Day 174, 175, 176, 177, 178 & 179
When we were planning this trip I remember writing down on our itinerary 'Snowboarding?', hoping that at some point, somewhere along this huge trip we might be able to sneak a day in. That dream certainly true and then some as now I am writing this blog after 5 days of the best snowboarding of my life. Whilst there definitely were some complications along the way we got through them all and managed to have a crazy week on Stubai Glacier, near Innsbruck in Western Austria.
Coming from Brussels we had quite the way to trek to the glacier, covering a good 1000km in less than a day without a flight. Starting with a 16 hour bus then three trains and then another bus it's safe to say we were pretty stuffed by the time we got there. Now when our initial plans to stay in a hostel got a bit stuffed up, we quickly changed them and hired out an apartment about 30 minutes away from the Glacier. The only issue we had with it was that it was ridiculously cheap and was on a bit of a dodgy website. Having no other choice we booked it hoping for all the best when we got there. Arrivng there at 8 at night with nothing more than a street address we thought this hadn't been the best idea. We had no idea where to go and no idea who to call. Worst of all the bus had dropped us off in pretty much the middle of nowhere.
After a bit of searching we found an open shop and asked them if try knew where our place was. Luckily they happened to know and directed us to a house 2 minutes down the road. We knocked on the door, met the owners son and things started to look up. He led us to the room we had hired (which was a place on top of their house) and it appeared that we had hit the jackpot.
This place was incredible with us each getting our amazing rooms and amazing beds. We had wifi, tvs, a kitchen and even a bath. After a long trip and a dodgy booking it looked like things were picking up. We explored the town that night which was a long walk in and quick hitchhike back but didn't find much. We grabbed a quick bite and scouted out our surroundings for the next week before heading home to grab an early night. We didn't want to be tired in the slightest because it was going to be a long first day.
Waking up early the next morning we headed straight out to grab ski gear, getting there as the doors opened. As quickly as we could we got suited up, geared up and on the bus to the mountain. Arriving there later than expected we jumped onto the gondolas up to the slopes as quickly as possible. As Hilton Katz put it (which Gav repeated many times during the trip) it was the longest chairlift of my life. Waiting a good 10 minutes before we could even see snow it was going to be a while before we could carve down it. Nevertheless we eventually made it to the top and stepped out on to the snow for the first time in... Well.. A week.
Having big expectations for snowboarding on the Alps the glacier was to be honest a bit disappointing. Being slightly smaller than Thredbo as it was a glacier and having very little snow as it had been a bad winter it was nothing special. However snow was snow, the sun was shining and we hadn't snowboarded in several years so we did our best to deal with it. We enjoyed ourselves that day remembering how to snowboard again and of course remembering how sore falling was. We went hard the entire time right until lifts closed. Stuffed after that we headed home and just relaxed waiting for day 2.
I always had this dream of falling asleep one night with no snow in sight and waking up the next day absolutely blanketed in it. Day 2 was my dream come true. Waking up bright and walt again we looked out the window to see a previously dry farm area around us, completely covered with a layer of snow. It was amazing. Seeing this got us really pumped up and we headed out eager to hit some fresh powder.
This was the kind of snow we had been expecting. 15cm of fresh powder awaited us when we got up there and it wasn't stopping either. The entire day it snowed and snowed and snowed making for some good fun. We explored new routes that day that we hadn't even seen the day before and even invented a few of our own. The powder was so thick in some places that we weren't even able to board as we kept getting stuck. Nevertheless it was the best skiing day i had ever had.
Day 3 was a bit of a boring one as the temperature had dropped considerably and the war wounds were beginning to take their toll. Despite an early wake up it was a short day on the slopes as none of us had enough energy to continue. The snow had become quite average again and we were more forcing ourselves to be there than really enjoying it. We were back home quite early and took the evening to just regain our energy and walk off the pain.
Waking up on Day 4 it seemed that conditions would be awesome with a dump of a massive 30cm of snow overnight. However when we actually got to the mountain the weather was the wildest we had even seen. Ridiculous winds, freezing cold temperatures and snow that would not stop falling. At times we couldn't see each other as we came down the mountain let alone the bumps we were going over. Whilst it was crazy we made do with we what we had and went where we could. The powder made some tracks incredible and some others impossible. Yet every time we fell over we quickly took advantage of the situation starting snowball fights an attempting to build snowmen. Even though conditions did not improve the entire day, we hung in there realising we were almost at the end. We took it slow finding our way (and I actually mean searching) to the bottom each run and tried to stay away from the top. It was a hard day but we would soon find out that it would all be worth it.
Conditions in on the final day were nothing less than absolute perfection. With the snow stopping but a few minutes before we stepped out the dor and not a cloud on the sky it was definately the best snow of the week. There was no wind, it wasn't too cold and we weren't even that sore it was going to be an awesome day. The only complaint we had at all was that it was a public holiday and heaps of people had flocked to the mountain. Nevertheless once we up on the slopes it was a amazing day. Besides a lunch break we didn't stop boarding knowing it would be our last time with snow for a while. We went right until every lift was closed getting every second we could out of the mountain. However it did have to come to end at some point and at least we went out on a bang.
It was a crazy week worth absolutely every cent we paid for it. I'm so happy we got the chance to board in a different country, seeing what it's like outside Thredbo and Perisher.
And now for our final stop in Europe, to London we go.