Saturday, May 5, 2007

20 March: Noch Mehr Schnee (Still More Snow)

We woke up to – you guessed it – more snow. They were shoveling it off the roof of the breakfast room while we ate. It was blowing like crazy out the window and the visibility looked even worse than yesterday. They hadn’t started running the St. Christophbahn lift even after we finished breakfast, so we had to ask at the front desk about where we could ski if the lift wasn’t open. It turned out that they were doing avalanche control up top and would be opening the lift shortly. Sure enough, by the time we went down to put on our boots, the lift was running. We had to pick up John’s skis so we didn’t get going until about 10:30. Not that it mattered much: we couldn’t see a thing. We did our warmup on run 5 a couple of times and then went over to runs 11 and 17, which, being a little sheltered, we thought might be better. It wasn’t. We realized very quickly how much you depend upon visual topographic details to gauge when to make your turns. We did learn how to turn “on demand” without knowing what the heck we were skiing through. On the bright side, the snow was fairly soft and forgiving. On the other hand, skiing over bumps you can’t see at high speeds is a rather terrifying experience. At one point, as I skied through the fresh powder, I got this very strange sensation of floating along above the snow. I couldn’t feel my skis at all or see them in front of me. Basically all attempts at style went out the window and I just hoped I could get down each run in one piece. I was very happy to be on my 153-cm K2s at least, which turned when I asked them to. I feel like I have to lug my old skis around every turn.

It was very slow going and we were pretty tired to boot. We went in for lunch at the Ulmerhütte around 12:30 and stayed there for quite a long time. We got a nice bench seat and enjoyed bowls of steaming hot speckknödelsuppe (beef broth with ham dumplings). I asked for zwei (two) soups but the waiter apparently didn’t hear me because only one soup showed up. I was halfway through mine before we could flag down the waiter again and order another soup. We were joined by three English guys who were quite awed by the germknödel that I ordered for dessert. It was delicious…a warm steamed dumpling filled with plum jam and covered with melted butter and sweet poppyseed paste. I had to explain what it was to the English guys; they laughed and said, “Oh, so no calories or cholesterol in that, eh?” I said I needed my energy. They admitted that they’d be consuming a lot more calories (of the brewed variety) tonight in St. Anton. We also had hot chocolate again (which is advertised on the menu as the “house drink in Grandma’s mug”). Two of the English guys left before we finished but the third one took his time, saying his buddies were going out to smoke. He said he lived in Scotland and was happy that they had made smoking illegal in restaurants. I told him we are planning a trip to Scotland in June and we talked a bit about the area around Glen Coe and the Great Glen, which I really want to visit.

After lunch we only skied for another hour or so…it just wasn’t that fun anymore. We decided to try run 17 one more time, although John was skeptical that it would be any better. We could barely make out the lights of a snowcat groomer coming up the hill below us as we started down, and we soon realized we had accidentally made a brilliant choice – we had found a freshly-groomed run! We could just barely make out the grooves left by the snowcat, and enjoyed a few minutes of effortless skiing. Later on we went down run 4, which curves down a narrow valley, bottlenecking into a crazy-narrow chute, and spits you out at the Zammermoos lift (you gotta love the names here). We did run 5 a couple more times before finally deciding to call it an early day. We got back around 3:30, so we still put in about four hours of skiing despite the weather. We had some time to kill before dinner so we decided to watch a movie, which we had brought along for just such circumstances. (We watch our American DVDs on our laptop, using headphones.) We watched Platoon, which I had never seen before. I’m glad I saw it but I don’t need to see it again any time soon.

Dinner (with the house-recommended Moulin à Vent Cru Beaujolais, which was excellent): Beef broth with “frittaten” (a sort of herbed crèpe cut into thin strips), tortelini with ricotta-spinach filling and leek-shrimp sauce (this was to die for!), the salad buffet, John had Gekochter Tafelspitz which was disappointing –a fatty cut of beef served with horseradish sauce and mixed shredded vegetables, I had the turkey cordon bleu with parsley potatoes and cranberry sauce, which was simple but delicious (John was jealous), and dessert was Nusspalatschinken with chocolate sauce, which was divine – crèpes filled with a not-too-sweet nutty filling, topped with a generous portion of chocolate sauce. I told the waiter I wanted the recipe and he said he would ask about it, but we never heard back from him. When he left he was talking to a pretty girl at the bar, so I decided not to bug him.

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