The do’s and don’ts of ski holidays:
FROM WET TOES IN SKI BOOTS, FROZEN TONGUES AND THE CARGO BOX CATAPULT
Skiing is not only a beautiful activity, but also a peculiar endeavor. After all, there are few sports that you don’t practice all year round, but then you suddenly become an expert for 1 or 2 weeks a year and also remain in good physical condition for hours on end.
Nobody could play soccer for a week without some training. Or run a marathon. But when skiing we have different conceptions of what we can, know and have to do beforehand in order to fully experience the ” white dream “.
As a responsible host, no compromises or half solutions must be allowed when it comes to security and all-inclusive services. A good host must not only do that, but also they must warn and point out things that sound natural to many guests, but are still done incorrectly every now and then, which can spoil the fun of a winter holiday, could cost money or, in the worst cases, may also negatively affect your health.
But mistakes are generally there so we can learn from them. That’s why the Falkensteiner winter professionals, who offer perfect all-round conditions to thousands of winter sports enthusiasts every year at the fantastic Falkensteiner ski destinations in Austria and South Tyrol, here reveal a few “winter secrets” that may initially trigger smiles and shakes of the head, but hopefully will also spare you some mischief or annoyance.
The car must also be fit for the mountains holiday. This starts with a filled windshield washing system, includes window ice scrapers, a small snow sweeper, a shovel to clear the vehicle covered in snow and finally equipping your vehicle with winter tires and snow chains. All this must not only be available, but you should also know how to use it. Fitting snow chains is not that difficult – as long as you don’t learn it when you’re already stuck.
- If you already drive an all-wheel drive vehicle in mountains, you’ve got a lot of great assets for going uphill. However, believing that a 4WD provides more grip when driving downhill has more often than not unfortunately repeatedly proven to be the opposite, and the driver ends up in a roadside ditch.
- A classic since the invention of the ski roof rack: upside down skis. The ski tips must face backwards. Not because of aerodynamics or contact pressure when drifting on snow-covered twisty roads. The air resistance generated by skis loaded the wrong way can prove to be a bad surprise on freeways.
- Skiing holidays are usually luggage intensive and cargo boxes increase the storage space enormously. But beware: cargo boxes have maximum payload values for a good reason. And heavy, hard objects – such as ski boots – should be tucked so that they cannot shoot through the front wall of the cargo box like projectiles when applying the brakes.
- In winter, a lock de-icing spray should be used in every vehicle without electronic remote door unlocking device. But the deicer is useless when the locks are frozen and the spray is in the glove compartment. De-icers belong in your pockets. Or, attach them to a tire.
- However, you can also indulge your car when taking a ski vacation. Most Falkensteiner ski hotels are located directly on slopes and with a car in the hotel garage the après-ski experience is easier, carefree and safe.
- A real classic of ski holiday misunderstandings is located in the ski cellar: heated ski boot dryers. Place your ski boots on a heated pipe and get into dry and warm shoes the next morning. But be careful: the tips of the boots must be pointing upwards. Because heat rises and moisture sinks, this is a physical fact that also applies to winter vacations. The number of complaints about allegedly defective ski boot dryers in the Alpine region has never been recorded, but in 99.9 percent of cases the fault is not due to the system. If the tips of the boots face downwards, all the wet cold that makes skiing unpleasant accumulates there.
- Anyway: ski boots. These things have buckles so you can stand in them, absolutely securely. On the skis. When moving. Walking in ski boots isn’t fun. If you fasten your buckles on the way to the piste or chairlift as if you were walking down the hill, you won’t get a good or safe feeling in your boots for the rest of the day – quite the opposite.
- Setting ski bindings is something for specialists. Therefore: keep your fingers away from the screws. And even if the length of the sole of the ski boot would make it possible to exchange skis in a group or family, a ski binding that is not released or released too early can cause serious injuries.
- Speaking of rental skis: Not only do they often look similar, they are also often the same model. Therefore, it makes sense to remember, on the one hand, exactly where you’ve stored your own. To be on the safe side, you should also memorize or write down the ski number. Or take a photo with your mobile.
- Ski suits and functional underwear can usually be washed and cleaned. There are a few rules to keep in mind: Close the zipper and velcro fasteners. Turn everything to the left. Use special detergent and don’t wash with hot water. Starting from 40 degrees, many adhesives with which the textile parts are glued begin to dissolve. When they dry, they usually tighten again – but the small cavities created in the process allow air and water to pass through previously “impenetrable” parts. Breathable high-tech fabrics (such as “Gore-Tex”) bond and become unusable when fabric softener is poured into the washing machine. If you want to wash down coats in the machine, it’s a good idea to put tennis balls in the drum: They rumble threateningly – but the machine can handle it. And the balls prevent the fur from clumping together.
- Sometimes less is more. If you want to withstand the cold on cold days with an extra layer of socks or a second layer of ski underwear, you will sometimes experience exactly the opposite. It’s not the layers of sportswear stacked on top of each other like an onion that keep you warm, but rather the air in and between these layers. If you compress them too tightly there is no room for warm air. The result: Not “cold” but “icy”.
- No winter day without a holiday selfie! However, things that batteries and rechargeable batteries don’t like include cold, humidity and icy wind. Smartphones, which otherwise tend to survive the whole day, sometimes will lose their charge in a few hours. Especially if you have 25 apps running in the background, Mail and other news services are set to “Push”, your MP3 player is running all while you are busy watching ski runs.
- A smartphone in the outside pocket is almost a guarantee for an empty battery. It’s warmer near the body. In flight mode, the battery lasts even longer. A plastic bag protects against moisture, whether from the inside or the outside – be it a special protective cover for cell phones or a disposable plastic bag for hygiene products from the hotel bathroom. It doesn’t hurt to take a charging cable with you, but the idea of charging your mobile phone in the hut is likely to occur to others as well. And the number of power outlets on the mountain is limited.
- “Pics or it didn’t happen” is the word for skiing today. But “Generation Selfie” likes to forget that the earth keeps spinning even after they stop to take the ultimate picture. Stopping in the middle of the piste to capture the beautiful winter landscape with yourself in it is just as smart as stopping on a busy freeway to take a souvenir photo in the passing lane: It could be your last.
Oh yes: Holding selfie sticks out of the cable car window can and will end stupidly: The lift support is stronger. Always.
- It’s difficult for residents of alpine regions to understand, but still a popular and fun photo for ski holidaymakers: the licking of ice or icicles on open-air surfaces. The urgent and absolutely serious request of the Falkensteiner holiday professionals: Please don’t try this! You won’t quickly notice if your tongue is frozen on the icicle or the icy surface. The saliva that coagulates also freezes and makes it more difficult to loosen your tongue. Pulling it loose is usually impossible, extremely painful and almost always leads to injuries. If you see anyone suffering this ordeal: Don’t laugh, help. For God’s sake, don’t think about melting the ice with warm water: it will either burn the victim or freeze. Or both. What you need in this case is a hair dryer. Or heating pads. And then probably the mountain rescue service. By the way, dial 140 in Austria and 118 in South Tyrol.
- Frozen mountain lakes are gorgeous and idyllic. The Falkensteiner alpine experts (and also mountain guides and mountain rescuers) warn nevertheless and in general against walking on ice surfaces that are not designated by local experts as safe and reliable (on the exact present day). Should it really not be possible to avoid walking on an unknown natural ice surface, the following applies: not the lightest, but the heaviest should take the lead. And at the slightest doubt, because the ice is only cracking slightly: Go back to land! Immediately! As a precaution, perhaps even crawl on your stomach – because your weight is better distributed this way. No matter how strange it looks.
- Another important survival tip: The fact that it’s just as white next to the pistes as it is on the marked slopes unfortunately doesn’t mean that in “open terrain” the same safety standards apply as on the prepared, supervised and secured pistes: the “free ski area” is high alpine terrain. Here, completely different rules apply: The “open terrain” begins exactly where the piste marking ends. Those who dare enter this seemingly harmless zone, even if it’s only meter, should not do so without the right know-how, the right training and the right emergency equipment. The daily rate of a local mountain guide may seem high, but the expert not only knows the most beautiful spots and slopes in the region, but also know where it’s safe or dangerous.
The certainty at the end of the day is that you’ll be able to tell everyone about these unique impressions in a healthy and happy way at the Falkensteiner Hotel Bar – and it will be well worth the investment – or, alternately, you can stay on the marked slopes.