Soll – SkiWelt: Town
Soll – SkiWelt: Ski Area
Soll – SkiWelt: Night Skiing
Soll – SkiWelt: Nights Stuff
My boots had a very itchy way about them, slipping off their designated resting point on my shoulder in a most repeated fashion, where they were put they simply would not remain. Having dumped it all off i headed back to the hotel Birkenhof.
It wasn’t the finest preparation and cleanliness, gathering up some fresh clothing i headed into the toilets by reception, i had a sink for water and old used clothing to dry myself down with, something of the sparrow having a dust bath about this effort at cleaning up.
I’d become familiar with such limited efforts during my two cycling breaks, first during my trip away with Oscar (https://journaloftrips.wordpress.com/the-holiday-chapter-1-setting-off/arrival-day/) and then ever more so during my time cycling around in Europe as i took a mini career break. It may have made me a little to accepting of limited levels of clean and being somewhat minging in a public forum.
There was no sign of Damon and well over an hour of time to fill in, i sat myself in one of the breakfast rooms with a mind to backup and sort through some holiday photos and videos. I had only gotten a few moments into this when an alternative thought occurred to me, food.. Between here and home there was only the limited options of Innsbruck airport and quite a number of hours, making dinner a distant and uncertain concept, so food, there should be about time if i was to get up and go now. More than this the nearest and most opportune restaurant was the one we’d visited on the first night, the one that had arguably been the best of the weeks restaurants…I packed everything back away and headed out.
Yesterday i’d thought about ordering Kaiser Spaetzle, both during the day and as i studied the menu.. Opting eventually against and there was rational for this dating back to a night out in Isghl many years ago, I’d never been one for believing that cheese at night could or would amount to nightmares during sleep but that was one thick cheesy affair and went on to find myself tormented by the sight of mettle spiders busying themselves throughout one point of what was roundly a poor nights sleep. Plus as the years past one cant necessarily consume ones own weight in cheese or even pursue the lofty challenge of doing so.
But a thought once had such as this turned out to be a thought only delayed and with no particular care required for the Sunday, it was a thought that had found its moment.
There had also been no orange Fanta on this trip, all that time spent on Jägertee and cider, Fanta Orange that was the original ski drink of choice, St Anton back in the 90s and actually i really rather preferred it. Okay not all the time, not every day but the need to drink alcoholic beverages is really quite unnecessary and no less tedious than anything else done with rigorous repetition.
This was a not such a Kaiser Spartzle, it was relatively light by the standard of such things and came with a salad, that had a most suitably strong Italian style vinegar sauce which worked as a most suitable counterpart to the cheese rich main course. Though I’d been slightly concerned about time there had been no need, it was all cleared down and gone in very good time, to allow me to pay and meander my way once more back, those none too many steps, to the hotel. There was even time for a little checking and backing up of photos on my return.
Damon turned up in good time for us to head outside and await our coach, a coach which surprised up when it didn’t stop off to pick up the others. We caught up with them at the airport after we had already managed to deposit our baggage, their coach had been accompanied by the same crystal rep who had impressed us so a week ago on our inbound journey and had told them that the flight was expected to be quite delayed. Something that the airport seemed to be unaware off, given the departure screens and the pilot had also gone unapprised off as it later transpired the flight was actually expected to head off early. Milton gave this some thought and came up with a theory predicated largely on the observed genius of this Crystal ski chappy and secondarily on a little bit of mathematics.. he deduced that if one was to not fully appreciate the grand complexities of the 24 hour clock then one could come up with precisely the delayed departure time that crystal man marvel had advised.
I was looking for a place to store my passport and paperwork and only realised half way into the drop deposit that this plastic sleeve did not represent a solid choice being far too deep, narrow and solid to allow subsequently for something of passport size to be successfully retrieved. This could be a real problem, i had one last finger clamped against the corner of the passport as i realised this, brilliant contemplating there with the plan, and tried to edge it back up the way without loosing that critical clamping traction which prevented its decent to the problematic narrow depth.
Ultimately by using the spare of my hands to empty out all the other contents, magazines, safety card, vomit capture paper bag (which never quite seems like the ideal material for something a little bit liquidity in the majority of instances & arguably thankfully so) i was able to free up sufficient space to get a better hold and finally drag it back out. Still on this occasion at least the lesson went learnt, not forgotten within some absentminded couple of moments, so that was something..
Rating the Zillertal ski areas:
Lots of space, good and cold providing a higher quality of snow – but very few pistes, little more than enough for a half day or one day with quite a bit of repetition.
Mayrhofen Penkenbahn Side:
It has lots of little areas to explore and a variety of pistes. Like most of the areas it suffered from over congestion of pistes, it also has a limited sense of travel about it with a lack of taxing runs.
Mayrhofen Ahorn Side:
Again – very few pistes, little more than enough for a half day or one day with quite a bit of repetition – smaller than Hinterux and without the quality of snow.. An additional sort of distraction but little to offer in its own right other than the very long good run from top to bottom.
Zell Am Ziller:
The best area in the Zillertal – a real sense of travel and variety in the skiing stakes, it also has two lifts from the valley which limits the queues and efficiently moves people up the mountain. It doesn’t have much in the way of challenging pistes but its reliably fun.
A place with night skiing and like Mayrhofen around enough KMs and runs to fill two days of skiing without too much repetition.
The closed piste not taken:
Holiday Related Information:
A response was not long in coming,my advise to think twice before heading over had come too late, they were already over this side and by the nature of the day hadn’t gone far, they were headed down and we’d meet up by the station.
They told me about the Ahorn area, how easy it was to find the Cablecar and how close it was to the Penkenbahn sitting just behind the familiar brückenstadl bar. There was along run open all the way down into Mayrhofen, a black that went from the top to the bottom which sounded already a whole lot better than sticking where i was. A run being open back down into the every greener Mayrhofen must have been taking some nursemaid, I’d seen something run like over there, from across the valley while heading up in the morning. With the others recommending it as worth the visit, my own inclinations and the lack of a way to spend the time, other than some peaceful mountain sitting, over here, i headed off, back down to Mayrhofen.
As i wondered from the valley station a ski bus arrived with the word Ahorn across the top where the destination name was customarily found. Perhaps its wasn’t the longest walk but none the less this seemed rather better and pleasantly convenient.
This was a full sized cable car and it was leaving just as i’d arrived, as untimely in its departure as the bus had been timely in its arrival. Thirty minutes until the next one, the lift attendant told me, there was a bench over to the side, as the first to get here in time to watch the cable cars departure there was space upon it, i sat myself down and thought about time, likely arrivals, probable descent durations, estimated arrival times, impact on previous ski depositing intentions.. quite why is unclear, there were not the facts available upon which to base such contemplations but then there was the time to indulge in them, so swings and round abouts.
It was nicer up on the Ahorn, the skiing was limited to one side of a single mountain, so somewhat limited but no more so than the piste map would make abundantly clear to all who study it. The cable car ended at the top, no further lifts were required so skiing could immediately recommence.. I took the most interesting looking route down, it was not it swiftly transpired the right way down, coming to a dead end at the base of a drag lift.
After the rains of last night the weather had become all together too warm in the day, it was not that other ski resorts do not suffer so much from the sun, however the lack of altitude, the rain and now the warm, it didn’t bode well for those due to arrive today for the next weeks skiing, unless something changed starkly and shortly.
I headed down, about half way back to Mayrhofen and it was going no easier than it had earlier, no second wind had come as the day had gone on. There remained time to head back up again, from here two chair lifts would see me returned to the very top, so that it what i now did.. Once more up, once more down and that will be it for the Mayrhofen 2015 ski holiday.
Once back at the top i went to the loo, there was one conveniently placed at the summit and allowed me to focus solely on the last run. Always a disappointing time, still on other holidays i had always thought upon another day, here i had for the first time had that extra time and in fairness my physical condition had limited my enjoyment of it. The lesson being either that i need to get into better shape, a lesson i had no need to learn only a need to do something about it or alternatively that six days will do… at the time i may have seen it as both, retrospectively i’m inclined to reconsider, seeing the lesson belongs more to the former.
The run down was notable for two things, the number of breaks i was taking and the number of times i was overtaken by the same whippet intent on underlining not only how i struggled today but how far i had to go in terms of skiing ability even on far better days. This was of course not there intention, a perfect stranger intent only in skiing their way down who’s only thought were they to have one might have been on quite what this familiar obstruction was attempting to achieve here today. The skushed down the run with the types of long sweeping super giant style approach that i would like to call my own, not all that unnecessary swishing about and making an unnecessarily fanciful deal of things, it was quick, controlled and worse than neat very very neat.. worse still they were only a smidge, a small person, a semi-smurf, whats a person meant to do with that.
After countless moments of taking pause, catching breath and trying to go again, i eventually arrived at the bottom. To be clear its a good run, not overly taxing or rather it had no right to be taxing yet it had proven so and its run, you get some good amount of skiing out of it. Though it was shown as a black it wasn’t really and looking at older piste maps on the internet its clear that it used to be a red all the way down.
The only but significant downside being that, to tackle it one must be prepared to wait on the cable car, the only route back up and with that meaning a potential 30minute wait, you have to be dedicated to the cause or like me not thinking of skiing on from there.
My skis came off. As i sat on a semi step even my boots were dislodged and standard shoes went on.. Time for comfort and as a sort of weird plus one of the first times i was almost happy to see the back of skiing… only i wasn’t but i was… or to put it another way body happy along with the part of the brain that looks after such things while the rest just wished id been better placed to enjoy this last day.
I strapped up my boots and placed them over my shoulder along with the skis and headed off toward the hire shop were i would deposit them. The thing about this point, its regularly a little embarrassing and here with these bright orange things they’d given me, the oddly considerable gashes that had somehow sliced away on sections of the skis (top side) were that bit more obvious. This is customary for me, i know not how, I’d barely fallen all week and where i had they’d been moderate neat little sideways slips, no drama had occurred, no off pisteing had been attempted and yet once again there was the damage. Embarrassing it would be again, also it offered support for one of my ongoing rationals for not buying my own pair of skis.
I’d woken up to find my gathering nasal issue had found a new height, with an overnight crusting that would be that much more explicable if i were in full cold mode. It had all but sealed shut, other than that it was an unremarkable morning.
Good information, important note taking.
Those who were going to ski on the last day (our coach was leaving at around 3 or 4) were going up to AHORN, we hadn’t been on that side yet. I opted to go up to the main Penkenbahn, you can loose quite a bit of time to the valley and up bit, the town being at a limited sort of altitude leaving the lifts with more to do in order to get us skiers up to the ski areas. I wanted to do as much of the area as possible once more including that one available black run.
I got up there quite early, there was no queues, then again up top only one lift seemed to be open and though i looked at it i dared not ski down the other side into the next valley, for all i was able to tell, there wasn’t anything much open and holes best not sunken into, least not deliberately. I skied back down to the top of the Penkenbahn, in order to more studiously study the piste map, it did not go well. This was a very simple red, not really a red at all, but it had been rained on last night, we’d been told it had rained up to around 2000meters and judging by the unpleasant state of the snow , sticky under foot, these anecdotal reports had not been wrong. In conjunction, every effort was being rigorously objected too by my legs, which continued their determined objection the overtime, the same overtime that other parts of my person had been quite please about but then i guess those parts weren’t the ones having to put in the effort here.
Red eleven, red one, red eleven .. it was not long before such limitation became quite tedious, the idea was that the area was closed due to winds but as yet there had been little to no sign of any winds. It was actually quite a nice day weather wise.
After a time some other lifts appeared to open up, there had been false dawns earlier with chairs starting to spin up and into life but to no avail. Skiing down the other side of the mountain was a more enjoyable experience, it was the shadowy side, where the snow was frozen up and it remained icy and hard, i hadn’t gotten any more spritely but on this surface thing were made quite a bit easier.
Up and round and down, ending up in another part of Mayrhofen that somehow had gone unskied up to now, it was on the sunny side a decent and long run that headed in the direction of Finkenberg. The breaks were becoming more regular as i continued to look forward to the part where i got to sit on a lift. Not the customary way of things. Perhaps i was coming down with a cold, there were elements of that about my disposition, it was possible.
By the time i’d headed back, a very short period of time later the lift back up to Mayrhofen was closed again – the Knorren lift – leaving open only one lift out of the hole, the Nordhangbahn, the lift used to get to Finkenberg side earlier now the only option and it had developed a queue worthy of its new found status.
Though i was back up top, eventually, it wasn’t the the intended top and piste maps around here were possibly not the very best but then nor, quite probably, was my attention span.. It looked like there might be a route back, one which would avoid having to head all the way down to Finkenberg and find where that town kept its ski bus stops, a run worth trying to find. I didn’t care much for loitering over here, the snow was sloppy on the sun side and the only way back from the shadowy side was that one lift with its oh so mighty queue. Besides i had a specific time to be getting back for, a coach that i had little option but to be around to catch and though its departure was still many hours from now, at the rate and apparent randomness with which lifts were opening and shutting there seemed an inopportune level of unpredictability about where i might Wind-Up when the music stopped. I rather preferred to find myself with a seat at that time and for that seat to be in the vicinity of and closely connected to Mayrhofen, it was the most relaxed take on things but heading back seemed a pragmatic precaution to such events.
Fortuitously it worked out, i was quite pleased to see myself back among familiar surrounds but for all that and having headed up once more, i didn’t really feel the need to ski those familiar morning reds so many times more.
So instead i sat. I found a spot down by the bar which lay alongside the top station, the sun was out, the sky was blue and my enthusiasm for skiing was much dampened by the feeble efforts key parts of my person had shown themselves fit to be making, the condition of the snow and the limitation of the available pistes. So instead I sat. I thought about how it was Saturday and what a fine way, even sitting here among the snow and blue skies on a mountain side, this was to spend a Saturday in the late morning, a far better way than i would likely be spending one for some time.. How infinity preferable it, even more surely, would prove to the coming Monday, though still as i told myself these things and sat back to relax still i was niggled by the need to spend the time in some more productively, than to loiter quite so fecklessly and lazily without intent.
I texted my colleagues to see where their day had taken them so far and to suggest to them that were they not here then they should think twice before coming over. Despite the limited size of the Ahorn area it might well represent more opportunity to ski than would now surely prove to be the case over here.
Apropos Bar – First Night: Too Smokey.. That was the major negative, very traditional and not too tourist pub.
Good for just hanging out, having a quiet but social sort thing going on. Has the darker grungier thing in its corner.
Scotland Yard – Couple of visits: Also smokey but a little less that Apropos Bar, due to having smoking and none smoking sections. It doesn’t have anything really going for it or anything against it, inoffensive, easy to get served most of the time and serving both food and cider, as well as the standard bar fair. Good for larger groups looking to relax.
ICE BAR – Shuts earlier. Its really the post skiing bar, in Mayrhofen. Loud, full and really only any good if you want beer. It is what it is, not a place for having conversations or chilling but if you have energy after a days skiing and dont have claustrophobic issues then … its the obvious choice
Brückenstadl – Seating, music, space & open until late. Probably best as a place to finish up in, everyone seemed to be having an enjoyable time, the music selection was at best variable but its hard to pick too many faults with it.. perhaps a little large and industrial with no live music, causing it to be at risk of becoming a little repetitious.. but this is stretching matters a bit
On the last night on making it back to Mayrhofen from night skiing we went to the Neue Post, it had been recommended and generally came with the reputation of being a better establishment.
The food variety was decent and the standard was probably moderately above the average, perhaps.. but the service was unfriendly, notably so, to the point of being almost being just a little bit more than bizarre.
It was not an eventful evening after that.
Neue Post – [1.5/5]
Manni’s – Visited Twice . Decent for Pizza’s and more traditional options – [3/5]
Cafe Tirol – Smart, moderately average kitchen – [2/5]
Grill kuchl – Friendly Small, not largest portion sizes – [2.5/5]
Landhaus- Carla -Restaurant Tiroler Stuben – Probably the highest standard of food during the week, pleasant environment & the best place to go – [3.5/5]
I was keeping an eye out for the others, thinking that given the barrel which was the limited range of available pistes that a crossing of paths mights occur… At one point i did see them from a lift, least i think i did, familiar looking jackets, but at i headed back down it became clear that if it was them, they had been heading back toward bars and restaurants and not headed where i was. Even the interesting little black I’d accidentally stumbled upon went from being open and reasonably engaging, to being closed and no right turns, over the course of what was really remarkably very little time. I couldn’t fathom the rational but there was no denying the notable barriers that had been erected in my intended path. They were in a bar, the others, that that was the update i received after the remainder of the lifts made their last run up the mountain. Regathered we made our way down, the last run of the day was the run back to town and although there was an intention to stop of in any bars on the way down that didn’t quite work out. The top of the run actually has a closing time along with a red and green traffic light to denote when your meant to go on through.. We only just made it to the top in time for that but thereafter the speed of the decent presented problems, it was quite rutted and this caused issues for the back markers. It was this speed of decent issue that ultimately put pay to notions of stopping off.
Once down and having located Damon, the last to arrive over here who was waiting by the valley station, we went over to the kiosk to buy our evening passes. They were old school, pieces of paper completed with the highly skinny elasticated threads that were once common place. Damon was concerned by the piste, its a red run and he’d been on the blues for his lessons. The piste was not in a good way, especially toward the end, very rutted in places, so while eager to encourage his participation and not see anyone head back to Mayrhofen, the questions deserved forthright responses. Daud, whose approach to such matters is less than forthright but more considered, opted then to head over and ask the people behind the counter about the piste basher and whether it would be doing customary flattening of the pistes pre-night skiing. A much more sound idea, which faltered only upon a language barrier, i rummiged around for my German and managed to ascertain that they would indeed be doing the flattening. So with everyone now in i separated off.
It had become clear that earlier intentions to eat at this time were no longer current, so i headed off on a solo mission having half suspected, half hoped, that one of the hut shaped lights in the distance was a Schnitzel burger stand of sorts… The hunger had come, oh yes it had and any further skiing might perhaps be aided by stomach aids. There were multiple bars but most of them had emptied out by the time i headed back to meet up with the others. The bar they were in was similarly emptying out from a not entirely banging starting point. So a migration occurred, a larger bar with big external TV screen flashing out called them hope.
I can’t with any level of accuracy state that any or all of the above were playing during our time in this bar but it was our last night of Apres-Ski and so if the soundtrack of this holiday is ever to be duly noted it seemed like this might be that point.. though they are not THE SKI songs … that remains with the only one true king of the ski tunes
The time spent night skiing was limited, the train did not run so very late and after that it was taxis, not everyone was in favor of this and so it was for the train we would head. Oddly though despite the lack of things going on or probably the lack of energy with which to do them and the extensive amount of time we had to burn, we ended up leaving hurriedly to head back over to the now reopened lift.
By the time we’d gotten back up to the half way station, the top of the night skiing some things had taken hold, one of these was rain, a developing more than drizzle that just never belongs in a ski resort let alone at the top of a run, there is something very not right about that.
The other thing that had happened is a total departure of the legs, this became evident not so very long after as i attempted to ski down. At this point i found my legs had a far stronger memory than I, clearly remembering that all ski holidays were 6 days long ans this was overtime, or as they saw it retirement time though they didn’t seem in full agreement on where they wanted to be going with that time.
By the time Charlie and I were back down i was soaked, thankfully wearing waterproofs it was only the outer layer but it pulled of a far shinier look than normal, it was kinda really grim out, not the level of grim that would be anything remarkable or even noteworthy back in the UK but it didn’t belong here. A few decades ago, winter holidays back in Switzerland at still lower altitudes, so very snow abundant was it that my family would regularly build me a little igloo/snow house in the garden. A place to which i was a little irrationally drawn to dwell for cold defying periods of time, while the car needed quite the effort to be dug out. Its really not so long ago in any scheme of things that isn’t viewed from the perspective of the may fly.
The way down had not been as flat as talk of piste bashers would suggest, certain sections had barley been dusted down at all with the basher seemingly edging up most narrow along one of the sides, leaving the rest largely as it had been earlier. Wherever the others were, our second run began with us setting off in pursuit, we found them on route, Damon was taking it slow, studiously but somewhat stiffly heading down.
We stopped off on route, a place we had intended to pause at earlier as part of the skiing down crawl that wasn’t, time had not allowed for it then especially once Damon had arrived, it wouldn’t have done to stop off while other waited at the bottom for our fashionably late entrance. It was a small, octagonal or round, the bar stood at its center. From within we watched the rain descend and heard from the bar staff about how such troubles had been ever more in evidence in recent years. To a tired mind and person who had perhaps come to the point of over familiarity with the generally welcome JaegerTee, this was all a little depressing stuff… by now the missing of the last train had been insured. Besides Damon was of a mind to give it a second go, having made it down the once his personal objective of completing a red this week was behind him. Now he was of a mind to see he couldnt maybe do it again, take what he’d done, what should now be more familiar and do it better. A sort of admiral obstenance applied to a clear ends, there’s something to be said for that, certainly when its set to solid ends.
Once more back up and round… Once more into the piste side bar.. On leaving the bad, Milton pointed out the visible grass as we left, grass or rather turf that smeared out where snow had been not long past, when we’d headed in. Then down.
There was time for more, the skiing was open until after 9pm but among the group as a whole not the mind for it, dinner was probably coming back into mind. We found a taxi, they loitered most eagerly around the bars and the valley gondola station and headed back, big old people carriers, though surprisingly the price went up as the driver realised there was more of us, enough to all but fill the vehicle.. seemed odd to have some sort of unit price situation going on for a single journey but the difference was small and our options none existent.
We’d been up and down over in Hochfuegen any number of times, there are a few runs over there but no more and there number had been reduced by the closure of further lifts, the chairlift we’d been on this morning was now also closed, only the far side of the valley remained open. It seemed a little unnecessary, the weather was far from sever where we were, mind it hadn’t been great up there earlier when we’d come across … so perhaps that didn’t mean so much. In any case it was past midday and there was no sign of things changing.
It was time for the unfortunate decision that i had been spending the morning trying to avoid, we would have to be bus bound and make our way gradually back in a manner not befitting of a ski holiday.
When we found our ride, it conveniently left almost immediately and was far plusher than might be expected, it was too plush for people who were trudging about with ski sticks and boots… i felt a bit like i do when visiting my Aunts pristine flat, the place where nothing it out of place and no dust has ever dared to dwell, like an interloping marauder in land where my merest movement by bring unknown chaos upon it. Something akin to an European frigate, arriving rat laden, at a newly discovered (European perspective wise) and unsuspecting pacific paradise.
It was not as quick or as short as all that, the journey but did eventually end up with us back at a train station and further down the valley than i’d had in mind. Optimistic thinking and its perspective altering ways.
By the time we had re-arrived at Kaltenbach and were headed back up the mornings Gondola, news was that the others were settling back into restaurant life. Its really a wonder that some of them had any encounters with what remained of the snow at all, i passed through gathering up a snickers and visiting the loos, it was about that time.
As i headed off for a spot of skiing and the other dined, i found that over here to some of the lifts were shut .. still they all ran largely in parallel and while one was shut its neighbour was handily operational. After all that coach, train and gondola mobiles of elapsed time my legs revealed themselves to be quite seized up, skiing ability was all of sudden unfortunately back to the earlier parts of the week.
Still i recovered that somewhat as i headed up and down the gradually overly familiar pistes, the choice having been limited to a few runs down one side of the mountain. At the top is grew gradually greyer and more windy.
There is something about a last days skiing that ought to have been reduced down to a second last days skiing or something akin on this holiday, after all we had another half day lined up, a pre-departure last half day.. But there it remained the something about a last days skiing, even when it wasn’t.
Daud was staying in Mayrhofen and would join the rest of us in Kalenbach later in the afternoon. We had a quite deliberate reason for skiing in Kaltenbach today, a Friday. Friday was night skiing day in Kaltenbach, as far as we understood things the only resort to offer night skiing in the valley.
We walked to the Gondola station, headed up. There was even talk of fine weather from some as sun cream was dug out and applied. The night skiing was on this side of the valley, on the home run that followed the Gondola down. With that in mind the preference was to head up and over to the other valley earlier, home of the best black run we’d encountered so far, so that we could then return back over here in time for the afternoon, the arrival of others and then, some fair bit later, night skiing.
It was not warm at the top, there was no sign of any need for sun cream, the wind was going and it was throwing shards of ice and snow at our faces. This was not quite matters as they had been expected, we tried to study the piste map as the cold whipped about us, twas not a comfortable time, it appeared to be suggesting that the black run was shut. Uncertainty descended, as going the intended direction became more questionable and meant contradicting the wind with its super abundance of mini missiles which it was happily whipping up and launching about the place. Charlie skied down a little, not far but far enough to require walking back up the way and any sort of walking up the way was always viewed most dimly, especially while wearing sliding down the hill planks, which tend to be notably less of an aid for walking back up it. He was looking back up at us as we stood, less warm than once we had been and might choose to be again, with a shrug that may or may not have happened we took of our breaks and set to follow suit.
The shards needled my face, more of them, more momentum, thwacking in micro comments attempting to pull of extinction events for any and micro orangism that might be attempting to eek out an existence upon my person, i know not if they are there, if they ought to be there and i care not too know about such matters… i know about the beasties that live in the beds and sleeping places of man and i have to say such knowledge benefits me in few to ways that i can think of and has been placed firmly in the drawer marked things not to ponder upon overly, with a possible additional sub-headed, cant do much about it and well just a little bit minging. Besides biology and related matters was never an area or interest or strength in the before times when learning was more freely attempted or for that matter imposed.
Either way the grey, the wind, the cold cold wind and it shards – very nice and very much flying in the contrary direction to the one we were attempting to travel. We didnt have far to travel to where the black run split away to the left, a 90 degree turn of the side of this initial gentle slope, as we got there the wind was already slightly less than it had been moments before, at the top. There was a closed sign and the customary netting but both had been placed to the side of the piste, the sign stood to the side and the netting was rolled and bundled up, leaving the pistes entrance open and utterly unimpeded. This was confusing, a most unclosed sort of look for a piste to be wearing so with a pause and a looking about ourselves in moderate reticence and uncertainty we headed down. It wasn’t the day for loitering, best to opt in or out and go with it, so down the black we went. Turning sideways to the mountain the wind and its missiles were hugely diminished, the sky and world remained grey and quiet but things were much comfier, eyes could be kept open at all times, hands and arms were no longer required to be held aloft to grant the shelter to the face and the piste was actually in a condition far easier to ski than it had been those few days ago. Flatter and generally more uniform under foot, though with more occasional balding or rather notably thinning patches, where white was no longer the resounding colour it was leading with.
After skiing about, only a couple of runs worth we headed to the Gondola base station, it was closed, it had a sign suggesting the bus and train as the alternative route back over to the other side..the side from where we’d come. For us it wasnt time to head back yet at any rate, there was the other Gondola, the one to the furthest point rather than back the way. Arriving at the top I took the opportunity to locate one of the attendance, for the purpose of querying the status of the missing link lift, he wasn’t certain on this topic though that was primary a matter of the weather, it depended on the weather, the wind, if it desisted the lift would probably re-open, it was more information than we had before while changing pretty much nothing.
We paused in the restaurant at the top of the lift. It took a while but i suddenly noticed they had WIFI, the first real connection with a world beyond our holiday. eMails, replies to some messages id sent for Christmas and New Year… broad spectrum seasonal spamming to the once familiar and past work colleagues, not friends or even frequent familiars such as those here with me. Little else.. I was already aware of the real events of the week, Charlie Hebdo, Daud was never long disconnected and had made us loosely aware of that news, though probably not yet in any detail. The world is full of so many unnecessary evils that we do unto each other, oddly it often one unworthy degrading and monstrous act that will be used as the rational for another. Its astonishing at times how we rush to solace and safety in the darkness to escape the dark and how difficult civilisation if not individuals find it to hold true to it wiser and better judgements. An endless battle against the degrading gravity of our more base, cheap and small instincts, its always there it seems, waiting to take every stronger hold whenever troubles set in, whenever the better intentions would be most tested and of most value they loose their footing, gravity wins and down the snake we go. That’s not exactly the optimism of the moment, these are the reflections of after about a topic barley considered back then.
On that day i was on a mountain with low hanging clouds in the company of people who, like myself might struggle to do world improving things but no more than that, things were quiet, relaxed and i had an email from a most amusing and interesting person to digest, a person I’d actually only met the once and briefly. Supplier & work meetings, some time ago – not customarily the place for encountering people at their most interesting or multifaceted, the real life equivalent to the social media of linkedin status updates.
Despite a familiar enthusiasm for heading to one of the bars, from those familiar quarters, as we loitered at the Zell Am Ziller Valley lift station, the desire for alcohol from which this customarily sprouted was notably absent. Re-hydrating soft drinks for some.
At a given point on the road into town there was a smell, a reliable presence that varied only in strength and depth. It came drifting out from here, a brick barn with a couple of windows that were generally open, within there were cows within. Having cleaned up i headed back out, to meet up once again with the others in the quiet foyer of the hotel opposite their own..
They had a bar, the hotel opposite, it was anything but the center of all the lively things but it was a handy, quiet and easy. Damon wasn’t with us yet and it was he who so far had demonstrated the most specific thoughts on matters relating to dinner. Charlie had an intention, he wanted us to just head back to the now reasonably familiar Scotland Yard Pub, only this time he wanted to eat there, unfussed and indeed seeking the relaxed informality of whatever options they might have. Damon would never concur with such a plan, with a strong mind to eat well and each customarily local style food so the collective were of a mind not to tell him, to simply go there and at some point set about ordering food. I objected, not caring where we ate but simply finding this exercise in disingenuous maneuvering that seemed unnecessary, craven and unbefitting. While they were right, Damon would never agree to the idea and i myself had previously argued no one person had the right to dictate terms to the group, the approach made me quite uncomfortable and the reward seemed very far from being able to offer legitimacy to the approach. I was clearly in the minority and having stated my objection for a couple of rounds, that was that, Damon arrived and the group set of, quiet on the intentions even as queried.
The bar it was pointed out, i forget by whom appeared to operate a familiar policy (be it a policy not customary in the traditional smokey dive bar upon which this seemed largely modeled) of rotating service personnel, clearing away drinks while politely eager to query whether any replenishment were required. A recruitment policy which was being suggested had a view to retaining and making best use of the male patrons. The collective then, though aware of the tactic, were clearly either willing or at least unperturbed subjects of it, remaining contently seated. Charlie was clearly feeling the alcohol, evident since before we’d even arrived, i know not how or from where this occurred but the volume on a customarily quieter group member was up. This is the more inebriated face of Charlie, its no worse than many but as with many, not so endearing, arguing loudly and poorly the case for the EU and the Euro with Damon who took quite a different view. It was a shame because it would actually have made for one of the more interesting and few proper conversation had it not been quite so loitered with political strap lines, broad but basically empty sentiment and what seemed to be anything but a conversation. Indeed both seemed quite inclined to ignore the statements of the other and to use their questioning of positions as anything but questions, rather they were statements in question form with no interest in the actual response. Damon was the quieter less vigorous party, while Charlie’s inability to muster a coherent, well founded justification for his position, was ever the more frustrating, especially given my own strong inclination to support the broad nature of his position.. Well until he started, what i hoped was a semi joking line, espousing with enthusiasm the prospect of a future forged upon a benevolent European imperialism. Be it but a cultural form that was meant and offered quite possibly in boisterous jest, it was a line none the less uncomfortably apart from my own motivations and as distasteful a notion as the nationalism of small minded domestic parties..
I set myself to intercede, these were lawyers, professional arguers, in full rancor. I attempted what i hoped to be a more reasoned, less emotive and quiet approach, perhaps indeed probably wholly unsuited to the environment.
The political argument is one of preference, one of feeling, the economic argument less so, it is one of relative clarity if not stark conclusions, clear advantages and disadvantages, what is most odd about them is, in the UK at least it is the capitalist parties of the right who are most set against both. Yet both are the children of globilisaiton, free trade and free capital.. a position in favor of one ought naturally flow to a position in favour of the other… While the left might better be placed to retain consistency, were they to offer an objection to such liberalisation of borders, yet they don’t, these are the parties most open to pro-European integration policies. Its quite the oddity of politics and economics seemingly becoming quite unbound.
Besides the discussion about monetary union was being unfortunately conflated with the somewhat separate matter of political unions &/or trading regions. They maybe intertwined but the arguments for or against one is a matter mostly quite apart from an argument for or against the other. What makes it matter is that my dissertation was on the topic of the then yet to come into being EMU and reality is that no broad statement can serve to do either contention justice, the economic argument being one of detail and strongly related to the pragmatism and detail of its implementation, being neither an intrinsically good or inherently poor economic tool. On this Damon, an economics graduate, and i found common ground on the familiar notion of optimal currency areas a term long bathed within dust, forgotten in an unvisited reassess of my mind. The conversation faltered and withered, in some ways a low point in others a pleasant break from the vapid but jovially cosmetic, sketch show repetition that otherwise characterises nearly all the groups interactions.
Besides the spectre of dinner was upon us as the group set about studying and ordering their meals from one of the rotating service personnel. The prospect of dinning here met with expected level of approval from Damon’s corner of the round two adjoined round tables. Personally i dithered, neither ordering nor volunteering to join Damon in his intention to set out to forage for food elsewhere. Remaining as i did, both content with staying put and in opposition to what i knew to be the fait accompli manner by which it had been achieved. In so doing i was achieving nothing, some pizzas (the main offering available from the limited range) had already arrived as my persistence with the achieving nothing other than opting out of both camps strategy persisted… genuinely perplexed by this dichotomy and the apparent lack of an optimal solution, the undeniable glory of the abstention.
Ultimately Damon did leave to set of in search of more regionally native fair, targeting the Neue Post .. while i added my name to list of pizza consumers now sat about me. We did not remain until late, instead once we were done we headed down to the Neue Post ourselves, energy level were not at their highest with little appetite for adding further stops to the evening excursions, Daud though couldn’t quite have it Determined that the night should not end quite there, he stopped off at a very small shop on the route back and procured some bottles of refreshment, offering to be consumed back at their hotel.. Perhaps this was the least compromise he could make with himself, either way it was an agreeable end to the night for all. Damon however was not to be found and we wondered around the Neue Post in search, either he’d reconsidered and never been here after all or he’d been been and gone in a most efficient manner… Either way he wasn’t about.
For my part once at the hotel the full extent of lingering energy depletion became quite evident, i managed my somewhat sweet and not entirely naturally occurring fruits flavored beverage before slumping down in the corner. A none alcohol induced, pretty much purely naturally occurring bought of fatigue and while i was the most visually representative of this mindset i appeared to be far from alone.. This house/room party at the nights end was not long lived, the only issue to overcome was finding my feat once more and setting about the final trundle of the day, back to my hotel and designated place of resting.
The timing of things all worked out surprisingly well, especially as the lift we were on to get back wasn’t quite the lift we thought it was and it wasn’t quite going to where i thought it would do. Not that we were massively out, just enough out to render us a little uncertain, suddenly there was more than one gondola each with its own version of a top. Daud’s meeting place so clear when viewed from other angles now seemed to have options but as we reached the top of our next connection it was just in time to receive his inquiring phone call, unnecessary as we could see his bright and familiar jacket through our gondola window. Also through the window i’d glanced something more interesting and less familiar, another little race course but this one was one of those were you actually go down together and race your friends.
I forgot what that was called but remembered for the apparently hazardous mania it had brought to the winter Olympics .. transpired to be one of the most interesting parts of those games, but not all together the safest. While it wasn’t clear that this was angled all that well for the beginning of the intended route home it had shone out and called to me, i just want to go down these things, in much the same way when as a child i’d been unable to leave the mountain streams and rivers of Switzerland alone and none to professionally dammed.
There was only room for four in the line up, Charlie was not so inclined but the others indulged my fervent and clear enthusiasm. As i approached a thought occurred that i would rather not have any need to overtake or conflict for space, it wasn’t really about racing but i might have felt the need, better to get clear of any clustering earlier, let the others race. So i went for the furthest start box with the closest line , the first flag. It didn’t disappoint while the track was again overly undemanding, well it would probably all to risky on a more vigorous gradient, the efforts of the group made up for it and was available after the fact as a video download. Milton was a tidy back marker while Cirrus and Daud actively races, coming quite close at times and equally very far away at others, as Daud opted to play down the role of the flags in these proceedings and take a more direct route. It did all right by him as he ended this little bought ahead, if somewhat contestedly so.
This time we made our first few connections back and were reassured by the timings displayed on the lifts as their closing time. The temperature was dropping and in early Jan a little bit of sun disappearance goes a long way, the wind got up, on a very long char lift with an unusual L shaped kink in it. We were not warm.
Up on high above Zell am Ziller the mood for stopping took over the group once more, Cirrus seemingly having gone ahead was in this way cut off from the rest of us. A hot chocolate perhaps, there’s something very suited to ski accompanying about hot chocolate. We hadn’t quite completed our lolling about when someone came wondering over, it was hard to determine what this was about, though it sounded like a question on the first couple of times, it wasn’t a question, it was something to do with the mountain patrol people and they were offering the now not unfamiliar advisory notice about Gondolas shutting.
Time then to head down, as the ski patrol people mounted their snow-mobile and also headed off a sort of very loose herding.
I’ve never seen Milton move so fast, a veritable bullet down as the idea of the closing Gondola perturbed him no end. Daud on the other hand was struggling, what effort he had in him, having rolled himself out of his hotel, was done. The Gondola was happily running, we headed down.. In the morning i’d spotted a little app kiosk for the http://www.skiline.cc thing … there were people using it but having not seen any of my tracking info, videos or photos it seemed worth a look.
I was quite chuffed when the loiterers behind who were peering at the device and wondering when i might not be between them and their turn, commented “oh, you go far” and seemed impressed, going on to note the lack of a lunch break… they had a keen eye, these additional screen inspectors .. i didn’t indulge to much in reviewing the days, feeling my blocker status so watched a video, printed a couple of days out on something akin to uber-sized receipt roles.
In the end as it transpired this was the longest days skiing of the holiday, after all we had managed to migrate fully from one end to the other – we’d completed all that we really could, somehow in spite of or oddly due to my preparation for the day, i’d finally gotten to grips with skiing again, we’d had a comedy race which had been successfully recorded (courtesy of skiline) for posterity and been among the last to head down on the gondola, a pretty good day.