Piecing together the perfect ski adventure
January 19, 2012
Outdoor Recreation, local ski clubs bring the mountains to you
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- When my wife and I moved here from Honolulu more than two years ago we were more than a bit concerned about one thing: winter.
Sure, we could handle cold, but Bavarian cold? And after four years in Hawaii, we weren't even sure if we knew what cold was anymore.
As expected, the first winter was brutal -- long hours of darkness, digging our car out every morning -- but since then we've learned the best way to deal with the elements is to embrace them.
Initially, we took the do-it-yourself route by researching local ski hills and obtaining information by word of mouth. Eventually though, we realized our local Outdoor Recreation office and the Bavarian Ski Club had already done all the legwork, and in most cases could take us to the same places cheaper.
ODR offers a variety of day and weekend trips, catering to everyone from expert snow-shredders to the bunny hill challenged. Trip prices usually include transportation and discounts for ski or snowboard rental (although lift tickets are usually not included in the price), and lessons are available on most trips for a small fee. In some cases, as with Rose Barracks' ODR, if you already have gear, they'll wax the skis or snowboard for free prior to the trip.
Likewise, the Bavarian Ski Club takes a lot of the guesswork out of planning a ski trip. The club only does weekend trips and doesn't offer lessons, but lessons are available at most resorts. In addition, because its members range widely in skiing ability, it's easy to find fellow skiers (and snowboarders) who move at a similar pace, so the break-neck speed skiers aren't always waiting on the Sunday drivers, and the Sunday drivers don't feel guilty about making everyone wait.
The club's last ski trip this year, to Ischgl, Austria, includes a big name concert at the top of the mountain. Last year it was The Killers and the year before Alicia Keys performed. This year's band has yet to be named.
Regardless of whether you take a trip with a group or venture out on your own, the skiing experience here in Europe is markedly different from the United States. For one, the ski resorts here don't coddle you -- there are less "out of bounds" signs and everyone is responsible for their actions; little kids coming flying down the hill on toboggans.
Also, the pace is slower. Skiers aren't maximizing their time in terms the number of runs they get in, it's more about maximizing the enjoyment. You take a few runs, have a bratwurst and some beer, and soak up the sun. Repeat. It's almost like everyone's on island time.
Finally, it's all about the apres ski, which is a techno music dance party that shifts into gear as the lifts wind down. Locals take dancing in ski boots to a new level.
When we first arrived the snow was a major concern, now it bothers us when there's not enough.
Upcoming trips in Bavaria
Jan. 21, Garmisch Classic Area. $39/transportation; lift pass 36 euros (adult), 20.50 euros (ages 6-15). Ski/snowboard lessons available.
Jan. 28, Cross-country ski trip Silberhuette. $19/transportation. (Trip is only available for cross country skis. No SB or downhill skis can be used here.) Free basic cross country ski lessons on this trip.
Feb. 11, Grosser Arber, Germany. $29/transportation; lift passes 27 euros (adult), 21 euros (ages 6-15).
March 3, Geisskopf, Germany. $29/transportation; lift passes 20 euros (adult), 16 euros (ages 6-15).
For daytrips, customers can rent equipment from ODR for half price. Those with can have their skis or board waxed for free. Both offers valid only with a paid seat on the trip. Ski/snowboard lessons $10. Trips depart from Burger King parking lots on Main Post and Rose Barracks. Call DSN 476-2563, CIV 09662-83-2563.
Jan. 29, Axamer Lizum, Austria.
March 4, Berwang/Bichlbach, Austria.
March 25, Grubigstein, Austria.
April 15, St. Anton, Austria.
All daytrips cost $79 (transportation & lift ticket), $10 more for equipment rental.
Night skiing (Wednesdays)
Feb. 1, March 7, March 21, Seefeld, Austria.
$39 (transportation & lift ticket), $29 (ages 6-15), $10 extra for equipment rental. Departs at 5 p.m., returns at 10 p.m.
Jan. 24, $39 adults, $29 child; includes transportation, lift pass and sled.
Feb. 18-20, Ladies-only ski weekend in the Oetztaler Alps. $279 ($20 for ski rental).
Feb. 24-26, Men-only ski weekend. Conquer the Sella Ronda. $289 ($20 for ski rental).
March 16-18, Ski, Board and Bob. The annual Ski, Board and Bob races at the Hausberg Ski area. Cost: TBD.
Call DSN 440-2638, CIV 08821-750-2638, or e-mail email@example.com.
Jan. 25, Ladies ski trip, Brauneck/Lenggries, Germany. $34/transportation; lift tickets 29 euros (adult), 15 euros (ages 15 and under). Men are welcome but pay full price.
Jan. 28, Grosser Arber, Germany. Annual postwide ski day. $25/transportation; lift tickets 27 euros (adult), 21 euros (15 and under).
For all daytrips, half price rentals for participants and $20 lessons for beginners; $10 lessons for ladies on Jan. 25 trip.
Jan. 22, March 11, Altmuehl River Valley and Castle ruins; Feb. 5, Bavarian Nat'l Forest Park. $45 (includes instruction, snowshoes and transportation).
Call DSN 466-2060, CIV 09472-832060 or find them on Facebook under "Hohenfels Family and MWR."
Jan. 21, Lermoos, Austria. Departs at 5 a.m.
Feb. 4, Oberjoch, Germany.
Feb. 11, Tannheimer Tal, Germany.
Feb. 25, Seefeld, Austria.
For all daytrips, $45/transportation, $59/transportation and equipment. Depart at 4:30 a.m. unless specified.
March 16-19, Dolomites, Italy. $349 includes transportation, equipment, lodging with breakfast.
Lessons available with advance notice with certified instructors for day and weekend trips. Call DSN 467-3225, CIV 09802-83-3225.
Night skiing at Wasserkuppe, Rhoen
Every Saturday, Jan. 21-Feb. 25, from 4-11 p.m. $35 (includes transportation and rental equipment; $20 if you bring your own), lift ticket 13.50 euros.
Feb. 17-20, Dolomites, Italy. $349, includes transportation, three overnights with breakfast and dinner, free rental and free, three-hour entrance to pool. Lift tickets (135 euros for three days) not included.
March 17-18, Garmisch. $159 (includes transportation, one overnight with breakfast and equipment). Lift ticket (70 euros) not included. To sign up or check current snow conditions, visit Schweinfurt's ODR or call DSN 353-8080, CIV 09721-96-8080.
Bavarian Ski Club trips
Feb. 3-5, Kitzbuehel, Austria. 260 euros.
Feb. 17-20, St. Anton, Austria. 320 euros.
March 23-25, Obertauern, Austria. 260 euros.
April 20-22, Stubai Glacier, Austria. 230 euros.
April 27-30, Ischgl, Austria (top of mountain concert). Cost and band TBD.
May 25-28, Landeck, Austria. Waterwater rafting. Cost TBD.
Trips include transportation, lodging with breakfast & dinner, and lift tickets. One-time membership fee of 20 euros/person (35 euros/family).