I have just come back from an absolutely wonderful week leading the Ramblers Worldwide holiday ‘Austrian Winter Sports Week’.
Normally I lead the downhill skiing holiday in the Three Valleys, but Ramblers Worldwide Holidays asked me if I would like to lead this new holiday. They needed someone with mountain experience and comfortable with winter sports to lead it, and I was more than happy to help. The holiday is a mixture of snowshoeing, cross country skiing, walking, and tobogganing for those who still have a child inside them! It is set in the lovely surrounding of the Eastern Alps.
On the 1st day we went snowshoeing, and clipped on the snow shoes that were provided by the hotel. The hotel was brilliant, providing all the necessary equipment we needed. For the first day we stayed local, and set off from behind the back of the hotel towards Kotalm, we spent a lot of this day off-piste through woods, which was fun. Our descent was a very different story from our ascent, as we took more of a direct route.
The second day the hotel provided us with a minibus to take us to the Rofan Gondola, where we indulged in some more high level snowshoeing above 2000m. Afterwards, using toboggans provided by the hotel, we went ventured onto the local ‘Rodalbhan’ for our thrills!
The third day was a break from snowshoeing, but not from our exploring. We went cross country skiing, using equipment once again provided by the hotel. Cross country skiing is hard work, and you have to have a certain level of fitness, there are grooves cut into the snow by a snow plough in which your skis run, this was a beautiful day through low level pine forests.
By day 4 we were tired and the aches and pains of the previous days were very evident, so we took it slowly and went snowshoeing in the Rofan valley for three hours. I have been mountaineering for around 30 years, and I have never seen scenery like I saw that day, completely stunning! We walked down gorges, through tunnels brimming with stalactites and, past frozen water falls, bridges and fast flowing streams. It was absolutely wonderful and everyone agreed that this was the best day of the holiday. We left the magnificence behind us and made our way back to a local bar before returning to the hotel for rest and relaxation in the hotel’s wellness centre.
Although day 4 had been sunny and bright, by the evening this had changed and heavy snowfall continued through the night and into day 5. Because of the severe snow conditions, we remained close to the hotel and went snowshoeing in the nearby paths listening and spotting local wildlife in the woods, This did not detract from us having lots of fun, and we had a great time playing in the snow like children!
Our last day was spent taking the local ski bus down to Achenkirch, where we walked to a local church steeped in history. Afterwards we had the great treat of taking a sleigh ride through the local area!
The week was thoroughly enjoyable and I had a great group with me. The hotel was brilliant, providing us with all the equipment we needed. They also helped us to have a slide show each night, where we went over the day’s events. Our evenings usually involved a lot of laughter.
Another great thing about this holiday is that it is very easy to be flexible. For example we changed day 3 and day 2 activities around, after looking at the weather report and deciding it would make more sense to do the activities on different days. This meant we didn’t miss out on anything!
This is definitely a holiday to recommend for the young at heart and adventurous!