Laura Boston-Thek “American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).”

Sheep Shearing Time in Schliersee

We arrived bright and early on the mountain. Its surface, still dotted about with the last of Winter’s heavy snow with golden spring blossoms carpeting all the sunny patches. The air was fragrant with alpine herbs carried about on the breeze. The only sounds that greeted us was a lone Cuckoo bird calling out the hour.

It is still early in the season for the cows to make their long climb up and no animals except a few high climbing mountain goats were visible with the naked eye. We stood intently scanning the mountain and trees, looking for the guests of honor for our visit today. We had made the trip up to Firstalm on Spitzingsee with our local farmer, Hartl Markhauser of Anderl bauerhof. We were invited to watch an itinerant sheep shearer work his magic on Hartl’s small herd.

Armed with nothing other than a pail of molasses scented sweet mash and his particular cattle call, he brought out from the shady tree cover up near the craggy peaks, his herd of 20 sheep. What a sight for sore eyes they were, prancing about both young and old. A brilliant flash of white, (and a particularly special speckled brown and white called “Spot” of course), on the pale green and yellow flower dotted meadow. The Bavarian White Mountain Sheep or Bayerische Weißes Bergschaf are a local breed. The rams weigh about 80 to 100 kg and the ewes weigh 65 to 75 kg. The breed was developed by breeding local sheep with Bergamasca and Tyrol Mountain breeds. They are a dual-purpose sheep meaning they can be bred for both their wool as well as for eating.

In what seemed like a timeless manner, one by one the sheep bounded happily behind Hartl, right down the mountain and directly into his beautiful newly constructed Alm. On this day, Hartl had hired a young professional sheep shearer to give his herd a spa day, or at least that was my own personal interpretation of events.

The Sheep Shearer, or Schafschärer in German, trained in New Zealand, exuded confidence. He deftly began setting up his shearing station outside of Hartl’s barn. The nervously excited sheep could be heard “discussing” what was possibly going on outside. The Shearer’s equipment had a purpose for everything, from his clipper blades which he described as “Bone Sharp” to the lanolin impregnated leather moccasins he wore on his feet. Being just one of only twenty Sheep Shearers in Bavaria he has gained a lot of experience in the past 6 years he has been doing this as a part time job. Even though Hartl knew his flock was in great hands he kept a watchful eye on each and every sheep, whispering soothing words, like a proud papa.

Inside the cozy stall, the little herd huddled together completely aware as animals always are that something big was about to happen. Animals, just like people, generally don’t enjoy being interfered. Just like with children though, there are times when you must step in and do what is best for their heath and general wellbeing. It is during these grooming sessions that old, worn, or lost bells are replaced, ear tags checked and hooves trimmed. All is accomplished quickly with great efficiency.

A professional sheep shearer, who has honed his skills and has a silent confidence, can make all the difference. The sheep could just relax and submit to the process. I am not saying every animal was happy about the experience but again this is where having a professional comes in handy.  Each sheep was quickly relieved of their wooly coat and tucked safely back into the herd inside the barn. It seemed like each sheep took only minutes and then suddenly Hartl, bucket of food in hand once more was leading them back up to the peace of the blooming alpine meadow.

As a footnote, I would like to say a warm thank you to my friend and colleague Ulrike McCarthy for extending and invitation to me to join her and Hartl on this amazing experience.

 

 

To visit Anderl Bauerhof for yourself:
http://anderlbauer.schliersee.de

 

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Schliersee’s Wood Whisperer

“Turn left at the old dead tree” this was a small descriptive part of the directions for our meeting that I received from local chainsaw artist Peter Ertl. We planned to meet on a spectacular spring day on a farm, which is allowing him some external workspace. In a cloud of saw dust, under the clear blue sky, I found him. Surrounded by nature and working to the roaring song of his mechanized tools.

Peter is a free spirit who obviously cherishes his ability to work freely amongst the spectacular landscapes which surround our beautiful village of Schliersee. He is a warm and open personality who shared his creative process with me. You can see and feel his passion for art in every precise cut.

 

Surrounded by piles of preciously acquired historic timbers and 100 year old tree stumps to Peter, each scrap of wood is a possible work of art. He sees in each line of grain or chip a part of its life story. What seems like a worn, scarred, off cut, could be transformed with his skill and imagination into bookends. It is really quite amazing what this “wood whisperer” can coax out of a block of ancient wood. It is not only hard work and talent which guides Peter but also a great knowledge of wood and its individual properties. For the past 4 years he has worked tirelessly to hone his craft. Each species of tree will react differently under the teeth of his powerful saws. Controlling the power blades of a chainsaw to manage these intricate cuts is very difficult and in a second, a piece of art can become firewood. The whole process takes great strength and patience.

 

With this patience, Peter finds inspiration in an ancient Chinese philosophy. Wǔ Xíng, also known as the Five Elements. Wood (木 mù), Fire (火 huǒ), Earth (土 tǔ), Metal (金 jīn), and Water (水 shuǐ). These symbols or design elements occur often in Peter’s carvings. It is this oneness with Nature that guides and inspires him. To him, when the piece of art seems to carve itself from the wood with almost no effort on his part, in a kind of  Zen state, then he feels it is a success.

 

 

If you have been to Spitzingsee you may already be familiar with some of his work. He is the artist who carved the wooden sledder installation at the entrance from the saddle up to Obere Firstalm. I really hope we will be seeing more of his unique sculptures in Schliersee soon.

To learn more about Peter Ertl of Brain Ticket Products, please click on his links below.

 

https://www.facebook.com/brainticket.products/

http://www.kettngsaagt.de

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Springs Return in Schliersee means its Ski and Snowboard Service Time

As the winter ski season comes to a close and the valley floor is dotted with early spring blossoms, it is time to start thinking of properly packing away your skis for next season.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of our local ski service experts, Anderl Thurner. I think Anderl might possibly have the best office in Schliersee directly on the slopes at Untere Firstalm on Spitzingsee. He definitely has the best view from his work bench. His bright blue eyes and warm Bavarian personality is very welcoming. He is very passionate about skis and skiing and happily answers all your many questions.

On any weekend in ski season, you can hike up to Untere Firstalm carrying your skis from the Kurvenlift parking lot or while skiing in from Kurvenlift or Stümpfling ski lifts. It is always a great idea to dry off your skis after each use and use a little wax on your edges to avoid rust, but before and after your long Spitzingsee ski season it is best to call in the professionals.

A great idea so you don’t miss a minute of the snow fun, is to plan a break at Untere Firstalm.  Drop off your skis with Anderl and while he works his magic, order yourself a delicious pan of fresh made Kaiserschmarrn and a warm drink. It is efficiency at its best!

Anderl not only works on skis but also snowboards. He is also a great contact if you are looking for gently used ski gear. His prices as well as his skills are amazing. You can have a full service while you wait at the meager price of 12€ for skis and 15€ for snowboards. Ski maintenance isn’t only for skis that you are using but also it is important to have your brand new skis serviced before using.

Proper maintenance of your ski equipment is key to the longevity of your skis. Well cared for skis will not only last longer but will enhance your enjoyment on the slopes. So always remember to remove your skis from any storage bag you use after use, dry them down and give them a lick of wax to protect those edges and then give Anderl a call.

 

 

To contact Anderl Thurner directly

 

Ski & Snowboard Service
Skiservice Untere Firstalm am Spitzingsee
0170/3455703
turner.andreas@web.de

 

His shop service area is located at Untere Firstalm
08026/7676
info@firstalm.de
http://www.unterefirstalm.de

 

 

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Alpen Plus Season Ski Pass and So Much More

Last year, after about 25 years off skis, I met one of our local inspiring octogenarians who were celebrating her 80th birthday and the fact that she now skis for free in Schliersee. Meeting this energetic soul motivated me to once again get back on skis.

This year I decided to commit even more to skiing and purchased the Alpine Plus Season Ski Pass and I thought I would share some of the many things I have learned about having this pass.

Firstly, starting early in your seasonal ski plans will save you 50€. The Alpen Plus Season pass goes on sale 1 October for the discounted price of 350€. When possible, purchase your pass between 1 October and 15 November in order to take advantage of this savings. If you forget to purchase your pass early, have no fear you can still purchase your pass but it will cost you 50€ more. You have to think a day pass for an adult is 35€ so if you ski 10 times in one season your pass has paid for itself. Though with the Alpen Pass you also get loads of other discounts making your purchase so much more valuable than the 350€ price tag.

If you are a sledding enthusiast and not a skier, the incredible 6.5 kilometer sled run on Wallberg is also included in the Alpen Pass. No one ever does just one run on Wallberg and a 10 run card will cost you 92€ alone. For our family this is a great motivator for buying the pass.

http://www.wallbergbahn.de

Our beautiful spa and recreation center of Monte Mare also gives a 20% discount to all holders of the Alpen Pass Season or the Alpen Glacier card. I will post a link at the bottom for you to see which pass is best for you. This is good for the four hour passes as well as the day passes for sauna facilities and vitality spa.

http://www.monte-mare.de/de/schliersee.html

Alpen Pass holders receive a 20% discount on two way lift tickets at Spitzingsee, Sudelfeld, Wallberg and Brauneck-Wegscheid, throughout the winter season as well. They also get 50% off ski passes at Kössen (Tyrol), Wendelstein, Kampenwand (Ashau), Hochfellen (Bergen) Hocheck (Oberaudorf) when you show your pass.

Another great benefit is a 15% discount on purchases both in store and online at one of our local amazing outdoor stores, Smartino. Their beautiful new location is right next to the Neuhaus train station for serious convenience.

www.funktionelles.de

Not only is the pass good for our local slopes on Spitzingsee but also several other ski resorts of Sudelfeld and Brauneck-Wegscheid.

 

For me, having the pass has really motivated me to get out on the slopes more often. I am no longer discouraged by the 35€ day pass price and I can just come up to the slopes for an hour or so whenever I wish and without pressure.

 

 

Other great offers, if you don’t want to commit to a season pass on offer, are the Family day pass, which is available every day of the season. It costs 85€ and is valid for both parents and all their own children up to age 15. Also starting 10 January is the Ladies Day Pass offered every Wednesday during the season but Ash Wednesday, for only 17€.

 

 

For more info:
www.alpenplus.com/alpen-plus/alpen-plus-skipasspreise-uebersicht/saisonskipaesse/

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).

 

 

 

Stress Free Ski Day in Spitzingsee

The early bird gets the worm and on Spitzingsee that works for weekend parking spots. On any given Saturday it can seems like the entire world wants to enjoy the pristine beauty of Spitzingsee. In the winter season, the limited parking can change a fun day skiing into a real struggle. Week day skiing tends to be much less busy but not everyone is able to take time off work to ski during the non peak times.  So let me share with you a great tip for stress free skiing in Schliersee.

Why not arrive relaxed while also reducing your carbon foot print. The German train system has prepared this perfectly easy plan for you to enjoy a day in the mountains. Wether it be skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or just a beautiful wander in the snow covered hills. Arrive in style and try for yourself this alternative transportation.

The ticket you are looking for on the Bayerische Oberlandbahn also known as BOB is called the KombiTicket Ski. It is quite a deal which includes both your ski pass and the train ride. If you gas and time, it is good value.

The prices are as follows:
Adults (from 19 years): € 49.50
Teenagers (16 – 18 years): 47,00 €
Children (up to 15 years): 27,00 €

A bus will take you to Spitzingsee right from the train station in Fischhausen-Neuhaus. There could not be an easier, more user friendly way to avoid the weekend traffic and just soak in the pure ski enjoyment.

This plan also works even better if you are already in Schliersee staying at one of our many romantic alpine hotels or guest accommodations. One real benefit to staying directly in Schliersee is our Schliersee Guest Card, which you receive at your hotel and gives you free access to the bus and so much more. It is a real bonus to a vacation here in Schliersree.

 

 

For more information on the Guest Card:
http://www.schliersee.de/fileadmin/dwnld/Leistungen_Kurkarte_August_2017ENGLISCH.pdf

 

It is important to check weather using our local webcams to check conditions at Spitzingsee and also familiarize yourself with the times the slopes and coordinate them with your travel.

 

Train arrangements:
https://www.meridian-bob-brb.de/de/bayerische-oberlandbahn/tickets-bob/kombitickets

 

Local Webcams:
http://www.alpenbahnen-spitzingsee.de/en/webcams/

 

RVO Bus Timetable:
http://www.alpenbahnen-spitzingsee.de/fileadmin/user_upload/alpenbahnen-spitzingsee/2015-2016_Nachtskibus.pdf

 

 

Laura Boston-Thek Laura Boston-Thek

American artist, photographer and professional wanderer who, after 20 years of roaming, put down roots in a 100 year old Bavarian farmhouse and fell in love with the Alpine village and its residents (both 2-legged and 4-legged).