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Primarily a nordic ski trip.

Pictures here:

As everyone knows, it’s been a very poor snow year in the Alps, and it’s been even worse in the German Mittelgebirge (any range in Germany that isn’t the Alps). But in late Jan early Feb, they started getting some snow, so we headed off for Altenberg in the Erzgebirge, near the Czech border south of Dresden for a weekend. Girlfriend is a cross-country skier and didn’t get to do much on our New Year’s trip, so we headed to an area that is home to the German biathlon training center.

Of course as our luck would have it, it warmed up for several days before we left and a lot of damage was done, and we departed Friday night expecting the worst. We woke Saturday morning to about zero visibility, but at least it was very cold. And there was a little snow piled up around the town, so that was a good sign. At the rental shop, though, we were told that not much was open and that we couldn’t ski from the village. No matter, we got our gear and headed towards the woods in the direction they pointed (it was too foggy to really see).

I’m pleased to say our expectations were far exceeded. We hiked maybe a quarter mile before we could get on our skis, and in the 6 km up to the top of the Kahlenberg mountain only had to step out two or three times. Once up there, we got in a good 20 km in decent snow before lunch. It was quite good, actually.

Later in the day after it cleared up I hit the downhill run (one t-bar). For a €7.50 4 hour pass, I really can’t complain. Was it good? Not really, but I had fun. And actually, with a bit more snow there would be some decent tree skiing in an environment that isn’t very dangerous. It would be a good place to learn before heading off to somewhere more expensive.

And that would be a theme as the next day I talked my girlfriend into trying downhill. Considering what you would pay in the Alps, it really makes a lot more sense to learn someplace like this. She had tried at Stubai and she hated it. Really hated it. But in this more relaxed environment, she stuck with it and almost admitted to having a good time.

As for the village, it’s ‘honest’, and I prefer it to the mayhem of the Alps. Very low key, very cheap, no discos, just a couple ‘home-style’ guesthouses with great food. The lack of pretension and tour groups gave it a sort of Grimm Fairy Tale fell.

Is this someplace I’d cross an ocean for? Of course not, although if I were a serious Nordic skier I would travel a bit to get there. For downhill it’s probably comparable to some of the smaller hills in the Midwest. There is another area just over the Czech border that is supposed to be a little bigger, but their snowmaking is not as good and was therefore closed.

All in all, a nice weekend.