Apr 7, 2017

What Alec Really Meant by Into Whiteness: the Second Day in Montafon

Hi it’s Saori again.


I made a real lesson out of the second day in Montafon. As we had breakfast we all looked together the weather forecast. Last week, it said it was going to be sunny and high of 12C so I was like those baby penguins from Happy Feet. Since last few days it said about 7 to 8C, cloudy. I was just a little bummed that it was not going to be bun-toasting, sun-frenchkissing, black beanie hating kind of sunny day, but rather going to be skiing under grey sky. The thing I did not realize is, that if you are that high on top of the mountain you are nowhere under that gray fluff. You are in it.

As we ascended sharply in that cable car which Alec had beautifully portrayed in the previous post, in the matter of few second we lost the sight of the cable car station at the base, and we barely saw the outline to the car before and after us. The empty returning cars on the opposite end of the cable appeared eerily out of the dense fog, coasted down right by us and disappeared into whiteness faster than it emerged. Then next, another one, one by one. Added creepiness because empty cars (of course.) We look very carefully into the whiteness and finally figure out that our car is still going through the dense forest. The fog was thicker white than American 1% milk.

It sounds like it is going to be a log of a bad, sad day but the truth is, I still had a great fun that day in a special kind of way. I was constantly either legitly chickened out or cracking up on the piste. What set off more up-mood despite the creepy beginning was probably the view that opened up in front of us towards the end of the cable car ride. We started seeing the orange sun light filling down from above into the grey fog, then the fog thins away exponentially faster, and pop we were above the cloud. The morning sun ray touched every fluff of the cloud carpet, lined all the of the mountain peaks above it golden, and people on the chair lift and gondolas were one by one emerging from the cloud into the heavenly comfort it created. It was completely different world from below and by far one of the most stunning panorama I have ever seen.



But I had to run to the toilet really bad.



And by the time I came out of WC the whole area was swallowed by the rising fog. I could only laugh.



We did go hit the piste anyways but boy, we barely saw each other. Rafa took the first lead and Alec through the next run. I honestly don't know how they figured out which way to go when everywhere you look is just white cloud. If you have never watched a short film called Hedgehog in the Fog, please do as this gives you a pretty accurate idea of our surrounding condition, but far worse in our case. We used our walkie talkie a lot.

We went to the other side of the mountain and it was still the same fog, and we were skiing in the piste we've never been on before. Since it was new piste and pretty much no visibility, we either followed skiers who seemed to know where they were going, or stuck to the edges of actually very  wide piste to always know which way to go. I kept imagining ourselves being four dots in aerial X-ray proceeding inch by inch through topography lines at the edge of WIDE piste.

Photo
Wiebke was smart enough to take a mountaintop break.
Even with careful skiing Alec skied off the piste, revealing the white edge of terrain in the white fog by falling behind it in his neon yellow jacket. I'm usually the one in the group who exhibits more concern and warns bad possibilities in these kind of situation, but this instance was where I bursted in laughter. His scream cannot be expressed with conventional alphabets. It was ahhhhh with some yodeling in it. Wiebke and I kept asking him if he's ok, told him we're sorry and laughed interchangeably. We also accidentally wandered into black piste sometimes. I fell over the smallest slush of snow, Rafa was once or twice in the air too. We just either hear each other in a distance falling, or realized he’s not with us, waited, and saw him/her re-emerge out of fog all snow-covered.

Boys once again went to burn off the extra dextrose and we ladies had some schorle and chat tradition to carry on. I hoped for their safe return, and it took some effort not to exhibit the concern on my face. Brass am Berg was spewing endless tunes of unsuitable merriment, though we had no sight of them. Wiebke finds two of her friends out of pure chance, and I sat with a cup of hot chocolate alone while she went to greet them. I thought to myself: this could be a good opening scenes for B-rank teenage horror movie. What if some zombie virus infested avalanche covers the mountain and I survive it alone, killing off all the zombies on skis and alpine brass band zombies, and finally find my friends only to discover they'd also turned zombies.


(Alec just said now, that someone else might have done that already. Unbelievable.)


We did few more runs, summing up to quite a bit of skiing than we all have expected, and decided to ski down to the base. Few funny thing about skiing in the dense fog; when you can only see a foot away from the point of your ski, it feels like you are not moving. Like you are on a snowy treadmill. It looks like you are going up-hill a lot of times too. In a white fog, the blurred outline of Alec ahead of me looked like he was levitating. Checking back up the hill for the tailing party, I see silhouette of Rafa and Wiebke hovering down with halo behind, I wanted them to ski next time with trumpets and wings.

All in all, I had the kind of adventure which made me laugh a lot without breaking any bones and i think I am not the only happy one about this experience. I had three ski trips this season, each with two days of skiing. I would happily take the 5 most gorgeous day and 1 freakish foggy adventure day with great friends over 6 ok days of skiing in the end.

Oh, and my new thermaboll jacket - for spring ski this was a total win.

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