Back to ski business, finally!

Last year I was unable (due to my previous employer’s decision) to join some friends for skiing in Austria, so it was great I could go with them this year. We went to Kappl near Ischgl (one of Austria’s biggest ski resorts) in the Paznaun valley (Tyrol) from Feb 9th-16th with a group of 21 people in total, and had a house almost entirely on our own, booked through Interchalet.

First day, -18 degrees: Entering the "highway", Lattenalm
First day, -18 degrees: Entering the "highway", Lattenalm

The worst part of the whole week was getting there by car – not only was this a week of school holidays in our state (so, everybody and his children, aunt and grandmother drive to the Alps for skiing), but also we ran into several traffic jams due to fresh snow on the highway, blocked roads after acidents and more – which resulted in a total trip time of 11 ¾ hours for a 400km distance (normally it wouldn’t take longer than 5 hours). Ouch! I believe it cannot get much worse than this. I dreamt a lot of red brake lights that following night.

People sledge-riding at night on illuminated ski slope
People sledge-riding at night on illuminated ski slope

I believe I have never been out for skiing this early (when I was a child, with my parents we typically went around mid-March), so it was great to see that we really had snow all the way down to the valley, so all slopes back to town were possible without grassy or muddy areas. Also, the temperature was low enough to not let the snow age too soon (on the first day, we had -18°C on the mountain tops). Only towards the end, the sun was able to kill a bit of snow.

Icicles on the ski lift, formed by rotational forces
Icicles on the ski lift, formed by rotational forces

Regarding a ski pass, one can choose between different models and areas (just Kappl, just Ischgl, “4 out of 6 days” and so on), but since I wanted maximum flexibility, I decided to go for the “access all areas” (See, Kappl, Ischgl, Galtür) pass for 6 days which costs a whopping 250€. I didn’t regret that decision, though – we spent 3 days in Kappl, 2 in Ischgl and 1 in Galtür, and it was just cool to go wherever you just wanted to.

 

A chain coated by ice, at the Faulbrunn-Alm hut above Galtür

Weather was quite ok – there was one day of snow, one day of weak light, but 3 days with perfect conditions. Especially the day in Galtür (Wednesday) was great, with a very little bit of snow coming down all day long, making the air glitter and sparkle in beautiful ways.

Slight snow creating beautiful glitter in the air
Slight snow creating beautiful glitter in the air

On Thursday, I spent a couple of hours skiing on my own – I do this each time so then I can have a better eye on the landscape and making photos. Especially the highest point of the Ischgl ski arena, the Greitspitze (2871m) is a great place to overlook several mountain ranges and valleys.

Greitspitze, 2871m, highest peak in the Ischgl arena
Greitspitze, 2871m, highest peak in the Ischgl arena
Idalp, the most crowded place around Ischgl in winter
Idalp, the most crowded place around Ischgl in winter

Towards the end of that day, a friend on snowboard and me (just skis) got a chance to pick one of the last ski lifts up to Greitspitze at 4PM, and we suddenly found ourselves alone on the mountain – I love that moment. The sun was slowly setting, no noises around, just you and the snow. Those are great moments!

Time (and sun) running out on the last trip of a beautiful day in Ischgl
Time (and sun) running out on the last trip of a beautiful day in Ischgl

The last evening we traditionally do not cook, but go out for dinner instead – we went to “Hotel Post” in Kappl, and 4 of us ordered the “Postgeheimnis” together (due to a mistake by the waiter, we were actually served the dish for 5 persons – even better :-) which tasted great and was enough for..uhm..2 or 3 days :-).

Great dinner ("Postgeheimnis") on our last evening
Great dinner ("Postgeheimnis") on our last evening

To summarize: Bad start due to heavy traffic conditions, but thereafter a wonderful week with plenty of snow and great views. Luv it!

What’s left to be done is to use the videos I took with my GoPro HD Hero2 and “make something out of them”. I hope Blender will serve as a good video editing platform for this purpose.

Still picture from video shot with GoPro attached to ski stick, carried over my shoulder
Still picture from video shot with GoPro attached to ski stick, carried over my shoulder