It’s a bit chilly in Scheffau; -25C promised tonight, Friday, so the ski shop guys say. Nice and warm inside though. My wife dropped my mobile outside the underground car park in the snow, a bit of a shock to the nipple when I found it an hour later and put it back in my pocket. A good day for wearing a fur hat. I might even think about wearing some thermal underwear.
Scheffau is a little village at the edge of Austria’s Skiwelt, claimed to be the largest inter-connected area in the country. More details in this recent Blog by Brave SkiMom, Kristen Lummis. Almost all the runs are red or blue - the few blacks are not very hairy, the reds usually have an easier side to them.
We averaged one run to one hot drink on Saturday. Plus the occasional nip from the hipflask. I wasn’t too cold considering it was somewhere below -17C - one advantage of wearing a helmet. But if I see a thin balaclava I might get one to keep my forehead warm.
The sun has been trying to break through the clouds but I think it might now have given up. Still there is always Jägertee. This is literally Hunter’s Tea, principal ingredient hot rum, and very acceptable if you are out hunting on a cold winter day. The locals have taken to spelling this Jagatee, perhaps as part of the German language’s recent spelling revolution. Or maybe it’s a brand name?
It’s Sunday and the snow diamonds are sparkling in the sunshine. -17C at the Osthangbahn lift and very chilly indeed when I tuck down into a schuss. Maybe I should buy a Hannibal Lecter face mask? After a day’s skiing my face is tingling... I shall need to slap on loads of after sun tonight.
Excellent lunch at the Brenneralm above Going. Tirolergröstl mit Spiegelei - sauté potatoes with diced ham and a fried egg on top. Schmeckt! It’s a big, modern, efficient waiter-service place, but perhaps a little soulless. Big fire in the middle, panoramic views over the mountains. I think my favourite is still the Rübezahlalm though.
Unfortunately I have caught an ear worm today. It goes Ich kann dich einfach nicht vergessen, Mary Jane, tum ti tum ti tum auf Wiedersehen, round and round in my head. They were playing it in the Aualm bar and earworms, being ferociously catchy, get into your head and stay there until displaced by something else.
Over the mountain to Westendorf Monday; the run down to Brixen is a bit disappointing. Maybe it seems a bit cramped after the runs higher up - this time last year it was a narrow strip of white between brown fields, and this year I expected better. But it was still narrow. Still the diamonds in the air make everything beautiful.
Went into the self-service place at the Choralpe but the smell of cigarette smoke was too off-putting; there didn’t seem to be a Nichtraucher area so we walked out and skied down the mountain to the Gassnerwirt. An old favourite, but they have sadly taken Käsekräuterkräpfel off the menu this year. Great for alliteration and umlaut fans, these were herby cheesy things, a bit like Greek spinakopitta. Had Oma’s Suppentopf instead, very nice veg soup. Oma (granny) gives you a very tasty, generous bowl, and I’m not a big soup fan.
Tuesday, and Holzfällerpfandl in the Stoagrubnhütte. - don’t you just love German spelling? This is pre-revolutionary stuff, and who can blame the Germans for storming the barricades to overthrow the tyranny of words like that? The Woodcutter’s Pan was a pork chop with sauté potatoes and fresh veg with garlic sauce, served in an individual frying pan on a wooden platter.
Much warmer today (Wednesday) at -6C. I have new skis and they are a big improvement - about 10cm longer and when I put them on edge they stay there instead of wobbling about. I suspect my technique is mostly to blame - if I was a better skier they wouldn’t wobble.
Lunch at the Gasthof Hochschwendt, which is tucked away at the bottom of the Schmiedlalm; very pleasant and I might even friend it on Facebook as the menu politely requests, although sadly I can't find it on facebook.... Geselchtes mit Sauerkraut und Bratkartoffeln. They call this Kassler in northern Germany - I think it would be boiled gammon in English. There is a problem with Sauerkraut unfortunately, delicious as it is, but let’s not go into that. I didn’t know this restaurant or even this run existed - it’s on the way to Going, on the Schmiedlalm, itself off to one side of a run that I’ve always zoomed straight past under the Ellmi’s 6-er chair. Shame that it is served by one of the few T-bars left in the Skiwelt. Wide, varied and well-groomed like most of the runs in the Skiwelt, there’s a ski-route from the bottom of the run down to the lifts at Scheffau in the next valley, although I didn’t try going that way.
Thursday and a mid morning stop at the Bergkaiser motorway services high above Ellmau for a strange and slightly sickly concoction called chiocco intense - made of coffee, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Long wait for service as everything is prepared fresh; what can it be like at busy times? Not bad for such a big place, and very civilised loos with an escalator down. There’s allegedly a word in German which translates as “the sense of self-loathing and emotional collapse men feel as they walk down the steps into a beer hall toilet”. That would not apply here.
We were heading over to Going for another visit to the Brenneralm, but got sidetracked and decided to have lunch at the Hausleiternsstube just above Ellmau. Another restaurant new to me - it’s a tiny self-service place, obviously family run and very friendly. I had Kartoffellauchsuppe mit Würstl. That’s garlicky potato soup with a couple of sausages floating in it. Tasty, but I think I prefer my frankfurters in a roll with mustard.
Over to the Aualm and a quick Leberkäsesemmel mit Senf on what is nearly the last run of the week. Liver Cheese is neither liver nor cheese - it’s not unlike Spam (cue chorus of Vikings). It makes a very tasty snack in a roll with mustard.
And finally down the blue to Scheffau. I usually take the black (it’s not that steep, used to be marked as a red) and will do that next time. The blue is a narrow icy road, while the red/black is wide and uncrowded. At the middle station the red and blue runs come together and cross over. My advice is stick to the red, although sometimes the poor signposting makes this tricky.
Bis nächstes Mal!