|Well, I've been a bit slack updating the website as I've been pretty busy at work and have been travelling quite a bit, so its now time to try and catch up.
We flew into Austria on the Saturday night, to be met by Stu - the geezer who's chalet we were staying at for the week. Quite a few brits seem to be trying to escape the UK for mainland Europe, setting up similar businesses in this way.
The chalet was pretty funny - felt like it was straight out the 1970's with lots of browns and beiges, and a pretty extensive 'wall of death' - lots of stuffed animals. Although Austrian do seem to like prominently displaying lots of products from the taxidermist...
We spent the first few days at the local field at Maria Alm - called Natrun. On the first morning the most noticiable event was me falling on my face after coming off a jump and forgetting that I had not ridden for 12 months. However, pretty quickly I worked out that although the snow was really good at Natrun, the field was pretty limited, so I went over the back to Hintermoos. This was a much bigger field which was in turn linked to Hinterthaal and other fields up the valley.
Austrian ski fields seem to be really well linked - and nowhere was this better illustrated than at Saalbach - where practically every run was on a different field. The morning was absolutely magic, with bright blue skies and deep powder. Unfortunately by the afternoon it had clouded over, so seeing the bumps on the way back was a somewhat tricky affair. Korina struggled a bit with this, although I must say that I also found it to be rather hard on the knees. We made it back just in time for the last Gondola, unlike a number of people that were left to walk out.
We then enjoyed the first of what was to be several nights out in Maria Alm. Apres ski was pretty funny in Austria - plenty of poor dancing to equally bad music - i.e. David Hasselhoff, Cotten Eyed Joe - all the best from the 80's and 90's! Apparently the key to dancing in Austria is to thrash your hands around in the air, with complete disregard for anyone that might be walking past with a full pint of beer...pretty funny all the same - for Korina and my impressions of this, see the videos...
We went out for dinner quite a bit - which felt relatively cheap as we were used to things priced in pounds rather than Euro - although we did find most of the food to be pretty salty and by the end we were trying to take the least salty alternatives (although still plenty of room for sausage!). The most amusing food mistake was buying what we thought was chip-dip from the supermarket, only to discover (upon trying to eat it) that it was actually lard. With onion bits in it. Very weird...
We also did another tour at a town called Kitzbuhel. Kitzbuhel was kind of like the area where the rich people go (as compared to Maria Alm, which was kind of like a field for locals - i.e. Herman Maier lives there...). This meant that there were lots of inappropriate fur coats and other more incidious fashion crimes at Kitzbuhel...
I snowboarded all the way there from close to Maria Alm, as again, all the fields were interlinked (sometimes with crappy old 1 person lifts or T bars, sometimes with massive new gondolas). Unfortunately I was not as lucky with the weather as I had been in Saalbach - it was snowing and blowing a gale for most of the morning - which, given that there were a lot of long traverses made for some pretty un-fun riding (slow, soft new snow on the traverse...).
Luckily the weather completely changed for the afternoon, and I managed to find some good, albeit slight sticky powder.
Korina had felt too tired to do the tour over to Kitzbuhel, so she decided to catch the train over and meet me. Unfortunately the train she was put on didn't stop at Kitzbuhel, so she ended up going to some random town called Wokel (or something) and then had to come back. So she got there about the same time as me. We were going to catch the train back together, but it turns out that in the meantime it had hit a car (very messy with a snowplow in front) and so we got a lift back with Stu.
The nasty weather conditions I mentioned made the mountains start to look very avalanche prone - and I said so to Korina. I made the mistake (a few times) of going down a run that was closed (hey, I can't read German) - and it was not really surprising to find out when we got back that some Aussie guy had been killed in a big slide.
After Kitzbuhel it was back to Natrun / Hintermoos - the next day they had had around a foot of snow, and all was looking good until it started pelting with rain. I went right to the top of Hintermoos and managed to get above the rain layer where the snow was still good but lower down the conditions were somewhat marginal.
Korina and I then spent the last day at Hinterthaal - it was really a good day as it had been groomed quite well which was easier for Korina. She had a good day, and after a few days where she struggled a bit it all sort of came together to a degree. I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon and went over the back to a few other resorts then came back and finished up with Korina.
Overall we had some really good, quite challenging riding across the week - I'd recommend Austria to any dog-owner! I got a little frustrated because I kept thinking I should just be able to ride like I left off in Canada - but even though I was quite fit it was not the case - with particularly sore legs and knees!