Saturday, May 5, 2007

21 March: One Glorious Day

We were pretty disappointed to wake up to another windy, snowy view out the window. I was worried it was going to be as bad as yesterday. I didn’t think it could get any worse than the whiteout we experienced last year, but I was wrong. Once again the lift didn’t open until right before we were ready to go. We got to the top at 10:10 and had to go up and down run 5 three times because we literally couldn’t go anywhere else – all of our usual routes and lifts were closed. They never even opened the Schindlergratbahn today, so we didn’t get to go up to the “tippy top” again.

Fortunately, a little bit of luck was on our side: after an hour or so, the sun started to peek through the clouds and I could actually make out the contours of the snow in front of me. Finally run 4 opened and we decided to go all the way down to St. Anton and check out the east side. By this point the sun was positively shining and we even tried an advanced run on the way down. The snow was quite nice and we managed okay even in the steep bumps. We were surprised to see that there was significantly less snow on the St. Anton side of the mountain, and it was a bit icy at the bottom. We took the Galpen lift and then Kappall all the way to the top and skied runs 36/37 a couple of times (including a section of the World Championship run). After a quick bathroom break around noon we decided to keep going for a couple of runs because we weren’t sure the weather would hold. Finally we decided to have lunch at the small lodge at the top of Kappall, which had a cozy non-smoking section upstairs. John had sausages and kartoffelsalat and I had a big plate of spaghetti Bolognese. We shared our table with a very nice older Austrian gentleman, who figured out that we spoke some German and ended up talking with us all through lunch. He was surprised to meet Americans who spoke “such good German” (his words, not mine!). He asked us about skiing in the U.S. and was very interested in how long it took to fly from Michigan to Europe and from Michigan to California. He said it was hard to imagine the size of the United States. He was from a small town near Salzburg and was spending the week in the Arlberg with his wife, who doesn’t ski. He left shortly before we finished, wishing us a pleasant end to our trip.

We decided to forego the heisse Schokolade today because the sun was out and the slopes were calling to us, and we only had two hours left in the day! We made our way back over to the St. Christoph side via Zammermoos. Finally runs 11 and 17 and their respective lifts were open, so we went over and enjoyed several fabulous runs in full sunshine. That is, except for the large cloud pushed into run 17’s valley that refused to move, creating a foggy zone of several hundred meters in length. All in all it was a great end to our last day and we felt really lucky. It was incredibly dramatic to see the jagged peaks pushing through the clouds all around us, with the sun sparkling off the slopes. We arrived at the top of run 17 at 3:36 pm and realized we wouldn’t make it down again so we went over to run 4 and came up the Zammermoos lift at 3:55 pm. Then we took our final “home run,” stopping at the pizza restaurant half-way down to prop our camera on a table for our requisite self-portrait. We had the last bit of the run almost completely to ourselves, and the view of St. Christoph nestled in its little valley was quite stunning (see photo).

I was very sad to end the day since I it occurred to be that I just might possibly be pregnant next winter and won’t be able to go skiing…I probably shouldn’t jinx myself like that! We returned my skis and took some pictures around St. Christoph before heading back to the room to clean up for dinner. Our last meal (with a French Burgundy) was excellent: Venison carpaccio with parmesan (I could have eaten three times as much!), herb cream soup, the salad buffet, John had Zwiebelrostbraten (steak with onions) with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts, which he said was fantastic, I had scampi with avocado-tomato relish and saffron-garlic rice (very good, nice and light), and Wachauer Hefebuchteln (a sort of yeast dumpling) with vanilla sauce for dessert.

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