Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Let's Ski Lech

Lech's base area.  Makes it hard to have the energy to actually ski.
We hit the slopes of the picturesque Lech, Austria for our first European skiing adventure.  We are so lucky that within a 3 hour drive of Stuttgart we have so many amazing choices for skiing in the Alps.
All smiles before the pain of skiing for the first time this season.
We rented our gear at the outdoors shop on base, so we were able to hit the slopes early on Sunday morning.  All the slopes are pretty much above the tree line, so it is a much different experience than skiing in the U.S.  It gets pretty windy, so the chair lifts have bubbles on them that you can lower.  Most of the chair lifts are 4-8 people, so the lines are really short (if any).   

Bubbles make chair lift snack time easier.  And warmer.

BMW sponsors these cool photo stops near some of the lifts.  You just scan your ticket and it will start a timer to take a picture of you.  Makes it a lot easier to get a shot of both of us enjoying the views.
Thanks BMW.

Quit taking pictures Kristin.  I'm trying to ski.

It's a lot less crowded than skiing in the states.  At some points there wouldn't be anyone in sight, so we had the wonderful views all to ourselves.
I think we might be lost.  Sounds like an adventure.

 Lech is part of a much larger group of ski resorts in the Arlberg area, so we were able to ski a huge loop between the mountains called the White Ring.  It is pretty fun to have a series of trails to ski that lasts a few hours without any duplication of the runs.  The White Ring hits Lech, Steubenbach, Zurs, Zug, Oberlech and then finishes back in Lech.

Our first attempt to ski the White Ring got off to a false start when the gondola right next to our hotel to Steubenbach was closed due to high winds at the top.  An hour or so later it was open, so we tried again.  The gondola reached the top of a tall, shear cliff that overlooked Lech. There was one stomach turning moment along the way, but we made it.

It's a long way down right after that tower.

Enjoyed traveling in this guy with 80 of our closest friends.
We started skiing the very wide trails of Stubenbach.  I cannot explain how windy it was -- it was set-your-skis-going-straight-down-a-steep-hill-but-you-don't-go-anywhere -because-of-the-wind windy.  It was not Kristin's favorite moment of our trip. 

This piste was pissing Kristin off.

Matt was having a great time.

And then Kristin got even less happy.  The resort closed the t-bar lift at the base of the super windy run due to the wind.  So with nowhere else to go, we took our skis off and started our walk UP the mountain. 
Taking a picture of Kristin right now would have been a very bad idea.  She was not amused.

Proud of us for making it up the hill pretty quickly. 
Matt was a champ and carried both sets of skis.  Because he's the bestest.

Wait, we get to ski downhill here and don't have to walk up?  I'm in.

We stayed at the Hotel Schwarzwand in Lech.  Although the rooms definitely had an "old world charm," the food at the restaurant was fantastic.  Dinner was 6 pretty great courses.  We were worried that it would be traditionally heavy German/Austrian food, but it was much lighter, modern takes.  It was great after a long day on the slopes.  Our room was on the 3rd floor on the left, overlooking the Lech ski slopes.  They had a convenient ski storage room in the basement, and it was just a few minute walk to the lift.  The lovely woman at the front desk even will sell you your lift ticket.

The new car looks so cute.  We'd wake up the next morning to 8" of snow on it.

Getting ready to check out the apres ski.
My new favorite way to have hot chocolate

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