Once a week in the Snow Space Salzburg ski area in the winter sports resorts of Flachau, Wagrain and St. Johann it’s time for “the early bird to catch the worm“. During “Early Bird Skiing” first thing in the morning, early risers are rewarded with empty slopes and a fabulous sunrise on the mountain.
At a quarter past seven on the dot, we – a colourful group of ski-hungry early risers – meet up at the Valley lift station in Alpendorf in St. Johann, where we are greeted warmly by the directors and managers of the Alpendorf lift company. After a short welcome by the lift boss, we head up a floor higher to the entrance to the cable car.
The lift staff got up earlier than usual today to hook up the cable car gondolas and to undertake the daily maintenance checks. Thus we are able to start our day’s skiing an hour and a half before the regular operating times. A loud tone sounds, meaning all safety requirements have been met and the lift is ready to start, we then hop in and head up towards the Gernkogel. After a short journey we clear the clouds, which cover the county town for the next few hours in a thick grey mist. We, however, are rewarded with a fabulous panorama with seemingly endless long-distance views.
Arriving at the mountain station we pull out our mobile phones to capture the first rays of sun blinking over the Dachstein range and bathing the horizon in a deep red colour. We split into three small groups, each with a manager taking the role of guide. What a wonderful feeling to make the first tracks in the snow on the freshly-prepared slopes.
At an ambitious pace we head downwards to the Buchaubahn: short turns, carving turns and short turns again, a keen skier’s heat beats faster, given the breadth of slopes which we have all to ourselves. During the lift journey we learned lots of inside information from the managers about the Snow Space Salzburg ski area. Every evening 26 piste bashers are at work, preparing the 120 kilometres of slopes ready for the next day. Quite often, preparation can last until the early hours of the morning if there’s lots of fresh snow.
After an hour and a half of great skiing and as the first feeling of tiredness sets in we ski to the Strassalm and meet up with the other participants for a joint breakfast. The owners are waiting for us with a tasty buffet full of local produce, the culinary highlight of the day proves to be the home-made bread spreads. We toast each other with a cup of coffee and relive the morning’s skiing. We all agree on one thing: getting up early was definitely worth it!
Now if you’ve got a taste for early morning skiing you can put your name down on the list at the lift company offices in Alpendorf (Tel. 05 9221 / firstname.lastname@example.org ) and you’ll be contacted when the next “Early Bird Skiing” takes place. In order to guarantee a very special experience, the number of participants is limited to a maximum of 30 persons.
By the way: “Early Bird Skiing” makes an ideal birthday present for family members and friends. Gift vouchers can be purchased from the Alpendorf Cable Car Company.
photo credits: Snow Space Salzburg, Simon Guggi