This week I’m spending half-term in Saalbach in the Hinterglemm valley in Austria. I have a ton of work to do but given the current snow conditions in Europe, I couldn’t resist a cheap last-minute package deal. I’ve never been to Saalbach before and it’s lovely, one of those tiny Austrian towns where the village centre consists of a single cobblestone street lined with traditional buildings (pedestrianized of course), with ski lifts to the peaks branching off at the top and bottom ends of the street.
Saalbach in the Hinterglemm valley
It doesn’t hurt that the British half-term is over; the main language in the resort is German and it seems to be mainly German and Austrian skiers on the slopes, always a good sign. The snow is as good as I expected but visibility was terrible until today. It takes a lot of the fun out of skiing if the light is poor – it makes the skier stiffen up and tire easily (not to mention taking the wrong turn at every intersection). However, the sun was out today and we had a dream combination of clear skies, sun and powder. The weather is expected to remain like this for the rest of the week, yippee.
It really does look like this on a clear day
I usually go skiing with clubs like the Ski Club of Great Britain or the Frankfurt Ski Club, but this week I’m on my own, skiing during the day and studying in the evenings. It sounds better than it is – I’d forgotten how tiring on-piste skiing becomes after a while, a bit like driving on the autobahn except worse because you have to avoid a lot of out-of-control skiers and boarders. Luckily, there are plenty of ‘ski touring’ routes just off the main pistes, always my favourites, with plenty of powder. That said, I’m joining an Austrian group tomorrow for some real off-piste ouch! I know my legs will be jelly after an hour (‘we’ll just walk up to that ridge over there’), but it’s worth doing if only for the views.
The ski-tour turned out to be a sort of group lesson whilst touring around the mountain and was absolutely great. It’s amazing the bad habits that develop if you don’t have a checkup every now and then, I must do this more often. That said, it was no easy stroll through the woods – one of us clocked our group doing a speed 96.7 km/hr down a Schuss!