Hello white mountains: Skiing at Wilder Kaiser – Austria | March 10-12, 2016

While I started hiking a couple of years ago, it seems I have completely forgotten about the second best thing to do in the mountains: skiing! It’s been 6 or 7 years that I didn’t go skiing and just thinking about glittering white mountains makes me wanna leave immediately.

As my work keeps me extremely busy (the week before I had to be for one week in San Francisco for a conference), I decide a short break will do: Leaving Wednesday afternoon, skiing Thursday – Saturday, driving back on Sunday. I know my next working week will be busy again, starting with a day trip to Paris on Monday so I don’t want to arrive completely exhausted on Sunday night… I have done that in the past and it was always exhausting on my body and mind. Trying to take some more care of myself now even if that means cutting back on a day of skiing 🙂

We go for a last minute booking, a friend is finally not coming so my sister is finding us a nice flat for two while I am in San Francisco. As we don’t want to spend too much time stuck in the car, I was looking for a ski area close to Munich and found it! The Tyrolian region Wilder Kaiser is huge (280km of ski piste) and the village Söll just an hour from Munich. Leaving in the afternoon on Wednesday, we arrive around 9.30h at Söll and finding the apartment takes us half an hour more! Not that the village is big, but there are no street names, only house numbers and the order feels quite random so we have to ask our way several times.

The next day starts perfectly: blue sky, sun shine, white mountains! We grab some bread rolls from the bakery just opposite the flat, have a quick breakfast and walk to the cable car station. It’s supposed to be only 500m away – it proofs to be quite longer! We rent skis and up we go! We directly go to one of the highest points with the best panoramic view: the “Hohe Salve”. Wow – that’s exactly what I was longing for.

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On this first day, the huge ski area proves to be rather difficult to navigate! It’s not only big but also the signs are on several occasions poorly placed or even wrong… I guess you need to spend a couple of days here before you know how to navigate all the different piste options. We spend quite some time in cable cars as each associate village has its own cable car. This means nice long runs down the mountain but also long ascents in. We enjoy a beautiful day which finishes with a glass (or two!) of Aperol Spritz, enjoying the sunset and finally gliding down the mountain into the last bit of sunset. What a perfect day! (Except for my sister’s skiing sticks being stolen while we were at our après-ski drinks – you’d better be careful!).

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The next day is not as beautiful but we are still good for a long day of skiing. The snow is best at the northfacing pistes and we rather stay up the mountain than going too far down. Today we are skiing mainly around the Westendorf area where we haven’t been the day before. My sister decides to take one of the so-called ski-routes, I don’t dare taking it because I am not good at skiing in deep snow. Waiting for her downhill I get a bit worried – until she arrives sweating and talking about the nightmare skiing down that route! I am glad I didn’t go with her… Soon I also realize I neglected my fitness training too much the weeks before as my thighs start being “on fire” at every long descent. So my last descent will be the cable car while my ever-fit sister flies down on skis waiting already for me when the cable car finally arrives. This time we park our skis at the ski depot and walk to an apres-ski bar. It’s nice to relax and enjoy a few drinks after such a great day. Everyone is in a good mood and dancing at 5pm! Home for dinner and a very early bedtime for me.

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Igloo hotel…
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… and bar

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Nice ride down
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Kaiserschmarrn!
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Cable car downhill with tired legs!
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Nostalgia! These are still in use and just beautiful!

The third day makes it easy for us to leave the mountains after half a day of skiing… There are big clouds already as we get up in the morning. High up in the mountains there is very limited visibility and we make sure to stay close to not loose each other. In the morning it still works out fine even though we take a few more (and longer) breaks than usually but after lunch the fog is getting so thick we cannot even see 2meters. As further down the visibility is ok but the snow is in a bad condition, we call it a day at 2pm. We are anyway heading to Munich to visit a friend there and I am happy to spend some more time there!

Bottom line: The ski area Wilder Kaiser is huge on the paper with 280km ski piste, but the reality proves that it’s not that easy to navigate and you have to spend a lot of time in cable cars or chair lifts. The views are amazing though, it’s rare to have an almost 360° view on the surrounding mountains. It is also very well maintained and there are a lot of activities you can do including skiing at night (but be careful, this is at an extra cost and not included in the general ski-pass). More info at http://www.wilderkaiser.info/en/winter/skiing/skiwelt-wilder-kaiser-brixental.html

Addendum: 153km covered in 3 days!

Skitag1Skitag2Skitag3

 

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