A Personal Account of My St Christoph Holiday Jan 19th–26th 2013

Reporter: Ernie Metcalfe

For the first three days the conditions varied from mixed to awful, with generally flat light, little or no definition and poor visibility. There was a consensus that conditions were testing.

First thing Sunday we quickly discovered an easy way to split our party of ten people (Tom Russell, Elaine Donnelly, David Coleman, David Garnet, Colin & Carolyn Campbell, Brenda Smith, Christine Fildes, Peter Clark and myself). It was agreed to go down blue 5 from Galzig for a warm up run and before we knew it half the group had peeled off down blue 9. A simple mistake anyone could make. Fortunately we met up again half an hour later after the breakaways mistakenly did black 2. They later reported it was no harder than some of the red runs. I still wonder who they were kidding. Late in the day I tried to cross what I thought was a connection between two pistes, only to find the skis stopping much quicker than their wearer, resulting in a headlong dive into deep snow. With lots of soft snow down the back of the neck, I resolved to look more carefully where I was going.

As for Monday, enough said. I did very little as I am simply no good at skiing by touch. It is no consolation that I am not alone in this. Several people took the whole day off.

Tuesday saw the first of the guided tours organised by the Inghams’ Reps. The conditions were really no better as about thirty of us, in three separate groups, were guided round the ‘White Ring’ starting in Lech and finishing in Oberlech. It took my intermediate group almost three hours to do a 22km circuit which in good conditions would have been done in about two hours. At times ‘White Knuckle Ride’ would have been more appropriate. After lunch five of us (Tom Russell, Colin and Carolyn, Lindsey Harford and self) took the Petersboden lift intending to do blue 62 down to the bus stop. The light was so bad that at one point Lindsey went straight off the edge of the piste into an invisible gully of deep snow. Skis, sticks and Lindsey were all over the place. I know exactly how she felt having eaten snow myself on Sunday. Fortunately no damage was done, but it took about ten minutes extricate her.

Wednesday and Thursday were glorious skiing days—the sort you dream about. On Wednesday eight of us (Elaine Donnelly, Tom Russell, Colin and Carolyn, Christine Fildes, Phil Hayward and self) went to Lech via a dangerously overcrowded shuttle bus from Rauz. It was a relief there was nothing more serious than being crammed together with bad breath and yesterday’s garlic! By the end of the day we were tired, thoroughly skied out and very happy as we made our separate ways home. Even the phrase “buggered beyond repair” was whispered softly.

On Thursday there was the second organised trip, this time to Sonnenkopf. Here there were excellent red and blue runs ideal for intermediate skiers. It was another day to be thankful for—both skiing and weather.

When we woke up on Friday it was snowing, but it improved better than forecast. Five of us (Elaine, David Coleman, Christine, Dot Keats and self) skied over to St Anton and then went up Rendl. Here I took a blue run to make it easier for Dot only to be told at the bottom it was black 2a. I thought it a bit steep for a blue, but it was the goggles wasn’t it.

This brings me to a general comment on the grading of the runs. I thought many of the blues were just as difficult as the reds and even the easier blacks. I do not think this is a good area for beginners. They could easily be misled into some difficult situations. On the other hand there is some excellent skiing for intermediates upwards.

Of the hotel there seemed to be considerable approval. It was clean, the rooms were adequate without being plush and the leisure area (pool & sauna) was well patronised. The staff were friendly, helpful and keen to please.

The restaurant manager was, I think, unfairly compared to Basil Fawlty. Manic at times maybe, but always concerned for our welfare. The catering was enjoyed by all of us—especially the extensive afternoon tea—and considered very good. Nobody had reason to leave the dining room hungry.

Overall the holiday and the hotel gave us excellent value for money and a very big thank you is due to John Weatherell and David Shepherd. Another very big thank you is to my incredibly tolerant roommate, Phil Hayward. There is a need for more single rooms and the topic of snoring was raised more than once.

If I didn’t get the chance at Manchester Airport, a big thank you for the company of all those who skied with me and chatted in the hotel. If you didn’t chat or ski with me you don’t know what you missed—on the other hand maybe you do, and that’s why you didn’t!

All the best, and here’s to next year.