Last year, we spent 3 beautiful and arduous days in the Austrian Alps, ostensibly skiing. There was, however, a lot less skiing than there was dragging a ton of equipment and two tired kids all around the hills of Alpbach.
But even though B got worn out, tired of walking and more than a little grouchy about the whole endeavor, he came away excited about skiing and enthusiastic for more. (Liam, who we never actually got up on skis, remained neutral to the idea, which was really as much as we could have hoped for. I consider it good fortune that we don’t all break out in hives every time we hear the word “ski”.)
B has been asking to ski again. I’ve been theoretically enthusiastic but practically daunted by the idea of taking something like that on again. With a week off of school and work, though, it felt like the right time.
I was not going to sign up for three days of the kind of effort (and expense) it took for us to not go skiing last time, so I looked into day trip options. Vienna = Austria = Alps … right? The rest of the world might think so, but it’s not really like that. Vienna is IN Austria and many of the Alps are also IN Austria, but Vienna, and the surrounding area, isn’t particularly mountainous. But I did find one promising-looking option: Hohe Wand, which is just outside of Vienna.
So I did my research, we packed up our snow pants, took two U-Bahns and a bus, and an hour later we were there. As it turns out, it is a “high hill”, indeed — just one, though, with a single drag lift and one big (relatively steep) slope down. The snow was man-made (which we expected — Vienna has gotten almost none this year) and it very nearly covered the hill.
They have a nice looking ski school for children, but, being the school holidays, it had been booked up since October, so we were on our own in terms of teaching the kids. Undaunted (and, after last year, fully expecting a day of skiing to be a ton of work) we fueled up with some schnitzel (really), rented skis, boots and helmets for the boys, and got suited up.
We found a quiet and reasonably flat-ish section near the bottom of the hill, off to one side, and began our practice. We pushed the boys up the hill, and then ran back down the little slope with them, over and over, for an hour and a half.
It was the best workout I’d had in a long while. Shortly after we started, B was back in the groove, and he was able to go down quite well on his own. Liam, frustrated that we couldn’t take the lift to the top, took several snowball-making breaks. By the time we (Dan & I) got worn out, though, both boys had made many trips down completely on their own (though often with an impressive, self-induced crash to finish … because it’s FUN). Mission accomplished —
the boys got to ski, and they had a great time. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as tough as what we attempted last year. Dan & I didn’t manage any skiing of our own, but I imagine that’ll come in future years.
B is already asking to go back. Next time, we’ll sign B up for ski school before we go (they only take kids over 4), and maybe Dan & I can take turns pushing Liam up the hill. It wasn’t ideal, but it was close, easy, and relatively inexpensive. With this place in mind, I’m much more optimistic about our future attempts at skiing.