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The Last Resort

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Due to the extraordinary conditions, economic and otherwise, I am planning a SkiSuperTramp.

Travelling in my car, I plan to drive to Italy through Austria, take in the Dolomites then return through Switzerland and France. I hope to keep my costs to a minimum by using hostels, the car and anyone who is kind enough to offer a night's floorspace in return for my company on and off the slopes. This is a work-in-progress and I will document it on Snowheads. I intend taking the crossing from Dover to Dunkirk and then head for Kitzbuhel. From there I will probably head for the Engadin. I'm going to pimp my Vectra so that I can sleep in it after the clubs turn out. I hope that I can find my way to a comfortable nights sleep if at all feasible.

Any advice, criticism or offers of companionship very welcome.

Thanks for reading this


Madeye-Smiley
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Way to go!! Wouldn't be doing it in a Vectra but the plan sounds awesome. Post plenty of stoke snowHead


Make sure you have a bloody good sleeping bag..


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Tue 30-12-08 1:04; edited 1 time in total
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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?
warrell, I think sleeping in a Vectra during an alpine winter night you may find the thermal insulation properties are not quite as good as those of a proper winterised Motorhome! Toofy Grin
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warrell, a proper adventure, like it. Front wheel drive Vectra should be as good as anything else given the right tyres and easy enough to get fixed anywhere. Think I'd be tempted by cheap 'n' cosy little "zimmer frei" rather than freeze all night in a rep mobile. Why the schlep from Kitz to the Engadine? Aren't you better heading to the Dolomites first? And now for my big tip... buy a map.
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warrell, My tip would be to go to one resort, what you save in petrol and tolls you can spend on a b&b. Wouldn't fancy -10 in a Vectra at 4am... BRRRrrrrrrr Bet you put the engine on in the night!
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Alastair Pink, a night in the veccie will be the last resort of the scoundrel so I will avoid if at all possible. I intend winterizing it as much as makes sense, insulation for the windows, space blanket inner cocoon and a proper bed platform with rear seats removed. Much as I would like a full-on motorhome I'm making do with what I have. I carry a lot of body fat too Embarassed
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Bode Swiller, Good point. I was planning to avoid the peage/vignette/etc so was taking that route and Kitz was the first resort I was familiar with. I was thinking of going via Innsbruck to St Moritz then onto the Dolomites but a bit more route planning may be in order. Part of the motivation is to meander and go where there is something happening, where friends are, where there is potential for SuperTramping (whateverer that is). I have been to quite a few resorts spread around the alps but I want to use this trip as a way of visiting those that are off the beaten track and to revisit those where I know I can rest up for a few days cheaply. Time is abundant, money is the limiting factor. Blush
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
stevo_the_saddler, I'm hoping to be away for at least a month so the cost and boredom of staying in one resort rule that out as an option Madeye-Smiley
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stevo_the_saddler wrote:
Bet you put the engine on in the night!

Don't put your engine on overnight! I've read too many stories recently of folk suffocating in their cars.
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Be interesting to see how you manage to fit a shower in..............
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warrell, superb. Go for it, proper ski bum stylee. Laughing
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Tips

(1) Make sure you have a set of at least all season tyres with plenty of tread. I would consider a set of chain a must for such a trip. Borrow a pair if you have to.

(2) Get a Sat Nav if you can afford it or simply borrow one. Those hand held portable type covering Europe would be ideal. You have to get into cities some time and so you need a lot of maps or just a Sat Nav.

(3) Remember many mountain passes are not open in the winter.

(4) I have seen some cheap heated clothing (body warmer and gloves) on sale in Maplin. I would get a spare car battery and charge it up regularly so that I could warm myself if it is really cold at night. The car battery should be off the car circuit when not being charged so that the car main battery is not affected. You may need to rig up a power supply unit for converting the 12VDC to the lower voltage of the heated clothing (also available in Maplin). I have used the foot warmers and an occasional switch-on can make a lot of difference.

(5) Tell somebody about your destinations and way of contacting you.

(6) I would get insurance cover for myself and also for the car. You should always have something to fall back on if things don't work out.

Best luck.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
BCjohnny wrote:
Be interesting to see how you manage to fit a shower in..............


Proper skiers don't shower.

First lift up on the morning, ski all day, apres, kebab, bed.............repeat as necessary. snowHead Laughing
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

I've read too many stories recently of folk suffocating in their cars.

They'd need to be a bit daft. I spent the night in the car in the mountains, though it only got down to - 7 (and I only spent one night). I kept running the engine every now and then. As long as the exhaust is free there's no need to suffocate. Shocked
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warrell, go for it and good luck, get a Be Nice please! good sleeping bag and you'll be OK. Hero Cool
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Smokin Joe wrote:
BCjohnny wrote:
Be interesting to see how you manage to fit a shower in..............


Proper skiers don't shower.

First lift up on the morning, ski all day, apres, kebab, bed.............repeat as necessary. snowHead Laughing


I meant in the Vectra...................

Never know if you can crack the substantial "Vectra shower fitting kit" market you can afford a proper holiday next year.

Though seriously, good luck mate. Rather you than me............................

John.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
BCjohnny, I'm planning on two nights in a hostel for every one in the car - at most - so I can avoid the worst side-effects of the hobo existence. It's not a holiday - its a journey of discovery, an adventure and a way of seeing all those small resorts I wouldn't otherwise visit.

saikee, Thank you for your thoughtful advice. I will check out Maplin and the advice about the tyres and battery is very welcome. I must see how much a set of winter tyres for the front will set me back. A spare battery would very very wise too. I will check out Maplin as you suggest since a safe heat source overnight would make all the difference. I have a couple of smartphone satnavs with maps so that shouldn't be a problem. Insurance is always a worry and breakdown cover looks like a sensible option even though the car is low mileage and only five years old. I have a long suffering OH back home who will be aware of and worrying about of my daily movements.

Sometimes it feels like a crazy thing to do and the next minute (when the sun is shining) it feels like the only thing to do.

Of course, if anyone would like me to buy spirits and deliver them for payment in euros perhaps it might even cover some of the costs.

Very Happy


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Sat 10-01-09 10:29; edited 1 time in total
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
warrell, brilliant idea! When do you plan to set out? I'm looking forward to reading your trip reports snowHead

(Shivering at the mere thought of spending a night in the car, though! Hope you don't have to do that too often, if at all...)
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Jo225, Thursday looks like D-Day. I'm still planning my itinerary though Madeye-Smiley
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
warrell, Sounds like quite an adventure, I too look forward to reading all about it. Good luck snowHead
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mate how much is it gonna cost you in fuel & boat tickets & tolls?
Is it not cheeper to travel by planes, trains, and buses?

How long you planning on going for?
Ive want to drive from the french alps and work my way to austria, covering Italy & swtizerland, might get around to it one day (when ive saved enough money)

I have never considered sleeping in a car.

Something you might want to look at is 'Train'ing it.. my cousin moved from Cannes, France to Edingbough, Scotland, he loaded the car up with his stuff, drove onto a freight train at Cannes Train Station and Drove off at The station in Edingbough. I think there was only 4 trains involved. Obviously he had to move the car from one train to the other but thats it.. Hardly any driving.. Smile I dont know how he went about planning it. If you wanted to do that you'd have to work it out.. i wouldnt know where to begin..

Smile
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Apparantly doing the train thing was the cheepest way of getting all his stuff to Scotland. Dunno if that would work out the same for you..
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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!
Karl Moto, I live on the South Coast, the ferry crossing is £19 and my route should be toll free. Petrol is about the same price even at current rates. I have prepared the car so if I'm at low altitude in a sheltered spot I will probably get as much sleep as I would in a hostel dorm with a bunch of snorers. I'm a light sleeper at the best of times. It sure is one way of raising my metabolic rate! I have plenty of time and I'm in no rush. I will probably only buy a day ticket in each resort unless I find somewhere I particularly like. Perhaps I might even acquire buy unexpired tickets at the end of the day and grab a couple of hours skiing for the price of the deposit.

Yep, I'm an aspiring freegan and should be free (in the words of the song) to do what I want any old time (I hope) snowHead


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Sat 10-01-09 10:34; edited 1 time in total
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pam w, I've done a couple of nights down to -4 and that was with less preparation than this time. I'm doing a dry run tonight (I feel like a kid camping in the back garden)- expecting -4 so should be a reasonable test given that I hope milder conditions will prevail when I'm doing it for real Very Happy
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Buying day tickets is an expensive way to ski!
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Having a good sleeping bag as already mentioned in the blog is the key - once saw two deadlocked Swedes emerging from a very old Volvo Estate outside the Andermatt Gemstock Cable car station one February morning - put a smile on my face -nice to see that sense of adventure and hippie spirit is still out there - by the way these guys were s..t hot freeriders -respect indeed - go for it and keep us all posted -the way the pound is performing at the moment might have to consider it myself - p.s. get some proper winter tyres Very Happy
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
ringingmaster, even if you are only in resort for a day? I intend taking up cross-country skiing in the Gastein area and that should keep ski-pass prices down. The Austrian Tyrol 6 day pass looks like a good idea because you don't have to use it on consecutive days and is valid across many resorts.

Any suggestions for cheap lift tickets? Anyone want to lend/hire/sell me a ticket when they aren't using it? Not strictly kosher but how many days go unused on the avergae multi-day pass?
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
warrell, Having done a night or two in a car (she was there of her on volition, honest) I think you need to seriously consider how you're going to deal with issues like condensation inside the car. As the nights go on you're bound to get frozen condensation on the inside, your sleeping bag will feel increasingly damp, your ski gear will start the day damp, your boots will never dry and could be like little ice boxes... could all seriously affect your enjoyment of the sport and nobody would be surprised if you ended up ill. Some form of constant heat will help but can't help feeling you need to get a cheap B&B wherever humanly possible.

Other issue is just the shere inconvenience of needing "a convenience".. nothing worse than crawling out of a damp/frozen sleeping bag at 6am, finding frozen shoes, going for a pee.

I really like the idea of your trip but the night time arrangements suck somewhat.
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You know it makes sense.
Bode Swiller, thanks for the advice. A night in the car will be the Last Resort and I don't intend doing more than one sleep on the trot. I'm going to use it for the longer stretches of the trip followed by at least a couple of nights in a youth hostel to recover. In this way, the problems you highlight shouldn't arise. I have rigged up a urinal, large funnel and a big plastic container (currently containing anti-freeze screen wash) Embarassed. I have a large stash of reusable hand warmers which I intend recharging in the hostel the next day.

I have a double skin space blanket dome under which I will sleep and condensation is gonna be considerable but I intend driving the car for some time after a sleep in order to dry it out.
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I've camp in a tent down to about -5. So a night in the car should be easily doable at that temperature, with reasonable comfort. All it take is a good nice sleeping bag! Get two if you're short on body fat.

You've got plenty of good suggestions on heat sources already. The only thing I'll add is to think about removing the moisture during the night. As an experienced camper, I'd say keeping dry is half the battle of keeping warm. Perhaps open a window (or two) on the downwind side for a tiny bit so the air could circulate? The heat lose might be more than compensated for by staying dry.

I'd say keep the sleeping in the car only for nights you're at low enough elevation, or during warm spells. I'd speculate it can be done without much hardship down to about -10. Beyond that, a hostel or b&b would be a better option.

Sounds like a fantastic adventure in the making. Do keep us posted with your progress.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Cool. Can you show us some pics of the "pimped" Vectra?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
warrell, Some motoring guidance from the Austrian government website, pay attention to the bit about tyres and chains.

Good Luck! snowHead

http://www.help.gv.at/Content.Node/134/Seite.1340000.html
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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?
Thanks abc, very good advice! I will keep it in mind. I will post to this thread and probably open a new one once I'm 'on-the-road' Kerouac style.

johnboy, perhaps pimped was too much of a hype. I have taken the rear seat bench and backs out and have a two metre by 30cm length of MDF across the fully reclined front-seat (minus headrest) diagonally into the boot area. I have kept the parcel shelf in there and the rear bolsters so it looks as though the car just has a fold flat rear seat arrangement.

robboj, much appreciated. I'm not under any time pressure so I don't plan on driving when conditions demand chains or even winter tyres. However, I'm considering shelling out for the Snow snocks from Wiesenthals and wonder if these are cheaper in Germany (even with the Euro)?


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sat 10-01-09 10:40; edited 1 time in total
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warrell, Not sure TBH.

I know I'm not exactly helping the economic aspect of your trip but you may want to check out the tyre thing a bit further.

I know it's a bit pedantic but if you think about the UK and AFAIK being in or near the car with the keys means you are in control of the vehicle - e.g. you can get done for drunk driving for sleeping it off in your car! Therefore it strikes me that you need to know what the Austrian legal definition of operating the vehicle is? Logically you would think that means actually driving it, however maybe just running the engine would be covered - or worse still even just sleeping in it?

If you're planning on getting winter tyres for the front anyway then the ones for the rear would probably be less than the potential fine?

Here's a link to a lengthy and sometimes heated thread from last summer of the subject. A few posters had access to good local knowledge and might be able to help if you PM them?

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=1003324&highlight=winter+tyres#1003324
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warrell, sounds like you'll be having a lot of fun and I look forward to hearing about your exploits! On the car snowsocks front I'd recommend looking at AutoSock (www.autosock.co.uk) - they invented the things and seem to be a bit better than the imitators (such as Weissenfels) and are no more expensive. Having said that, both are TUV approved.

Hope you have a wonderful time!
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Thanks robboj, plenty of food for thought there! As you imply... the cost of buying a set of winter tyres would make the trip more expensive than doing it using public transport. Being time rich and cash poor I was hoping to use the time, my existing assets and flexibility to transcend the ski trip stereotype. Using my average Joe car I hoped to get more out of the trip than by travelling as a tourist. I would have a story to tell, my home on my back (so to speak) and travel at a snails pace and free to change plans. Perhaps I was deluding myself as I am now envisioning being stopped by traffic police and heavily fined or worse. As I said, I would hole up if the driving conditions were such that I was at risk or putting anyone else in that position. I don't drink so that is not an issue. However, whilst I'm pretty good at dealing with uncertainty I'm beginning to have my doubts about the wisdom of taking the car at all without spending a whole heap of money. Since I would rather spend that money on lodging ergo I should take a plane, train, bus, taxi, hire car instead of driving. Hey ho
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Excellent plan, dirt-bagging it is definitely the way to go when you're young and/or stupid. Myself, I only fit into the second category these days.

Spent many nights in a car, winter climbing, when I was younger, and when I was nineteen I spent a winter living in a Ford Escort camper van, yes you read that right, I include a link to a piccie here ->

http://www.dormobile.org.uk/Ford_Escort_new.htm

Didn't use the top tent as that was my ski loft. Cooked on a mini gas burner or ate pizza, frites, etc, from the shacks you find on the outskirts of most mountain towns. Showered on the occasional night in a campsite or hostel. Best advice is to make sure you have the very best sleeping bag you can beg, borrow or steal or even better, two sleeping bags. The inside of the car will get utterly frigid at night, more so than a tent strangely enough. Also, make sure you have the best sleeping pad because comfort can make up for being cold, but the discomfort and cold together is a killer. Not literally, but you know what I mean...

If you avoid driving during storms or their immediate aftermath, you'll be fine. The Euros are seriously on the case when it comes to keeping mountain roads open, and chains are incredibly cheap in city supermarkets close to but not in the mountains. Watch out if you park in ski area car parks as the police will come and harass you very early in the morning. My other bit of advice would be to avoid the big destination resorts and search out the smaller and less discovered areas. The big resorts are for holiday makers who don't want to ski the same run twice, little areas have more soul and i reckon that's what you are after. The trade off is less skibums to blag a floor or sofa from.

Throwing yourself on the kindness of others is a good technique, easier if you stay a little longer in a town or make friends easily. In the US this is totally doable, but a little trickier in Europe in my opinion.

Anyway, enjoy, and ignore the wage slaves going on about "proper" holidays, they're only jealous... Very Happy
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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!
warrell wrote:
I'm beginning to have my doubts about the wisdom of taking the car at all without spending a whole heap of money.
Worth doing the maths. If you are time rich you can wait for the best air deal and use trains and buses to get around - having someone else better equipped to do all the driving is surely better. Is there still such a thing as an Inter Rail card for the over 26s?
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Thanks shannyla, that is just the spirit I had in mind. I'm not young either but I'm sure the stupid/mad tag applies. Good to hear of your experience.

Bode Swiller, been doing the sums and yes you can get such a thing - 8 days travel in a month for 229 euro. I can get a flight to Salzburg for £70 so could probably do all the travelling for less that the cost of a set of winter tyres. Worth thinking about seriously. Of course, one is then bounded by the parameters of tickets but at least there shouldn't be any surprises Shocked
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warrell wrote:
I don't plan on driving when conditions demand chains or even winter tyres. However, I'm think of investing in a pair for the front wheels.

Winter tyres just on the front (or just on the back) are not a good idea. The ADAC (German equivalent of the AA) web site says that cars can skid even under moderate braking when different tyres are mounted front and back, which seems logical if you think that the grip is different from the different tyres.

Maybe it is more practical and economical to rely on public transport. Perhaps it wouldn't be so flexible and a bit of a pity after the work you've put into the car but, on the other hand, you can save money on insurance, road tax, etc., if you lay up the car.

Hope it works out some way - have fun!
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