alan little’s weblog

spitzing by bob

11th March 2009 permanent link

On Sunday I went snowboarding at Spitzingsee by train on the Bayerische Oberland Bahn. There’s a lot to be said for not driving to the mountains. As with taking the bus, there’s a minor amount of hassle getting self and gear to & from the station, but then you can sit and read or listen to music or sleep. And coming back in the evening when you're tired from a hard day in the mountains is a lot safer and more pleasant if you fall asleep on a train, than if you fall asleep driving on the autobahn. (My family don’t really appreciate this benefit, since they listen to music or sleep anyway while I drive). Door-to-lift time to Spitzingsee for me by public transport is under two hours. Under an hour door-to-lift is theoretically possible by car, assuming no traffic jams, but assuming no traffic jams on a sunny Sunday after it just snowed for three days would be foolish.

I really don’t fit the snowboarder demographic on the BOB though. The rest were teenagers on their way to Spitzingsee’s “Burton Funpark”. “Fun” meaning, in this case, terrifying-looking leaping around in the air. Tricks are for kids. It really struck me just how beautiful these young people are – these being, of course, fit, athletic young people cheerfully heading out for a day’s play with their friends. My son, I found myself thinking, might be one of these beautiful young men in ten years or less, off in search of adventure with his friends. If he is, I hope the young women he travels with will be just as beautiful as the ones today. I also hope he’ll be able to think of a way to impress them without risking his neck leaping around in half-pipes – which just means I’m finally beginning to understand how my climbing was for my mother.

I was just back from two weeks’ family holiday, and I had decided to award myself a day of Me Time. Snowboarding alone has its disadvantages, though. It’s not safe to do any kind of serious off-piste. The Bavarian avalanche warning service said the risk level below the treeline on Sunday was moderate, but avalanches aren’t the only bad thing that can happen to the hapless lone mountain-goer. Not by a long chalk. Quite apart from danger, there’s also the social embarrassment of looking like Johnny No Mates. But reality must be faced, and part of my current reality is that I do indeed have no mates near at hand who are able or willing to abandon their families at short notice for a day out in the mountains. I still had a great time. And next weekend I go out for my first ever serious off-piste tour with two of my middle aged dad mates – planned and approved by our wives long in advance.

Excellent Spitzingsee tip from my colleague Ketil: on a good day, when the main runs from the Stumpfling and Sutten lifts are sure to be unpleasantly crowded, take the old Taubenstein cabin lift up the other side of the valley instead. No lift queues, quiet pistes, better snow even. There’s a nice little safe & easy powder slope to warm up on between the blue pistes on the Maxlrainer draglift.

related entries: Snowboarding

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