Friday, January 05, 2007

Europe - St Anton, Day 3

(Previous Stop: St Anton, Day 1 & 2)

The first two days I skiied the mountains that were close by to the main village. These were generally more crowded with longer lift lines and also more skier traffic on the trails. I was trying to get to the other two mountains, Zurs and Lech that were behind St Anton. One could take a bus to Zurs, but it cost 8 Euros. Plus, there was a way to ski over the mountains and ski down to another town which had a free bus to Zurs. This was also more adventurous since I had to take a series of lifts to get over the peaks. I got to Zurs in the afternoon and ended up loving the terrain there and figured I'd head straight there the next day.

It snowed overnight and below me was fresh, untouched powder snow... mmm...

My skis are an all-mountain ski, meaning that they can carve on the groomed trails and also float a little on the fluffy powder. But not having a proper powder ski (fat skis, which don't sink in the light snow), made skiing in the powder a little difficult. But I was enjoying it.

Results of a mini-avalanche, where the top melted and refrozen layer of snow slides down on the fluffy snow underneath.

Those are my tracks in the fresh snow...

My ski pole... it's 48 inches long, so you can guess how soft and deep the snow was here.

The very informative trail maps at the bottom or top of chair lifts. Green tells you which lifts and trails are open. A trail will be closed if there's not enough snow covering the rocks and other hazards underneath.

There was a bunch of people in crazy ski costumes. Here's Superman, then there's a bunny and Dr. Jekly behind him, a leprachaun, etc...

Even though it had just snowed overnight, their snow making machines were going on full blast as they were taking advantage of the temperature being below freezing. It hovered around 0 deg Celsius the whole time, making snow-making difficult at times.

View from the chair-lift of my fresh tracks in the snow. No one else seemed to be skiing my little hidden area.

The sun finally came out to a beautiful day

I got a little too adventurous one time down the mountain following these crazy snowboarders. I'm looking back up at those little trees that I just navigated through.

Looking down at the narrow chute that I'd have to tread slowly down...

Looking back up where I came from

I got to a point where I had to take off my skis and crawl myself out of there. Yes, it's so soft.

The thing about taking off your skis in soft powder is that you sink very easily... up to my knees in powder...

...and loving every moment of it

Waiting for the Trittkopf Tram at Zurs

This is how skiing should be. The tram climbed about 3300 ft (1 km) in height in just 4 minutes and then it took about 25 minutes to come down the mountain. Perfect.

The first time down this mountain, I was loving it. Lots of Steep N' Deep terrain and no real set trails down the mountain. You had to be a little adventurous. The downside of being adventurous is that you can make the wrong decision and I ended up taking the wrong path down the first time and got stuck on top of this 100 ft cliff for about half an hour. It was lots of heavy uphill hiking with my equipment to get out of there. But still worth it.

The cool thing about taking the bus to Zurs is the road tunnels that you pass through. The tunnels are cut into the side of the mountain and it's very twisty.

Some turns were really sharp and only one bus could pass at a time.

Taking the lift back home

Some very steep rocks that reminded me of some Lord of the Rings landscape...

The setting sun of a great third day of skiing in the Alps

This is what's called a White Ribbon of Death - one trail with tonnes of skiers and snowboarders on it. This was the trail home where people with varying skill levels ski very close to each other. This invites accidents and I fell victim to one of them. Somebody turned left into me and launched me forward on the hard ice knocking the wind out of me for a while. Luckily someone else stopped behind me and put up their board to prevent anyone else from running into me.

The ski town of St Anton with lots of nice shops and restaurants

(Next Stop: St Anton, Day 4)

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