Mayrhofen is at about 600m up, that’s not so high up .. mind in my young days it was an altitude more than high enough for winters to be quite fervent and snow thick and bountiful – but that was less recently than i might like – meanwhile i was given some mightily Orange skis. They weren’t the immediate offering from the racks but the shop guy was most pleasant, relaxed and obliging, so after asking whether the previous ones might be a little longer and whether the ones after that were among the firmest of types, they were apparently not and so the orange ones turned up. Blizzard skis, not had those before, no particular impression or rational for opinion, so that will probably do, very bright orange.
There is only one lift up to the main ski area from Mayrhofen, we’d been advised on the coach transfer that this could be a problem, similarly it had also been mentioned to me in passing before the holiday So despite evidence that limited credence ought best be applied to any advise emitted from this particular source, i was expecting the utterances of the Rep may well (on this particular matter) prove to be valid.
Milton Pollo (IT/Database manager) called us up, he’d collected my ski pass which was handy, i’d asked him to do this last night and handed over my receipt but since started to wonder how solid this was as an idea, the others had all stayed out while we’d left the smoke behind and the notion that they laid dormant and my ski pass receipt with them, was one that had occurred to me. A concern that had then proven unfounded, so with both of us having had our skis selected and binding adjusted we headed back out and further up the main road to the Penkenbahn. There was Milton with my pass, gratefully received however Charlie & Harry/Daud man of many names, but among this collective commonly known as ‘Fruity’ – where gone… ascended up the bright yellow cabins to the better place, the place hopefully with the snow. There was after all, no queue to speak of.
Another of our number arrived from the hire shop, Dr Cirrus having issues with putting his boots on and collecting his ski pass.. I didn’t have my boots on, i had not attempted to reapply the footwear, after all i’d gotten this far with the normal shoes and felt no immediate hurry, there was a Gondola and Gondola time for all that.. Damon & I headed headed up and waited for the Cirrus and Milton up top, it was a nicer place to wait and had a none logic based way of appeasing my itchy feet inclinations.
It was a standing space, big old Gondola & not been selected as the time and place for boots that was left for the top station and some metal grate steps. The timing all worked out pretty well with the others arriving at the top around the time the boot procedures reached their conclusion for Damon and myself while Charlie & Daud appeared from somewhere, presumably having been further up and down a piste once already… There was snow – that had been the hope that the rain in the town had been snow up here and so it appeared it had been.
The sky continued to hang down upon us, visibility was limited but not a white out, Damon stayed with the ski school while the rest of us continued on, the white from the ground merged in the distance with the greyish white in the mi-d-istance while underfoot the conditions swiftly oscillated between ice and powdered lumpiness. The pistes themselves seemed moderately undemanding but the changing conditions appearing underfoot without the visuals to offer much in the way of advances warning, this added a little something.
Personally my skiing wasn’t good, last year i’d been considered that a lack of fitness might show itself, it hadn’t really, today it seemed in evidence along with an uncustomary timidity for which i had little in the way of an explanation.
As we headed round the back we found ourselves caught in a bit of a loop, it seemed clear their ought to be more, further pistes but we kept ending up at one of two places and lifts that were becoming rather familiar, the visibility issues they don’t help with matters navigational.
Having completed a number of loops and concluded there was nothing more to see here, we headed back up to the top of the cable car that connected the two valleys, it was the route back.
We had not made it so far down the hill when the others came to a stop, a chap and a child were strewn upon the snow, they were headed upward it transpired, a father trying to get back to the top of the cable car, for his son was not able to ski down. They didn’t speak English so much but then on attempting German it transpired they definitely felt better about the English so we stuck with that.. I think we established they were polish and they wanted a phone to call the assistance/rescue people, we had phones, we didn’t have a number for the mountain people (not a good plan but one i realise now that i repeat quite predictably) nor did the Father man or his son who was already looking a might fatigued and disinclined toward the progressing further. Technically it wasn’t far to the top, but ski boots, snow and smallish people legs would make it a more extensive effort than an immediate visual check would suggest.
I had sympathy, memories from many many years ago when i ended up in snow bound holes, pronounced divots and places that i needed to extract myself from my heading back up the way, such things were not fun now, they were much much, so much more than that back then.
We suggested then that we’d help them down the mountain, it was a much further route but it seemed he could be skied down someway or t’other, the nature of things would certainly be more on everyone’s side when going in the down the hill direction.
Put the kids skis back on him, had a discussion about how best to go about this, i wanted him behind everyone else seems to be of the consensus front was better. It wasn’t, i bowed to popular consensus and paid the price, he couldn’t ski, hell he couldn’t really stand, the boy who it transpired was called Karol was like a rag doll a heavy old rag doll whose legs and skis simply hung beneath him going in whatever direction they saw fit and they rarely saw fit to do so in an orderly manner.
After not too long i altered plans, seeking a better way and in the slow motion turns chose instead to pick the wee fella up turn and then try to place him back down again. The gradient was that of a red, not steep but not exactly flat and for my part i am neither the biggest, strongest or even by my own standards fittest of people, it worked for a bit but not for nearly as long as was hoped, before my hip and back seemed to catch a nerve or two and cramp up.
Daud headed down, all this hanging around was always going to be too much… this time with legitimate rational, he was off to find out whether there was someone at the bottom of the run who could send help up.
Charlie took over but a few turns later was taken down into a joint but moderate tumble, Karol really was quite the dead weight and in the corners his weight just wanted to head down the way, that wasn’t going to work. Any number of variant were tried until we settled on the most rudimentary of approaches, led by Cirrus who slid Karol down in his boots instructing him to hold onto him as he used his skies to slide down the hill. This worked better though Karol wouldn’t hold on properly, maintaining his rag doll approach to events. We were bunched around to shield the decent from other faster moving entities on the piste (everyone) which was not enough to prevent a snowboarder from using a jump to break through our ranks.
In no way are all snow boarders dicks but on the piste the inverse seems almost invariably true, all dicks are snow boarders.
Daud phoned up, he’d been told they couldn’t send anyone to help, with no one injured and with the pistes so busy they’d suggested there was nothing they could do.
Eventually once various joints had recovered from earlier efforts and the piste had leveled out some, the skis were put back on, not so easy for a person seemingly without much apparent control over his legs and feet. This time my way, i would go in front and use my weight and legs to control the speed of things and not my tyrannosaur arms. Still the skis slid about directionless behind me, appearing in any number of unhelpful locations but it worked better and kept with it until the gradient picked back up again. Having learnt our lessons from last time the skis were removed and a return to the boot based decent was instigated. Karol was getting used to things by now and seemed to be enjoying proceedings, now taking to rolling sideways down the hill. Skis off, skis on, skis off … and eventually we were almost down, when other members of there group turned up to help their friends, we were free to leave.
At the bottom of the run was a restaurant, we’d been getting down that run for quite some time, Daud was already there and so we joined him for a spot of lunch.
Sausage and chips, mustard and mayonnaise – went down nicely – the chips not holding onto their warmth so well as we sat outside.
Some time later, having bumped into the familiar face of the polish contingent, the father and one of his friends/family turned up with five bottles of becks which they handed around to us, a very nice gesture. I tried to drink this kindly donated gift, never been able to train and educate myself in the art of beer appreciation but this time i made it half way through the bottle.