Chasing Lifts

March 2, 2007

The chastening of the previous day ensured that the preparations for Day 6 were a bit more thorough. If there are ibuprofen sniffer dogs at Gatwick, I may well find myself in trouble.

With Dave and Aggles still on the dark side, Dec and I boarded up, and headed for the gondola up Stubnerkogel. When we arrived at the middlestation, we soon found out that the top gondola was shut, as a consequence of >100 km/h winds at the summit. With the only run from the middle to the bottom shut, we headed back down the mountain in the gondola, with clean boards. Not the best start…

A short bus ride down the valley to Bad Hofgastein was in order, to sample the delights of their funicular and cable car. Abbreviation-wise, I can’t see the words “Bad Hof” in the same sentence. It just doesn’t ring true…

The proximity of the funicular to the snowy forest brought some unexpected sights, such as two sets of convergent animal tracks in the powder, a patch of red snow at their intersection, then only one set of tracks leading away. You don’t see that is Essex. Except if it’s snowing in Basildon on a thursday night, of course…

The gondola was a huge one; a completely different experience to the 6-man efforts up Stubnerkogel. If Dec and I were ever going to fight on the roof, today was the day. I unpacked the ice axes in readiness, but the conductor chappie refused to let us climb out of the window. Bloody EU safety laws.

The sight from the top was stunning. A blue run meandered gently away to our left, and the whole mountain seemed to be crawling with people enjoying the beautiful weather and snow. It was at this point that things started to go wrong. It soon became obvious to both of us that my yesterday was Dec’s today. He just didn’t seem to get into things. After a few hundred metres, there was a restaurant where we stopped for a late breakfast of a colossal plate of breaded mushrooms and sautéd potatoes, followed by a gigantic strudel. Full, we headed back onto the slope to burn off some energy before we died of carbohydrate poisoning.

With wide, gentle pistes, I practised some of the controlled turns I had dreamed of the previous day. Having achieved the Mother Of All Faceplants (I believe Dec will fill you in on that later), I got up to realise that Dec was in a bit of trouble. In an innocuous low-speed arsefurrowing, Dec seemed to tweak The Shoulder. This could be sticky…

After soldiering on for a bit, Dec realised that he couldn’t really trust his shoulder. It’s completely understandable – with some of my recent spine-based escapades on the rugby pitch, I knew exactly what he meant. Too far down the mountain to get back to the top and with a cry of “Currahee”, Dec slung his board under one arm, and started walking down. I kept on the board, and much as the slopes were beautiful, it’s impossible to enjoy yourself when you know that a friend is in trouble. I mostly slid down at walking pace, or went for 50 odd metres and waited, to make sure that alles was still in Ordnung.

When we arrived at the top of the funicular, a recuperative Fanta was in order, followed by a train ride down the hill, and a bus ride back up it. Back at the Schloss, the sleep in the afternoon was a well-earned one for both of us.

A quiet evening out was – for me – marred a bit by thoughts of home, but a few drinks and a couple of games of poker helped ease me into bed for the final day’s boarding.

The two Pricks With Sticks are joining us again for the day, and we have a relaxing one planned. It has, however, just started snowing again. I must be the unluckiest person in the world – I came here for some boarding in some nice weather, but instead, all I get is this incessant snow. Bah!



  1. And yet you still have time to write the Flame of the Week on the Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/02/fotw/

    “Fatty P” isn’t a very convincing pseudonym, but it’s the spelling and grammar that give it away.

  2. Just as well you are leaving, looks like war is going to break out soon in your area (and could spread to austria).

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