Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Schlick 2000

After a couple of days of lousy weather, work, and dealing with some logistics, today (Tuesday) dawned with clear skies and a fresh coat of white across the Innsbruck area mountains.  With some work responsibilities in the afternoon, we elected to ski for a few hours in the morning at Schlick 2000, a "small" Austrian ski area in the lower Stubaital (Stubai Valley) and a very short trip from Innsbruck. 

As seems common around here, Schlick 2000 has lifts that cover significant vertical.  The base is at 1000 meters, and the top lift 2240 meters.  That's 1240 meters of vertical relief, which translates to 4,068 feet or nearly one "Jackson Hole" if you prefer US units. 

However, unlike Jackson Hole, there's not much happening below 1650 meters, so most of the skiing is done in a modest sized area above that level, with the longest lift spanning about 1900 vertical feet.  This area is accessed by a gondola that goes up 1136 vertical meters and drops you off at 2136 meters above sea level.  Below is a view of the top of the main skiing area from the top of the gondola.

Most of the terrain is intermediate.  The trail map includes blue (beginner), red (intermediate), and black (advanced) runs, but the difference between these is pretty negligible.  The blue runs, especially off the top of the Sennjoch, seemed to be something I would never want to try to do after just a few days of learning to ski.  They attracted a large number of skiers and turned into quite a quagmire as the crowds picked up later in the morning.  This worked to our advantage for a while since skiers were more sparse elsewhere, although by about 11, there were skiers everywhere on the groomers, which were quickly becoming a scary place to be given the great range of skier abilities.  I took this as a sign that the Austrian winter "high season" is nearly upon us. 

However, a clear day in the Alps is always spectacular.  Here's a shot looking north from near the resort summit at the Kalkkögel range that separates the Stubaital region from Axamer Lizum (click these to enlarge, although they are just cell phone shots).  Some amazing couloirs drop from that range, which was being helibombed while we skied. 

Looking back toward the northeast with the Inn Valley just east of Innsbruck in the distance.

And finally, a shot looking down at the lower Stubaital.

To finish your day, there are two options.  One is to download the gondola.  The other is to ski out to the bottom.  The latter naturally sounds more appealing, but it is a remarkably long, low-angle, snaking trail that in places I'll kindly describe as "firm," even at about noon.  The photo below is of a relatively good stretch of sun-softened snow.  

Although it has been about 30 years since I skied Killington in Vermont, it reminded me a bit of the Great Eastern trail there, with the potential for a long, icy, and potentially terrifying descent with far too many skiers at the end of the day.  If I ever ski there in the afternoon, a gondola download after some mountain-top beers looks like the right call.  

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