Sweet, sweet spring skiing

Outside the Munich Airport, a ski-tanned, ski-dude threw our gear into the back of a big van and we set off under darkening skies toward Austria.

As we turned onto the autobahn, he flicked on the radio and the van was instantly filled with the heavy, repetitive beat and chorus of Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero”:

And be a juke box hero … (got stars in his eyes) … he’s a  juke box hero … (got start in his eyes) …

The van. The music. Skiing in Austria wasn’t going to be glamorous. It was going to be just like Utah in 1983.

Views from Alpbachtal _ expatlingo.com

As hits from Foreigner, ACDC and Boni Jovi, played in rotation from the German-language airwaves, we made our way up into the Alps. Between helping my carsick children vomit into plastic bags, I looked out of the van windows and noted that the Alpbachtal ski area was peppered with old-fashioned wooden houses and was charming, unpretentious and cozy. Further, the weather report called for spring skiing conditions with additional fresh snowfall almost daily. Ski bliss was expected and happily delivered.

Alpbachtal spring skiing _ expatlingo.com

Sweet, sweet spring skiing conditions

There were but three surprises during the week:

First, we were surrounded by Dutch people, who were also taking advantage of the school break. This meant that, despite being in Austria, I received my full weekly dose of the Dutch conversation fillers — “lekker,” “ja, hoor,” and “dat klopt” — while sharing gondola rides up the mountain.

Second, in the later hours of the afternoon the smell of cow shit rose from sections of the lower mountain base. After noticing this smell, I realized that the charming wooden houses dotting the slopes each contained a bevy of cows. The cows lived on the ground flour below the living quarters and produced giant piles of manure which the farmers kept out back. These piles, while often hidden by snow, perfumed the air when temperatures went over freezing.

Third, the ski runs were numbered rather than named, which saps some of the joy out of it. Ski resorts in North America delight in unique ski run names like “Widow Maker,” “Ego Bowl,” or “Barry, Barry Steep,” but these runs were signed like motorways. Wouldn’t you rather have the opportunity to glide off the lift and cooly say, “Let’s do ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ again,” rather than Let’s take the number ’47’ down”? The latter sounding too much like a trip to Sears to buy back-to-school clothes in 1983.

I’m ready to do it all over again next year, but before then I will re-name the ski runs with a custom trail map that liberally mixes Dutch swear words with Sound of Music and manure references in order to spice up the ski lift chat. Please submit your proposed ski run names in the comment section.

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10 responses to “Sweet, sweet spring skiing

  1. Sloppy Snert-zburg mountain. It’s a mouthful I know:-)
    Such amazing photos! I do hope kids are well recovered from the ride?
    What happened in 1983? Do I sense a follow up post to shed some light on this topic??

    • Oh 1983 was just around the time I first started skiing as a child. My last post mentions that we drove up skiing with a van full of ski gear and peanut butter sandwiches back then.

      Integrating “snert” into a ski run name is an exceptional idea.

  2. The Captains Whistle (blue), The Baroness (black diamond), Maria’s Fall from Grace (double black diamond), Edelweiss (green), Rolfe’s Revenge (blue), Franz’ deception (black diamond), The Third Reich (double black diamond), the Anschluss (double black diamond), The Lonely Goatherd (green). Do they have the green through double black designations?

  3. Ha! I love them! Did you come up with these names while taking a break from shoveling snow?

    They have slightly different designations: blue, red and black.

  4. Loved this, Jen. The blue sky looks gorgeous, worlds away from the grey Lamma Ship Channel I’m staring at today.

    My suggestions: COWabunga! And, an ode to Foreigner: Dirty White Run.

    Rock on!

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