Trust me, it gets better.
This is what I’ve been doing for the last (approximately) 48 hours.
Flew 5 hours Maui – LAX. Killed an hour in the AA Flagship Lounge.
Flew 5 hours LAX – JFK. Killed an hour in the AA Flagship Lounge.
Flew 6 hours JFK – Heathrow. Killed an hour in the BA Lounge. Managed to abstain from all the nasty starchy cookies and tea-nibbling finger foods.
Flew 90 minutes LHR – Munich. Walked across Munich Airport to the Deutche Bahn station.
Rode the train 40 minutes Munich Airport – Munich Ost. Switched trains.
Rode 40 minutes Munich Ost – Rosenheim.
Rosenheim is a small switch point on the Deutche Bahn. 4 tracks, 8 platforms. I found myself pretty much alone out on platform 8. I could see a few people milling about at the other end of a distant platform. Hermi6, my boss at the Hahnenkamm, was to pick me up at the Hahnekamm train station, and had requested that I show up in Kitzbühel suited up and ready to ski. At some point, I had to change into my ski clothes, because Hermi6 is Vice President of the KSC Board of Directors. Skiing with Hermi6 is a BIG DEAL. This would be like “Buzzy” calling and telling you to be ready to play 18 holes at Augusta National when you show up to start installing network switches. Now was as good a time as any. The weather was around 30 degrees F (-1C), no wind. Rather than schlepping both my rolling Samsonite suitcases into the Rosenheim terminal building and finding a mens room, I took a quick look around, opened my suitcase, and stripped down to my undies (NOTE : I wear briefs. I know, too much information). As I grabbed a wool t-shirt and my FlyLow outfit out of my suitcase, I turned around, glanced across at the next platform, and saw there was a nun standing there watching me. In full habit. A full-on, Sally Fields-league nun, complete with white Tupolev 144 variable-geometry canards sprouting from her head. I looked at her. She looked at me, an almost-naked guy with a deep tan which ends mid-thigh and mid-bicep (from sunny Hawaii days spent cycling). She held my gaze for a moment, spun on her heel, and walked off.
I wonder what SHE’s writing on her blog tonight?
Rode 30 minutes Rosenheim – Kufstein. Now in my ski clothes. Switched trains.
Rode 30 minutes Kufstein – Wörgl. Switched trains.
Rode 30 minutes Kufstein – Kitzbühel.
Hermi6 met me at the train. In the back of his car, he had an absolutely killer, brand new set of Dynafit touring skis for me, with the bindungen already pre-sized to my boots (I’d given him the sole length of my boots over the phone). The latest and greatest bad-ass alpentouring setup. Right there in the parking lot of the Kitzbühelhorn train station, he popped my boots into the Dynafit bindings. They were about 1 cm off, so he whipped out a barrel and adjusted them for me.
This is the VP of the KSC, one of the most powerful guys in ski racing. This would be like “Buzzy” fetching you at the airport with a brand new bag of PINGs and a few boxes of Titleists, ready to go hack through a quick 18.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention one thing. It was 18:00. It was dark.
A few weeks ago, my friend The Big Guy asked me to opine on an article he read describing the 10 most difficult ski mountains in the world. #1 was The Streif, site of the notorious racer-killing Hahnenkamm downhill, which I described as the “nastiest, gnarliest, baddest-motherfuckerest of them all”.
What Hermi6 had cooked up was this: We were going to ski The Hahnenkamm right then and there. At night. Using headlamps. Me, after traveling for 36 hours straight.
But first we had to climb it, using skis with skins. Almost 3000 vertical feet, up one of the steepest ski pistes on the planet. And then we would knock back a few beers, and pound down a shot or two of schnapps at a pub called Hochech-hutte at the Hahnenkammbahn bergstation, which stays open until late for people who want to ride the cable car at night to check out the lights of the valley. What he said, exactly, was this: “Oont zen vee haff some schnacks ooont a couple ufff beee-ah”. “Und zen vee schki zeh Hahnenkamm”.
Did I mention it was 6 PM and dark?
Did I mention I had just flown through 11 time zones?
Did I mention I’m not very adept at drinking alcohol?
Yes, dear readers, Austrians find their amusement in some interesting ways.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. And I lived to tell it.