Last Saturday, 19th November I had my first ski day of the season.
I love the first day of the season, and although I’ve had since April to get the items we all need prepared, for me it’s always a last minute rush to find gloves and a helmet - even the ski trousers are never where you think they are!
This ski day was a special ski day. In the last 20 plus years I’ve skied many times in October and November on the Kitzsteinhorn, Hintertux and Stubai glaciers in Austria, but I have never skied in a non-glacier resort at this time of year, purely for the reason they generally just aren’t open until the beginning of December, however this year Saalbach, Zell am See, Obertauern, Zauchensee (in the Amadé region) and Kitzbuhel (to name a few) made that commitment to showcase the early snow and opened some of their lifts for the locals and passers-by who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
My starting point was Leogang, which is part of the Saalbach Hinterglemm, Leogang and Fieberbrunn Ski Circus (my local resort). I arrived in the car park at 08.15 to be ready for first lift at 08.30. It was so empty that I felt like I could basically park my car directly in the Gondola! Skis out, boots on and straight onto the lift – amazing!
As a rule, while I sit on the lift I like to watch the skiers and boarders coming down to assess the snow conditions, how they are turning and what noise the snow is making, however this proved difficult because in the 10 minutes I spent in that gondola I didn’t see a single other person – this was truly going to be awesome experience!
I was expecting just to have the one main run open to play on, but on arriving at the top, my expectation was blown away to find multiple lifts open giving me access to the Leogang bowl, which is a favourite of mine allowing many variants of slopes to really get my ski feet back on.
The snow was magnificent- a mixture of natural and man-made, compact, but good and grippy. I’m always tentative on the first day, and want to put in as many turns as possible to help me find my balance (and confidence) to allow me to move on to the next level (what level 2 is I’m unsure). First run complete - legs shaking, out of breath, wobbly to say the least, but really fun.
As the day went on the snow loosened and the skiing got better and better, and the crowds increased (to maybe a maximum of 50 people in total on the mountain). During our coffee stop, as we all do, we talked about the runs we had been on- the mishaps, the legendary moments and the person skiing in their jeans!
After a coffee, apple strudel and some deep analysis we came to the conclusion that although this day was slightly out of the ordinary in way of date, it was more or less exactly like the skiing is in the pre-Christmas and Easter (or straight after New Year in January) weeks. You can walk onto the lifts with no queues, the snow is great, compact first thing in the morning, becoming more forgiving as the minutes and hours pass, plenty of room on the slopes and to top that all off - it’s easy to find a seat in the mountain restaurant for that all important strudel!
Thanks Ski Circus for a truly amazing day... I look forward to the next one!
Ski in Saalbach-Hinterglemm...
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