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What is the current situation regarding travel to Austria

 Poster: A snowHead
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We will have to see if they ban foreigners from skiing and how that is done. Closing roads into Austria and testing flight arrivals with rapid testing would be possible.
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@Matrix, if the hotels are closed, then that effectively stops anyone who isn't a day-tripper or doesn't have their own accommodation.
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An article with somewhat more detail https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/coronavirus-coronakrise-oesterreich-skigebiete-tourismus-1.5127071 .

However not everyone, even in the Bavarian government agrees with Markus Söder

Prime Minister Markus Söder(CSU) is getting more and more opposition after his demand to close the ski resorts across Europe because of Corona: initially from its own coalition partner, the Free Voters, now also from the Landtag FDP. Söder had said on Tuesday: "I would prefer that we would have a uniform agreement at European level: no ski lifts open anywhere or no vacation anywhere." Free voter parliamentary group leader Florian Streibl said on Tuesday evening: "A supranational ban on winter sports disproportionately restricts many people's search for relaxation. That is why I speak out clearly against blanket closings - especially because all mountain railways have developed excellent hygiene concepts that they consistently do implement." Streibl, who comes from Oberammergau in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district,

The tourism policy spokesman for the Landtag FDP, Albert Duin, criticized on Wednesday: "How does Söder actually want to explain to people that they can sit together in a fully occupied subway with a mask - but not ride in a chairlift in the open air?" He just doesn't understand why outdoor sports without physical contact should be banned. And with good hygiene concepts, special ticket management and a staggered schedule, ski operations can be made Corona-compliant - with the exception of après-ski, of course.
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@queenie pretty please, yes that would stop it. Economically it doesn’t really help Austria to do so though. Let’s see. I expect the season really starts end Jan and we will have to lump it.
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@Matrix, no current decision on reopening hotels, restaurants and bars. Discussions this week seem to involve opening the ski lifts without this, so yes some financial compensation for hoteliers and restauranteurs would certainly be necessary as it was in April. A season-long ban on indoor après-ski has already been agreed.
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I would think, and also hope (!) that the key factor in any decision to open ski resorts (or to close them) is the hospital/ICU capacity.

If the number of Covid patients in France, Italy, Austria or Switzerland means ICU beds are full and medics overworked, then it's inevitable that ski resorts will be closed to stop hospitals also having to cope with the daily inflow of ski injuries.
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@Android2000, yes very important.
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25/11/2020 : Intensive car beds in Austria are at around 60% capacity (around 700 from 1200)

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@Android2000, Fair point made regards bed capacity, ski injuries are the last thing I suspect hospitals need right now.
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@tatmanstours, I’m no scientist but Yeadon’s figures are a month out of date and that last graph looks like death rates are rising rapidly in contradiction of his hypothesis.
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Markymark29 wrote:
@Android2000, Fair point made regards bed capacity, ski injuries are the last thing I suspect hospitals need right now.


I agree. Although I'm sure they'll have historical figures for the ratios of ski injuries that are serious enough to impact upon Covid hospitalisation pathways?

If its too close for comfort then I suspect we'll get to see them as closing the resorts over the festive season is going to take some serious justification/persuasion?
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@Gordyjh, yes, a more recent video, in which he exhaustively explains and justifies his theories (that the pandemic is effectively “over”, that a high proportion of people are now immune, and that mass testing is pointless and misleading) has now been taken down by YouTube.
If current trends are disproving his ideas, he must feel a bit of a chump (bearing in mind that he always starts off with a preamble about his qualifications and long experience in dealing with epidemics, vaccines and lung infections).
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@robboj, I don't think the decision will be made anywhere else other than Vienna, in which case i'd be highly surprised if they open the resorts for Weinachten. It's too much of a risk for the government and Kurz doesn't want the I told you so brigade rounding on him, it's hardly a vote winner when at the next election they ambush him and his government and remind they started a second major winter pandemic. Nothing i've read here or picked up from my own reading on this elsewhere leads me to any conclusion other than it's going to be early/ mid February (assuming they can get a half-term out of the season), and if not my belief is it may not happen at all, many businesses will stay closed for the season......and then the locals will have the best ski touring and freeride season ever I suspect, and Kurz will bankroll the country and in particular the tourism industry through to the spring, and summer season for hiking/ biking resumption of business as normal in June/ July, and also price hikes for season 21/22.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Markymark29, I totally disagree with that. I can see the ski areas opening in December, but possibly without restaurants and hotels only accepting bookings from people with Austrian residence. That seems to be what is currently under discussion. The EU has announced that it will not become involved with Italy's request for all countries to agree an EU-wide ban on opening ski areas. Decisions on lockdowns are matters for individual states based on infection levels and hospital occupancy. The Austrian government have already expressed objection to the Italian proposals. New Year week and the four school holiday weeks in February are the most important to the Austrian winter tourism economy and guests from elsewhere in Austria and Germany make up over two thirds of these visitors. Potentially there will be no German guests for New Year week, and if restaurants have to remain closed then there will need to be a rescue package. The current semi-lockdown was designed to reduce the new infection rate, keep the hospitals functioning safely but also keeping as much of the economy open as possible. Most businesses aside from gastronomy, tourism and retail are currently operating normally. Retail will be the first to reopen, which is expected to be on 7th December. Details will be announced formally next week.
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@queenie pretty please, think you are a bit naive.
Conte of Italy, Macron of France, Söder of Bavaria (of same party as Merkel), Rutte of Netherlands: all have said there can’t be skiing during Christmas.
What you are reading today is about money, about support, about politics. The lifts will stay shut until at least January 10.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@Langerzug, what I am reading and listening to is the Austrian news. Decisions are made by the Austrian government and the individual Austrian provinces. Conte, Macron, Söder and Rutte do not have decision-making positions within the Austrian government.

Vorarlberg have today announced their intention to open their ski lifts in mid-December.
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@queenie pretty please, sorry, but can only repeat: you are naive. really.
Apart from the fact that if Merkel calls Kurz to say she wants the lifts closed, Kurz will close the lifts, there is another rather important thing: if only the Austrians are allowed to come, it will not be economically viable to open the lifts.
There is a clear EU wide moving towards closing the lifts. Necessarily so.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 25-11-20 16:57; edited 2 times in total
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@Langerzug, whatever. Just repeating what I have been hearing on the news every hour. If that's naivety, so be it.
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I think you are all being a bit naive. The powers that be (Conte of Italy, Macron of France, Söder of Bavaria, Mrs Merkel, Rutte of Netherlands) won't make a decision on this until they have spoken to the infamous "Dutch Cow Whisperer of St Anton".
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He is driving a taxi elsewhere currently
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From a financial point of view, I would imagine that most of the locals would have a season pass and they would not be major contributors to the skiing economy if there is no hospitality. Therefore, it would be more of a PR exercise and could perhaps be seen as irresponsible, especially if the other EU skiing nations are advocating closure.
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@Markymark29, not sure that is the correct reading of Austrian politics, yes there are voices saying no skiing but clearly the Swiss intend to keep the lifts open and there are influential voices saying keep them open in Austria too. There are some signs that Kurz would be happy to be no longer in coalition with the Greens (who have the health portfolio and would get the "blame" for shutting down the resorts over Christmas) and would like to go back to the FPÖ, who most certainly want to keep everything open. Kurz has put a lot of effort behind the mass testing plan specifically to "ensure" that Christmas can be as normal as possible (personally I am dubious that it will work but maybe it will). The issue for Austria is far more important than say in France, as winter tourism plays a much bigger part. Similarly in Südtirol, especially as Rome's influence is far less there than in Lombardy.

German politics is more nuanced too (Markus Söder is not in the same party as Angela Merkel but in a Bavarian sister party, there are important differences), Markus Söder supported by hints and nods from Angela Merkel clearly has a view but his views have often not been shared by the other premiers, one of whom is a rival to take over from Angela Merkel (whose own influence is slowly reducing as her term in office comes to an end). Also bear in mind that Markus Söder comes from northern Bavaria, not the mountain areas or nearby, from where a lot of the CSU money comes from. It could well be that Bavaria or Germany generally tries to put barriers in the way of residents going skiing but the courts have already shown that any regulations have to be in keeping with the basic law (very important for Germans), just because Markus Söder thinks something is a good idea does not make it legal.

Not really up to date on French politics but from what I read from a well informed contributor to the forum who works in one of the big resorts, no decisions about closing lifts has been taken there, his view from last night was that the lifts will probably run but not bars and restaurants ie sandwiches for lunch and take aways or cook your own in the evenings. No idea how likely that is though.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung has been running stories all day on the topic, the latest https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/coronavirus-skifahren-italien-deutschland-oesterreich-1.5127807
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@DB, Madeye-Smiley
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Look, whether the hotels & lifts are open at Xmas or not us Austrian taxpayers are going to have to pay for this anyway, we might as get a ski holiday out of it. wink

Seriously I think Kurz is playing for time in the hope that the infection rate drops down low enough to allow the lifts to open at christmas/new year.
One solution might be to open only some of the resorts for the Austrian residents only and help the closed resorts out with a financial package.
(Violators of the rules will be throw in the cellar as usual.)
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@DB, you really are on fire these days!
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Well the French have announced that their ski resorts will stay closed until at least Jan, so let’s see if that pressure is applied in Austria.

I hope not, I was hoping to get out for Xmas.

My Mrs was talking to a friend that owns 3 bars / restaurants in a small resort, and as of yesterday no decisions had been made about opening, keeping the resort closed all season is one of the options on the table.

If I was a betting man, I’d say Austrian resorts won’t open until mid Jan, but hope I’m wrong.
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On the Bavaria note, Söder's coalition partners the Freie Wähler aren't too impressed by this idea. Their parliamentary leader is from Oberammergau... And represents the whole GaPa District.
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Google Translation from TT

Germany wants to stop ski tourism across Europe

“In view of the Corona crisis, the federal and state governments in Germany want to reach a coordinated European regulation to prevent ski tourism by January 10th. The Prime Ministers of the federal states agreed on this on Wednesday with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), as can be seen from her decision paper.”
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
"The federal government is asked to work at European level to ensure that ski tourism is not permitted until January 10,"
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tatmanstours wrote:
@radar, thanks, I’ll have a look. This is a paper published by Dr Yeadon in October:
https://lockdownsceptics.org/what-sage-got-wrong/


That article is filled with nonsense. Beginning from denigrating epidemiologist as clueless mathematicians, says there are barley anyone with a biology degree, when there are multiple virologists and infectious diseases experts on there.
Then he decries the lack of immunologist on SAGE, which may have been true on the first publication of the list, however almost two months prior to him posting the article, the Coronavirus Immunology Consortium was announced. With 17 leading immunologists and whose char Professor Moss is now on SAGE.

So immediately from the start he is being very liberal with his use of facts and descriptions, and unfortunately it does not end there.

But the main crux is his arguments and assumptions. Basically what he does is cherry pick the a few academic papers out of broad range that best suit his argument, which is more more high school essay than evidence based science.

On to his main argument: The UK has already effectively reach herd immunity when this article was published on the 16th of October.

Starting off with the easiest one Children under 10: Children under 10 can have COVID and pass it on. They tend to have lower rates of infection, but they can catch the virus and spread it, so you cannot count that 10% towards herd immunity.

The biggest flaw is the prior immunity. Now cross immunity from other coronaviruses is well documented in academic literature, in particular the study he references Mateus et al 2020. This paper does indeed indicate a stronger CD4 T-cell response from subjects that had previous exposure to cold coronaviruses. However, this is not a sterilizing immunity (i.e. you can’t catch and spread the virus) it is just and indicator that those with prior exposure to cold coronaviruses are likely to have less severe outcomes. The authors state in their conclusion: “On the basis of these data, it is plausible to hypothesize that pre-existing cross-reactive HCoV CD4+ T cell memory in some donors could be a contributing factor to variations in COVID19 patient disease outcomes, but at present this is highly speculative.”

Here is a twitter thread by an immunologist who has author multiple papers on cross immunity to COVID19

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1293344524731691008.html

"11) T cells generally don’t completely prevent infections, they limit disease (make it shorter and/or less serious). Thus, wearing a mask is much more effective than hoping you and the people around you have pre-existing T cell memory. Wearing a mask stops infections."

So again we cannot count these 30% with prior immunity toward herd immunity levels.

His next assertion is that the UK 7% is a severe underestimate as this must be from severe cases, based on the notion that antibodies deteriorate faster for asymptomatic cases, which is true. However that does not mean they fall to an undetectable level within the time frame we are talking about. The UK seroprevalence study took place from 5th of April to 21st of May 2020, so within 2 months of possible infection. He stipulates that UK infection rates have been underestimated by a factor of 4.5. He arrives at this glorious insight by working backwards from the an estimate of the global IFR of 0.2% and then dividing the UK deaths to this to get to a proportion of around 32%. That's kind of putting the cart before the horse, since IFRs are calculated by estimating the proportion infected and then dividing the number of deaths by that figure. And more than that he is not only using the paper with one of the lowest estimates out there, he is applying a global IFR to the UK population. Now the UK, like may other western countries has a very old population, so using a figure that is in part derived from countries like India, which has a median age of 27 (UK ~40)

Here is a link to an Imperial study that breaks down IFRs between low-income countries 0.23% and high-income countries 1.15%

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/mrc-gida/2020-10-29-COVID19-Report-34.pdf
Another paper, that has Western Europe as 1%

https://gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/5/9/e003094.full.pdf

You can find the full range out there. Just so happens this gentleman picked the lowest he could find, so that it matched his narrative.
But let’s humour this approach by using a regional example.
Using mortality date from here:

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsinvolvingcovid19bylocalareasanddeprivation/deathsoccurringbetween1marchand31july2020
we find that the North West recorded 7868 deaths as of July 2020. Dividing by 0.2% yields an implied number of previously infected of 3.9M or roughly 54% of the population. That by itself is quite close to herd immunity levels and should drastically slow the spread.
Now let us throw in his cross immunity of 30%, and children 10%, and we arrive at 94% community immunity, way beyond a theoretical herd immunity threshold of ~70%. As of July 2020.

Evidently that is not the case.

Similar story if you plug in the numbers for London.

It's really sad, because due to his scientific background many people will believe whatever he says. Especially since it would be great if it were true.
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@ski_free, thanks for that, it’s the kind of critique I was hoping for. As you say, he has an impressive scientific background and credentials. He also sounded very plausible in the video that was in circulation.
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Germany seeks EU deal to close ski resorts

Will Austria bow to Germany's request? Will Germany be the Grinch that stole Xmas skiing? Toofy Grin
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Alastair Pink wrote:
Germany seeks EU deal to close ski resorts

Will Austria bow to Germany's request? Will Germany be the Grinch that stole Xmas skiing? Toofy Grin


Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Kurz will be crucified domestically if he's seen to bow to Germany like that. If Germany and Italy don't want their citizens to travel to go skiing they can simply maintain the restrictions they already have in place - they don't need Austria to keep lifts closed to do so. There is also quite a lot of sentiment along the lines of 'how dare Germany and Italy interfere with whether we Austrians can ski in our own country or not' too.

Obviously for many resorts, especially the larger ones, opening lifts for only the domestic market probably makes little economic sense, yet there are plenty of smaller resorts who could do ok with weekend visitors from Vienna and so on. I've also heard from a lot of Austrians considering actually going on a ski holiday for the first time, specifically because of the anticipated reduced crowds, who never normally would because they normally just ski the small resorts on their doorsteps at home. Ie my gf's Mum on the phone the other day "jaaa wann die Deutschen nit kommen gehma sicha nach Ischgl aufm Urlaub!". I'd think the numbers involved are still too low to really offset the loss of international tourism though.

The other interesting point is that the principle reason for Kurz to agree would be in return for Germany allowing its citizens to travel to Austria, but if the lifts are all closed there's much less of a draw for them to come anyway...
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Can't see Kurz doing anything else than having to accept no skiing at Xmas & New Year. Other countries will block the borders (shops have been open in Germany but not in Austria. Austrian residents have been stopped at the border and fined). Can't see many swiss coming over esp. after Ischgl last year. That only leaves the countries east of Germany and Austria plus the Balkan countries. It will pobably be blamed on the high levels of infection or the uneconomic sense of running the ski resorts without a large percentage of the normal international tourism trade.
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Mutti says, Mutti usually gets. Sure there is some money sloshing around the EU coffers which will be slushed into the closed ski resorts as danegeld (in the absence of the Danes?) and I think Kurz has said if there is EU money he will close the resorts. The main thing will be whether there is enough leverage on the Swiss to follow suit or whether the Swiss will provide the competition and then there will be more issues arising from competition and jealousy.

The people I feel sorry for are the real people, often self employed or working at second remove from the ski operations themselves eg bar and catering staff, people letting a few rooms b&b or self catered, whose incomes will fall off a cliff and you can be sure will be missed by the safety net of extra money.
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@clarky999, It'd be kind of ironic for you to be driving across the Arlberg pass on route for skiing in Vorarlberg eh? Montafon and Bregenzerwald could be the big place this season if they side with CH-land? Damuls on a powder day not too shabby.......until CH-land close anyway, can't see that lasting long, but certainly Vorarlberg tends to be Swiss leaning rather than Austrian for many so interesting to see how this pans out. Personally I do think that Kurz will bow to Mutti and Austria will keep lifts closed until at least end January, he'd be forever the guy who never learned from winter 19/20 and allowed 20/21 same, can't believe he'd want that on his CV, he's a young ambitious guy and will play safe and take the EU coffers imv, less risky strategy. With no travelling Germans, Belgians, Dutch, Italians and Brits can't see it being viable to open the large resorts and as you say the smaller ones could do very well if they can potentially open.
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Markymark29 wrote:
@clarky999, It'd be kind of ironic for you to be driving across the Arlberg pass on route for skiing in Vorarlberg eh? Montafon and Bregenzerwald could be the big place this season if they side with CH-land? Damuls on a powder day not too shabby.......


Haha yep! I used to drive that route in the other direction every weekend to get out of Montafon for a bit of city life in Innsbruck - it would actually be pretty fun to ski in Montafon again now though. Lots of great terrain for powder days. From a purely selfish personal perspective I also would not be too fussed about touring all winter either, though as that would REALLY suck for a lot of people I hope it won't be the case.

All rather moot for the moment anyway though, given the current glorious weather! There's probably quite a few resorts secretly glad to have a good excuse to delay opening Laughing
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After world war II Austria was split up between the UK, Russia, America and France.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied-occupied_Austria

Maybe it's time to do the same again but with ski visitors only allocating certain areas to the locals and defined visiting countries for skiing. Could this work?
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FYI:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/26/austrians-and-swiss-go-off-piste-in-christmas-skiing-covid-row
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mitcva wrote:
FYI:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/26/austrians-and-swiss-go-off-piste-in-christmas-skiing-covid-row


Nothing new there, if it wasn't for the picture I wouldn't have known what offpiste skiing looks like. Confused
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