European Wilderness Volunteer DiaryThe Diary of the European Wilderness Society Volunteers

Learning to ski

As a passionate and amateur herpetologist I was very keen to start exploring of Austria to see the various snakes, lizards and amphibians the country has to offer. But with the largest dump of snow the Lungau had had in many years… it meant I had a long time to wait and a lot of time to kill.

So what to do in the snow laden mountains of the Alps? Learn to ski!

So after a quick visit to the local Intersport to rent ski boots (and get them fitted), skis and poles while buying the all important helmet, vital when you’re an enthusiastic idiot, we hit the slopes. But first I had to spend 30min figuring out how to get my boots on at the car and walk in the clunky things.

Now when I say hit the slopes it was a literal. I hit them fast and often. With my face if I out did myself. Getting off the button lifts turned out to be a monumental task of its own (taking photos of waving to friends certainly didn’t help). However, soon I went from floundering around on the floor, to a Hobbit giraffe on roller blades and eventually, after a long while, I started down my first slope at Fanningberg. As I became more competent (or so I thought) and certainly more enthusiastic I found myself barrelling down the mountain faster than I probably should have been going…

All of this culminated in me asking Nick, at the time one of the other volunteers, to video me. I shot off doing the fast crouch-y thing (schussing) down one of the slopes, trying to build up speed with Nick somewhere behind me. Focused on my feet, I remember catching a glimpse of something in the corner of my eye; turning my head for a quick double take, I realised it was Nick. This temporary distraction threw off my balance, and suddenly my left foot burred into the powder causing me to very nearly wipe out. However, somehow I managed to stay up right and not crash face first into the snow.

Not a bad way to waste time until the amphibians and reptiles come out to play.

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