Austria – Cross Country Skiing In The Seefeld Olympic Region

Yours truly and Silvia Spitzl cross country skiing in Leutasch, Austria. We met seven years ago in the Dolomitenlauf Worldloppet cross-country ski marathon in Lienz, Austria and we became email pen-pals and good ski friends. We're really are lucky mushrooms that we have our friends to guide us to the best places to ski in Germany and Austria.
Yours truly and Silvia Spitzl cross country skiing in Leutasch, Austria. We met seven years ago in the Dolomitenlauf Worldloppet cross-country ski marathon in Lienz, Austria and we became email pen-pals and good ski friends. We’re really are lucky mushrooms that we have our friends to guide us to the best places to ski in Germany and Austria.

Amy Patenaude

by Amy Patenaude
Outdoor/Ski Writer

The direct flight to Munich takes just under 7 hours and Germany is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Time. I knew I must sleep or I would suffer head-hurting jet lag when we landed. Charlie and I donned the eye masks, pushed in earplugs and cuddled our neck with the donut pillows that I had brought along. Sleeping sitting up while squished in the middle of an economy row is difficult but we both slipped into a deep slumber and we managed to sleep right through the distribution of breakfast boxes.
Direct flights are best for guaranteeing your ski bag will arrive at the same time as you do. We gathered our bags and made our way to the S-Bahn train. While Charlie hunted down some coffee and yogurt. I played with the ticket machine, they had changed it since the last time we were here a couple of years ago. Thankfully, it’s easy to press the English button.

The Galleria of Beauty! Gabi, Linda, yours truly and Silvi point the best way to go next.
The Galleria of Beauty! Gabi, Linda, yours truly and Silvi point the best way to go next.

On the S-Bahn we traveled right beneath the center of Munich’s main square, Marienplatz. We would have loved to get out and see the sights but our skis and bags made it impossible to give into this temptation. An hour and half later we exited the train at Tutzing and our friends were there to greet us.
Seeing Silvi and Dieter was wonderful! They grabbed our bags and stowed them in their car. We jumped in too and drove off to find skiing!
We drove past Garmisch, where the men’s World Cup Kandahar Downhill race would be held in a few days. Soon we were in Mittenwald and turned up a steep extremely narrow road that crosses the boarder from Germany into Austria and in few more miles the road led us into the slim valley of Leutasch, Austria.
After we speed checked into our hotel rooms, we walked a minute from the hotel’s door and we hit the ski trails. We followed Silvi and Dieter as we glided down the track in our weary jet-lag-state of mind. We watched the full moon rise high above the valley wall and higher above the mountaintops. It was dark by the time we stopped skiing.

Silvi leads Dieter and Charlie up to the top of the Plaik.
Silvi leads Dieter and Charlie up to the top of the Plaik.

We stayed at the Trofana Hotel for a full week. Breakfast and dinner were included in the price of our rooms. The Euro equaled 1.08 US Dollars, the best exchange rate in many years. This true Austrian hotel had beautiful wood trim, big rooms, a wonderful bath and its own spa–included and of course those wonderful firm twin beds. I brought along my own fleece blanket because I just get too hot under the down-blankets that everyone else seems to enjoy. Charlie is more adaptable than me.
Joining us at our assigned tables for the week were our friends Gabi and Martin! They drove up from their home in Weilheim and they arrived shortly after we began skiing. And our friends from Massachusetts, Linda and Wes, arrived as we were finishing dinner. They didn’t take a direct flight but traveled via Iceland before landing in Munich and renting a car.

Charlie on the trail in Scharnitz, Austria. We skied a half or full marathon distance every day and didn’t come close to skiing all the trails.
Charlie on the trail in Scharnitz, Austria. We skied a half or full marathon distance every day and didn’t come close to skiing all the trails.

The eight of us were all together again for a week of skiing, eating and sleeping! A terrific holiday plan indeed, nothing could make us happier except for more snow. Our German friends had chosen the Seefeld Olympic Region because it had snow and at a high elevation the snow here had the best chance of being good all week. Much of Europe has been suffering the same snow-woes we have been experiencing.
Breakfast at 8 am. Every morning the buffet offered a wonderful assortment of eggs, meats, cheeses and breads which made for difficult decision making because it wasn’t possible to eat everything.
We started skiing together about 10am. Sivli and Dieter were skiing machines and were ready to go earlier and sometimes went out skiing short loops while they waited for us slowpokes to arrive. Charlie was a machine too and Wes and I had to try as hard as we could to try to keep up with the three of them. Linda classic skis only and she would go off and do her own thing. Gabi and Martin would often go the same route as us but were happy at their own happy pace. A couple times I abandoned the speeders and went off on my own.

Sledding down snow packed mountain roads from mountain huts is a favorite winter activity in the Alps. In Leutasch, from Klamm we hiked along the Leutasch River and then up a mountain trail to reach the Hammermoos hut. For 5 Euros each we rented from the hut a Rode (a wooden sled) and we enjoyed a fast 2 mile ride back down to the valley.
Sledding down snow packed mountain roads from mountain huts is a favorite winter activity in the Alps. In Leutasch, from Klamm we hiked along the Leutasch River and then up a mountain trail to reach the Hammermoos hut. For 5 Euros each we rented from the hut a Rode (a wooden sled) and we enjoyed a fast 2 mile ride back down to the valley.

When we went in different directions miraculously we would all end up at the same spot. Even with more than a hundred kilometers of ski trails and dozens of huts and coffee shops along the way I’d come around a corner and see Silvi, Dieter and Charlie standing at a trail intersection and then coming from the other direction Gabi and Martin would show up too. Must have been our friend-radar!
Eat, ski, sauna, eat and sleep, sometimes wax skis or go out checking shops hunting for Milka chocolate bars that they don’t sell in the US, is how we filled our days. After dinner, the TV channels even covered ski racing, ski jumping and biathlon every night. It was great and it would be better if I could learn to understand German.

Gaststatten--trail side restaurants serve lots of cake and coffee for hungry skiers--it’s what’s for lunch!
Gaststatten–trail side restaurants serve lots of cake and coffee for hungry skiers–it’s what’s for lunch!

One afternoon, instead of skiing, we hiked up to a mountain hut, Hammermoos, that started right behind our hotel. We ate a late lunch of cake and coffee at the hut. I think now cake and coffee was the lunch of choice of our friends every day. The mountain vista was grand and we were happy to have everyday be a sunny wonderful day. We called ourselves the Lucky Mushrooms. Gluckspliz is the German word for Lucky Guy but the direct translation means Lucky Mushroom.
The Lucky Mushrooms reserved Rodels, wooden sleds that you ride like a luge but sitting up instead of lying back. All the way down we steered our rodels down the snow packed road. Wes and I each got bum sleds. Wes’ kept wanting to turn left and mine had a problem with the runners dragging instead of gliding. We were the last ones down but we giggled all the way just the same.
Another afternoon we went and watched the first day of the Seefeld Triple Nordic Combined World Cup. Seefeld was the site of the 1976 Innsbruck Olympic Nordic events—where Vermonter Bill Koch won a silver medal. Nordic combined is ski jumping and cross country skiing. The atmosphere was similar to a NASCAR race at Loudon—the packed stands are filled with people dressed up like their favorite racer, waving flags, beer and food is sold, there are VIP sections, TV cameras and giant screens broadcasting the event up close. We cheered for the Americans loudly!
We had a great visit and much fun skiing with our friends. We were going to try to do a marathon ski race about two hours away from Leutasch on our last day but the forecast was for heavy rain and wind. Sadly the forecast was correct and we were happy to just return back to Silvi and Dieter’s home.
The next day it was sunny and warm and we took the train back to the airport. Saying goodbye is not easy, but it warms the heart to know we will try to get together again to ski soon. I am trying to convince them to come ski our marathon at Bretton Woods on March 5, 2016, Wes, Linda and Charlie are already signed up – register at skireg.com.
Silvi, Dieter, Gabi, Martin, come visit us next winter!
Have fun.

Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.