These are two of my favourite things: the White Ring at Lech and Zurs and tobogganing on a Thursday evening. And today we got to do both.

After driving to Sonenkopf yesterday, we decided to drive to Zurs today. It’s just a lot less hassle than skiing over to Alpe Rauz, waiting for the free skibus, and wondering whether I’d get a seat. I had to think about my back and be strategic. By taking the car, we were able to leave later and not have to wait for buses.

ImageWe started the Weisse Ring on the Zursersee lift.  As we were going up, we noticed a dog (yes, that’s right!) running around on the ski piste below. A skier stopped to try to shoo him off, but the dog seemed to be having great time. No sign of the owner.

To warm up our legs, we took the 18 down to the Seekopf lift. You can take either of these up to the Madloch lift as part of the Weisse Ring. We did both. From there, we took the slow two-seater to Madloch-Joch (2438m) and the skiroute 33 to Zug. I’m so glad we started where we did. While the morning had started off sunny, it quickly clouded over. The light was flat, and it was hard to see moguls, which were plentiful once you hit the true “wild ski route”. From there, we took the Zugerberg lift and then skate-skied along side the not-functioning Balmengrat rope toe.

We took a small detour on the #43, which took us to the Steinmahder lift, a heated, 8-seater chairlift in the middle of nowhere. It took us up to Zuger Hochlicht at 2377m. From there we took the 35 down to the 34, and had a quick lunch sitting in a bubble chair positioned outside a restaurant in Oberlech. Then I forgot what happens to do the Weisse Ring.

At the bottom of the 34, you need to stay skier’s right and go as far as you can along the sidewalk to get to the Rufikopf lift. On a clear day, you can get some great views. But the light was getting flatter. After a couple of pics with the other Weisse Ring sign, we set off down the 38. I’m so glad we chose the blue run. Because it’s not well traveled, it didn’t have any moguls. But the undulations of the run were messing with my body. My stomach and brain weren’t expecting them, and I felt a bit nauseous at the bottom.

At the bottom you have no choice but to take a t-bar. And clearly the group ahead of us wasn’t expecting this. And at least a few of them had never been on one. Most lifts are self-serve in the Arlberg area. But after the snowboarder attempted and failed three times, the attendant finally came out of the booth. The group of Brits told us to go ahead. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a great idea, because it meant they were behind us. Falling, and falling again. So the t-bar stopped, then started, then stopped, then started. Each time, I wondered whether my back would be jarred again. But I survived.

From there it was only one more lift, and a long blue run back to our parking lot. If the day had been brighter, we would have kept skiing, but it just wasn’t fun anymore. So we got out of our skis and set off in the car for the return journey.

Shortly after leaving Zurs, you approach the first tunnel/avalanche control area. And there was a traffic jam. Two ski buses were ahead of us. And just as the first one was going into the tunnel a large semi-truck was coming out. And it got stuck. The taxi ahead of us started to back up, so we did as well. NosyNeighbour was worried that someone might come around the corner fast and smack the back of us. But an ambulance showed up first, so we figured we were safe.

Evenutally, one of the bus drivers got out of his bus and directed the truck driver through the last bit of the tunnel. Something I didn’t think I’d ever see. And we would have missed it if NosyNeighbour had gotten ahead of the skibuses.

When we got back to the apartment, we debated where we were going to eat. We decided to go to Fuhrman Stube this evening, and then the Rodel Stall tomorrow. As we walked into St Anton past the gondola, I wished that the Rodelbahn was open. But nothing was lit up on the board. We did notice bright lights up by the gondola, and walked up there. But there was no sign that the Rodelbahn was going ahead. In fact, before we had left, I’d checked on line and it had said it was closed.

We had an excellent meal at Fuhrman Stube. NosyNeighbour had bacon dumpling soup and Schweinbraten, and I had pancake soup and peppercorn steak with roast potato and veg. As we walked back towards Nasserein, we sensed extra activity near the gondola. And my wish had come true: the Rodelbahn was open.

We scurried back up the hill to change back into our ski clothes and walked back down. We found someone to take a pic of us at the top, and then got our sleds ready. It’s so cool starting at the top of a black run. At least now they groom the snow up in a big pile so you know where the Rodelbahn starts. The conditions were great, lots of snow and no icy spots. In a couple of places there were woopsy doos, but they just made it interesting.

For the first time ever, I decided no photos or videos on the way down. It was just about beating NosyNeighbour down the run if I could. We passed about six people, and nobody passed us. At the bottom, I decided to slow down because I didn’t want to hit the gravel too fast. I’m glad I did because the truck was coming up the road where the run ends to pick up the sleds to bring them back down to the gondola. Otherwise I’m sure we would have collided with it.

After our rodels were returned we had our usual gluhwein while standing around the fire. It’s definitely quiet season here. Usually the place would be packed. Instead we spoke to one of the workers who should have been loading sleds into the trailer. He was from Vienna and spoke better English than my German. But he did get a laugh when I told him “Ich bin beamtin.”

He was quite the interesting character. Imagine coming to St. Anton to work on the Rodelbahn and NOT being able to ski. Most people get jobs here so they can ski. But he does kayak, so I imagine if he’s here in the summer, he’ll take full advantage of that. He told us a story about living in London and getting beaten up by 15 kids just because he was in the wrong place. But the funniest thing he shared was that he can’t understand the Tyroleans speaking German. He said it’s really hard and he has to concentrate. I guess it’s like me listening to a Newfie.

All in all, a pretty great day.