.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Training on the Dachstein Glacier
By:  Adele Lay   (2008/08/30)

One Sunday evening, 7 Highlands trailblazers and 2 adopted Ontario team skiers set out for Vienna, Austria to train for our ski race season. After a long sleepless night on the plane and many nauseating hours in the car, we arrived at our inn, Türlewand Hutte (aka Twirly Wand), at 1700m above sea level. It is a local family business and is VERY ausrian, complete with traditional dresses, lederhosen and cross-stiched pillows. It is very convieniently located right at the base of the gondola that takes us up another 1000m to the snow.

So far, the every day has been as good if not better than our best day last year. Much more snow, blue skies, sun...almost too good to be true. Last year, the snow was of the 'cookies-and-cream' variety. Only 7km were open of trails consisting of mostly just old munched up glacier ice. Not this year, its like perfect spring skiing on 15km of decent WHITE snow! We've been skiing twice a day and mostly eating and napping the rest of the time. No shortage of food here...

We share the trails with many other skiers including members of the Norwegian, French, German, and Swiss teams. No need to look at old world cup videos to see models of perfect technique, we're surrounded by those very skiers! Larry has been video taping us as well and I think everyone feels the improvement that 3-4 hours of skiing per day makes! Not to mention that there are no trees here so coach can always see you!

The glacier is in a bowl surrounded by steep cliffs on all sides. The gondola usually speeds us up and down the 1000m of cliffs and slope in about 5 minutes, but yesterday, we decided to really...appreciate...what the gondola really does for us. So we all got suited up in helmets and harnesses and started hiking. (Keep breatheing mum...). We figured it would take us 1.5 hours so we gave ourselves 2 hours to get up before the last gondola left to take us back down. After hiking for 1.5 hours on a very steep zig zagging trail, it ran out and the real climbing started. A cable ran up the rock to clip yourself into and there were often metal stakes drilled into the rock to help you up. Never the less, it was a terrifyingly fantastic climb! At 5:10 pm, our dealine, we still had about 100m of cilff to climb. Unable to go back down, we just kept climbing. An hour later we reached the top, and were preparing to start building igloos or something because by 6pm it is getting too dim to climb down. Thankfully though, someone lives up there and he arranged for a gondola to come and make a special trip just for us! I don't think this was the first time this has happened to over abitious foreigners!

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the last bit of summer!
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