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Old TR: Soll, SkiWelt, 8-15 Feb 2014 - now with photos

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm writing this trip report 8 years after it happened - mainly as a record for myself, but thought other SH's might find it (a little!) interesting too. We had some midweek drama involving severe weather and mysterious illness which I've also recounted below!


Arrival day: top of the Keat chairlift above Soll

Background

My first ski trip since childhood (apart from one day at CairnGorm, Scotland), and my partner's first ski trip full stop (having learnt specifically for this holiday on a dry ski slope). Decided to go for a Crystal package holiday since it was all new to us. Soll is quite a pretty resort on the northwest side of the sizeable SkiWelt ski area in Austria. I think it has a reputation for fairly lively apres ski, but it seemed absolutely dead when we were there (which suited us fine). I first learned to ski in neighbouring Ellmau nearly 20 years before.

Arrival day

A (very) early morning drive from Aberdeen to Glasgow for the flight. All went relatively smoothly under Crystal's supervision, although the coach to resort took quite a while due to other people being dropped off at St Johann, Ellmau and Scheffau en route. The coach driver chucked my suitcase out of the coach with such force that it broke the handle rolling eyes

On a more positive note, we managed to ski for a sneaky couple of hours' on arrival day, with multi-day ski passes being valid the afternoon before the start date. We got as far as the top of the Keat chairlift, with a long blue of 800m vertical all the way back down which was quite an eye-opener to my partner, who was accustomed to the 20m vertical of Aberdeen dry ski slope...


Monday

The ski area

Typical for this region of Austria (close to Salzburg), with mostly wooded slopes and lowish altitudes. The main part of the ski area has generally easier, higher (sometimes treeless) runs at the centre with steeper (wooded) pistes down to the resort villages on all sides. At Brixen there is a link to the otherwise separate, Westendorf sector, at the far end of which there is a short bus connection to Kitzbuhel. My partner coped admirably for a new skier, tackling the blacks off Hohe Salve and Choralpe without major issues. Overall I'd recommend the SkiWelt as an "intermediate's paradise", though you need to be able to tackle reds to make the most out of the whole area. Not such a good bet in late season (probably mid March onwards) due to the low altitudes.

Snow & weather

This was a "low snow year", with green valleys and bare south-facing hillsides, even in February. North-facing slopes were mostly white and most pistes were well-covered thanks to excellent snowmaking. The sunny runs to Brixen were all closed due to lack of snow. Weather was mostly cloud or hazy sunshine, with a little light snow which was more often rain or sleet at resort level.


Tuesday: Itter resort run, with very little valley snow!


Another Tuesday view - can you believe this was taken on the same day as the previous photo?!

Midweek drama

On Thursday we were exploring the remote (from Soll) Westendorf area when my partner began to feel ill. I skied alone for a bit while he had a break in the restaurant at the top of Choralpe. After an hour with no improvement, we decided to head back towards Soll. He didn't feel up to tackling the long red back to Brixen, so opted to take the gondola down while I skied down. What could go wrong?

As it turns out - a lot. I was a minute into the red run when a ferocious gust of wind came seemingly out of nowhere - so strong it blew me over as well as a number of skiers below me. After recovering and completing the run, I reached the bottom of the gondola to find it closed indefinitely due to that wind gust (wind damage?). I hadn't enabled my phone to work abroad (I think these were the days before data roaming), so had no idea where or how my ill partner was. An hour later the lift restarted at a snail's pace, but only to evacuate the passengers stuck on it - my partner wasn't among them.

A little while later, he turned up. It transpired that his gondola cabin hadn't quite left the lift station when the gust of wind struck, so he'd been instructed to disembark. He'd then waited patiently to board at the top, before eventually being told it wasn't going to re-open, and managing to ski down the steep red to Brixen, while feeling very unwell and along with (apparently) a whole crowd of skiers who really weren't up to tackling red runs.

It was now perilously close to lift closing time, so we had a race against the clock (with an ill, novice skier, remember!) to get back to Soll. By the evening my OH had a fever and was babbling nonsense, necessitating a late-night trip to Kufstein hospital, with the Crystal reps assisting in booking a taxi. The doctors pumped him full of fluids and who-knows-what-else, eventually letting us travel back to Soll a few hours later. The €50 return taxi fare seemed incredibly reasonable (including waiting time at the hospital!), and EHIC covered the rest. I skied alone the next day while he recuperated in bed, but he was well enough to come along to a pre-booked fondue by evening time Toofy Grin


Wednesday lunchtime - this could have been the meal which caused the mystery illness!

Departure day

With an evening flight, Crystal had given us an option either to ski or look around Salzburg (for a small surcharge) on the last Saturday. We'd chosen the latter, which was probably for the best considering my partner was still recovering. We had an enjoyable few hours looking around the city, with baggage taken care of by the reps. All good on the flight back.


Departure day: Salzach River, Salzburg

Summary

An enjoyable holiday notwithstanding the mystery illness. Our Crystal reps were also excellent - booking the taxi to Kufstein hospital, baking cakes each day for afternoon tea, and cooking delicious fried breakfasts each morning (except for the "day off", when a continental breakfast was provided). I did provide positive feedback to Crystal about this after the trip, as well as mentioning the damaged suitcase. Crystal sent me a letter apologising along with a £50 voucher towards a future trip, which I thought was more than reasonable (even though I never got around to using it).

We didn't realise it when booking, but I think the second week in February would have been a peak week - and therefore the price seems very reasonable and there was a noticeable lack of crowds. However, in the years since then we've never been able to make a package work financially compared to a DIY holiday.

Costs (total for 2 adults, 8 days)

Package (Crystal): £718
Flights (Thomson Airways EDI-SZG): included
Accommodation (Pension Scherntanner, B&B + afternoon cake!): included
Lift passes (SkiWelt full area 6 days, BOGOHP with Crystal): £299
Ski & boot hire (SkiSet Snow & Fun 6 days): £108
Total: £1125


Departure day in Salzburg

>> Next TR: Alpe d'Huez & Les 2 Alpes, Jan 2015


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 24-03-22 12:50; edited 5 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Always a good read, even if in the distant past.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@ster, cheers!
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Excellent (as always)! Makes me want to return to the area.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Valluga wrote:
Makes me want to return to the area.


Makes me want to return to 2014
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Nice report.

If anyone finds themselves in Salzburg with some time on their hands (not that there’s a shortage of options), on a clear day, I’d heartily recommend the Stadtalm https://www.stadtalm.at/

Great views, cosy restaurant and charming terrace overlooking the Schloss, the old and new town with the river meandering through. Very reasonable prices and friendly.

I’ve no connection to the place. Mrs C and I went there a couple of years ago on our wedding anniversary.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Nice! Though mystery illness not so nice. Clearly didn't put your partner off skiing though? Very Happy

I enjoyed the Skiwelt, this makes me want to return!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Thanks all. Yes, 2014 seems so hassle-free in Covid-affected 2022 Sad

@ElzP, not at all, fortunately!
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A slightly less refined suggestion for Salzburg is the Augustiner Bierkeller (no connection to the well known Munich brew beyond that both were brewed by monks years ago). The building is still a monastery of some sort and the back entrance leads through various corridors with rather grand marble statues.

The bier is served in stone mugs (stein is an English mistranslation, the correct term is a "Steinkrug" which means a stone mug, stein on its own simply means stone) which you collect from a rack and rinse out in a little fountain before giving it over to be filled with bier direct from a barrel. There are various food stalls but you can bring your own too. On a Sunday afternoon the place is full of local families unpacking picnic baskets, the adults drinking bier and the kids drinking pop. A really nice atmosphere, though it can get busy.
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