I needed to get a “bit of wind around my nose” and we headed to the Ötztal this morning. Traffic on the Fernpaß was awful, as it always is, but it is the quickest way to get down there. Once we are in the Ötztal we slow down a bit to enjoy the scenery, as we did today.
We drove almost to the end of the valley (where you can go no further unless you head over the Tim Continue reading 2.800 Metres (or 9.186 feet)
the weather sucks rocks? Yeah, I guess I have.
And since I have spent all weekend doing some major spring cleaning and have absolutely nothing even remotely worth saying, I will share some pics with you.
for the birds to get themselves. This nuthatch had quite a blast.
– lots of freshly hatched ones on the east side of the house. They’re absolutely tiny.
The sky, was again full of threatening, grey clouds, which were very low.
The Alps, however, were getting sunshine
and it made for some interesting viewing.
Everything was grey in grey – but the mountains managed to have sun shine on them.
Tirol was beautiful – just as I remembered it from half a year ago. It was just undescribably beautiful and wonderful to be back in the mountains on two wheels. Gosh, it was good to get back out there :-)))))))
Here are some of the things I saw:
Am rerouting my phone calls to somewhere else and taking the day off.
Headed for Tirol.
The Christmas party was o.k. Except for the Nikolaus. He did an awful job. Every year, they write up a lengthy rhyme containing funny stories of things that occurred throughout the year. This Nikolaus stammered and stuttered through the rhyme, taking all of the fun out of it. I am quite sure he hadn’t read the text he was supposed to read in advance – oh, well.
My usually so generous luck on the raffle had left me this year, but I did come home with a coffee maker for two cups and a shower gel / bath set (which I quite like – I am sucker for stuff like that). We also won two smoked eels and two smoked trout, and Hilde won a set of dinner plates and a table stove to keep serving dishes warm.
As promised, here some additional pictures from my most wonderful summer ever. I wanted to post them yesterday but couldn’t, because I’d exceeded my hosting space. I’ve now upgraded a bit, and with that taken care of, enjoy. As always, click for larger.
Our “golden” October came to an abrupt end yesterday, when November made its first appearance with typically cool, foggy and drizzly weather.
The bit of rain we had fell in the alps as snow, and this afternoon when I was down by the river with Tobi, I could see that the top third of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain at almost 3.000 meters, was covered with it.
It will presumably remain so at least until April, if not later.
Seeing the snow on the Zugspitze reminded me of the one time I went alpine skiing on that very mountain in the merry month of May. I was about 20 at the time, and my then boyfriend suggested a day on the slopes. I hadn’t been on a pair of skis since I was a child (my mother bought me my first pair when I was four and I loved them) but had no second thoughts about skiing – it’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget.
We drove to Garmisch and rented some skiing equipment and headed up with the cable car. My ears closed up on the way up, building up such pressure and pain that I had tears in my eyes; luckily, at some point I managed to yawn and things got better.
The weather at the top of the slope was spectacular. Sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures. I had a blast. The only problems I had was with the lift to go back up – it is this horizontal bar that hits the back top part of your thighs just under your butt and shoves you back up the slope. If, however, you failed to keep both skis straight, you fell and had to stand back in the way of the tow-bars and wait for the next one. T’was quite comical, actually, but I got better with each try.
Later in the day, I was at the top of the slope and it started snowing. Suddenly quite densely. I was on my way down the slope when I noticed that suddenly the mountain seemed to be sloping in the wrong direction. When I realized that the slope was also getting MUCH steeper, I stopped and sat down in the snow.
It was then I realized I could only hear the wind – nothing else.
I waited. And worried. After 45 minutes or so, the snow stopped and the clouds opened to reveal a clear blue sky. I could suddenly see everything around me – the extremely steep way down the mountain, full of boulders sticking up here and there through the snow – but not a single person – not a single lift – nothing. Pure mountain wilderness. It also worried me that I might have entered Austria, as I wasn’t carrying my passport by me.
At this point, I began bawling like a child, almost hysterical, wondering how long it would take before a St. Bernard with a small whiskey keg on his collar might find my perhaps by then dead and frozen body. I wondered if I should try to find someone or something on my own, but was afraid to do so for fear of getting even more lost.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably no more than half an hour, I suddenly spotted a skier coming down the slope in my direction at about the speed of greased lightning. I stood up, still bawling, snot running out of my nose, waved my ski poles frantically in his direction. He stopped near me and told me to follow him down – there was a lift at the bottom that would take me back up to the station where I presumably would be able to reorient myself.
Follow him I did. Though I purposely threw myself down now and then just to break the neckbreaking pace I was picking up – I was terrified of getting on too much speed and skiing straight into one of the boulders.
Eventually I got to the bottom, managed to catch the last run of the lift up, where my pale and worried boyfriend was waiting for me.
In hindsight, thinking of what might have or could have happened (imagining ledges or crevices) I guess I was quite lucky.
I haven’t been alpine skiing since. But only because of my knee 😉
Postscript: Since I was not yet a sensible person, I failed to wear sunglasses or use sunscreen.
I had pink albino eyes for a week and 10 days later patches of raw flesh showed through the sunburn on my face.
Well, not the country itself but the border crossing over the top of the Timmelsjoch (pictured on the left) is already closed for the winter season. We were, however, able to drive as far up as the tollgate. Alone. We were the only ones on the road and it was spectacular, quiet and wonderful.
When we got to the top, there was a single car and a single motorcycle. Absolute silence – the only thing that could be heard was the light wind.
The view from the tollgate site is not as breathtaking as that from the italian border some 6 km further along and 400 meters higher up, but nevertheless quite impressive (click on the panorama for a larger image – it’s worth it):
Not being able to continue into Italy, we decided to return to Sölden and have a look at the Ötztal Glacier Road. We were pleasantly surprised to learn at the tollgate that the road continues up to an altitude of 2.800 meters (9,186 feet).
It’s a very steep road with signs for motorists warning that only experienced motorist should continue; there are many hairpin turns – well, have a look yourself:
We were quite surprised, once we got to the “top” of the road, to be next to a large glacier where there were lots of people skiing and snowboarding. And there was snow (obviously)!
By the time we reached the top it was almost 2:00 in the afternoon and I was absolutely famished. We didn’t want to stop at the skier’s place to eat as there were tons of people and descended half-way down and stopped at a single, lone “Alm” where I finally got something to eat and was thus very happy.
And last but not least, my nomination for the motorcycle of the year, being 11 years old and having accompanied me for 11.000 kilometers this summer alone, without a hitch:
(yes, that is snow in the background)
The *hatchoo* Kiwi and I passed the 10.000 km mark yesterday while descending the Achenpaß into Austria south of the Tegernsee.
*Sniff*We decided to make use of the lovely albeit cool fall weather to make what is likely to be our last trip into the mountains this season *hatchoo* and to explore the higher points of the Zillertal.
By the time we got the Achensee just south of the pass *sniff* with the same name, I was well chilled and fought with a sudden sneezing attack, so we stopped at a gaststätte by the road for coffee and something warm. Before I could even open my mouth, Hilde ordered three “Fritatensuppen”. *hatchoo* I didn’t have a clue as to what kind of soup that might be, but she shushed me up and said I would like it. We had quite a laugh when I discovered that it was, in fact, pancake soup. It is quite amazing what an effect 100 km distance and a border have on culinary names.*sniff*
Warmed up, we continued into the Zillertal and found the signs leading to the “Zillertaler Hochalpenstrasse” (Zillertal High Alpine Road). *hatchoo* It was little more than a paved path through the forest, quite narrow, curvy and steep, with hairpin turns that *hatchoo* were not marked at all in advance, causing us at one point to continue straight on to the edge of the road while the road curved sharply to the left at a 180° angle and up the mountain. *sniff*
There was little or no traffic to speak of (thank goodness) and the road seemed to continue on forever. *nose blows* I never got out of second gear and at times, had to stay in first gear – average speed was about 30 kmh. Seeing around most of the curves was not possible, and I was glad that there wasn’t much traffic from the opposite direction.
Just before we got to the very top, we stopped for a breather *sniff* and had this view of the Zillertal:
At the top, there is an Almhütte where we stopped and had a tasty lunch, basking in the sunshine and admiring the snow-covered 3.500 meter high peaks in the distance.
The road down the mountain was similar to the road up; *hatchoo* we slowly made our way down to Zell, admiring the Berghütten we saw now and then, such as this one:
And now I will be spending today on the sofa with my vitamin C and lots of tissues. *sniff*