Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

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Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:23 pm

Richard and I had tough start to this trip. We landed at Heathrow 12:30 Friday afternoon, where it was snowing. Just a couple of inches, but for the Brits that was enough to cancel over 400 flights including our connection to Zurich. We were forced to go through British immigration and claim luggage before joining the huge lines for rebooking flights and overnight lodging. While waiting for luggage we decided to use my phone ($45 phone call and worth every penny) and Richard's AA Platinum status to book the same flight for the next day. Eventually we got our regular luggage (not skis), got online and got a good Hotwire deal from a London hotel about an hour away on the Underground. We had a nice Indian dinner and found a shop to buy a universal plug converter which we had both forgotten to pack. Saturday morning they decided to do a bridge repair on the trainline to Heathrow so it took took 2 trains and bus detour to get back out there. We got to Zurich ~7:15PM Saturday, down to baggage claim where most of the bags were there, but not my skis. They are expected to be delivered here to the hotel in Lech late this evening. Better mine than Richard's bag, which also had his boots and some of his ski clothes. I demoed the Atomic Alibi today , similar dimensions to my Blizzard Bonafides, for 35 Euros presumably to be paid by British Airways.

We arrived at the Sandhof hotel ~11PM and are impressed with jamesdeluxe's recommendation. I had e-mailed about our delay and we missed the first dinner, but they had a spread of cold cuts, cheese and bread for us upon arrival, 12 hours after our last meal in London. We had a nice breakfast and dinner today and also enjoyed the downstairs "biospa" after skiing. It has steam room, sauna, multispray showers and warm waterbeds.

One of Richard's new in-laws works in Zurich and was spending the weekend in St. Anton with friends. He came over and skied with us in the morning. Chris had limited prior experience at Lech, but we met him at the base of Schlegelkopf at 9:15 and quickly ascended 2 HSQ's to the Kreigerhorn. Looking around we decided to try the Steinmahder, the highest and most distant lift NW of Lech. Weather was thin overcast and light was somewhat flat for the first couple of runs. Steinmahder does face south, which helped the vis a little. The Arlberg had snow last week but was in a bit of warmup mode over this weekend. The pistes showed only a very minor degree of melt/freeze, and almost none at higher elevation. Max elevation in Lech/Zurs is only 2,500 meters/8,200 feet, so with the varied exposures I would expect a lot of variable snow in March/April, which has been Chris' experience since he's lived in Europe. Chris is an intermediate, just skis occasionally, and has not had a systematic plan when and where to ski, mostly weekends that are convenient to Zurich. He's been at St. Anton (staying with friends) more than Lech/Zurs though the latter is clearly a more attractive intermediate destination. Both Chris and Richard were delighted with the day's skiing.

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There appeared to be some interesting off-piste between the Hasensprung and Rotschrofen lifts, but ski patrol waved me off from there. I tested a short section skiers right of Rotschrofen, encountered breakable crust and soon noticed I needed to traverse around to a piste leading to Wiebermahd. This is the northernmost extent of Lech's pistes and some Warth-Schroken lifts are visible not so far off. There are depressions/terrain traps in between, so not tempting for off-piste, but the future lift connection will be very easy.

We now decided to ski the White Ring, which would put us in Zurs with good timing for Chris to catch a bus back to meet his friends for lunch at 1PM. We skied back to Lech and crossed the street to the Rufikopf tram. I suspected more lines and piste congestion on the White Ring runs, but Chris suspected not based upon what we saw in Lech and he was correct. It seems that most of Lech's visitors are content to ski the terrain directly accessible and returning to town. The lift configuration allows the White Ring to be skied only in the clockwise direction, so once you head south from Rufikopf you are committed to the entire circuit or alternatively taking the free bus from Zurs back to Lech. Richard and Chris at top of Rufikopf:
IMG_0334.JPG


We got a nice sunny break from about 10:30 - 12:30, which covered the entire time we were skiing the east side of the valley between Lech and Zurs. After a couple of nice cruisers in the Hexenboden area, Chris caught his bus and Richard and I took one run up the Trittkopf tram. I took an off-piste foray here, got cliffed out and had to backtrack a bit, but found a short section of supportable soft windbuff down to one of the pistes, narrow spot in this pic.
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I crossed that piste looking for more but it was back to the breakable crust. The next time I hit the piste I stayed on it to the base of Trittkopf, where Richard was waiting for us to get lunch. It was nice Italian lunch of Neapolitan style pizza and spaghetti. We ate outside with the nice weather but it had clouded over again by the time we left with a bit of breeze from Flexen Pass also.

We took a small connector over to Hexenboden, where they have thoughtfully built a ski bridge over the road to reach the Zursersee lift going up the west side of the valley. It was now close to 2PM and Richard took the Madloch up to complete the circuit back to Lech. I took a couple of runs to check out the Muggengrat area.
IMG_0339.JPG

I first traversed and skied off-piste under the lift. This is north facing and fairly sheltered by high peaks above. Nonetheless there was still some breakable crust and the light was very flat even with goggles.
IMG_0338.JPG


With clear vis I probably could have found some more consistent lines. Next time I took the long red piste off the back that curls around to a long runout back to the Trittkopf base. There was a short bowl between the upper part of the zigzag piste that had been skier packed enough for more fluid skiing.

I was really struck by what a small proportion of the skiing at Lech/Zurs is done off-piste. There were occasional pods of powder tracks, but the vast majority was left in its natural state. With cold powder that would be a big plus, but in the current situation it's mostly breakable crust without the local hounds breaking it up and skier packing it as we would see at most North American resorts. It may be tough going with the guides at St. Anton, with whom I'm scheduled the next 4 days, and it will be interesting to see if they can find some manageable off-piste snow.

Now I headed up to Madloch and off the back. This White Ring run is about 3,000 vertical down towards Zug. The Madloch chair has deliberately been left as a slow double to avoid excessive congestion and wear on that run. View up of the piste:
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View towards Lech from same spot.
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Near the bottom there is supposed to be a long runout directly back to Lech but it was closed, so Richard also had to ride the 2,000 vertical lift out of Zug into the terrain above Lech where we had first skied in the morning. View of Steinmahder:
IMG_0344.JPG


I skied this time through Oberlech just to get a look. View from above Oberlech up the valley towards Zurs:
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I skied into town a bit closer to the Sandhof than where we started. 25,100 vertical; Richard probably skied about 21,000.

I had a bad battery in the camera so it didn't work. The other battery I have will hopefully be OK for the rest of the trip. I took a few pictures with the iPhone but don't know when I will get those up as the phone seems reluctant to interface with my laptop.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Admin » Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:46 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:One of Richard's new in-laws


:shock:

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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:33 am

Tony Crocker wrote:We landed at Heathrow 12:30 Friday afternoon, where it was snowing. Just a couple of inches, but for the Brits that was enough to cancel over 400 flights including our connection to Zurich. We were forced to go through British immigration and claim luggage before joining the huge lines for rebooking flights and overnight lodging.

Oy gevalt. I work for an international NGO and we are under orders to avoid connecting through Heathrow to Africa unless there is no other option (if you miss the flight, you're stuck until the next day). The place has a worse record as a transfer airport than JFK and that's saying something.

Tony Crocker wrote:I was really struck by what a small proportion of the skiing at Lech/Zurs is done off-piste. There were occasional pods of powder tracks, but the vast majority was left in its natural state.

Yep, the Deer Valley effect x 5. A few yards offpiste and you get fresh tracks days after storms.

Glad that the Sandhof is working out. Lech has a deserved reputation as one of the priciest resorts in the Alps, but no one mentions the many affordable options.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:02 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:The place has a worse record as a transfer airport than JFK and that's saying something.

My ski bag arrived about an hour ago. I left Heathrow Saturday afternoon; my skis left early this morning (Tuesday). CDG in Paris is worthy of mention also, as ALL of my luggage, not just skis, was delayed 3 days in 2008, so admin outfitted me for those days at Iron Blosam. This is my 3rd Euro ski trip and I've had delayed luggage on all 3. Chamonix 2004 was no big deal because it was on the return to LA. This one has been only minor inconvenience because the Atomic Alibi skis have been good.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Patrick » Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:25 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:This is my 3rd Euro ski trip and I've had delayed luggage on all 3.

My own experience, from 1990 to 2011, 7 trips = all, except one had a transfer - generally in Europe. From Canada to France and/or Geneva (1990-1). Through Amsterdam twice, London three times, some of transfers have been in Toronto or Montreal. I don't think I brought ski gear on that direct Montreal-Lyon flight in Sept 1995.

Luggage was delay maybe one day once or twice - let's just say I never had an issue of missing my gear or stuff the following day. It might have been delayed through Heathrow or Amsterdam, but generally it would arrive on the next flight. Regardless of the odds, I always carry my ski boots on the plane with me.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:40 pm

Of course, everyone can weigh in with their own anecdotal experiences, but for the record, the two must-avoid Euro transfer airports are London/Heathrow and Paris/CDG. If there are no direct flights to Zurich or Munich (the two Arlberg gateway cities) from LA -- ahem, another reason to live on the East Coast :-D -- Tony should've transferred somewhere inside the U.S. rather than inside Europe.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Admin » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:43 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:ahem, another reason to live on the East Coast :-D


The only?

Oh yeah, ready access to a plethora of North Atlantic seafood. OK, then, there are two reasons. Only two, apparently.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:56 pm

Admin wrote:OK, then, there are two reasons. Only two, apparently.

Three minutes to smoke out Admin. He's getting slow in his old age.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Admin » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:01 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Three minutes to smoke out Admin. He's getting slow in his old age.


Not age, health. I'm blaming it on my cold.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby jasoncapecod » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:23 pm

Cold?? Ahh, Maybe it has to do with the air quality . There is less pollution in Newark NJ than there is in SLC over the last few weeks. :shock:
I heard Menthol helps break up the congestion.. 8)
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Admin » Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:27 pm

jasoncapecod wrote:Cold?? Ahh, Maybe it has to do with the air quality


It ain't helpin', that's for sure.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:05 am

I have a cold too. It hasn't messed up skiing but it's a PITA at night. I was wiped out after my first Piste to Powder guided day Monday, so begged off Tuesday, particularly with predicted poor weather. I was with them today and will be again tomorrow. They are booked up Friday so I couldn't space out those days again.

Connection on the way home is at JFK. But the flight deal was too good to pass up, only 40K miles on American thanks to Richard's platinum status.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:48 am

A very poor job of providing photo assets thus far. :x
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:48 pm

I finally got the iPhone pics on the computer. It should be simple to load them, but no. The usual batch load of 8 pics would work fine at home but not here; the computer vegetated for half an hour and I gave up. You can see it loaded a single pic; then I tried 3 and it hung up again. I'm done for this evening.
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Re: Lech/Zurs, Austria Jan. 20, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:37 am

The days with Piste to Powder were exhausting. It's Friday morning, overcast and I'll be skiing an easy day like Tuesday. So the WiFi is faster than in the evenings and the Sunday pics are finally loaded in the original report above.
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Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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