Epic Race Mountain 17 Stuben, Arlberg, Austria

We got up and out of the house fairly early, said our goodbyes to the super cute family running the Apart Korona and were on our way to Stuben, which was probably only a 10 minute drive from the hotel.

The guys were starving because they had gone out late the night before in town, and Francis hadn’t even eaten dinner!

The town of Stuben was adorable, so small and cute, with basically just one lift shooting up from the village and a few runs.

We searched around for a bit trying to find a sit down breakfast but because we showed up at 10:30, breakfast in town was shut down. So somehow we ended up at a really cute café/ski shop/grocery store, and had a grocery store style breakfast, which ended up being a super cool little place!

Then we headed over to the poma lift on the bunny hill of Stuben to play around a bit. We ended up getting some pretty sweet low speed turns in on soft snow since nobody had really skied over on that area yet. Again, had more fun on a subtoptimal condition/run than could be expected.

After some fun there, we headed over to the lift that takes us up Stuben, and took one glory run. It was pretty fun, had some soft snow on the sides (softer than any of the other resorts) and then headed back to the car since Francis had to pick up his girlfriend from the airport in a few hours.

We loaded up and got on the road, and guess what, clouds and precipitation started rolling in. OF COURSE. Because that is our MO. Every time we leave a resort, it snows right when we leave! It snowed/rained a little on the drive into Zurich, Switzerland, and it was actually really beautiful because everything was covered in ice/snow like a winter wonderland!

We got to the airport pretty easily, and Francis had to take off to catch up with his girlfriend, and he left us there so we could grab a rental car. We figured out our rental car, and then went into the airport for some dinner/late lunch. The airport at Zurich is really well planned, brand new looking, and basically seems like a mall, that happens to have planes fly to and from it.

We ended up having a sub-par meal that was outrageously expensive – like a $45 meal per person for something that wasn’t that great but meh, everyone warned us that Switzerland was hella expensive and they were right!

We got on the road, drove for a couple hours and finally made it to Verbier! We got into town maybe around 10/11 pm, and had no idea where we were gonna stay for the night. We had decided earlier that we were gonna play this one night by ear, because every trip needs at least one “adventure” where you fly by the seat of your pants! Thank god we did, because it ended up being the best night of the trip so far!

Once in Verbier, we parked, and decided to just walk into the downtown to try to figure out where we should end up for the night. We stopped into this amazingly cute antiquey looking bar called the “New Club.” Nobody was in the bar except the owner, and we were stoked!

He poured us a round, and we started chatting with him about the town, his history, the bar, etc. He was super cool – his name was JP – Jean Paul and his wife ended up coming out also. JP started talking to us about where we should stay for the night, and he was sounding a little concerned about whether or not anyone would be working the reception desk for any of these hotels at this late of night. Apparently, in Europe hotel receptions close at fairly normal business hours, versus in the US they are available all night long.

So Rhinehart and I decided to walk up the street in the downtown area of Verbier to check out a couple hotel options JP had given us. We ended up at a super hip/trendy place called the Hotel Ferinet, right in the center of town, on top of a club that was going off, and asked banged on the door when we saw someone through the window to see if he would let us in.

We got in, and asked the guy if we could get a room for the night (this is at midnight by this point) and he said yes, he had two twin beds in a room for $220 Franc per night (probably $250 US). Super pricey for two twin beds considering we had three people, but it WAS in town, and we were ready to experience Verbier and also didn’t have a lot of options left at this point.

We decided this was the place, and headed back to the New Club to grab Greg and get settled in for the night. We closed out with JP and his wife, and then Greg decided to serenade me on the grand piano. It was so hilarious, he was staring straight into my eyes with the most ridiculous look on his face, while Rhinehart filmed it. But, I have to give it to him, shockingly (but not shockingly because Hydle IS good at everything) he turned out to be a pretty amazing piano player despite never having taken a lesson. I was laughing so hard at the look on his face, leave it to Hydle to be over the top amazing and hilarious at the same time!

After that, we headed into town, got settled in quickly, and then headed out to get our Verbier party on! We started things off with the club right below our hotel, had a round of 4 drinks total for like $60 bucks…so insane, but everyone warned us Verbier is expensive!

The club below our hotel closed down at 1:30 am, but we had just started to party (and are partially still on US time which was the afternoon at home) so we headed to the real “club” after that right next door, The Casbah.

The DJ there was killing it, and we rocked it out and had so much fun. Hydle was a celebrity again and had lots of attention from people, including one really drunk girl who came up to him and in broken English said to him “You’re perfect” and then grabbed his earmuffs, hat and sunglasses and was kinda obsessed with him for a while!

We finally called it a night, and as we were leaving the club, we asked the bouncer “Where do we get burritos?” and he said “No burritos here, but the only place open right now is the secret bakery right up the street” and pointed up the hill. We started walking that direction, and definitely wouldn’t have ever found it even though we were constantly talking about how hungry we were (this was 3:15 am). A couple walking in front of us turned around and in a little bit broken English and said “Follow us, we will show you where the bakery is”

About 100 yards up the hill and to the right and down a staircase (kinda toward the basement of the building) there was a little window with a baker baking fresh bread. If you knock on his window, he comes up and makes you a quick sandwich on a baguette. Bummer for Rhinehart being gluten free, he only could eat meat and cheese, but the rest of us chowed down on one of the best drunk munchies sandwiches I’ve ever had, fresh baguette, meat and cheese! Apparently this is basically just a bakery that has found a side source of revenue feeding hungry drunk clubbers, while he is baking his daily bread at 3-4 am. Pretty freaking amazing!

We passed out in our twin beds, and woke up about 4 hours later for a big day of skiing at Verbier! So, while pricey, Verbier did not disappoint!

Cooley’s Video – Stuben – Mountain 17

Epic Race Mountains 15 & 16 – St Christoph & St Anton, Arlberg, Austria

This morning we all kind of struggled to get up and moving – except for Rhinehart who is always first and ready to go, so he made us breakfast – eggs, cheese and prosciutto – while we all got ready.

We thought the buses ran every 10 minutes, so we didn’t pay much attention to what time we were leaving, so at around 10:10 am, we realized the buses only come once an hour, so Francis had to drive us the short distance into town.

We got our stamps done at the tourist office in St Anton, and then parked the car and crossed over a “closed” bridge (not sure why it was closed though) to get into the village. We jumped on the brand new Ganzig Bahn gondola which is ridiculous – it’s huge, high tech, brand new, and has these humongous wheels that rotate the gondola up like an elevator before it takes off up the mountain.

Today was a perfect bluebird day, no clouds anywhere so the views were amazing. From the top we dropped into the village of St Christoph and ran into a couple other fellow epic racers again (we are roughly on the same schedule as it seems maybe 20 other racers so we run into them periodically at the photo/video spots at each resort).

The information office at St Christoph was super old and historic “hospice” hotel there that offers amazing ambience and fine dining, and is a 5 star hotel. The history of St Christoph dates back 600 years ago when a shepherd founded a shelter for wary travelers making their way through the Alps. History is so much greater in Europe!

From St Christoph, we made our way up the St Chrisophobahn lift, which takes you to the center point of the St Christoph and St Anton lifts, and you can see down from up there into either valley (a village on each side). It’s so hard to describe how grand this mountain range is, especially when you’re at the top overlooking everything from a 360 view.

We had some really fun runs after that, and kind of kept getting lost so we actually rode probably most of the lifts at the resort, which turned out to be pretty fun. It’s crazy how long the runs are here, and how steep even a normal groomer tends to be at these mountains.

The gnarliest lift I’ve ever seen was shooting up from the St Christoph area to a mountain peak that seemed like it wouldn’t really be skiable because of how intense the terrain was, but apparently they don’t give a crap here in Austria and will put a lift on anything. There was also a tram, which I believe is was one of the first trams ever built taking you almost to the top of the super gnarly mountain peak also. Neither were open but if they would have been, I know the guys would have wanted to ride it, and I’m not completely sure if I would have done it. The lift was a two or three person lift, shooting straight up to the top, and the terrain down from there looked pretty insane, probably would have been the steepest run I’d ever had access to, so as much fun as it would have been, I’m also a little relieved it wasn’t open!

Speaking of lifts, at the bottom of one of the runs on the St Christoph side, we were riding a 6 pack lift up – most of the high speed lifts here have lap bars, and then an additional plastic bubble cover that you can pull down in bad weather. Because of the bubble, I couldn’t put my arm around the back side of the chair like I normally do when I ride lifts on the scarier side, and um, all of the lifts here in Austria are pretty scary and way far off the ground. I kept asking the guys if I could put the bar down, and they kept insisting no way and that I needed to suck it up and that this was good practice for me since France is supposed to be scary also. But, we got to a point where I had a mild freak out and told the guys I didn’t give a shit what they thought, and I was putting the bar down. They all gave me crap and said I had to buy the first round at the bar because I wussed out, but I didn’t care, at least I wasn’t scared anymore! And, THANK god I did, because shortly after that, the lift stopped, and swung back and forth at a high point over the ground, ugh! And then, just to freak me out a little bit more, after the lift stopped, a guy came on the loud speaker in German and said something which we didn’t understand, and all I was hoping was that he wasn’t saying that the lift was broken and that we would all have to be rescued because we were pretty high up there!

After that, I started to realize that EVERYONE puts the bar down on lifts in Austria. It makes sense, they are a lot higher up than the lifts I’m used to in the states. So, I gave the guys crap back and said “hey guys look up, see that, every single lift that is going by has people with the bar down, bar down, bar down” so hopefully they will get the point and let me put the bar down the rest of this trip, or else I’m probably gonna be riding them alone on purpose!

We then headed over to the St Anton history of skiing museum (one of our epic race photo stops). What a cute little place! It had a beautiful historical style dining room downstairs, and upstairs was the ski museum. I’m so glad we went inside, it was cool to see some of the history of how skiing developed in St Anton, seems like this is where a lot of the history of skiing began!

And then, it was time to hit up the Mooserwirt – a world famous après ski bar that overlooks the Alps, is on the slopes (but within walking distance from the base if you want to hike up for a little bit). It was a trip to see this place – outside they had a stage, girls dancing, a DJ, live music, and it was so packed you couldn’t really walk unless you were trying to push your way through to get somewhere.

Inside was a little less crowded, but still very “club” like. We got a couple rounds of drinks (we had met up with Adam, fellow epic racer there also), and took it all in. I got hit on by a local Austrian guy who kept wanting to “make dance” with me and said “you good, I’m good, lets make dance” which was pretty funny. And of course, Hydle was “famous” throughout the club – people either were thinking he was Mc Fitti again, or high fiving him because he had the best beard they’d ever seen, or apparently he also got called out by a group of people thinking he looked like the guy from the hangover, not to mention every epic racer that was there knew who he was also!

After a couple drinks, we strapped on our skis, and skied down the hill to the base in the dark. Of course in Europe you can ski after the slopes have shut down, with no lights, after having a million drinks (if you choose to have a million drinks at the Mooserwirt). What a crazy place! Apparently it doesn’t even really get started until 10 pm or so, I can’t even imagine…insane!

Back at the room we worked on uploading our content, and had leftover spaghetti. The guys went out again late night tonight where I thik they are meeting up with Adam for a bit at Bar 37, and I stayed in to go to sleep! Tomorrow is Stuben, and then driving to Verbier, Switzerland!

Rhinehart’s Edit – St Anton
Hydles Video – St Christoph
Hydles Video – St Anton (Mooserwirt)
Cooley’s Video – St Christoph
Cooley’s Video – St Anton

Epic Race Mountains 13 & 14 – Lech & Zurs, St. Anton, Austria

Well, today was pretty close to one of the most mind blowing days of skiing I’ve ever had. I am not even sure if the English language has words for how incredible the Alps are. Maybe there are words in German that can accurately describe them, but in English I don’t think anything does justice.

The Alps are Huge. Beautiful. Vast. Insane. Steep. Heavenly. Gnarly. Happy. Lonely. Fun. Scary. Intense. Scenic. Insane. Commanding. A skiers paradise, and probably an original explorers dream and nightmare combined. I can’t explain this place other than until you see it in person, there is no proper way to explain them.

We had the best time today. We had a team breakfast here at the Apart Korona, and then headed off to the mountains. Our first stop was the Information office at Lech for our Epic Race stamps. The staff there was so friendly and even gave us the Lech keychains for free!

We ran into some fellow Epic Racers in the parking lot, of course they all recognized Hydle, and we shot the shit with them for a minute, and then parked the car and got everything ready to ski. After a quick playful jaunt in the playground (aka the guys terrain park), we walked over to jump on the first lift of our lives in the Austrian Alps!

Just the ride up alone, we were all in awe, like I already said, I can’t explain how grand this place is. It was a perfect, bluebird, glistening gloriful day!

Within the first 100 yards on our first run (for the record, it was his first run of the season) – Francis ATE it on the side fluff of the run, which I got to witness. Nice work Franics!

After that, we charged down amazing huge groomers with nobody on the runs, and headed to our three spots at Lech – the Kriegeralpe which is a cute lunch spot with a fake cow out front, the Weibermahd lift station where some European skiers asked Greg if he was Mc Fitti – again. When he said no, the guy then said “well if you were, or if you at least said you were his brother, you’d get a lot of chicks!” haha. And then we took the Rufikopf tram – HYDLES first tram ride!!!! – up to the Rufikopf panoramic view restaurant where we ran into several different groups of Epic Racers who all recognized Hydle of course!

Then, we went up to the panoramic view at the top of the Rufikopf tram. As Rhinehart appropriately described it, “This is the most panoramic view I’ve ever SEEN!!” Again, no words can describe the grand and vastness of this view, and of all things, we saw it on a perfect bluebird day!

From there, we cruised down the raddest, most fun cat-track ride I can confidently say I’ve ever been on! It lasted forever, and we had a blast zipping in and out, off the side of the run, taking videos in the sunshine, and tearing up some huge fast turns.
That brought us to the Zurs village – equally as cute as every other village we’ve seen so far, but just a bit smaller. We headed into the information office, partied with Elina and got some stamps, and then we were on our way up our first (and only) Zurs lift which was still huge.

At the top was one of our photo spots – the Madloch lift. DUDE. I WISH this lift was open. Holy crap. It was gnarly steep, took you straight to what looks like the top of the Zurs mountain area (but who knows, this place never ceases to surprise you!) and it flows back down into a canyon with a bar/restaurant overlooking what is now a frozen lake (but it must be so beautiful in the summer!).

So we took our videos, and then headed over to the bar/restaurant at the top of that lift called the Bergrestaurant Steepkopf. Insane mountain views from every angle of this place, it felt like we were in a movie!! We ordered a round of drinks from one of the coolest waiters we’ve met yet – ADRIAN! He was so cool, he played with the camera, and chatted us up in his best English. We also had our first Austrian dessert – an Apple Steudel with a vanilla cream sauce. Basically heaven in my mouth!

We shut down the place (they have to close when the lifts close and download the lift with the lifties) so we took an icy, but equally icy but gorgeous ski ride down with insane alpenglow views of the Alps on the way down.

We grabbed the bus back to Lech to get to the car, hit up the grocery store, and headed back to our hotel. I cooked up some spaghetti, the guys edited, and then Hydle and I decided to check out the sauna. Ok. I thought it was going to be just a sauna. What we didn’t realize was it’s basically a spa. It was a huge room with relaxing beach chairs in a warm room, a hot as shit sauna, a steam room, relaxing music playing, decorative plants, window shades that are on a three rail system that Hydle admired, and a shower with multi shower heads in all directions. Apart Korona – straight up killing it!

Now we are editing/blogging/uploading/listening to Mc Fitti, and there is some talk of the Moosewirt next. It’s late, but we are also kinda still on Colorado time, so it’s like 1 pm at home still…so whatever, we might rock it!

See you tomorrow, Epic Euro Race Time – OUT!

Hydle Lech Video Mountain 13
Cooley Lech Video Mountain 13
Cooley Zurs Mountain 14

Epic Europea Travel Day!

We made it! We left yesterday, December 10 at 2 pm, and Nabor Ryan (Rhineharts Dad) drove us to the airport – thank you Nabor Ryan! After a successful early arrival to the airport (yes, early, and Hydle was not happy about it!) we boarded our sweet humongous double decker Lufthansa plane. Our flight attendant was smokin hot and super nice, and she killed it the whole flight.

Flying to Europe on Lufthansa was almost like flying first class minus the extra leg room – we got served dinner, hot towels, all we could drink wine and beer, snacks, and then breakfast in the morning, and we got to watch unlimited movies that were pretty sweet also. Hydle also drank three vodka OJ’s the next morning before breakfast!

We landed in Frankfurt which was an insanely huge airport, and proceeded to lose Rhinehart who was in total zombie mode because he took half an ambien on the flight. We cruised through the airport which also seemed to double as a super nice ass mall, and then eventually got to our gate where Rhinehart caught up with us.

We had one final flight on a small little prop plane from Frankfurt into Innsbrook that only took about an hour. This was probably the sweetest view I’ve ever seen from an airplane flying into Innsbrook. The plane basically dives in through these huge peaks of the Alps and then circles around the city before landing pretty much in the center of town.

When we landed, Hydle had a friend he had randomly met a year earlier on his last trip into Innsbrook who offered to pick us up and hang out with us for a few hours while we waited for his other buddy Francis to meet up with us.

Bine picked us up from the airport and we went back to her super cute little apartment in the city to drop off all of our stuff, and then we walked to the bus stop and hopped on to go to the top of the city overlooking everything to get a drink.

The views in Innsbrook are unreal, the Alps are huge, and there are ski resorts everywhere leading into the town. I couldn’t believe how huge and steep some of the resort runs looked, it definitely made us all super stoked to ski!

After a drink at the top of town, we rode a bus back down into the town to go to the original place that Greg met Bine – the Stiftskeller! We had some beers and authentic Austrian food (sausages and pretzels and saurkrat and meat) and Bine had some other friends (including the other original friend that Hydle had met the year earlier, Ella) come meet up. Everyone was fun and friendly and spoke English so we had a good time, and then Francis who is gonna be our fourth wheel/local chauffer for the next few days also showed up.

Bine wanted to show us the Christmas Market in the downtown area so we all walked through the Christmas market which was so ridiculously cute and Christmasy in the village, and then we grabbed an authentic hot wine drink and took some pics. After that she talked us into meeting up with some friends for one more drink at the Mustache Bar – El Mustachio!

At El Mustachio there was a group of guys that saw Greg and then started kinda laughing and smiling, so one of Bine’s friends said “Oh we should probably let you guys know, Greg looks exactly like a famous rapper in Europe named Mc Fitti” (see video above, it’s hilarious how much Greg looks like him). The guys eventually came up to Greg to ask him if he was Mc Fitti, they chatted a bit and he high fived them. Greg’s doppleganger for sure, and turns out even though he raps in another language, he’s pretty damn good and his music video kicks ass, Mc Fitti FTW!

We headed back to Bine’s house and packed up our stuff into Francis’s car (thank you Francis!), and headed out toward St Anton since we are skiing two of the #epicrace resorts here tomorrow. Francis killed it driving while the three of us jetlagged out and passed out for the hour long drive.

We arrived at our hotel, which is adorable and really clean – it’s more like a condo/mini apartment really – called Apart Korona. The family that runs it lives here, and they were really nice and greeted us for check in and showed us around.

Now we are all doing computer stuff, I’m blogging, and just made three rounds of horrible microwaved popcorn. The microwave is struggling so we kept having bags full of half unpopped, half burned popcorn, and our room smells like smoky burned popcorn now! Hah!

Time to ski tomorrow, can’t wait, it is so gorgeous here, tomorrow should be fun! Epic European time!