Archive for Snowboarding

Spring snowyiness

Posted in Drunkeness, snow with tags , on 01/04/2008 by bimbo78

Last Friday Bob and I finished work and headed down to Sarah and Lisa’s in Romford. We had rather a drunken night and a nice din dins before turning in. Next day we squeezed the board bags in the car and headed off to Gatwick, I hate airports and am trying to resist the temptation to fly everywhere but actually failing quite miserably. Well it was my first flight since the honeymoon last July, that’s ok I think.

Anyway, after the obligatory delay we got on our rather fancy plane, (just loads of leg room) and flew to Salzburg. The descent in did not look promising, hardly any snow on the Alps. We had seen the snow forecast before we left and it wasn’t really very good, after last years debacle in Slovakia when I did 2 runs the entire holiday we were rather worried.

We got our bags and boarded the coach and off we went to Soll in the Austrian Alps. We got to the resort about 8ish and it was dark, the main run down to the resort was floodlit and there was snow on it but very little elsewhere. There was nothing else for it we went out and got hammered. As Lisa and I neared the door of our chosen bar, (Rossinis) something struck us both, it was the appalling smell of cigarette smoke. I have become so used to smoke free bars that it offends me more than ever. We sat in a supposedly smoke free section of the bar but everyone around us lit up. Grrrrrr. We bumped into some Austrian guys in the bar who had seen Sarah and Lisa arm wrestling, a guy called Benjamin challenged Sarah and she beat him, ha my mates are hard. Benjamin asked us why we had come to resort at 700 m in March, and told us it wouldn’t snow but would probably rain. We were a bit downcast at this suggestion so had some more to drink. We stumbled to our Chalet, (the Erhart) at about 2am.

Sarah and Benjamin

Sunday, sure enough it was raining in the village, the top of the mountain looked cloudy and I suspected it was snowing. Bob and I raced up the top of the mountain, (1900m) to find a complete white out blizzard. We struggled down the first run hardly being able to see the Piste markers, not a good idea as it was our first day and we didn’t know the way down. Anyway we made it down to the Mittlstation at about 1200m by a giant cauldron. We went up some shorter runs the rest of the day until it started raining and we got soaked. We left the mountain at about 1 pm and went back to our little chalet only to find Sarah and Lisa just leaving. Sarah cursed me for introducing her to Gluwein. They went off into the village to sort out their hire kit and some lessons, whilst Bob and I had a little snooze. We had a more sedate evening and went to our respective rooms at about 8:30 after going to the ‘Welcome Meeting’ Jezzzz I hate package tours. “hello everybody and well done for choosing Soll as your holiday destination. Everyone at Crystal would like to wish you a truly fabulous time, now which on of our shit excursions to do want to waste you money on?” Urrr none thanks.

Monday, it was raining a little in the village so Bob and I did exactly the same and went straight to the top of the mountain. It wasn’t a complete whiteout but it wasn’t that pleasant up there so we continued with our little runs we had done the day before. There was some powder on the slopes but only a little it was over some quite hard packed snow so not that enjoyable to ride off piste. We were coming down a bit of a narrow red run which makes it quite difficult to turn therefore I was going rather fast, a big lump of powder had accumulated in the middle of the piste and before I knew it I was heading straight for it at speed. I’m a wimp when it comes to boarding, I had two choices, fall over before I got there or ride it and fall over after. I rode it and popped about 50 cm of air and… landed it, tee hee. My new boots were giving me so much more control. I was carving virtually everywhere but still being a wimp and doing the occasional massive edge to slow myself down. We nipped over to a nice blue run at the back of the Mittlestation where Sarah and Lisa had been practicing. There was nice quite cafe over there next to a giant Broomstick suspended in the air. The place seemed to be obsessed with Witches, fabulous, I should fit in perfectly. By this point my new boots were starting to cause some grief, my toes were really squashed at the end especially when I heel edged. I decided to call it a day whilst Bob disappeared off to do some runs on his own. On a little tangent here, they don’t seem to name their pistes in Austria they just have numbers, and I can’t remember the numbers. I will give them my own names I think. I will call the big red run down to the Cauldron Air lift, (reasons will become obvious later). The small blue run by the cafe is called the Broomstick. And the smaller red run can be called Jackies Favourite.

Jacks on a board

Because of my toe issue I had Tuesday off completely. I sat at the giant Cauldron and read me book whilst wearing some very comfortable snow boots. I could still hardly walk though. I stumbled up the road to the Broomstick cafe to meet Sarah and Lisa for lunch. They had bumped into Bob at the bottom of the lift. they all slid down to see me and we stopped and had a drinky. Sarah and Lisa were having a bit of a panic as they had a private lesson booked after lunch so they consumed some alcohol to control their nerves and deaden the pain of the falls. Bob took some pics of them practicing and disappeared over to the west side of the mountain for a bit. I downloaded on the Gondola and took some snaps of him boarding down the run to the resort. Bob always complains that there are never any pictures of him on boarding holidays. This is because I fall over too much to have a camera in my pocket. So I thought taking snaps from the Gondola was a good plan, except he had sat on the slope and was grinning up at me waving.

Bobba

We had another quietish night out at an Italian Restaurant, which we discovered was owned by the daughter of the lady, which owned out chalet, wow they have an empire.

Wednesday it snowed in the village, the village is at 702 m so snow in March is quite a rarity. We got the ski bus to the Gondola and went up to the Cauldron. Bob took me on a nice blue run that goes into Jackies Favourite to make sure my toes were ok. I carved all the way down and went in search of the elusive pow pow. There was some small pockets of untracked power which we arsed around in. We met Sarah and Lisa at the bottom of the run and took them up to do the same run. Bob and I left them to their Blue runs and larked around on Air Lift and Jackies Favourite before we went over to the west of the mountain. This involved the snowboarders nemesis. A blue cat track. So it’s a shallow slope therefore difficult to get any speed up and you can’t turn because it’s narrow and also because you tend to get skiers who come up by the side of you or stand across the whole piste. I know I have mentioned before I consider the great rivalry between skiers and boarders is silly and has been blown out of all proportion. However, there are ignorant people amongst both sets. Skiers who stand across flat bits of slopes so a boarder has to stop or plough into them. Either way they are then stationary and will have to take their board off and walk. And Boarders who sit in the middle of pistes. I know this annoys skiers but I think there is a degree of jealousy as we can quite easily sit whilst attached to the board and admire the view whereas they can’t. But yes we should make sure we sit at the edge of the piste. And bladers just annoy both skiers and boarders as it takes no practice to blade. They haven’t put the time in to learn and taken the knocks, they tend not to know the mountain and the etiquette, (get out the freaking way of the chair lifts!!) Anyway, I digress.

We went down a couple of runs before my right big toe was hurting loads. Bob took me back to the Cauldron and I put my snow boots on and read me book whilst he went back over to Scheffau. At this point Nori and Simon tuned up, Sarah’s mates from London. They went straight to the top of the mountain to do some crazy runs.

Whilst I was sat at the Cauldron reading I noticed a Piste packer making its way up the Air Lift run. It stopped about half way up and sat there. This meant somebody had hurt themselves and the packer normally loads them into a cage on the back and brings them down to the gondola where they are taken away. This didn’t happen the big red helicopter turned up, (we had already witnessed one rescue earlier in the week but this one was much more exciting). It landed on one foot and dropped off the medic I presume, then it took off and came and landed next to the cauldron, so right by me. It unfurled its rope and went back and hovered over the piste packer. Next thing I knew there was a big orange stretcher and a dude clinging onto the stretcher dangling about 15 m below the chopper. It came back over to the cauldron with the casualty and medic swinging madly in the air, dropped them off, they got out of the way, it landed and loaded them both in the back before taking off and disappearing. Well it was a bit of entertainment anyway. There is always that horrible feeling when you see rescues though; it normally starts with oh you poor bugger I hope it wasn’t the first day of your holiday. And then when choppers are involved almost a feeling of sorrow for the poor dude who has possibly broken their back or some such whilst doing the sport they love. These people are complete strangers but I think snow lust is a strong bond.

Bob and I met up with Sarah and Lisa who had had another lesson with their teacher Jenny, she had lived in Soll since she was 18 and done 6 seasons. She was quite butch in a feminine kind of way so Sarah and Lisa were intrigued as to whether she was a lady of Lesbos. She also had a voice that told me she had spent far too long in the smoky bars of Austria possibly gargling with razor blades whilst she was at it. Anyway she was nice and told us where to find the fun park. This all went on at the on Piste bar called Joes office. Bob and I had a Gluhwein, which was very welcome as I was freezing. Whilst I was waiting forever in the small smoky bar which seemed to be made out of Perspex and glue I noticed two locals looking at me. After a bit one of them tapped me on the shoulder and said “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” I shook my head. They said oh oh you English? I told them I was and they said this was fine but they had a joke for a German lady. To which I obviously replied, I look German? They said it was the skin and the hair, I was wearing my hair in two braids so I s’pose I did look a bit Helgaish but then they thought they had offended me and made up for it by demanding the bar man serve me as I had been waiting ages. I’m intrigued as to what the joke was. We were waiting for Nori and Simon who had gone back up to the top of the mountain, by this point it was 4:30 and the last lift down was 5 so I was beginning to get a bit worried. Sarah ‘accidentally’ bought us another drink and we chatted some more with Jenny. We were beginning to get cold so Bob and I made our way down the mountain and back to Erhart.

Me in Joes Office

Girls
We had a text a while later off Sarah, they had found them and were now at the bar at the bottom of the mountain called the
Salvenstadl (or Cow shed). We wandered across to meet them. It turned out that Nori and Simon had gone and down the black run from the top of the mountain, freaking nutters. We had a couple of drinks, Sarah and Lisa were already quite merry. We then went to a nice hotel for some din dins. I had a massive Weiner schnitzel and ate it all, mmm. Nori ordered a really hot spicy thing and covered it in Tabasco sauce, she must have no taste buds left!! Then it was home time.

Thursday dawned; it had snowed again in the village. So off we went. I now had both my toes tapped up I had a fabulous run down the mountain whooping and squeaking as I went ever faster the boots ramming against my now back toenails. It hurt less to go fast so that’s what I did. We went and had some lunch up by the broomstick. Sarah was having some issues, she went and did some runs on her own to try and let herself go down the slope. She had really improved but was still suffering from the old lack of confidence. I get that still so I know where she’s coming from. Anyway, even though I was really hurting I did loads of runs and had a great day.. Then we headed off down the mountain with Sarah and Lisa. We stopped at Salvenstadl and sat outside drinking Gluhwein, (Oh dear there seems to be a pattern emerging). It had been snowing so hard at one point that Bob had pulled his head over up under his goggles and did his coat up, he demonstrated this in the pub, the result was he looked like a terrorist. We had some more booze then headed back to Erhart. Nori and Simon had been having an advanced private lesson so we met up with them later. We went to the nice Italian restaurant again. Nori and Simon were suffering a bit so we didn’t do any crazy drinking. Bob and I left them to it but they only had one more.

Terrorist Bob

The last day boarding it had snowed again in the village so off we went. i was suffering from doing so much the day before. I had both of my toes taped to within an inch of their lives and actually considered at one point cutting them off. That was until Bob pointed out I wouldn’t be able to walk or board with out any big toes. I took things easy staying close to the Cauldron. Nori and Simon took Sarah and Lisa over to Scheffau. I did a nice couple of runs down Jackie Favourite beating Bob down the mountain then had a little rest whilst he did some more. I sat in a little cafe just below the Cauldron overlooking Air Lift. There was party of British school kids having a massive snow ball fight which was amusing me. All of this going on to some great Austrian style Daniel O’Donell Music. GREAT. I had me hot chocolate and watched Bob come down Air Lift. Just at the bottom I could see him and a skier get very close. She was on his blind side so he had no idea she was there, until she cut across the back of his board and took him out. And worst of all she didn’t even fall over. She did stop a way down the slope and look up at him, I’m not sure if this was coz she was cross or concerned anyway, he was livid. I thought it was slightly harsh of her as she must of know he couldn’t see her and she could see him. He was also down slope so that automatically makes it her fault. But hey only damaged pride, and a bit of a wonky shoulder the next day. I’d had enough of the music by this point and went up and did the Air Lift. I was coming down really quick once again but was struggling to turn onto my toe edge as my right foot was just throbbing. I was going way too quick and made one last effort to turn to slow down on my toes when I caught my edge and came tumbling down the slope whacking my head on the piste, loosing my hat and goggles but thankfully not getting goggle whip. My first and only major tumble. Unfortunately right at the bottom of my last run of the holiday. I was CROSS and started swearing at myself for being a wimp and trying to slow down instead of just carrying on as I was really close to the bottom. I got up and tore down the last 100 m really quickly pulling up fast in front of Bob who I then shouted at coz he dared tell me how great I had been at the top of the piste. Obviously then apologising coz I had been great and it wasn’t his fault I was I wimp. Anyway, that was that. I returned to my little hidey hole by the Cauldron for a bit whilst Bob went and found the others over in Scheffau as I was worried about them. He found them and waited for ages but then got really cold and had to come back after telling them which way to go. We then went to Joes for a bit keeping an eye out for them. We then decided we best be off before it got dark. Bob decided to ride down I downloaded. Off we toddled onto the ski bus and home.

Sarah and Lisa it turns out had managed to sneak past us without us noticing, they were at the Cow Shed having a few cheeky drinks. Bob and I went and met them later and off we went for din dins with Nori and Simon. Then we went back to the chalet with Sarah and Lisa. Sarah went back out with Nori and Simon and apparently rolled in at 4am after having some difficulty unlocking an unlocked door.

The next day dawned and it was a beautiful sunny day with a dusting of snow in the village. We packed out gear away and headed into Soll for a wander around. Or hobble in my case. We were looking for a chalet that Sarah had stayed at about 20 years previously with her ma and pa. So we explored the whole village, it really is stunning, nestled in the Alps with it’s mixture of old wooden chalets, modern wooden chalets and the occasional ultra modern flats. We found the chalet up by Erhart in the end. The bus came to pick us up and off we went to Salzburg airport. It’s tiny and once you get airside there is one duty free shop and one cafe type thing. The rest s just plastic chairs lined up. It was obviously a busy day as loads of British flights were leaving. Well actually they weren’t. There was flight to Gatwick that was already delayed 3 hours when we got there. Another one to Manchester seemed to be going the same way but ours was fine. We loaded into the plane only to discover that Bob and I had been upgraded. Not first class or anything but there are a few rows at the front of the plane that were sort of the charter equivalent to business class. We had so much leg room I couldn’t reach my foot rest. Anyway, nice flight and gentle landing considering the horrendous cross wind that seems to be permanently effecting Gatwick. We got our bags about an hour later and off we toddled to Sarahs. I decided to drive back from Romford that night as there was heavy snow forecast the next day. So we got back about 1am and I tumbled into bed exhausted. But yay a great holiday and Soll is lovely.

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