Sunday, May 2, 2010

Skiing in Gaschurn, Austria

One of my favorite things about skiing in the Alps is the phenomenal view.  The Alps have amazing jagged peaks and rock faces.  A friend mentioned that they're very rugged because they're (relatively) young mountains which haven't dulled with age yet. 

 The Alps skiing experience is unique (compared to mainstream US skiing) for a couple reasons. 

1. Off-piste skiing is more common than skiing on slopes.  The ropes roping off certain areas are more like "guidelines" concerning where not to ski.  The entire mountain is open to skiing, as far as Europeans are concerned.

2. The ski towns are cute, Euopean ski towns... not some tourist version made by Vail Resorts to imitate a European ski chalet. 

3. Everyone does the sauna after a day on the slopes.  A European sauna trip is very complicated.  There are many levels, stages, pools, rooms, and showers (hot, cold, wet, dry).  And there is a specific order and timing to doing them all.  Sauna is taken very seriously... there is no skimping on any of the steps.  

4. People go on ski trips - not to ski - but to partake in the apres-ski (after ski) party.  Many people spend the day relaxing, then at 3pm, they put on ski gear (coat, helmet, ski boots) and head to the apres-ski party.  The apres-ski can last all night.  The participants then sleep throught the next day and repeat the apres-ski party.  This is completely baffling to me.  If I'm in a ski location, then I want to ski! 

5. Lines to get on lifts are non-existant.  It's all about every person for themselves, and shoving to ensure that you have a spot.  This takes some getting used to for people who usually have well-structured lines with automatice gates that time when to let you through.
6. The food served by ski chalets is weird. The pic below shows a traditional dish served to skiers at the mountain chalets.

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