leave!). But as I looked outside I could see that mother nature had dropped 10-15cm of white goodness on our doorstep at base level.
9001.jpg


Even better it was light and fluffy, even at the bottom of the mountain. This boded well for the day ahead and as we prepared for the day at the speed of a lethargic slug with a hangover I was excited about the prospects of getting some powder.

It is painful getting and five year old and an eight year old with twin minecraft addictions out of the door to ski in the morning but we made the Ski Zug by about 9am which is about as much as I could have hoped for.
9002.jpg


The Black Eyed Peas were off the menu again in deference to some kind of Austrian/German rap/pop but I was still fairly pumped. We got dropped at the ReiterKogel gondola in Hinterglemm and headed straight up to assess the situation. The situation immediately looked delicious.

As we headed up the next 8 seater chair and looked at the untracked snow on the margins of the red run below there was no chance whatsoever we were going any further until we had got some of that. We tentatively started on the margins of the groomed area which had about 10cm of fresh snow on top of it.
9003.jpg


And while Sam smartly stayed in his 10 centimetre deep comfort zone, daughter and I quickly decided that a little slide to the (skiers) left would yield more fruit. Bye legs.
9004.jpg


To the side of the piste markers the full extent of the two days of snowfall was laid bare as daughter's eight year old legs disappeared into the white talcum powder. What a treat. We headed straight back up the lift and traversed across to the next run over, admiring the powder strewn views along the way. This is what you see when you close your eyes at night on a ski holiday and we were lucky enough to be seeing it with our eyes open.
9003a.jpg


After a tentative start (I don't like powder, it's cold when I stack!) Sam was soon amongst it, his lightweight five year old legs gliding through the powder as if it wasn't there.
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I'm not going to lie. It didn't all go perfectly.
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But even in my stackage I remained covid safe with my mask on.
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And Alana completely lost both skis at one point and we spent five minutes searching for them!
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But it was pretty epic as we took line after line under the Sunliner chair with no competition for our precious powder stashes off the side of the pistes.


Dad was in on the action.
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And even Mum got into the fun.
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It was pretty amazing. So good that for an hour or so we just tracked the same piste margin adding additional lines each time and farming the powder diligently just as Tom (our powder guru from Kitzbuhel) had taught us. He would have been proud!

But eventually it was time for hot drinks and so we stopped for hot chocolate and to put our feet up.
9011.jpg
 

blueandwhite

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The Last Stand (Part 2)
After some sustenance at the SonnAlm we headed back into the fray. Up the lift and a traverse across to pastures new.
9012.jpg


But with similar results.
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Even for Sam.
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It was a case of follow my leader.
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We took a long run all the way back down to Hinterglemm. While the powder was not as deep lower down virtually no-one had been on the lower runs so we had the pick of the powder. Back up the gondola and it was time to try and find a lunch spot. We stumbled upon the excellent Pfeffer Alm which is over 300 years old apparently.
9016.jpg


It was dark and dingy and seemed to have no windows at all. But inside it had a roaring fire and candles on the tables.
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We had a ripping lunch there and my Mixnock'n which had speck and cheese was unbelievably filling. Has anyone ever finished a Kassnock'n style dish? You could feed an army on these things! We all warmed up and enjoyed the cosy atmosphere of the place. A really great stop.
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But then it was time to head out again. We knew the kids wouldn't have much left in them despite the lunch stop so we began to head over towards Hochalm as I was very keen to get on the Spieleck chair. Getting over there wasn't without it's hiccups though.
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But there were highlights too.
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Dad's line, Son's line and (Little Miss) Straight line.
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There was still plenty of powder to be found even after lunch..
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And the best was saved for last. We eventually made it over to Hochalm and the venerated Spieleck chair. This took us right to the top and just like yesterday it was blowing hard up there and visibility was virtually zero. This didn't initially bode well but I knew that if we got lower down the wind would be lighter and the visibility would come back. And so it proved.

After a couple of hundred metres of hellish blindfold riding of the icy blue piste with zero visibility things got better. The wind had scoured patches on the piste up top and left piles of powder elsewhere. When you can't see either of these coming it's a total lottery skiing this. But suddenly it cleared and daughter and I hit the off piste. We were careful not to go too near the creek which seemed to have built up a solid bank of snow in the wind.
9022.jpg


But a little lower down the meadows opened up and we were left with a long untracked expanse of rolling powder. This was the best of the day. It was bottomless to ride and we were able to take down a very lengthy powder run in deep powder and practice the skills Tom had taught us. Here is daughter disappearing into the distance on our final big powder run. Laters!
9023.jpg


It was just delicious. The bouncing action that Tom had taught us was working a treat and I was like a kangaroo bouncing from side to side as the snow forcefully sprung me back upwards with each bounce. I often think that skiing is basically about repetition and practice, and how often do you get to practice long lines of powder? In my case very rarely. So this run was a total godsend.

I was utterly stoked after that run and we still had to get down the full length of the gondola below! Daughter and I milked the powder to the side of the run most of the way down but nothing compared to that run before. We had suddenly become powder snobs!

We got to the base of the valley, unclipped and within two minutes the warm bus arrived to take us home. It's a Saalbach public transport miracle! Someone shoot me now because it can't get any better! Although it did when we subsequently went to the pharmacy to get antigen tests and all tested negative. So don't shoot me, we still have 6 days of skiing left!

Once home I did slightly lament our inability to ski the 86 blue hotel 'home run' that had been grass all week and was now white. Was there enough snow now? Our waiter had told us it needed plenty due to a particularly nasty farmer's electric fence. As I looked out of the window I could see that someone didn't care about that though! Next time!
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Kletterer

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Glad you got a taste of the real Saalbach. A pity you cant stay as the best is yet to come . Its a big place and the more time you stay the more you fall in love with it. Hope you guys enjoted your time in Pinzgau and come back some time . Make sure you dont go via Passthurn tomorow. it will be mayhem. Pfefferalm is so cool. one of the last places where elderly locals hang out . occationaly play Harmonica and celebrate birthdays with rude songs .
 
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Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Sep 29, 2010
13,635
10,329
813
Sublime to Ridiculous
Our final day in Kitzbuhel. It hadn't been a great night all in all. Wife had come down ill over dinner and had subsequently spent most of the night in oral interface with the toilet bowl. Daughter and I had both also had the Austrian equivalent of Delhi Belly all day and were struggling to retain our day's consumption. The only common thread that we could find was the scrambled egg from the buffet breakfast, something repeatedly noted by daughter as we fell asleep in the room that night.

The next morning we awoke to find that wife had spent approximately half of the night asleep on the bathroom floor and was only feeling slightly better and was therefore not able to come to breakfast for fear of redecorating the carpet. Heroically I took the kids to the buffet alone and when queried on what she'd like for breakfast daughter boldy proclaimed she was immediately getting back on the scrambled egg horse. I considered this quite the ballsy move but was hoping that executive chef Ernst would have his shit more firmly together this morning. In fairness it may not have been the eggs in the first place but Ernst seemed like a decent fall guy and we had him solidly in our crosshairs.

With checkout looming I managed to locate the car which the porter had cunningly hidden two storeys below and packed all of our belongings before returning to the desk and paying a king's ransom for our four night stay. It's a great hotel and an amazing location but you do pay for it. Both in Euros and also seemingly with the contents of your stomach.

It was looking like another ripper day outside but parental enthusiasm was struggling in the wake of the eggstravagant night we had endured.
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We had arranged a lesson for the kids with our friend from Kitzbuhel who had given Sam lessons at Buller over the last two years. We somehow got to the Hahnenkammbahn by 9.30 and headed up in Manfred Pranger's Austrian gondola. He'd taken down the slalom in 2005 but there hadn't been a main event that year so I can only assume the visibility wasn't good enough to run it. I've no doubt the Austrians were happy to have taken down the slalom anyway...

We sent the kids on their way with their instructor Jacqui and we went for a leisurely ski whilst trying not to redecorate the snow. The weather was epic yet again. I'm starting to think it is only ever sunny and windless in Kitzbuhel. I'm not sure when the snow actually comes, maybe it just appears at midnight each day...
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It was actually quite busy today but we managed to find a few quiet corners to skulk into. With last night's lack of sleep and not feeling that great my skiing was definitely below par though! We skied down towards SkiRast and then did a few runs down to Kirchberg. Being trapped in a long gondola ride with other people when you have an upset stomach is not a great situation but somehow we made it through without disgracing ourselves...
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There's a great view over to the Kitzbuheler Horn from this side of the valley and the full zoom was put to great effect once more.
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We could pick out some of the runs we had done yesterday from the picture which was very cool. And even when zoomed out the view is amazing. On the right of the photo below is the top of the HahnenkammBahn and in the background at the top of the picture is the Kitzbuheler Horn on the other side of the valley.
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One last view across from the top with some mist down in the lower parts of the valley.
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And then we met up with Jacqui and the kids and all got the gondola down to the bottom. The kids had enjoyed their lesson and we were feeling a little better for all of the fresh air. We co-erced the porter into bringing the car up from the nether world for us and I once again set about packing in a measured and orderly fashion.
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And like that we were off to pastures new. Scrambled egg aside, we had loved Kitzbuhel. I hadn't expected to like it but given the weather and the snow it had been amazing. The ski areas are terrific and the town is beautiful. The hotel was amazingly located and although it's not really my kind of hotel it gave us something a bit different from the other places we had stayed (listeria for one...). It was certainly well worth our time and effort to visit and it really also helped having a friend to point us in the right direction with where to go and what to do.

We set sail for Saalbach but not before a quick stop in Kirchdorf en route for some lunch. Our friend helps run the ski school in Kirchdorf and also has a cafe in the same building. Decent coffee! From an espresso machine! We chatted for a while and then popped down to Scotty's Burgers next door which was run by another Australian that turned out to be the guy who had given daughter a shout out a couple of days ago while she was skiing in her Buller jacket. The burgers were great and the views of the Wilder Kaiser from the tables and benches set up out the front were even better. It is some mountain.
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Whilst it is great to immerse yourself in the local culture it is just occasionally nice to have a few luxuries from home. However when we first arrived I had no idea if the person serving at Scotty's was German or English speaking. With daughter being very fussy I did start my order at Scotty's Burgers with the classic line Hallo, ich mochte ein cheeseburger aber mit nur Rindfleisch, Kase, Brot und ketchup - keine other stuff bitte... Got to love Gerglish. If you don't know a word then don't try to guess it!

We hit the road again and headed up through a number of valleys on our way to Saalbach. Some of these valleys appear to never see the sun in Winter and although it was warm and sunny up high the valleys were absolutely baltic although very pretty. I'm not sure I could live somewhere that got so little sunshine.
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As we got closer to Saalbach the mist started to clear.
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And eventually, having passed through Viehhofen (which I visited a week or so ago from Zell) we reached Saalbach. This was a bit of a culture shock having just been in Kitzbuhel. Saalbach is fairly ugly. All concrete infrastructure and big buildings. There were some nice buildings in there but they were dominated by the ugly ones. There's even a massive concrete multi-storey car park which was the last thing I expected to see. I'm sure it's useful tohave this car park on busy days but having spent time in Alpbach, Konigsleiten and Kitzbuhel it was a bit of a shock!

Our hotel is located a couple of kilometres past Saalbach and is on the main road which is amazingly busy for a road that effectively goes nowhere. I booked it on the strength of the great Trip Advisor reviews and it did look quite nice as I took a photo when there was a gap in the heavy traffic thundering past me.
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However there is no getting past the fact that it's on a busy main road and appears to be opposite the equivalent of a large Travelodge or council estate (delete as appropriate).
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To add to our woes we were fairly disappointed that the claimed ski-in aspect of the hotel was not even close to being possible. We had hoped that blue 86 would be open to allow us to ski back to the hotel each day but there is very little snow low down. In my wisdom I had thought that by mid to late January snow would be down to the valley but in hindsight this is the sunny side of the valley so I don't imagine this is actually skiable that often. There is also no snowmaking so I guess it will be the bus for us. I think we've had it too good so far and have set expectations a bit high!
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That said the staff were very nice and friendly. The chef even bailed us up as we were unloading to ask if we were 'the Australians'. So word of our arrival clearly precedes us! The hotel is modern and welcoming inside and the dinner was very nice so I'm sure it will all work out. They do charge 1 Euro for the table football though and this does lose them points. Free table football elevates hotels to very high status in our family so they still have work to do!
Free table football should be de rigueur (or equivalent in German).
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
White and Out
After the epic highs of yesterday's powderfest a five hour car journey was always going to be a bit of a come down. I'd cleared the car of snow the night before and despite a solid further 10cm overnight the wind had blown a lot of the new stuff from the car and it cleaned up pretty easily. After a big breakfast and some goodbyes to some of the lovely staff who had looked after us it was nearly time to go.

But not before eccentric owner Rudi had given everyone their parting gift. A sachet of some kind of Tyrolean balm which he suggested we rub into our sore legs and was definitely 'nicht fur kinder' or so he said. Frankly I'd have preferred the Team Barbarahof umbrella but that is seemingly reserved for people who have visited for ten consecutive years so I have a lot of leg balm to get through before we get anywhere near an umbrella.
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It was absolutely pelting it down with snow and the road was already looking treacherous as the lengthy snake of departing traffic crawled down the valley past the hotel. Changeover day seems to be a bit of a thing in Austria with everyone leaving at exactly the same time on the same day. No doubt this is useful for the hotels but on a bad weather day it is thoroughly chaotic on the roads.

We finalised packing and hit the road by around 9am. I had been hoping to bootpack the field behind the hotel and ski 50m back down to the car park just to keep my run of ski days going but sadly it just wasn't to be. We desperately needed to get going before the road conditions deteriorated any further.
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On our descent out of the Saalbach valley I was happy trundling along in the 40kph realm for the most part and this seemed to fit in with everyone else. Grip was okay from what I could tell but the valley is not steep and some efforts at road clearing had clearly been made.

The mighty Tucson is fitted with winter tyres although having looked at them I wouldn't be staking my life on them. It's also a two wheel drive and is front wheel drive. With all of our luggage in the boot weighing down the back end of the car this was to prove troublesome later in our journey. As cars go I would say we were in the bottom 10% of cars on the road that I would want to be driving in these conditions!

We reached the end of the valley safely (if slowly) and the convoy of skifield leavers then turned onto the entry ramp to the main road to Saalfelden. At this point the Tucson decided it had had enough of playing nicely and we started to wheelspin on the upward slope of the entry ramp with the front end losing traction sporadically. What fun that was.

I should point out that whilst I am not in the expert category I am not a novice at snow driving. I drove up and down the Buller road every single day of the season for three seasons running, two of which were very good snow seasons. And while only a small proportion of those days are snow days I still have plenty of experience of snow driving and without snow tyres. The Buller Road I should point out is also steeper and windier than anything encountered today.

It therefore points to the absolute shitness of the Tucson in these conditions that it crapped it's pants quite so readily on a shallow angle entry ramp and under very light and deft acceleration in low gear. Nonetheless I managed to right the ship after a few minor losses of traction and we got onto the Saalfelden road. Traffic was stop-start and again traction was lost in the lower gears pulling away occasionally irrespective of the low use of revs. But we ploughed on (pardion the pun) regardless.

Just shy of Saalfelden I did consider pulling over at one point, the lack of traction at very low speed was unnerving me a fair bit in the heavy traffic. But we limped through the town and although some minor hills and roundabouts gave some cause for concern we came out the other side.

At this point it was absolutely puking. The black lines on the road that I had been trying to follow for maximum traction were disappearing fast. From this:
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To this:
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At this point we were effectively driving on just snow. We had been going for over an hour and a half and were on a road heading in the direction of Sankt Johann. It was fairly awful. At one point on this road we had to overtake a large articulated truck who was diagonally across the road not moving but with wheels still spinning. It was carnage. However I knew if I slowed down on the hill - which wasn't even very steep - the Tucson might never gain traction again. We limped on with the occasional traction issue and the occasional shudder as the Tucson's advanced snow brain tried to stifle my attempts at gentle breaking on approach to roundabouts and signals.

After about three hours or so we finally reached the freeway and crossed the border into Germany. It was chockers and only just moving as you might expect when both lanes were covered in snow. The weight of traffic did at least mean that there were some black lines to follow and some traction to be had. For that I was grateful. And as we edged further north the amount of snow on the safety rail dropped from 15cm to 10cm to 5cm until mercifully the snow was in the fields but only slush on the road.

Suddenly we began to move again. The German driving mind appears to be rather binary. White snow on road means first gear, any other conditions (including slush and brown snow on road in sub-zero temperatures) means full speed ahead. And before we knew it we were being vaporised by Audis with roof boxes in the outside lane who were clearly in a rush to get home. It was still snowing hard I might add.

And shortly after the road was just wet, albeit still snowing and in negative temperatures. The freeway was whizzing along at Mach 5 and it seemed like we had cleared the worst of the storm. When the turn off came for Bad Tolz we therefore boldly took the exit and headed west. This had been our plan all along but if there had still been solid snow on the road I would have carried on to Munich and gone from there.

Within five minutes of leaving the freeway however the road was once again white and the traction control was wrestling me for control of the car. Oh joy, just when we thought we were on our way. After a slow slog along the westbound arterial and a couple more traction issues I needed a proper break so we pulled over. It was mentally exhausting driving in the snow and requiring that amount of concentration and diligence for such a sustained period of time. We were about four hours in at this stage.
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After a break we continued on with the road white and the ride slippery. It continued to drop it's white guts from the sky and snow lay all around. We went around Bad Tolz and onwards towards Peissenberg. We passed a ski resort just outside of Bad Tolz where the locals were lapping up the freshly dropped Pow and heading up the slowest chairlift I have seen in my life (and I have been on the gully chair at Falls Creek!). They must really love their Pow in Bad Tolz!

Eventually we stopped in a small town to have another break and I had a coffee and the epicurial delight that is a pretzel drizzled in melted cheese and bacon. Marvellous. We were around six hours in now and the snow had started to get wetter and black areas were once again in evidence on the road. The car park was even clear here and as I opened the boot the magnificence of my packing was once more on display to the world.
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It was still puking it down but the road was now clear, we could drive safely again! And at speed! We powered the last two hours past Kempten and Oberstdorf and finally crossed the border back into Austria and into Kleinwalsertal.

Kleinwalsertal is Austrian but can only be accessed from Germany - it is totally cut off by road from the rest of Austria. How very quirky. I wanted to take a picture of the border but we were all so keen to get to our destination after eight hours in the car we just couldn't be bothered to stop. We eventually arrived in Hirschegg and stopped as I had to pay for the ski school lesson we had booked by email.

The whole reason for this trip in the first place was to come and visit Kleinwalsertal after daughter's Austrian instructor from three years ago at Buller had invited us to visit her at her home resort. Ironically as we got out of the car - and despite temperatures being negative one - it was raining. How very Buller!
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We went to the ski school and met the CEO Tom who had been very enthusiastic in his email reply to me and was thrilled that some Australians from Buller were coming to ski at the resort. It transpired that he had worked at Buller for a year some time ago and knew the mountain well. He was able to name a number of personalities that I also knew and was generally super-enthusiastic about our appearance in Kleinwalsertal which was a very warm welcome. I didn't mention the snow similarity but he did say it had not snowed much today.

It is somewhat in keeping with our modus operandi that it should be dumping 40cm in Saalbach when we left, nuking for the first seven hours of the drive and then turned to rain and no snow when we finally arrive at our destination! After the day we had yesterday though I am certainly not complaining...

With that done we drove the final ten minutes towards the highest part of the valley - the village of Baad at 1,200m - and the home of daughter's instructor and her parents who run a pension. This was the road on the way up.
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Alana's ex-instructor was also super-enthusiastic upon our arrival and this made up for a pretty painful trip today. We have had a great welcome to Kleinwalsertal and although it was a brutal drive it has been worth it. We met her parents and they showed us to our rooms and had a long chat. The pension is fairly spartan compared to some of the places we have been staying but the view from the rooms is pretty great and I can't wait to see it when the weather clears.
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We finished the night with a nice meal at the local food spot, the KuhStall which was very hearty and filling. I'm looking forward to a solid sleep and getting back to skiing tomorrow.
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Rabid K9

A Local
Ski Pass
Jul 15, 2008
6,225
7,299
563
White and Out
After the epic highs of yesterday's powderfest a five hour car journey was always going to be a bit of a come down. I'd cleared the car of snow the night before and despite a solid further 10cm overnight the wind had blown a lot of the new stuff from the car and it cleaned up pretty easily. After a big breakfast and some goodbyes to some of the lovely staff who had looked after us it was nearly time to go.

But not before eccentric owner Rudi had given everyone their parting gift. A sachet of some kind of Tyrolean balm which he suggested we rub into our sore legs and was definitely 'nicht fur kinder' or so he said. Frankly I'd have preferred the Team Barbarahof umbrella but that is seemingly reserved for people who have visited for ten consecutive years so I have a lot of leg balm to get through before we get anywhere near an umbrella.
8100.jpg


It was absolutely pelting it down with snow and the road was already looking treacherous as the lengthy snake of departing traffic crawled down the valley past the hotel. Changeover day seems to be a bit of a thing in Austria with everyone leaving at exactly the same time on the same day. No doubt this is useful for the hotels but on a bad weather day it is thoroughly chaotic on the roads.

We finalised packing and hit the road by around 9am. I had been hoping to bootpack the field behind the hotel and ski 50m back down to the car park just to keep my run of ski days going but sadly it just wasn't to be. We desperately needed to get going before the road conditions deteriorated any further.
8101.jpg


On our descent out of the Saalbach valley I was happy trundling along in the 40kph realm for the most part and this seemed to fit in with everyone else. Grip was okay from what I could tell but the valley is not steep and some efforts at road clearing had clearly been made.

The mighty Tucson is fitted with winter tyres although having looked at them I wouldn't be staking my life on them. It's also a two wheel drive and is front wheel drive. With all of our luggage in the boot weighing down the back end of the car this was to prove troublesome later in our journey. As cars go I would say we were in the bottom 10% of cars on the road that I would want to be driving in these conditions!

We reached the end of the valley safely (if slowly) and the convoy of skifield leavers then turned onto the entry ramp to the main road to Saalfelden. At this point the Tucson decided it had had enough of playing nicely and we started to wheelspin on the upward slope of the entry ramp with the front end losing traction sporadically. What fun that was.

I should point out that whilst I am not in the expert category I am not a novice at snow driving. I drove up and down the Buller road every single day of the season for three seasons running, two of which were very good snow seasons. And while only a small proportion of those days are snow days I still have plenty of experience of snow driving and without snow tyres. The Buller Road I should point out is also steeper and windier than anything encountered today.

It therefore points to the absolute shitness of the Tucson in these conditions that it crapped it's pants quite so readily on a shallow angle entry ramp and under very light and deft acceleration in low gear. Nonetheless I managed to right the ship after a few minor losses of traction and we got onto the Saalfelden road. Traffic was stop-start and again traction was lost in the lower gears pulling away occasionally irrespective of the low use of revs. But we ploughed on (pardion the pun) regardless.

Just shy of Saalfelden I did consider pulling over at one point, the lack of traction at very low speed was unnerving me a fair bit in the heavy traffic. But we limped through the town and although some minor hills and roundabouts gave some cause for concern we came out the other side.

At this point it was absolutely puking. The black lines on the road that I had been trying to follow for maximum traction were disappearing fast. From this:
8102.jpg


To this:
8104.jpg


At this point we were effectively driving on just snow. We had been going for over an hour and a half and were on a road heading in the direction of Sankt Johann. It was fairly awful. At one point on this road we had to overtake a large articulated truck who was diagonally across the road not moving but with wheels still spinning. It was carnage. However I knew if I slowed down on the hill - which wasn't even very steep - the Tucson might never gain traction again. We limped on with the occasional traction issue and the occasional shudder as the Tucson's advanced snow brain tried to stifle my attempts at gentle breaking on approach to roundabouts and signals.

After about three hours or so we finally reached the freeway and crossed the border into Germany. It was chockers and only just moving as you might expect when both lanes were covered in snow. The weight of traffic did at least mean that there were some black lines to follow and some traction to be had. For that I was grateful. And as we edged further north the amount of snow on the safety rail dropped from 15cm to 10cm to 5cm until mercifully the snow was in the fields but only slush on the road.

Suddenly we began to move again. The German driving mind appears to be rather binary. White snow on road means first gear, any other conditions (including slush and brown snow on road in sub-zero temperatures) means full speed ahead. And before we knew it we were being vaporised by Audis with roof boxes in the outside lane who were clearly in a rush to get home. It was still snowing hard I might add.

And shortly after the road was just wet, albeit still snowing and in negative temperatures. The freeway was whizzing along at Mach 5 and it seemed like we had cleared the worst of the storm. When the turn off came for Bad Tolz we therefore boldly took the exit and headed west. This had been our plan all along but if there had still been solid snow on the road I would have carried on to Munich and gone from there.

Within five minutes of leaving the freeway however the road was once again white and the traction control was wrestling me for control of the car. Oh joy, just when we thought we were on our way. After a slow slog along the westbound arterial and a couple more traction issues I needed a proper break so we pulled over. It was mentally exhausting driving in the snow and requiring that amount of concentration and diligence for such a sustained period of time. We were about four hours in at this stage.
8105.jpg


After a break we continued on with the road white and the ride slippery. It continued to drop it's white guts from the sky and snow lay all around. We went around Bad Tolz and onwards towards Peissenberg. We passed a ski resort just outside of Bad Tolz where the locals were lapping up the freshly dropped Pow and heading up the slowest chairlift I have seen in my life (and I have been on the gully chair at Falls Creek!). They must really love their Pow in Bad Tolz!

Eventually we stopped in a small town to have another break and I had a coffee and the epicurial delight that is a pretzel drizzled in melted cheese and bacon. Marvellous. We were around six hours in now and the snow had started to get wetter and black areas were once again in evidence on the road. The car park was even clear here and as I opened the boot the magnificence of my packing was once more on display to the world.
8106.jpg


It was still puking it down but the road was now clear, we could drive safely again! And at speed! We powered the last two hours past Kempten and Oberstdorf and finally crossed the border back into Austria and into Kleinwalsertal.

Kleinwalsertal is Austrian but can only be accessed from Germany - it is totally cut off by road from the rest of Austria. How very quirky. I wanted to take a picture of the border but we were all so keen to get to our destination after eight hours in the car we just couldn't be bothered to stop. We eventually arrived in Hirschegg and stopped as I had to pay for the ski school lesson we had booked by email.

The whole reason for this trip in the first place was to come and visit Kleinwalsertal after daughter's Austrian instructor from three years ago at Buller had invited us to visit her at her home resort. Ironically as we got out of the car - and despite temperatures being negative one - it was raining. How very Buller!
8107.jpg

We went to the ski school and met the CEO Tom who had been very enthusiastic in his email reply to me and was thrilled that some Australians from Buller were coming to ski at the resort. It transpired that he had worked at Buller for a year some time ago and knew the mountain well. He was able to name a number of personalities that I also knew and was generally super-enthusiastic about our appearance in Kleinwalsertal which was a very warm welcome. I didn't mention the snow similarity but he did say it had not snowed much today.

It is somewhat in keeping with our modus operandi that it should be dumping 40cm in Saalbach when we left, nuking for the first seven hours of the drive and then turned to rain and no snow when we finally arrive at our destination! After the day we had yesterday though I am certainly not complaining...

With that done we drove the final ten minutes towards the highest part of the valley - the village of Baad at 1,200m - and the home of daughter's instructor and her parents who run a pension. This was the road on the way up.
8113.jpg


Alana's ex-instructor was also super-enthusiastic upon our arrival and this made up for a pretty painful trip today. We have had a great welcome to Kleinwalsertal and although it was a brutal drive it has been worth it. We met her parents and they showed us to our rooms and had a long chat. The pension is fairly spartan compared to some of the places we have been staying but the view from the rooms is pretty great and I can't wait to see it when the weather clears.
8108.jpg


We finished the night with a nice meal at the local food spot, the KuhStall which was very hearty and filling. I'm looking forward to a solid sleep and getting back to skiing tomorrow.
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You can imagine what the Germanic’s were muttering down their long noses as they smoked past the Korean in their designer Euro machines.

I had a Renault SUV one year. Aside from being uglier than a warthog, it performed like a dead sea cucumber & drew no end of sneers in ski area carparks full of Beemers, Merc’s & Audi’s.

To let out a bit of front wheel drive frustration, I like to find an empty snowy carpark, full lock the wheel & just redline it in reverse until the offending vehicle begs for mercy.
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
The Big Reward
After yesterday's epic drive and arrival in Buller-like weather conditions in Kleinwalsertal we all slept very well. And when I woke up and drew back the curtains the full enormity of the view that we were sleeping with dawned on me. Wow.
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The view was epic and this wasn't the half of it, just the bit I could fit in the camera shot. For reference on the other side of that ridge is pretty much Lech. But it would take you an awfully long time to drive there as there is no road connection without going back into Germany and round. It was a stunning start to the day.

We were a bit slow starting as my suitcase packing system does change each time we travel and finding everything on the first morning is not that straightforward. But mercifully we made the 9.20 bus which isn't exactly early but could have been a lot worse! Julia had suggested we go to Walmendingerhorn for the first day as there was a good chance of powder there and the views would be good. So we took this advice and jumped on the bus.

Five minutes later we were buying ski passes and hopping on the WalmendingerhornBahn which I found to be quite the mouthful to say! This gondola is an old school tin can that gets hauled up to the summit with 40 or so frothing skiers inside it every twenty minutes. I took this photo of the gondola later in the day and I think you'd have to agree that she's a beauty!
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While we were in the gondola we bumped into Julia's dad who it turns out is also a gun skier - I mean you would be living here I think... He was able to give us some advice on where to ski and what to do and I understood at least 50% of it as we conversed in very slowly spoken German! It was great to have some tips at the start of the day as a new resort can be quite daunting on first arrival.

We stepped out of the cable car and out onto the sprawling balcony. Oh. My. God.
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The view was unbelievable. We have seen some incredible views on our trip at every turn but this was special. Amazing mountain vista, blue sky, mist in the valley, trees dotted amongst the foreground, freshly pisted runs in the background and a smooth powderfield right in front of us that some lucky bugger had taken down solo. This photo pretty much brought together all of the inidividual bits I have loved in other vistas, but all in one picture! If I could have squeezed a beer and a pan of grostl into it somewhere it would have been totally complete!

We skied the first corner and this revealed the view in the opposite direction (back towards Germany). Sheesh, where do I look next!
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Yeah, maybe here:
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Half way down our first piste we found a half-tracked powderfield to play in just dropping down to the next piste. Snow was maybe 10-15cm deep but so much fun. I know the boys in Saalbach have been having a field day up there with their fresh snow but this was more than enough for us and we all tucked in. Sam - with just his tender 5 years of age - surprised me and absolutely gobbled it up. This, I think, is how you are meant to do it:


And then it was down the piste to the bottom of the chair. Even the groomer photos were amazing on a day like this.
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We lapped the 4 seater chair a few times noting our surroundings and dropping a few red pistes - one of which I feel had been under-rated and could easily be a black which was a rarity to find on our trip. We also bumped into Julia's Dad who then dropped one of the steeper pistes like it was a Sunday Drive. Agggh, to be that good at skiing one day!

We spotted a good lunch hut and in the background noted that a few people were traversing around from the top of the chair to the powderfield in the background. Our fate was sealed!
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Daughter and I followed the goat track around the top of the bowl (including multiple inadvertent airs when speed could not be adequately retarded!) and worked our way across.
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The view before we dropped was quite something.
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So below us lay a powderfield, at the bottom of which was a mountain hut buried in snow. Didn't seem like the ideal spot for a hut if it was going to get buried every year but I'm not an expert on mountain hut construction and location. Either way it made a good ramp to jump off.
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This fieldtrip was so much fun we did it three times getting fresh tracks each time and with daughter launching the hut each time.
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With such frivolity behind us it was time for lunch! The food was good but the view was better and so the view got the photo gig.
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After lunch we skied down to the other lift in the resort, a two seater with a nice winding red run underneath it. This was a lot of fun and with that done Sam requested a crack at the traverse followed by the powder and hut roof drop. I agreed to take him and we set off in a party of three. Alana first cutting trail, Sam in the middle and Dad at the back picking up any potential pieces.

As it happens there were no pieces. Sam handled the goat track and the traverse with aplomb. Although I reckon if I'd been on 100cm skis I'd have done a better job of it too. Here are my two adventurers:
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We dropped the powder and daughter launched the hut while Sam and I tentatively dropped off the back. We all made it through unscathed and there was time for one final gratuitous mountain shot before we decided to hit the red trail home.
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The Walmendingerhorn is the best part of 2,000m and with the base at around 1,100m I suspect they will claim a 900m vertical. Realistically though all of the action is happening in the top 400-500m so really the vertical is more in line with an Aussie resort (although the mountains are somewhat more impressive!). But there is a single red run that connects the top part of the resort with a set of short beginner runs at the very base and it was that which we skied now.

It's a beautiful winding tree-lined trail down and although some of it was a little sparse on snow in places it was fun to ski. And even more fun when we stopped at Max's Hutte for drinks half way down. This cute little hut sits right next to the piste so you are almost getting sprayed by passing skiers as you sit in your deckchair. Unbelievable views from the hut as well of course.
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Eventually however it was time to set off for home again and we skied down the last part of the run. Not before I had taken a picture of this quintessential Austrian view on the way down though.
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We hit the bus and five minutes later we were back in Baad and walking up to the apartment. Everyone seemed happy with their days work as the sun went behind the mountain back at base.
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It had been an epic day with something for everyone and the most astounding scenery everywhere we looked. This morning I had captured part of the view from the balcony, but if you look in another direction you get another stellar view as well. It was almost obscene.
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We finished the day off with a pizza meal and a Limoncello (if you don't mind) at a local restaurant and went home very happy indeed. Tom, the CEO from the ski school even came in for takeaway while we were there and came over and chatted to us. Such a friendly place!

Tomorrow we have our family lesson with Julia and we are heading to the Kanzelwand which is another close by resort in Kleinwalsertal that straddles the border between Germany and Austria. I just can't help thinking of the Bond film Living Daylights when Bond and the girl escape over the border into Austria sliding on the snow in a Cello case. Although it may be a Limoncello case for us... Nothing to declare!
 
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