Powdered Sugar and Cottage Cheese: 3 Days of Skiing in Germany
“Winter is coming”
Or… was coming. With the on-and-off snow (depending on where you are) it is hard to tell, and with COVID, nothing is as it used to be. Here in Germany, with the current round of lockdowns due to COVID, most slopes and resorts have been closed. Any ski trips planned have been canceled. But even with every lost opportunity, a new opportunity arises to explore a new part of Germany and enjoy the great outdoors that the country has to offer.
The last year (and the part of the year before that) has been filled with many challenges that have never been seen before, especially in our lifetime. One of the biggest ones faced by businesses and companies alike is how to keep their business afloat in a sea of isolation and desolation. Malls and stores have become ghost towns, and people are trying their best to not interact with those outside their families. With business trickling due to restrictions, smart businesses, in order to stay afloat, are using this “family time” to their advantage.
In the scenic hills of Holzelfingen, there is a ski arena where precautions are being taken in order to provide families a fun pastime. Although slots fill up fast, families can reserve a ski lift all to themselves for an hour! In essence, it is like renting out a ski slope. There is maybe one other family there, on the other lift, but on the slopes, it is easy to social distance, and masks are still required, which is nice since it keeps your face warm! COVID safety definitely felt like a top priority while skiing, because looking around on the slopes, we were just about the only ones there.
Normally, when going skiing, slopes are covered with people, whether wiping out in a small snowdrift on the side or falling and sliding a few feet. Others are skiing at break-neck speed, and there are almost always those little kids who are going faster than you. Then there are the slow, easy-going skiers who like to enjoy the trip down; after all, it takes so long to get to the top, why try to get down so quickly? And then there are the skiers and snowboarders doing cool tricks that you wish you could do. But not now. Now, the slopes are empty.
Going up the ski lifts was a new adventure for me. I had never been on the T-bar ski lift before, and the first time trying to get on, I fell. Sliding back, another family member also miserably failed to get on the lift and ended up causing it to stop. After a slow start, though, I started to get the hang of it, although that was the first of a few failed attempts. A few rounds later, a family member dropped off the lift and was skiing back down and tried to get on the lift with me, leaving me without one of my ski-poles until they brought it back up. In the process, I was left clinging with one hand holding the T-bar as it towed me up the mountain. I managed to grab it with my other hand, thinking about one of the other families on the opposite side of the lift who had experienced a similar type of ascent of the mountain. My arms were seriously hurting when I made it to the top. A similar thing happened when I missed grabbing the T-bar the correct way, and instead was pretty much hugging it the entire way up. If you don’t grab it the right way, it is quite the workout as you are pulled up the mountain! Final verdict: I prefer actual lifts to a T-bar!
It was interesting, to say the least, to go from the lower altitude land where the snow was sparser and thinly sprinkled on the grass to a higher elevation, where stepping in the snow could land your boot a foot under. Skiing through the powdered-sugar snow would almost always end up with a wipe-out because it had not been packed in, and it was the “road less taken.” The more traveled routes were preferred, making a speedy and relatively balanced way to the bottom. The slopes were easy to ski on, except for a few; some had small hills in the slope that if you did not have enough speed going into the hill, you would fail, cresting it and instead end up sliding backward back down it.
On one of my last trips down the slope in our hour-allotment, I went down one of the more difficult slopes, and I remembered looking back at the snow and thinking that this snow was more like cottage cheese. I wiped out on that hill, not the first time that trip but definitely the last time, and this one was the worst, leaving me a good foot diagonal from one of my ski-poles. Backing up and, eventually removing a ski to get it, I then struggled to put the ski back on to get down the remaining half of the slope I was on…of course I was at the steepest part of it, so it was a struggle.
In the end, besides having painfully frozen limbs, the day was a relative success in reintroducing the concept of skiing in our semi-apocalyptic world. For me, it was nice to see a business adapting to the changing times and being able to provide a comfortable and safe experience to those enjoying their time there, while also providing safety and work for the people working there. With new developments in the future of our world and how we interact with others, it is nice to see that some small steps are being taken in order to provide a bit more happiness in the world.
On Day 2(which was three days later), we went to a different slope on the same mountain. I didn’t fall at all (which is a huge step up for me as I tend to fall at least once on any given ski trip). It was a long walk to and from the car, but being able to watch people ski down the hills waiting for our turn gave me some perspective. Although we don’t have the same opportunities today to be able to ski among a multitude of people, getting a little space to go at our own pace isn’t a bad thing. Although normally I prefer to take my time going down the slopes (because it takes so long to get up the hill you might as well take your time going down), only having an hour (and having short up-hill battles on lifts) allows you to enjoy your way down while getting the most out of your trip. And yes, on Day 2 I still struggled with trying to get up the T-bar lifts, but we won’t go into too much detail about that…but to say the least, Day 2’s lift was easier than Day 1’s, and I finally started to get the hang of it!
Day 3 was a few weeks later. The T-bar was still a struggle, especially when I was halfway up the mountain and then fell off suddenly and had to glide back down. However, I got more comfortable with the slopes, as it was the same slopes as Day 1, and even having frozen limbs and glasses, I realized that the hills in the snow were not as scary as I first thought. It is all about perspective.
Even though our world is changing fast around us, there are some things that can provide us a little normalcy. Even if they aren’t perfectly pre-COVID normal (which isn’t always a bad thing), they provide the sense that at least part of our lives can be as they were before… and may someday return.
Most of all, they give us some perspective.
With the winter season leaving, hopefully, something can thaw the frozen hearts of an exhausted world.
If you or someone you love needs help during this tough time, check out our Resources page for links to mental health resources. If you or someone you love might have COVID-19, click here for the CDC's instructions. We encourage you to do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe!