Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kitzsteinhorn ski resort, Austria

November 2008

The pinnacle of tour given to me by Christian, is a visit to a glacier in Austria! Upon hearing the word "glacier", my ears clapped like those wide ears of an elephant. I see only glaciers in the movies and tv documentaries, for me to see a real glacier will be a great treat of my life!

Christian brought me to Kitzsteinhorn ski resort, in northern Austria not far from the mountainous areas of Bavaria, Germany. He said it's more than 3,000 meters above sea level, and there are thick snow there.

It's nearly 2 hours from Christian's place in Miesbach, we passed by small towns and winding roads. At first the scene were those of rocky mountains, no vegetation or snow. As we approach the area, snowy mountains began to appear. I was grinning already.

The jump-off point is about 900 meters above sea level already. There's a big and wide parking space for hundreds of cars. The fee in the afternoon, after 2pm, is lower by about Euro 5 compared to morning fees. From the base, we have to take 3 cable rides to reach the top.

The first cable ride was from 900+ meters to around 1,450 meters elevation. There were plenty of cable cars moving, and there are a few pockets of snow on the ground. The second cable ride was from around 1,450 to about 2,500 meters elevation. Here the snow was thicker and plentier. The third cable ride, the cars are big, could take up to 15 people, probably more, and there's a cable car operator riding with us.

I wore 5 layers of clothing, including a winter jacket that Christian lent me. Also a winter glove, but I was only wearing a maong jeans, and a pair of subber shoes! To compensate for my thin rubber shoes, well it's my walking and jogging shoes actually, I wore 2 layers of thick socks.

Upon reaching the landing at the end of the cable ride, it says, "Felhaus Kitzsteinhorn 3,029 m"! Oh my, oh my! I pondered, we climbed Mt. Apo, the Philippines' highest mountain at around 2,990 meters elevation, for 10 hours in 1994, when our legs and lungs were still a lot younger and stronger. Here, I reached more than 3,000 meters and I did not even hike!

But I felt weak at the top, maybe I was hungry and thirsty, I was just tired or sleepy, I didn't know. So we immediately ate our snacks. I got full, but I still felt a bit dizzy. I realized it was the thin air at the top! I moved slowly as I was gasping for some air. I think I was able to adjust to the thin air after about 20 minutes. My pictures at the top though, belied that I was gasping for some air, really awesome feeling to be in a glacier, in a high mountain and all snow around you.

I repeatedly thanked Christian for bringing me to a glacier. It was a great "farewell trip" as I was flying back to Manila the next day. I ponder, I am very lucky to have a friend like him, plus his Filipina wife and 2 handsome sons.

No comments: