Christmas and New Year 2020

A collection of walks, trips, outings and holidays for Jules and I over the Christmas and New Year period 2020. We both had a decent break off work, and we tried to make the most of the time, even though the weather in Zurich wasn't that great, and Covid-19 prevented us from travelling very far. Overall we think we did pretty well, with the time, including:

Very old wooden hut on silts with stone caps in Bellwald

Walking Pfäfferkersee 3-Jan
With the low cloud and cold weather continuing, but wanting to get out one last time during the holiday, we headed to the Pfäfferkersee to do a lap of the lake with Imke. It was quite chilly when we arrived, but wrapped up (and with Jules wearing proper boots this time) we headed off around the lake

We weren't the only ones with the idea, and there were a steady stream of people out for a walk or jog. The bravest souls were out for a swim, but we decided not to join them! It's a nice and easy route, a little short of 9km for the circuit, flat, and with no difficultly finding the way.

Walking Thürlersee 1-Jan
For a stretch of the legs on New Year's day, but not wanting to travel too far and mindful of the (seemingly endless) low cloud, Jules and I headed down to the Thürlersee to try route #48 from our favourite book.

It was a bit cold when we arrived - only about 1C, but we wrapped up warm and headed off on the route. We had snow underfoot for some of the walk, and we didn’t see the sun for the whole way round, but it was a nice route, with a bit of variety. The route tours small villages and woods on the western edge of canton Zürich, and heading through the fields we saw a couple of buzzards, and a kestrel, but otherwise it was very quiet.

In total it took us 2 hours 20 minutes to cover the 11.6km with 380m ascent/descent, and it's a fairly easy T1

Trip away - Bellwald (27-Dec to 29-Dec)
For a bit of a break, Jules and I headed to Bellwald in Valais between Christmas and New Year. The journey took us through the Furka tunnel on the car train, and so we decided to break up the journey a bit and to go snow-shoeing in Realp on the way.

It was a bit windy when we parked up, and wrapped up fairly warm we set off up the path, following route #511 from We didn't manage the full route, and instead stopped a little way short of the end of the route for our lunch before heading back down. Overall we did manage about 8.8km with 410m ascent/descent in total, which took us 2 hrs 15 (not including the break).

Happy to have stretched our legs, we got on the train under the pass and on to Bellwald where we spent the next two nights

We arrived in Bellwald and checked into the Hotel zur Alten Gasse, which turned out to be a very pleasant hotel in the middle of the village, and very close to the ski slopes. The hotel was doing quite well dealing with Covid-19, with temperature checks on check-in and designated seating times for dinner and breakfast (which meant that they could keep to an almost-normal service). The food in the restaurant was very good indeed, creative and tasty without being too rich or stuffy.

On Monday we took a wander through the village, to pick up some local maps for snowshoeing and winter walking and to buy some warm winter gloves and proper salopettes for Jules. We spent some time admiring the very old buildings in town - which looked like storage huts, balanced on stilts and stones, but many now converted into holiday cottages.

In the afternoon we went for a short Winter Walk in Bellwald - just along the panorama route heading east out of the village. We found the route after some slight navigational challenges, but once on the path it was very easy

We stopped for tea and biscuits at the farthest point, and were treated to some sunshine on the way back to the hotel. It was a pretty gentle stretch of the legs, 4.9km, with 110m ascent/descent and took us about 1 hour 10 minutes. That was enough for us to feel we deserved a wurst and a small beer when we arrived back at the resort!

Sun shining through snow covered trees, deep snow on the ground

On Tuesday we went Snowshoeing in Bellwald, doing a variation on snowshoeing routes 10 & 11. We started with a fairly steady ascent up to the lift station at Fleschen, then headed down towards Mutti, which apparently is a hilarious name for a hut. We stopped for a tea and cookies in the woods out of the wind, then carried on the route 11 - going the wrong way round, which made the navigation a little more challenging.

The route ended with a fairly steep descent followed by a traverse and a final climb up and around Ried to finish back in Bellwald. Overall it was 7.8km, with 585m ascent/descent and took us 2 hours 15, not including the breaks

We packed up the car to head back to Zurich, stopping briefly to pick up some excellent cheese at Bio-Bergkäserei Goms. We were lucky to catch the car train at Furka perfectly - almost driving straight on and leaving immediately.

Overall it was a lovely trip away, and a nice little break for us.

Snowshoeing Brunni (Sat 26-Dec)
With a fairly nice day forecast, Jules & I headed to Brunni for our first snowshoeing trip in a long time.

The weather was lovely when we arrived, and conditions were great with lots of fresh snow. It was reasonably busy (considering that the ski resot was closed), with significantly more people sledging, snow-shoeing and ski-touring than in usual times.

We quickly re-familiarised ourselves with the equipment, and headed on up to the SAC hut. To our slight surprise the hut was open, but err-ing on the side of caution we decided to sit outside and drink our tea.

We declined the extra section up to the peak at Furggellenstock, and instead headed back down to the carpark. Overall it took us about 1 hour for the ascent, and 50 minutes for the descent, for the 4.8km with 460m vertical

Lermoos - September View down over the crystal clear Eibsee, framed by mountains and trees

For a long-planned trip away in late summer, Jules and I headed down to MOHR resort in Lermoos hoping for a bit of riding, fishing, and generally chilling out.

Friday 25-Sep
On Friday we headed out of Zuricha and drove to Lermoos, via Murnau. Cycling through on our summer holiday we had seen a photography gallery with some large prints that we thought would be nice in our home. We'd arranged to see the ones we liked and also to have a chat to the photographer about what might go well in our room. We ended up picking a very pleasant sunset, very happy over with Christian Kolb @ Galerie Kistenblick. From Murnau we headed on the MOHR resort in Lermoos, slightly thrown by the snow en-route, which didn't bode well for the weekend's plans. Our fears came to pass pretty soon, Jules' riding lesson was moved, and the fishing had to be cancelled, owing to the river being in flood. Otherwise the hotel seemed to be dealing with Corona quite well - a few understandable adjustments, but everyone seemed to be making the best of it.

Saturday 26-Sep
I woke up on Saturday not feeling quite 100%. We went for a short walk around town to try to find the nice supermarket which we thought we'd seen in the snow on the drive in, but completely failed. Feeling a bit knackered we headed back to the hotel and I went to the spa to chill out for the afternoon. On reflection I was quite glad not to have spent the day in a cold river, and felt a lot better by the evening. For dinner we had a rather good Weiner schnitzel in the restaurant and then retired early.

The Zugspitze catching the last sun of the evening

Sunday 27-Sep
With the best weather of the weekend forecast for sunday, we headed out to try a walk from the map we'd bought on a previous trip. The route was called the Thörlerrundweg, and followed the marked #811 signs from Obermoos. The weather was very kind to us, and we were rewarded with great views over the Eibsee, and the Zugspitze. The route climbs steadly but gently out of Obermoss, until the HochThörleHütte where we recuperated with a great Kaiserschmarmm. Fortified we took the brief detour to the Eibsee lookout point, before continuing around the loop. We arrived back in Erwald having completed the 19.2km with 665m ascent/descent in about 3hrs 45 walking time. It's an easily navigated T1 on forest roads and well made paths. We headed back to the hotel in time for morecake for Jules, and a brief relax in the spa before dinner.

Monday 28-Sep
On Monday I had a second failed attempt at fly-fishing. Marco kindly came to the hotel to talk to us, but advised that the water was too cold, and that the fish woudn't be persuaded to bite. We chilled out in the hotel for a bit and then went for a sligthtly wet run in the early afternoon to get a bit of exercise. Late afternoon Jules managed to take her riding lesson (unfortunately after a bit of confusion about where to go).

Tuesday 29-Sep
On Tuesday we left the hotel after a gentle breakfast and travelled back to Zürich. It was nice to get away, but the hotel was clearly struggling to maintain their (usually very high) standard in the wake of Corona. Still, we had a nice time and a chance to relax.

Neuchâtel - August Small boats harbour in Neuchatel, under blue skies.

For the second part of our summer holiday, we headed to Neuchâtel to see where Jules studied, and a bit of the city. Neuchâtel turned out to have a very pretty and characterful old-town, with a few new cafes and bars, and generally seemed popular and well frequented.

It was a slightly more strenuous drive than hoped for - quite busy on the roads, but we arrived safe and sound. We checked into the Hotel Beaulac (BWP) - and were given a lovely room overlooking the harbour. In the early afternoon we went for a wander around town. After a quick drink at Les Brasseurs to get out of a light rain-shower, we then wandered through the old town and took a brief stroll along the promenade.

Jules was very keen to go for a drink at Café du Cerf, for old times sake, which is now a not-very-Irish bar. After freshening up we headed to Restaurant O'terroirs in the Beau-Rivage hotel for a rather nice dinner. To round off a lovely day we stopped for a nightcap in the rooftop bar in the hotel, which was a lovely way to finish.

On Saturday we left Neuchâtel and headed over Suigez to do walk #89 from the yellow book Zuercher Wanderwege: Wanderungen in der Schweiz 2016/17. This turned out to bea lovely walk in the sun, starting by climbing up onto the small plateau with pleasant views over the surrounding lakes and countryside. From there we did a loop of the top of the hill, stopping at hotel Mont Vully for a very welcome icecream before dropping down to he village of Praz. We persuaded ourselves to pick up a couple of bottles of local white wine from Château de Praz on Rue du Château 1 (, before heading back along the lakeside to the start.

Overall it was 11.5km, with slightly less than 400m ascent/descent, and took us about 2hrs 30 of walking time. It's a T1, and the gpx plot of our route is here.

Cycling Bavaria - August The Isar river near the source at Isar Quelle

For our main holiday of the year, Jules and I headed to Bavaria for a week of self-guided cycling setting out from and returning to Münich. Overall it was a very good trip, the cycling part provided by, and the latter we organised ourselves. The weather was a little unkind to us at the start - we had two days of quite heavy rain (severe weather warnings for southern Bavaria), but then the conditions improved, and we were back to bright sunshine.

Fortunately the weather was perfect by the time we returned to Münich, which was great for seeing the city and trying out the beer gardens for size. The city itself was nicely chilled out, with an attractive old walled city centre and a very large park in the style of an English garden.

The days broke down as follows:

Sunday 2-Aug
Travel to Münich. There was a bit of delay with the trains, but we made the connection in Stuttgart. Unfortunately the second train had no bicycle storage (despite being reserved), so the bikes ended up in a locked cabin. Arriving in Münich we made our way by bicycle to the hotel, noting a Greek restaurant (Opson on Kazmairstr.) on the way that we ended up going to back to for dinner. Excellent mixed tapas, good wine, and not too filling - perfect to finish a day of travel.

Monday 3 August
After a slightly disorganised breakfast service at the Sheraton Westpark, we headed off on the way to Murnau. The route was very good - mostly traffic free or very quiet, but unfortunately the weather wasn't kind to us. We had pretty steady rain for most of the morning, and we were soaked through by the time we arrived at the Stambergersee. We had a very welcome lunch (and warmed up) in the Landhotel Huber am See where we both had the Radlfahrersuppe - an excellent choice - followed by very good spaetzle and chanterelles for yours truly.

After lunch we continued along the lakeside for the next section before heading off into the countryside. There were a couple of hills to finish the day (which we felt was a bit rude), but we arrived in Murnau in the late afternoon. We washed off the bikes courtesy of a fountain and then proceeded to the Angerbrau hotel.

After warming up and changing into dry clothes, we had a wander around the old-town of Murnau - very pretty cobbled high street with a selection of cafes and restaurants. We stumbled across a lovely little Spanish restaurant (Pollito at Obermarket 35) for an excellent dinner to finish the first days cycling.

Overall it was about 75km and took us 4 hrs 10 peddling. The winner of the day was the showercap that Jules took from the hotel, which did an excellent job of keeping her hair dry under the helmet!

Bikes in front of a lake.

Tuesday 4-Aug
We woke up to fairly heavy rain in Murnau, and severe weather warnings for Bavaria. We set off about 11am and ran into problems pretty quickly. The route across the NSG Murnauer Moos (marsh) was closed, owing to the high water levels. We navigated back to Hermannsweise and joined the main road to Westreid, whereupon we joined the official route a bit before Grafenaschau. A little further on the road was flooded near Hinterbraunau, but we cycled through and arrived at Eschenlohe with slightly wet feet, but going fairly strong.

Unfortunately conditions deteriorated at Eschenlohe. We tried to follow the signposted route to Oberau, but ended up in the major road B2, which we declined as there was no cycle path, the traffic was heavy and the visibility poor in the rain. The second attempt (this time correctly following the cycle route) took us to a field which was completely flooded under about 2 foot of water. The third attempt found a gravel track to the south of the Pfühlmoos marsh, which looped back to Oberau. There was a brief moment where Jules was very brave, crossing a stream which had broken its banks and was flowing fairly strongly over the road. We arrived Oberau to find the next section of the cycle route closed. There might have been a slight sense of humour failure at this point, if I'm honest. We checked the railway station for a train to Garmish, but unfortunately the trains were all cancelled owing the the severe weather which had flooded some of the tracks. Cold and wet but with only 12km to go, we got on the B2, and cycled very conservatively to Farchant whereupon we were able to pick up paved and well signed paths to Garmisch.

We were very happy to arrive at the hotel Vier Jahreszeit, and after warming up and changing into dry clothes we wandered into town. We found an excellent Bavarian restaurant (Gasthaus zur Schranne at Griesstr. 4) for a good supper, and then retired to the hotel for a desert and a nightcap.

The day topped out at only 39km and 2 hours 10 minutes of cycling, although it felt a lot longer.

Wednesday 5-Aug
We woke up to much better weather, and shoes nearly dry but getting a bit stinky. We eventually managed to get the train to Mittlewald (nil-points DB for incorrect advice on the departure of the train we were supposed to catch) and then rode through the very pretty woodlands to Scharnitz. I had a huge banana split (carb-loading, obviously) and Jules had a much more reasonable affogato.

Feeling much better about life (and warm in the sun) we decided to ignore everyone's advice and to head up the Isar valley on the original plan for the day. Conditions were pretty good, and it felt perfectly safe at start so we continued on. The valley is very pretty and reminded us a little of Yosemite. We ended up going all the way to the Isar Quelle which is a very pretty and peaceful spot and well worth the visit.

We then headed back down the valley, going much faster on the descent! We retraced our route to Mittlewald, then continued on north part Klais and on to Wallgau to finish for the day. We had a lovely room in the hotel - a split level suite with a little balcony which was very pleasant. We somehow managed to miss the excellent beer garden in the hotel, but found some refreshment in a cafe in the village. We did find the restaurant in the hotel, where Jules had an excellent schweinshaxe & knoedel, and yours truly tried the Oxen Fetzen for me - all proper Bavarian food in Bavarian sized portions!

Overall it was a slightly longer day than advertised, owing to us alighting in Mittlewald (rather than Scharnitz). It ended up being 52km, and took us 3 hrs 10.

The Isar river and bridge at Bad Toeltz

Thursday 6-Aug
After experiencing the 3rd option for "hotel breakfast in times of corona" we headed off from Wallgau in bright sunshine, following the Isar valley. There were spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and it was very pretty cycling along the roads, although a little more traffic than the previous days. We arrived Fall and negotiated a coffee instead of the offered weisswurst. Unfortunately the heavy recent rains meant that the lake wasn't very appealing for a swim, so we carried on towards Bad Tötz.

The Isar was in full flood, and quite impressive in places. We were told that normally the river runs clear, cold, and fairly shallow, but it was a boiling, muddy torrent for us. The countryside was quite varied, with a nature reserve just outside Bad Tötz which reminded us somewhat of the New Forest. It was lovely weather when we arrived, and we checked into our well appointed room at the Hotel Kolberbräu at Marktstr. 29 before heading out to explore the town. We had a late lunch of salad with Chanterelles (both of us grateful for the vegetables)

The cycling for the day was 47km and took us 2 hrs 25 actually moving.

Friday 7-Aug
We decided to go cycling on the optional day, and headed off to Gmund am Tegernsee. This turned out to be a nice 55km circular route taking in the rolling hills and green fields of Bavaria. We opted to start with the shorter but more hilly route, which did include a few longer inclines on rougher tracks that made for slow going.

We were nice and warm when we arrived in Gmund am Tegernsee and so decided to go for a brief swim in the decidedly chilly lake. After drying off and warming back up, we headed south down the side of the lake to the town of Tegernsee for perfectly acceptable lunch of Wolfsbarsch on middle-eastern couscous for me and lobster tagliatelle for Jules.

After lunch we headed back to Bad Tötz via the longer loop which did involve a few sections on busier roads, but overall was reasonably quiet and pleasant. We arrived back in town just in time to celebrate International Beer day, followed by dinner in the Hotel Metzgerbrau.

Overall the day was 54km and took us 3 hrs 15 of peddling.

Sat 8-Aug
For the last day in the tour, we set off from Bad Tölz in lovely sunshine. We followed the Isar out of town, then headed up into the hills north of the town. The countryside was very pretty in this part of Bavaria - rolling hills and green fields. We stopped at Gasthof Aujäger for lunch where we both had the rather good smoked trout salad. Then it was just the last leg and final climb into Münich. We arrived in the city following a slightly off-piste route through fairly well do to suburbs. You know you're in a good neighbourhood when you see a lady walking her pet falcon (no, I'm not joking).

We arrived back at the hotel Sheraton Westpark having cycled the 59km in 3 hrs 30.

We found an excellent beer garden in the Bavariapark to finish off a good week of cycling, followed by a good dinner in Rüen Thai

Sun 9-Aug
After breakfast we changed hotels to Mercure Altstadt. This was a fairly easy cycle ride across town, even with the bags on our backs, and fortunately the room was ready for us when we arrived. After dropping the bags we went for a wander around the old town. We found a pretty manicured gardens near Odeonsplatz, and walked on and through the English Garden. We stopped at the Beer Garden at the Chinese Turm (well, you have to, don't you?) and then strolled back along the Isar into town via the Maximillans bridge. We went for a late lunch at the Haxenbauer (Jay's recommendation, and very good too) - where I had a good duo of Kalbshaxen and Schweinshaxe.

In the afternoon we headed back to the beer garden in the Bavaria park to chill out in the shade and relax.

Munich new town hall

Mon 10-Aug
After a good breakfast - variation 6 on Corona theme, we headed off to do a bit of shopping and then retired to the Viktualienmarkt where we relaxed in the Café Nymphenburg Sekt to watch the world go by. For dinner we picked up some very good tapas at the market and had a little picnic in our hotel room with a nice glass of rose.

Tue 11-Aug
We had planned to take the Hop-on-hop-off tour of München, but that wasn't to be. We waited nearly an hour for the first bus to come, only to find that it was only going on the short version of the route. We gave up on that plan and decided to go our own way. We bought a map from the tourist office and a day ticket for the metro area and headed off. to see (some of) the sights.

We started by going to the Nymphenburg schloss, which was much bigger than I expected, and rather grand inside. We then headed back to town (slightly caught out that the U3 wasn't running), but went to see the Sendlingertor, then up to the surf-break and finally back to the centre of town via Odeonsplatz for a cafe and kuchen for Jules in the Riechart cafe next to the old town hall.

We had an early dinner at Dima close to the hotel - a perfectly acceptable Vietnamese, followed by a quiet drink at Café Nymphenburg Sekt in the Altmarkt to finish off the day, and to round off a lovely holiday in Bavaria and Münich.

Meran, South Tyrol - June Holding a rainbow trout, in the river.

After a Corona-necessitated change of plans, Jules and I headed to Salthaus in the Passier valley for a long weekend away.

We arrived in Salthaus after a fairly easy drive down on Friday morning. The journey took about 5.5 hours in total, including just a couple of brief stops. It was raining when we arrived, but we settled quickly and easily into our room at the very friendly Hotel Sonnegg in Saltaus. For lunch we headed down to the river to frequent the (excellent, as it turned out) Radlstadl next to a bridge over the Passier. After a quick bite to eat yours truly then rushed back to go fishing with Robert. It was a pretty successful afternoon with my new rod and reel, and I even managed not to disgrace myself with my casting. Unfortunately six fish managed to get off the hook, however we persevered and ended up with one photo-worthy trout, just at the end of the day. Tired but happy I headed back to the hotel for a very good dinner, where we both opted for the trout. Overall a very good if slightly packed day.

We were both up fairly promptly on Saturday morning - me for a full day of fishing with Robert whilst Jules opted for a riding lesson at Andreous, followed by a trip into Merano. Both our days were successful - I managed to catch about a dozen trout, four of them photo worthy (one early release), and another half dozen lovely fish. Jules had a lovely hack and the cycled to Merano for a coffee and some shopping. After recuperating in Radlstadl we headed for another lovely dinner at the hotel, followed by a digestive which was cut slightly short by a tremendous and impressive thunderstorm.

Looking down the Passier valley, from the hillside.

Sunday was announced by the local church - Jules wasn't very happy about that. However, we had a good breakfast in the hotel and then headed off for a decent walk. The chosen route was #20 from Rund um Meran by Rother (we're starting to like that series of books). It's a fairly short but punchy circular route out of Riffian heading pretty steeply up at first through town and then into the forest. It was warm in the sun, and we were grateful of the shade in the trees when we reached them. The majority of the climb is done in the first section, whereupon we rested and recovered with an excellent lunch in Gasthaus Walde. Jules opted for the trout again, whilst I had a very good Knödel. After lunch we tackled the second (shorter) ascent - a little calf-breaker up to the highest point at Unteröberst. From there the route descents quite steeply on a variety of roads, paths, and woodland tracks back down to Riffian. Overall it was 13.0km with 1,020m ascent/descent and a T2 with almost no flat sections. We headed back to the hotel to freshen up, and then retreated to Radlstadl for a beer to recover.

On Monday we reluctantly packed up and made ready to leave, but not before heading to the Hofladen at the Apfelhotel Torgglerhof. We timed the walk well as the rain started just as we departed, but it did make the trip over the Jaufenpass quite interesting - Jules doing very well on that drive....

Skiing St. Anton - February

For the main skiing holiday of the winter, Andy and I headed down to St. Anton to meet up with the Gileys for the week, plus one last day back in Switzerland in Klosters. It was a pretty successful week - we skied all 8 days and managed a total of 291km with 56,700m of descent over 124 runs.

Snow covered mountains of Arlberg under blue skies.

We headed off promptly from Zurich in the early morning. The traffic was OK until Austria, where everything slowed down significantly - possibly an earlier accident. We arrived at St Christoph, and grabbed one of the last parking spaces, only to then join the long queue at the ticket kiosk, which was a bit dull....

Eventually we got up the mountain, and from there the day improved. The conditions en-piste were fine, but a bit more marginal off-piste. We had a bit of a cruise about, and found some nice snow around Albona. It was a lovely sunny day, and the pistes were full as one might expect. I stopped skiing in the afternoon to head over to St Anton to check into the hotel whilst Andy carried on skiing for a bit.

First impressions of the Hotel Kirchplatz were good - a very friendly greeting at reception and a well appointed apartment. Andy arrived just as I'd finished unpacking and we decided to go for a cheeky beer before doing the shopping. We opted for the Bila in town, which was the wrong choice - the Spar in the centre turned out to be closer and better stocked - but we got the essentials. Dinner was a rather good Thai chicken curry cooked by Andy, whereupon we chilled out and listened to (Andy's) music.

All in all, a pretty successful first day with no major upsets or problems. I managed 25.4 km and 4,410m of descent over 11 runs.

We met up with the Gileys at 10am at Galzig, and went for a cruise around in the sun. It felt as though the conditions were better than Saturday (although no snow had fallen), possibly because me managed to find quieter pistes, which had been nicely groomed. This was exemplified by our first run down from Kappall on perfect corduroy, which left us both smiling.

We spent the day cruising around St Anton, St Christoph, and Albona. We managed to persuade Woo onto a skiroute down from the new Schindlergrat gondola by the simple expedient of not telling her where we were going and which fortunately turned out great. We had lunch for the second day in a row in the restaurant at Albonamittelstation before dropping down to St Christoph to see Jessica-monkey, Steph, Shane, and Hattie at the end of their lessons. Andy and I then cruised back to St Anton to finish a perfectly respectable day of 49.6km and 9,380m over 20 runs.

Dinner was sausage pasta, and a significantly better wine from the main Spar in town.

We woke up to very poor visibility and strong winds. Andy and I managed two runs under Galzig Bahn, then went for a coffee to wait for Marcus and Wendy to make their way over to St Anton by bus - the lifts out of St. Christoph being completely closed. After a brief kerfuffle meeting up we found them in the lift queue and did a two more runs down back down to St Anton. With slightly more lifts opening up we headed over to Rondel Alm for lunch - schweinshaxe for me, slightly more moderate for the rest. We stretched lunch out with a couple more drinks, and then headed down (slightly wobbly) to finish a short day.

Snow covered mountains of Arlberg under blue skies.

We woke up to more bad weather complements of storm Ciara (but also lots of fresh snow coming down). Andy and I decided to make the best of it, did some great runs down the skiroutes under Galzig Bahn then headed up to Gampen when it opened. There was a brief moment of excitement necessitating the rescue of my goggles - always put them in your pocket in the bathroom, not on the shelf. We then managed a couple of great runs down the unofficial skiroute to join black under Nasserein - this one isn't on the maps, but is marked by poles and seems to follow the path of a downhill race run - it's short, but worth looking out for in good snow. It was a fairly short day, owing to a significant number of lifts being closed, but felt we made the most of it. Dinner plans with the Gileys were cancelled owing to Jessica monkey falling over in the shower and going to hospital for emergency staples. Dangerous places, ski resorts....

With the storm having blown through, and the promise of good snow, Andy and I headed up to Rendl on an early lift. We spent the morning almost entirely off-piste, doing variations on the skiroute down to the slow, 2 man Maasbahn chair. We repeated that run three times until the queue at the bottom got a bit too long, by which time Gampbergbahn had opened. We did variations off the left side of Gampbergbahn (to the left of black #5) which was awesome - deep powder and just a bit of confidence needed, since neither of us had ever skied in that area before. After a few runs we headed over to Riffel-I (the second stage was closed all day) and did a couple of great routes down from the middle of #14, once to the bottom of Riffel-I and once all the way down to Maasbahn. That second route became my favourite of the week - but more on that later. We finished up in Rendel with an awesome run down #3 to St. Anton, and went for truffle pasta in BaseCamp which was as good as I remembered. Marcus, Wendy and a patched up Jessica-monkey joined us, and we decided to settle in for the afternoon, after an exhausting but very rewarding morning....

Snow covered mountains of Arlberg under blue skies.

With Jessica-monkey patched up, we agreed to meet up with Gileys for a more gentle day. The agreed meeting point was the top of Nasserein Bahn, but on the way up to Kappell (for a warm -up run), Andy and I noticed that that bowl had just been opened. Despite being on piste skis we had a go, and had an amazing powder run (the phrase "balls deep" was not a metaphor). Awesome run, as technical and deep as we could have hoped for. We arrived at the cafe exhausted at 10:30am! We were both quite grateful to spend the rest of the day cruising around the St. Anton area with the Gileys.

Making the most of the snow that fell overnight, Andy and I headed up to Rendl for the start of an awesome powder day. We did a run down to Maasbahn to warm up, and then headed up to Riffel-I and -II to find some great routes down off the sides to Maasbahn, particularly enjoying the area through the middle of the mountain which we did multiple times. We had a great run down skiroute #3 from the top of Gampbergbahn - head hard left from the top and keep following the poles for a great run down. We finished the day with a couple of runs on the skiroutes above St. Anton, to finish tired but happy after an awesome powder day.

For the last day in St. Anton, and feeling a bit exhausted after the epic powder of the last few days, Andy and I went for a cruise around the Weiss ring. We drove to Zürs to make the journey home a bit easier and set off around the ring. The conditions were lovely - bright sunny skies, and not too busy en-piste and it was a great day cruising. We did the extra detour over to Warth to have a look, and enjoyed a good lunch in Rud-Alpe (having missed going there earlier in the week owing to the weather conditions). Despite trying for a more relaxing day, it was perfectly respectable - we covered 55.5km and 9,800m of descent over 30 runs. Tired but happy we headed back to Zürich, which was a bit of a long drive with queues in the Arlberg valley on the motorway. Probably should have taken a break on the way back - my driving wasn't up to standard after a long day.

To round out the week of skiing, Jules, Andy and I headed down to Klosters after a fairly relaxing start. We chose that location so that Jules could go langlaufen, and Andy and I could head up the slopes for some proper skiing. We had a good cruise about, and managed to cover most of the mountain, but staying a bit higher up where the conditions were better. Lunch was a somewhat mediocre burger in Erezsässhütte at the bottom of Schifebahn - nice to sit in the sun, but we wouldn't be in huge rush to go back. We finished up the day in reasonable time to drop Andy back at the airport.

All in all a very successful holiday. I was particularly pleased with the self-catering option, which was perfect in Hotel Kirchplatz