I had to move thousands of miles away and to a different continent but I finally did it . . . got my dad to come visit me and ski the Alps for Christmas! Oh what fun we had! Oh the beauty! The Splendor! The vastness! I probably will never be able to paint a picture pretty enough to describe it in words . . . kinda like when you take a picture of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. A picture just doesn't capture what you are seeing through the naked eye.
On December 17, 2013 I was able to finally check a pretty high item off the ol' "bucket" list. Dad and I headed up to ski the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. Although not even half of the lifts were open yet the three combined ski resorts offered almost too many lifts to take for one day! I think we did it though . . I think we hit every single one that was open. This was only possible by the fact that we didn't want to stop for any reason other than attempting to capture the beauty on a photograph and therefore only stopped to share a bottle of water and eat a nutrigrain bar apiece for lunch. Dad kept making statements such as "This is AMAZING", "This is UNBELIVEABLE!", "I can't believe I am skiing at the base of the Eiger!", "Look! It's the Eiger!" etc. etc. I have to say, I have never skied at the base of glaciers before and it was pretty stinking awesome!!
The Jungfrau ski region contained 214 kilometers of slopes against the backdrop of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. It is a combination of three ski resorts all connected allowing us to ski from one to the other . . and back again. The three resorts are Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen, Grindelwald-First and Mürren-Schilthorn. The Jungfrau is the highest summit at 13,642 feet and is know as "The top of Europe." According to Wikipedia, "Together with the Eiger and Mönch, the Jungfrau forms a massive wall overlooking the Bernese Oberland and is considered one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps." Yup . . that is where we skied! :-)
Not more than a few weeks later I was able to ski the Alps once more . . . this time in Austria AND Switzerland with my buddy Sammy! We were able to take a bus from one of the Army bases nearby . . . boy was that an experience! We arrived at the bus stop at 12:30 AM only to freeze our deriers off until the bus showed up around 1:00 AM. There were only four females on the trip (including us) and the chivalrous military gentlemen allowed us the get on the bus LAST!!! What in the world?!?? They all rushed to the bus pushing and shoving . . like a bunch of 7 year old children! When we were finally able to board the bus we were met with the smell of alcohol (although strictly forbidden) and a rowdy bunch of males. Sigh . . . we made it through the 7 hour bus drive and arrived at Ischgl, Austria.
Ischgl is a town in the Austrian state of Tyrol and its ski resort is connected with the ski resort of Samnaun, located across the border in Switzerland. We were literally able to ski back and forth in between the Austrian and Swiss Alps . . how cool is that?!? With both of these resorts combined, it is the largest skiing resort in the Alps. Its 238 km of groomed runs are accessed by over 40 mechanical lifts including cable cars, gondolas, detachable chair lifts and some T-bars. (The T-bar was one lift we were not planning on taking . . we were forced! Ohh boy . . I am not good at T-bars) Again, the beauty was amazing! At one point me and Sam popped off our skis/board and sat down on the tip of a snowy cliff to enjoy the sights along with some well deserved snacks. We ended up taking a lunch break this day (as the runs were so long and wonderful that we were plum worn out and needed to rest the poor knees) and the lunch was fantastic! We shared a plate of some sort of pancake casserole served with apple sauce and a plate of noodles that reminded us of really, really good mac'n cheese.
If I had to compare the two resorts I would have to say that Ischgl/Samnaun was definitely larger than Jungfrau but the views were not as majestic. Don't get me wrong, they were still amazing and beat any views from Tahoe . . . but there is just something about skiing with glaciers to your back. Both resorts had pro's that the other did not have . . .they were both wonderful! Since this is my last winter here in Europe I am attempting to hit the slopes a few more times. YOLO, right Sam??