Schwartzwald Weekend - March Misty, snow covered field, framed by trees

Keen to get away for a bit, and in search of some sunny weather, Jules and I headed to Titisee in Schwartzwald for the weekend.

The drive up was pretty easy and uneventful, punctuated by a trip to a couple of garden centres to try to replace our balcony table (a casuality of the winter storms that hit Zurich). We arrived in Titisee mid afternoon, at the very pleasant Seehotel Wiesler, and went for a short wander around town for a stretch of the legs. The weather wasn't so brilliant, so we retired to the spa for the afternoon before sitting down to a rather good meal in the hotel.

On Sunday we started with an excellent breakfast - possibly the best spread that we've ever seen in a hotel - before heading off on a nice circular walk around the local hills. The weather started out misty, but the sun quickly burned through and it turned into a lovely early spring day. The GPX plot of our route is here, and it was a fairly easy 5.5 mile stroll, with no major hills or climbs taking in the rolling hills of the Schwartzwald.

Arriving back at the hotel, Jules decided that she did (after all) want to try out the local loipe at Hinterzarten so we headed back there for a quick loop of the 5km route to finish off the weekend before heading back home. All in all it was a very pleasant trip away, good funa and with very little fuss or hassle.

Skiing St Anton - February

For my main skiing holiday of the season, I headed to St Anton am Arlberg to meet up with the Gileys for a week of skiing. There was a good base of snow down, but not much recent snowfall so it was mostly on-piste skiing and cruising around as the weather permitted.

View over snow covered mountains and valleys

I stayed at the Hotel Goldenez Kreuz on Dorf Strasse in St Anton. This is a very pleasant and personal family run hotel on the Main Street in St Anton, about 200 yds from the Nasserein lift. In particular the home made muesli for breakfast was very good, and being able to buy the lift ticket direct from the hotel, rather than queuing up in the morning was very convenient. All in all, everything was pretty well run and hassle free, and I'd happily go back there.

Before the Gileys arrived I had the chance to spend a great weather day cruising around St Anton. The better snow was to be found up high, a bit refrozen in places in the early morning. There was good snow up in Albona, but with only a slow two man chair to use those runs I didn't spend very long there. I headed back to St Christoph for lunch, good soup and a plate of chips at Hospitz Alm. Afterwards I tried skiroute #66 down the front to St Christoph, but that turned out to be full of awful refrozen lumps that looked soft from a distance. The best snow of the day was between the pistes heading down from little area above Albona, which is worth remembering and a bigger area than it looks if you're prepared to drop back down into St Christoph. In total I skied a a fairly respectable 41km for the day, including 8.5km vertically. In the evening I met up with the Gileys after freshening up, and had a couple of beers before retiring for a tapas dinner

Skiing together, we spent the day cruising around St Anton and everyone getting their ski legs back. We went over to Stuben, and Albona, but it was quite cold in the wind on the slow two man chair. We pottered around for the morning and eventually ended up at Gampen for lunch where Giley and I shared an enormous Schweinhaxen (honestly, I might never eat again). After rolling out of the restaurant we cruised around on the St Anton side of the mountain, where we found the snow to be best under Osthangbahn Chair. We finished up at our favorite Rodel-Alm bar under Nasserein lift for a cheeky beer before heading down to meet Steff and Shane for proper apres.

Feeling a bit more adventurous, we headed off to do the Weisse Ring entirely on skis, from Nasserein. The weather was very kind to us, and we had spectacular views for the whole day as we progressed round the loop. Generally the queues were ok, despite being a lovely day. We had to wait a bit above Zürs at both the main chairs out of the valley and the slow 2-man Madloch chair, but after that they were ok for the rest of the day. Wendy was particularly brave taking on the top of #139 (black skiroute) in busy conditions. We declined extra runs in Lech, as we planned to come back later in the week, and instead stopped for an excellent lunch at Rud-Alpe. Spinach knödel for me - good goats cheese salad for Woo and excellent burgers & chips for Giley. Suitably fortified we headed off up the main gondola and looped back to Zürs before taking the gondola back to St Anton. We had a cheeky hot-chocolate in the bar at Galzig Before heading over to Rondel-Alm for a little sundowner. The run of the day was voted #200 into Lech by Wendy - wide open pistes and hardly anyone else in sight. All in all it was an excellent day in fantastic weather and well worth the prompt start.

Giley in front of the Weisse Ring sculpture

Feeling a little tired from the long day previously, we had a slightly more relaxed day - all our legs a bit tired and conditions not so great - light a bit flat and cloud on the upper slopes. We decided not to head up to Rendl (not much point) and instead skied above St Anton in the morning. We stopped for a hot chocolate in Gampen bar, which would have been very good if there had been any spare seats - we weren’t the only ones with that plan! For lunch we headed down to St Christoph and back to Hospitz Alm (the Gileys wanted to try the slide). The restaurant was very pleasant inside, and we had a good lunch followed by the biggest Kaiserschmarm - proper type 2 diabetes on a plate! With conditions slightly worse than the morning, we decided to ski back to St Anton and then him the rest of the day skiing in favor of going shopping in town.

With pretty poor conditions locally, we drove to Lech in the hope of better weather, but were disappointed. The very low slopes were clear, but there was a thick layer of valley cloud which covered most of the skiable mountain. We did a few runs up to the top in fairly bad conditions, only breaking through the cloud just below the very top of the highest lift. Feeling not very inspired (and in some cases a bit dizzy), we headed down to Ober Lech for a hot chocolate. We then discovered the Run to Avoid (#212) followed immediately by the Chair to Avoid (Schlosskopf), all in a single run! Not really feeling it we headed back to Rud Alpe for a very good lunch to get our spirits lifted a bit. With the weather clearing slightly we did a few more runs low down in Lech, then headed up to do a couple of the higher up runs under Rotschrofen and Hasensprung lifts. We decided to leave Lech (rather than do the run over to Warth) and instead headed back to St Anton to pick up Jessica-monkey after her lessons. We headed up to the top of Gampen for another hot chocolate before skiing down run #27 to finish the day. In the evening we all headed out to Maximilian's’s for a perfectly acceptable grill dinner.

With much better weather we headed off for a tour of the sights of St Anton. It took a couple of attempts to get up Valluga - the queues indicated that we weren’t the only people with the idea - but had an excellent run down on skiroute #86 once we made it to the top. We lunched in St Christoph in Arlberg Thaja, then headed off to Reidl in the afternoon. The runs were in quite good condition on the Reidl side, and we were particularly pleased with the black #5 which started us on the run back into town. We stopped briefly at Base Camp before heading up Kappell for the last run down to finish a very good day, much helped by the bright blue skies and lovely views. We were feeling pretty virtuous by the time it was beer o'clock, having helped two people get their skis back on - one lady on the black skiroute at the top of Reidl, and one guy on the black #52 back to Nasserein.

For the last day of the holiday, we decided to spend a relaxed day skiing all together. We started with a few runs at the button lift at Nasserein, then headed up the gondola for a few runs at the buttons at the top. Headed off with the Gileys to do a run down Kappell, then stopped for a hot chocolate before heading down the slope. Stopped for lunch at Heustadl (not very impressed) and said goodbye to Steph, Shane & Harriott at the base. Did one more run down black #52 with Woo then said goodbye to the Gileys to finish off a fun week skiing.

Skiing Flims - January Car covered in snow in carpark

With some heavy snow falling during the week, and more on the way, I headed down to Flims to try to get in a full weekend on the slopes.

I decided to rent some powder skis, which was zero hassle after a useful conversation with the guy in the shop at Flims dorf , and suitably kitted up headed on up the slopes. I started with a run down Stretch (it's traditional), including playing the in areas off to the sides of the main run. I felt I got the hang of the skis fairly quickly - they floated much better in the deep snow than my slalom skis, and were even surprisingly good en-piste, the only difference being that they take a bit longer to roll edge to edge.

Suitably warmed up, I met up with Jay & Izzy and we did some cracking runs down the  some great runs under Mutta-Rotunda between route #73 and #16 in lovely conditions. After a morning of playing in all the powder we could find, we stopped for a good lunch at Plaun - an excellent soup and a tartar ciabatta. In the afternoon we did managed an interesting run down #83, but declined the route through the trees (not that confident on the new skis yet), and finished up playing in the powder above, around and down Stretch a couple of times.

Thoroughly exhausted but happy we retired to the Arena hotel for beers, and to await Jules' arrival. We went for dinner in Bellevue, which was OK, but frankly a bit late in the evening and a bit heavy - with hindsight a bowl of pasta or a pizza at 6pm would have been better than a mediocre steak at 9pm...

We stayed at the Hotel Cresta, just making it back before the doors locked, having tactically left the room key inside. After a good nights sleep and generous breakfast, I headed back to the slopes whilst Jules made full use of the spa.

Unfortunately after the heavy snowfall over night, the only lift open was Foppa, which broke down shortly after I bought my ticket (but fortunately before I got on) and was stationary for 30 minutes. However, once we were up and running again we had a good time doing loops of #4 & #10 (even Narus was closed) with Jay & Izzy and Mazda & Family. I was feeling my legs a bit, so cut the day short and headed off back to town in daylight tired but happy.