Skiing the Snow of Austria

January 2010, by Gini

As we flew into Innsbruck it felt like we were gliding around in a snow globe, everything was covered in beautiful fresh snow, just what the ski doctor ordered!

And so we embarked on our first 'package' holiday and followed like the sheep that we were to the large double decker bus which was heading to Mayrhofner, a cosy little village in the centre of a valley with an abundance of ski fields at our door step.

St Georg (pronounced Gay-orrg) was the last stop off the bus, but a quick 5 minute walk to the town. Once we had checked out the hotel's facilities, we checked out what made up Mayrhofner town and pick up a few supplies, one being skis.  After a wheat beer or two, we wandered back past the Penkenbahn (gondola) which takes you to the Penken ski field. Which would be our first ski stop for the next day.

With 'fully catered' on the menu, I think I can safely say we all ate all we could eat at every meal time. The salads were fantastic, with a fresh selection to choose from, followed by the little hot appetizer, the baby spinach quiche was the best in my opinion, but the green pea eclair was noted for its unusualness!, Then came the soup, the most memorable was the soup with the swimming pancakes. The main meals were a range of cuisines but the fondue comes to mind with no cheese but lots of meat for us to cook and dip. I couldn't forget the dessert buffet! it was a good day that day. Breakfast didn't disappoint us either, with a wide selection from hot to cold, it even managed to feed us for lunch most days too, with the odd sneaky roll here and there.

Day one, Blue skies. we found the path which led to the Penkenbahn, with skis in tow. Got there roughly at 9am and meet a rush of people pouring off a ski shuttle bus and had an interesting time getting on a gondola. We had no idea what we were in for because we were staying in a valley and we couldn't see any of the ski fields, only trees and as we came over one of the ridges it all unfolded just how large these fields were. Poor little cute Turoa would have felt a little small in comparison. The sun only made everything look lustrous, did nothing for the temperatures as it was -11 degrees on the first chairlift we took up. At one point through the day I had to stop as I thought my fingers might fall off!  On our first run we came around a corner and the sun reflected off the snow as though it was glitter, with all the trees covered lightly in snow, and not a sound to be heard - it really was a winter wonderland.

Day two was also blue skies. We chose to go back to Penken as you could ski over into another valley, where my favorite run 27 was, on the Horberg peak. It was also where my brother Paul and I attempted to video ourselves skiing down the run, (video at the bottom of entry). All the facilities were amazing, hardly any queues, our 6 day passes buzzed us through the gates like an oyster card does on the tube, but the conveyer belt which holds you in position and takes you to the chair was something to talk about!

On the second day we made our way to the Pitzbar (Pilzbar) to unwind with the locals, by dancing in our boots, drinking beer and having shots of jagermeister, all in a days skiing one would say. "Tonights going to be a good night, oh tonights the night" became the theme song for the trip. One which can't be forgotten easily. I loved the Austrian jigs, they also played some real oldies which always gets you in a good mood for dancing in your boots.

We continued the nights festivities by attempting to find the night life in the village, Moe's bar seemed to be where it was all at and the night ended with snow fights, ripped jeans and a few slides on a neighbours curling ice lane.

Day three slight cloud but warmer. Brought more powder discovery as we took a detour which I managed to ski back to the path okay to meet Paul and thought Tom and Lauren were right behind me. 10mins later they still hadn't appeared. Paul walked all the way back to find them and it turned out, Lauren skied right into a hole of powder! face first. Powder can hide your skis quite well! The joys of real powder.

Day Four was low cloud and very cold. Not the best day for skiing. But Day Five we moved further afield, took a bus to Hintertuxer Gletscher (glacier) and had a great day on T-bars and those old fashion chairlifts which don't slow down when they come around to pick you up! It was a Beautiful day and some really nice runs, One of Tom's favorites was run 9 off the T-bar. The views were just stunning. You really do feel like you are on top of the world.

Our last day was light cloud and we hopped on a train to Kaltenbach for the Hochzillertal field, positioned south down the valley. The facilities reached a new high with heated seats! and the plastic bubble wind protectors! With fantastic cafe/restaurants dotted all over the mountains, a beer or three for the boys and a mulled wine for me went down quite well on a daily basis. The apple strudel and Hot chocolates hit the spot too.

After a full days skiing, a stream or sauna, quick dip in the pool, a bite of dinner and we still managed a few nights playing cards in a cute Austrian decorated dining room. The simple things in life, aye?! Europe's skiing is second to none.