Friday, March 4, 2011

To the Top of Germany........and Beyond!!

So we had a week off for a so-called "Ski Break" during the last week of February and thought we'd be breaking some sort of German law if we didn't give it a shot.

We packed up lunches and took a train down south past Munich to the German alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. While you've likely not heard of this place, you should know that they hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics and they have hosted the Alpine Skiing World Championships in 1978 and in 2011 (merely a week before we arrived). So Garmisch is pretty much a big deal in this part of the world!

Actually departing Garmisch with our coworker, but you wouldn't know that unless I told you.....

the German Alps

I went with the goal of skiing for the first time in about six years and experiencing the culture of alpine skiing. Marisa went with the goal of hitting up the spas, having a massage, and basically maxing and relaxing. I was a bit nervous since it had been so long since my last time skiing, but everything went smoothly. I was able to ski with Marisa's old volleyball coach, Bond, on the first day at the main ski area, Garmisch Classic. On the second day I was joined at the second ski area (Zugspitze) by our friend from Tech, Josh K, that lives in Munich. Both days were very enjoyable with a small mishap on the first day where I forgot my goggles at the hotel, forgot to get Bond's cell number before we started, and subsequently got separated on the first run because the visibility was about 10 feet. Other than that, the skiing was decent and the views were incredible.

Ski team: Day One - Bond is showing us a preview of his award-winning flamingo jump that he will go on to use later on the slopes while I am demonstrating a stable position holding two imaginary poles with knees bent and ready to tear up moguls. Spirits are at a high here.

the crew enjoying the Gasthaus self-serve bar

Me posing in the picturesque Garmisch Zugspitze ski area on a fabulous day with my favorite type of ski lift below to the left - the infamous "T-bar"!

Ski partner for Day Two. Here's Josh K looking super-trendy and fully protected from UV rays aimed at his corneas.

It should be noted that we conquered the highest point in Germany on this trip with a gondola ride up to the top of the "Zugspitze" at 2962 meters (9,718 feet). The sky was blue and the views were worth the effort to get up there.

the Zugspitze clearly marked with a golden rod to tell you that you're looking at the highest point in the modern Germanic world (9,718 feet). Someone should mention that there are many mountains in the Rockies over 14,000 feet with no such golden rods.

Unbeknownest to me, while walking over to pose next to this sign I crossed over into Austria which apparently sits just over the ridge of the Zugspitze.

More German Alps.

Austrian Alps - strikingly similar to the German ones, but with a different accent.

One more shot with me and the Zugspitze.

The visibility was much better on day two up at the Garmisch Zugspitze ski area which meant that I didn't really need the cheesy sunglasses that I'm wearing here that I purchased on day one because I forgot my goggles at the gasthaus and was getting blasted by light snow and wind.

If you're looking for some sweet moves check out this video!


All in all the ski trip was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the town of Garmisch. I won't come back here to ski, however, because there are many other places to check out in Austria and Switzerland and the skiing wasn't as good as many places in the U.S. Perhaps we hit it on a bad year in terms of snow and the visibility left something to be desired at Garmisch Classic. I am definitely glad that we came though and I left with a renewed sense of love for snow skiing. I can't wait to go again next year!

--justin
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