Skiing and Wellness in Austria

Anita and I spent six days in Austria in the Hotel Übergossene Alm at the Hochkönig. Because Anita wasted a lot of her vacation days visiting me in the hospital last year we went to the wellness and spa hotel Alpenrose to make up for it. Apparently one fancy hotel a year has become a tradition now ;-) Only this time I was actually fit to do something besides chilling in the sauna and getting massages. So we chose a location in a ski resort. The Hochkönig area advertises itself as having the most beautiful ski circuit of the alps. It did not disappoint.

Gender bias: Anita booked the hotel, but as soon as they figured out I was the man all bills came with my name on them...

We got lucky right from the get go. The small room we originally booked wasn't available, so we got an upgrade to a much larger one free of charge. Our own terrace with beautiful views, a dressing room, a bath tub and a shower - what more could you ask for? The closest lift was just across the street, the ski school and ski rental right in the building. We were all set.

Anita spent her mornings on the bunny slope getting lessons from a private instructor. It was her first time ever on skis and she enjoyed it a lot. Meanwhile I'd go wild trying to ski as many runs as I possibly could. On my best day I managed nearly 14.000 vertical meters on 70 piste and 46 lift kilometers. The hotel offered a handy machine for these analysis based on your ski pass. After that day of back to back skiing without a break even for food my legs were all wobbly; my face sun burned; and a stupid grin permanently chiseled into my face.

Some exercise was definitely advisable too as the food was delicious and plentiful. Every evening offered a four course meal in addition to a buffet. Hanging out in the various pools and saunas is not enough to work that off ;-)

I met some interesting characters too. My favorite is an 84 year old Austrian on the chair lift who was on his 41st day of skiing in 2015 alone. That's how I want to rock at that age! I think Anita's favorite must be Reini, the local "Saunameister" who made it a point of tending the sauna in funny costumes.

Snowing in on the chair lift.
We had a candle light bath with fruits followed by a massage here.
My footsteps. Measuring the fresh snow that fell during dinner. Promising!
Prepared slopes with a foot of virgin fresh powder in the morning. The rarest of conditions!
King's tour indeed.
The harder black runs were mostly deserted and a beautiful playground. In general, waiting times at the lifts were almost non-existent.
"Our" pool.
Journal of my work outs.
Farewell tissue: "Don't cry - come back soon!".
I carried a GPS on my runs. I think I covered pretty much every slope they have.


Another Sunday in Laax

Christian and I went to Laax on Sunday. We got fresh snow the night before which meant that we were skiing what's probably the best powder I've ever experienced. Mind you, that isn't saying all that much because I haven't been skiing a lot. I've tried staying outside of the prepared slopes as much I could, slowly learning how to ski off-piste. We always stayed close to the marked runs though because you could see fresh avalanches on most of the surrounding faces and visibility was hit or miss the entire day. Sometimes the clouds would open up and you'd be rewarded with fantastic vistas and the next moment you couldn't see the hand in front of your eyes. We had a chance meeting with Thomas and Julia and two friends from Argentina and joined them for a few runs in the afternoon. We managed about 80km and top speeds exceeding 85km/h. On the very last run of the day, when the lifts had already stopped running and we were just going back down to the valley, I bragged to Christian how I hadn't had a proper crash since I've picked up skiing again in Switzerland. Jinxed it of course. A few minutes later I was tumbling down the mountain. Serves me right I guess ;-) It was also the first day I was wearing my new helmet (or a helmet at all for that matter)...

The rental place in Flims has a privacy issue. The terminal is auto completing the names of previous customers.
Photo by Christian
Obligatory selfie
Drag lift into the void
Frozen Beard
Photo by Christian


A weekend of Skiing in Laax & Flims

Mark, Mark, Marc, Thomas, Ben, Samuel, Andreas, Emilia and I went skiing in Laax. Saturday was a glorious weather day with blue skies and no wind. Samuel and I arrived together while the others were already on the slopes. We went up the wrong mountain and split up. Samuel in search of his buddies who, as it later turned out, had a few beers, went off piste and got lost. Meanwhile I started a scavenger hunt trying to catch up with the main party. The way this worked was that they'd send me a text message with the lift they had just been on. I was three lifts behind at the start of the day. Towards the end I finally caught up with them and we had the last few runs together. Great fun.

We got fresh snow on Sunday. Unfortunately it was a little too fresh - it was snowing quite heavily all day, making visibility very poor. At the same time a fierce wind was blowing so that the snow was drifting horizontally. At some points on the slopes it was a fight between gravity pulling you down hill and the wind blowing you up - with no clear winner. I later learned on the radio that the gusts on the summits exceeded 100km/h wind speeds. Unsurprisingly most lifts weren't running and we had to content ourselves with the lower pistes. The big gondola was swaying so much they had to stop it and carefully inch past a pylon, lest it crashes into it. A frozen beard day ;-) According to my GPS I reached top speeds of 87km/h. Definitely time to buy a helmet... it should arrive this week. I like going fast a little too much and currently my desire for speed is greater than my ability to control it. Practice required.

Some people preferred sitting out the worst bit of weather with hot tea...
...while I preferred to freeze some more body parts off.
Far too many red LEDs on this map - time to go home.