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Snow Chaos in Schliersee? Not a Chance

The New Year, 2019, began with an amazingly extreme snowfall of several meters. “Snow chaos” or “schneechaos” was the hashtag that the press gave to the storm, but for the Schliersee locals, it meant we had just scored gold for this season’s winter fun.

This part of Germany does such a great job of snow safety and snow preparation that with simple precautions any mount of snow can truly be wonderful. Once the “all clear” was given, everyone was able to joyfully head out and explore the deep, fresh powder.

After work one evening, three of my snow loving girlfriends decided to introduce sledding to one of our crew. Due to avalanche risk, we discovered the sled route from Obere Firstalm had not been cleared. This discovery thankfully did not stop our plans, at this time of night, the snow-covered road, Kratzerweg, that goes to Untere Firstalm has little to no foot traffic or vehicles, so coming down the same route would be very safe and possible.

With sleds in tow, we began our snowy journey. We were absolutely astounded by the unimaginable height of the snow.  The walls they created, climbed on either side creating a feeling of walking through a snow tunnel. All the well-known views were unrecognizable. It was truly magical.  Seeing the roofs of the little cabins along the way, heavily blanketed of meters of snow, made them all so inviting.

Breathless and chilled, and banging the snow from our boots, we entered the warm and welcoming interior of Untere Firstalm. As the weather changed outside, we cradled mugs of our steamy reward in our bitter hands. Our cozy visit was cut short as we realized a fast-moving snow storm was rolling in. So back into our wintery duds we jumped and back into the freezing weather we sped.

As the sun set, the snowstorm threatening and the winds building, we quickened our pace up the hill on the road that connects Untere and Obere Firstalm. You can only rent sleds from the food counter at Obere Firstalm so up we went. The sound of ice pellet like snow dancing across the snow walls in the wind gusts motivating us.

Once we all had our sleds, and a few bits of advice were shouted above the roar of the storm, we wasted no time heading back down the mountain. With the joyful sound of continued laughter, we soared. The steep snow walls on either side of the way gave our newest sled enthusiast a feeling of great security.

As always, the fun ended far too quickly, and we were once again shivering in our cars cheering on the heater and the defroster, chalking up another day filled with wonderful memories.

 

 

To Plan your own adventure, check out these site:

http://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).

 

 

 

Never a Shortage of Winter Fun

On many snowy winter’s days in Schliersee we are faced with an important decision: “What are we going to play today?”  Should we go sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, cross country, ice skating or just take a beautiful hike. What a wonderful plethora of outdoor adventures await us each day.

This year we were treated to not just one, but two of our local lakes freezing completely over.  After approximately two weeks of sub-zero temperatures, Spitzingsee iced over and was quickly followed by Schliersee in the valley.  It was as if we had reclaimed land mass. Absolutely everyone cautiously started taking the first steps onto the ice.  Within days there were people playing hockey, ice skating behind baby carriages, curling and just walking their dogs.  There were times I couldn’t tell who was enjoying the ice more, man or beast. Tables and chairs were set about for sitting and sipping and enjoying the sunshine, while gazing upon the lakes icy surface.

For me, watching all the people gathering to share warm drinks and experience walking on the lake’s surface was a wonderful treat.  On one Saturday morning on Spitzingsee, there was even an alpine band playing.  The energy was infectious.  As the day progressed the long shadows grew across the ice and the fog rolled in and created incredible hoar frost in thick patterns like feathers.

Once the fresh snow fell so heavy that it covered Spitzingsee the ice became impossible to skate upon and at that time the cross country skiers and snowshoe walkers began to flood the lake’s surface.  Following the paths that formed like highways felt like you were discovering new lands.  Being able to see the mountains from this new perspective offered different views as well.  It’s wonderful how this well known landscape continues to change and offer new experiences through out the seasons.

 

 

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).

 

 

 

Warm Drinks and Bitter Noses

It’s  -18’C on clear indigo twilight, your nose is sticking together and upon your first step outside the car your fingers begin to burn and ache. As you gather your gear you have moments of doubt but the knowledge of the overwhelming joy of racing down the snowy track in darkness, motivates you.

The snow loudly crunching under your feet and enthusiastic laughter off in the distance, you begin your climb. Sled tied to your back pack or your waist to make the burden easier and shoe spikes for traction on the snowy surface. It may be only a 2.2 kilometer walk up from the Kurvenlift parking area but it was in these conditions my husband and I decided to do our first night run from Untere Firstalm.

When I described this to my friends and family back in the US they thought we had to be crazy heading out at night in extreme winter weather, but honestly if you prepare right.  It can be a wonderful adventure.  Doing a nice small hike like this to a cozy location like Untere Firstalm is a perfect way to ease you and your family into hiking and sledding.  There is nothing better than seeing the warm lights spilling out of the windows on a winters eve and hearing laughter and music and knowing you are just a few icy breaths from a warm drink.  This year I have been introduced to hot chocolate with Rum called a Lumumba.  But I have to admit my favorite is the Jägertee, which is a very strong alcoholic beverage made by mixing overproof rum with black tea, red wine, plum brandy, orange juice and various spices.

Once you have warmed yourself up a bit, inside and out, it is time to get your gear back on.  For Untere Firstalm I would recommend wearing a good headlamp if it is not a full moon evening.  On the evening we did our run there was no real moon light but the bright white snow was reflecting quite a bit and our headlamps were quite helpful.  Obere Firstalm has lighting along their run for night sledding and it is Obere Firstalm where you can rent a sled.  Rental sleds are 4 euros and you have to pay for them inside the restaurant but pick up your sled outside from an out building. Obere Firstalm is a simple walk up a serpentine path from Untere Firstalm if you don’t wish to carry your own sled up the hill.  This is great if you decide last minute to go sledding.

Either sled run is perfect for everyone in the family to get on a sled and have a great time.  They are very easy to navigate with the perfect about of gentle turns and slow inclines.  Nothing at all terrifying and a great place to get the sledding bug.

Both Obere Firstalm and Untere Firstalm are wonderful places to visit set in absolutely stunning location.  During the day or in the evening their very friendly service and delicious food and drink make it the perfect destination for the whole family to have fun.

 

 

 

http://www.mondscheinrodeln.de

http://www.untere-firstalm.de/oeffnungszeiten.htm

 

 

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).

 

 

 

Family Friendly Sledding Locations

Each winter I am asked by visitors to Schliersee where can they find real accessible “Family Friendly Sledding”.  So this year I thought I would put together a small list of places I have discovered and tell you a little about each location.

Albert Link Hutte:  Located in the center of Valepp Almen which is just behind the Alte Wurzhütte in Spitzingsee.  It is not accessible by car but is a very easy walk.  For Albert Link you need to bring your own sled but the location gives the whole family tons of options.  Not only has Albert Link plowed their own small sled run, in Valepp there is a beautifully groomed Loipe for Cross country skiers as well as many tow bars for Alpine skiers as well.  Parents tell me they find this to be a perfect location for family sledding. I can tell you their Kaiserschmarnn is out of this world. Remember that Mondays are Albert Link Hutte is closed. https://www.davplus.de/albert-link-huette

Alt Spitzingsee Strasse: This is the old road that use to take you up to the village of Spitzingsee and is now used for moving cattle and hiking.  In the winter months, when there is enough snow in the valley Alt Spitzingsee Strasse is a great family friendly sled run.  The one downside about sledding here is the lack of parking.  You need to plan that out if you decide to sled this hill.  A great easy way to enjoy this location is to take turns or have a designated driver who drops the sledders off at the top of Alt Spitzingsee Strasse and then picks them up at the bottom near the Joseftal waterfall.  This is a very gentle slope and great for learners.  Hiking up or dropping off both are a lot of fun.  And for your Apres sledding fun, make sure to go around the corner and enjoy some of the amazing homemade cakes, warm drinks by the hearth at Cafe Brunnhof.

http://cafe-brunnhof.de

Pfannilift: https://youtu.be/P9QMalIc1gM

Located just up the street from the Fischhausen-Neuhaus train station. This simple little hill much loved by visitors and locals alike if the perfect stop for your littlest snow bunnies.  On one side of the hill you have a tow bar for a beginner ski slope and the other side is a gentle slope for sledding.  Also provided here is a Loipe for Cross Country skiers.  All this and an amazing view down onto Schliersee. What more could you ask for on a day out in the snow.

http://www.maier-schmotz.de/skilift.php

Obere and Untere Firstalm: https://youtu.be/Pxp5xijnyl0

Both of these locations are just perfect for everyone in the family.  It is a simple gradual hike of 2,5 kilometers from either the Kurvenlift parking or from Spitzingsee saddle. Obere Firstalm rents sleds for 4 euros per sled and you pay for the rental inside the restaurant.  Untere Firstalm does not rent but it is easy to bring or own or to carry the rental sled down to their run.  You can’t go wrong with either location for food and drink and the proprietors are warm friendly people.

http://www.untere-firstalm.de

http://www.firstalm.de

Schliersee between Westenhofen and Hausham: Just before you arrive in Schliersee on the right side of the road between Westenhofen and Hausham there is a hill.  On any snowy day it will be full of joyful families sledding.  My colleague Ulrike McCarthy wrote a great article on this location.

https://magazin.schliersee.de/schlittengaudi-auf-dem-kirchbichl/

Schliersbergalm: https://youtu.be/D081YQjK5fs

Last but not least is Schliersbergalm. One of the most spectacular views in all of Schliersee and a simple hike up or you can take a cable car.  It is a very sunny location so sledding might not always be possible if we do not have a lot of snow in the valley.  It is a gentle slope down the hill with lots of turns.   Great food and drink and one amazing view is all provided.

https://www.facebook.com/Schliersbergalm/

 

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).

 

 

 

Winterizing your Ride

On the day we moved to Schiersee, as the moving company was unloading our truck to the back drop of the wintery Brecherspitz mountain, I kept hearing one word in German mumbled under their breath…” Schneeloch”, simply translated to English as “Snow Hole”. I think they thought we were absolutely crazy to move from the historic downtown of a city to an old alpine farm house surrounded by trees and mountains. That is not how we saw it at all. We envisioned snowy mornings, sipping coffee by the heat of wood stove and jumping into winter boots to make the first foot prints in the fresh snow.  We are two years into our alpine adventure and Schliersee has not disappointed. Call me crazy, but most days I feel like Alice in a Wonderland.

Our first snow since becoming Schliersee residents, one of our neighbors called us and told us to grab our sleds and come over he would show us the best local sledding spots. Mind you it was a blizzard out and our sleds were ones I had found on a trash pile that I used for decoration but that was not going to stop us from joining in on the winter fun. We did take some mocking from our friend who had what I can only describe as the Ferrari of sleds. It was all sleek and sturdy and he swore you were able to actually steer it. So began our search to find the perfect winter sports car…I mean sled.

On the advice of many locals we were told to go make a visit to the Schliersee Radhaus and talk with it’s very knowledgeable owner Felix Wolf. He was amazing. He took my husband out back to an extra warehouse absolutely full of sleds. He explained to us that the Gasser sled made in Tirol was really a lifetime purchase. Most German families will have a range of sleds from sleds for the baby on to adult sleds. It was a big investment but for us it was an easy decision. We love winter sports but with both of us having joint issues this was a great way for us to have a fun winter sport we could do together.

I felt very much like Goldilocks trying to choose my sled. My husband’s was too big and heavy and others just didn’t fit me right but Felix brought out a young boys sled that was “just right”.  He took our sleds in the back and sharpened our rails and explained to us how to properly store them so we could enjoy them for many seasons to come. Another thing I really appreciated about Felix from Schliersee Radhaus was his emphasis on sledding safety. He didn’t just sell us our sleds he explained to us basic courtesy while sledding and important gear we would need.  He asked us to make sure to always wear a proper skiing helmet. Having enjoyed two wonderful sledding seasons, we have been witness to several accidents where sledders were ill prepared and we are grateful to Felix who prepared us correctly.

Felix shared some of his tips about buying and storing your sled:

  • Store the sled standing up in dry place
  • If you see rust starting on the rails, which is natural, give the rails a good wipe down with course (50 – 80 grit) sand paper and then apply a very light coating of oil
  • To keep rust from forming on the rails during storage cover the metal rails with packing tape
  • ALWAYS wear a helmet
  • Have as much fun as possible!

If you are coming to Schliersee or Spitzingsee for sledding and are ready to commit to your sled. Drop by the Schliersee Radhaus and talk with Felix. Don’t hesitate…Winter is just around the corner. For more information on Felix Wolf and the Schliersee Radhaus:

http://schlierseer-radhaus.de

https://www.facebook.com/SchlierseerRadhaus

 

 

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 sleds and sledding

Living here in Germany for many years, we have learned the art of long wander each Sunday with friends or family. Having a destination where you can have a meal or even just a drink gives the walkers motivation and inspiration to travel further.

Here in Schliersee on most snowy Winter Sundays everyone excitedly pulls out their trusty sleds from their attics and cellars hops in their cars and heads to one of the many different groomed paths. A favorite for families is to find parking on Spitzingsee and then begin their hour or so long pilgrimage from the saddle of Spitzingsee up to either Untere Firstalm or Obere Firstalm. Most folks stop for a delicious lunch and possibly some warm drinks before once again gathering all their snow clothes and sleds and beginning the fun decent on their sleds back down the mountain. The ride down is quicker but filled with laughter.

Another great alternative if hiking isn’t your idea of fun is to have someone drive you and your sled up Spitzingsee and about halfway on the right side is the old Spitzingsee road. It is here you can begin your snowy decent without even burning one ounce of sweat. Your driver can meet you at the bottom of the road near the Joseftal Waterfall. Its great fun for the entire family no matter their level of fitness.   If you have really small children a great spot easy to access from the Neuhaus train station is the pfannilift.

After expending all that energy in hiking and laughing you can wander over on foot or by car to Cafe Brunnhof, located just around the corner from the Joseftal Waterfall. You will be greeted warmly by their wonderful owners and their amazing array of delicious cakes.

http://www.untere-firstalm.de

http://www.pfannilift.de

http://www.firstalm.de

http://cafe-brunnhof.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).