Montag, 7. April 2014

Summary of my Winter season 2013/14

My last winter season was so-so. The fourth warmest winter since measuring weather data made it quite catastrophic in parts.

Originally I planned multiple skiing trips to the Harz mountains. One of the trips should go to Sankt Andreasberg for a weekend and go skiing on the Matthias-Schmidt-Berg. A second one was ought to be my first visit to the Bocksberg at Hahnenklee as have only tested the alpine coaster there but never the slopes.

Video about my ride on the Bocksbergbob

Unfortunately there wasn't enough slopes and these two resorts could only open their blue slopes. As this would have been too boring for me I didn't go there. Instead when snow levels decreased I went for hikin gto the Brocken mountain.

My third idea was to visit the Wurmberg at Braunlage. They invested €10,000,000.- and I wanted to make a nice video about the new slopes and snow making facilities. For the first dime the resort was able to come up with a substantial amount of artificial snow and opened most slopes. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one who had the idea to step by. As I could only get some free time during the main holidays this meant a lot of waiting and little skiing on the two forenoons I was there. As follows I did not take all footage I wanted but the video came out OK.

Video about the new slopes and snow making facilities at the Wurmberg

Considering the bad winter the investment allowed a fair amount of skiing days at this resort. Unfortunately other resorts like the Sonnenberg or the Ski-Alpinum are not allowed to create artificial snow because they are located in the national park.
Overall I was very pleased with the modification's results although I could be nitpicking here and there. The Wurmberg offers a nice skiing resort for the whole family.

After I couldn't go to a high mountain region for skiing last season I visited the alps namely the Zillertal during the last week of March this time. As I could only fix my vacation days quite short-termed I booked the hotel just three days before departure. My choice was the Hotel Gasthof Post in Kaltenbach. It had a bit more trendy goods then needed and was accordingly more expensive. Because of the prerequisites sauna, half-board and lifts reachable by foot it was the best match I could find in the short time. Anyway the service was wonderful and the food delicious. Overall the hotel's organization and  architecture made an extremely well structured impression. Apart from that €12.- for a week of Internet access is a bit outdated in my eyes.

The evening I arrived temperatures were high as summer and other guests told only water ski had been possible that day. This damped down my anticipations quite a bit.
The gondola lift solution was a very good idea in my eyes. They simply put an identical cable railway next to the first one. This could be a good option for the Wurmberg as well.

Very luckily the night brought 20 cm (8") of fresh snow. Sight was only to the next seat of the lift which slightly reduced my orientation abilities. In contrast to this the deep fluffy snow on prepared ground was just a dream. On the following day there was just about the same amount of new snow again and sight extended to the second seat. Even this time the complete new snow was left unprepared on the previously prepared slopes.
For the third days morning I had booked a one hour lesson with a skiing teacher. Originally he should teach me some more confidence in difficult areas but the slope state was so excellent that there simply wasn't such an area. Even dark black slopes hard highway quality due due perfectly prepared soft and grippy snow. He anyway had some complaints about my posture which indeed improved my skiing skills. The sight was very good from this day on and I got an overview of the resort for the first time.
Until the I had developed some kind of a standard route. Lifts already started at 07:30 AM but as breakfast in my hotel was only available from 07:00 AM on I hardly made it before 08:30 to the mountain top. First I started to warm up on the blue 5. Afterwards I went by the Sonnenjet lift, blue 12 and red 1 respectively black 4 to Hochfügen. The 1 is is very wide at its bottom part but also quite steep and already a bit icy. Beginners will have their difficulties to take it. On the other side I took the red 10 or black 7 and 8 as often as I wanted. I had the impression that the snow in this resort gets a bit bad starting at about noon due to the sun. That is why I usually went back at forenoon for a short break at the Wedelhütte. It's a bit prim and proper there but it offers a tremendous view. Depending on how fit the legs still were I used the black or red 13 back to Hochzillertal. There I took the red 5 to the Schnee-Express lift. It was easy to cross over to the red 10 there and to take the Kristall-Express lift up again. As it was already time for lunch then I took a break at the Kristallhütte. The panorama is comparable nice as at the Wedelhütte. In my opinion it offers the best Kaiserschmarn in the resort but the goulash is not that good.

My skis in front of the Kristallhütte

After a short break you could change to the Firnhütte via the red 11 and black 8, again up with the Schnee-Express and by the red 6 and blue connection. Due to it's chimney I find it very suitable for cold weather.
As east slope the black and red 3 offered great snow even in the afternoon. Other slopes already had quite wet snow at that time when it was warmer the last days. As the slope to the valley was only opened until the middle station, the snow wasn't that good there and I had more than enough other nice slopes I didn't try it.

According to my total slope length added up to 156 km during the six days which was below average.
During the whole time there were so little people that I never had to wait at the lift. I only stood back from time to time to have my own seat and did not block anybody. A bit annoying was that that the seat heating was anyway activated. It was already warm, you arrived at the lift heated up from the run , did not cool down because you didn't have to wait and had to sit down on a warm seat then.
I found the ski drivers overall high level remarkable. Where I am in the leading field in the Harz mountains I had to queue myself somewhere at the middle here. I was even overtaken by a handicapped one legged guy.
Especially during the first days with little sight I noticed that there wasn't a current resort map. Neither the paper version nor the boards at the slopes showed the latest state. That made orientation difficult from time to time. But after the sad Harz winter it was a wonderful winter end for me.

This vacation got my judgment straight again. The Harz has never been the north's Ischgl nor is it nor will it ever be. It can't compare to slope length or variety of an alpine ski resort. But that's not at all necessary. It has it's own niche considering beginners and families and should concentrate on it.