Weather goes downhill in Bad Gastein

2nd March 2015, by Ben Riley

Late morning on Graukogel, before the weather turned sour

Late morning on Graukogel, before the weather turned sour

Monday was the mid point in our trip. An easy hour’s drive from Kaprun to Bad Gastein, and an early arrival at the Stubnerkogel lift station. Rain and cloud in the lower valley on the approach to Bad Gastein was not encouraging. Stubnerkogel nevertheless doing a brisk trade in ski pass sales.

Jolly helpful Info Girl posted in front suggested starting the day at the Graukogel sector – i.e. fairly low and with abundant trees. Essentially the sector has two chairs, one above the other, serving red and black wooded runs to either side.

As expected parking proved easy and despite the slow chair lifts we were soon at the top of an almost deserted red. Brilliant first run on excellent groomed snow. A real highlight opening run in the context of a trip which has seen variable snow and weather.

Further, equally impressive red and black descents followed, and that about covered the sector. A t-bar as an alternative to the top chair enable circulation on the better upper-level snow, and the area offers great protected skiing in trees in flat light conditions.

Useful area for practicing technique rather than covering maximum distance. The current runs are somewhat at variance with the piste map, a marked itinerary seemingly having become a black piste.

Info Girl’s advice and a break in the weather suggested a move to higher Sportgastein, a few miles up the valley (impressively served by the ski bus operating at 15 minute intervals). Optimism was short lived. The gondola was operating only to the mid station due to strong winds and poor viz at altitude.

Good snow conditions provided excellent reds on the lower slopes, but the viz even here was very poor. So we opted for a quick but sustaining gulaschsuppe in the hope of some improvement. It was not forthcoming, so off we went in search of further wooded slopes in the Angertal, where Bad Gastein meets Badhofgastein.

The best bet seemed to be the chair to just above the tree line on Stubnerkogel, giving access to a selection of reds. Heavy snow and windy conditions suggested a hasty departure and return to tree level.

At this point I realised I had an adequate supply of camera equipment (useless) but no goggles (vital). Rapid spectacle icing followed, reducing progress to a few turns, then de-icing followed by a few more cautious turns. Mighty pleased to be able to discern the tree line, eventually. Lesson learned: goggles in camera bag. Tomorrow will be a blue sky day, no doubt.

A warm welcome and spacious rooms awaited us at the small Miramonte ‘design’ hotel, shortly to be followed by a really excellent half-board dinner. A bit tucked away from central Bad Gastein, but recommended.

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