Nov 2020 – Well, I think it’s safe to say that as far as living in Europe goes, this year has been a swift kick in the butt. Between booking snow trips, cancelling them due to restrictions, then booking again, then cancelling again due to restrictions, I think everyone who makes winter travel is mentally exhausted and out of ideas. If they have ideas, I think everyone’s patience to act on them is growing very short.
Initially, our plan this winter was to spend time in the French/Swiss Alps near Vex then swing on over to the Dolomites/3 Zinnen, since none of my family outside of myself has been there, before. As restrictions Europe-wide have slowly gotten tighter and tighter due to the madness, our distance for planned trips shrunk more and more. At this point we’re even considering taking a more expensive trip to either Northern Finland or Sweden just to ensure we get on the snow; however, with each passing day, each option seems less and less possible.
But alas, I’m here to encourage! There’s nothing that a few beers and intense brainstorming can’t fix! If you’re even here reading this, I assume you to be someone who believes being outdoors is a healthier alternative to sitting inside, so I won’t go down the road of justifying snow trip encouragement.
Assuming the pistes in each respective country will open this winter with reduced lift capacity due to social distancing, I’ve compiled a short list of places we plan on visiting as well as strictly within Germany’s borders through the winter. I’ve already covered Feldberg in the Black Forest a few times, but I wanted to look south. Everyone always thinks of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze when thinking of German slopes; however, there are some great alternatives to consider. I’m here to tell you about a few:
Reit im Winkl is a large (for Germany) slope area situated about 25 minutes south of the Chiemsee in Bayern. The majority of the slopes are accessible by a few lifts from the surrounding valleys which ultimately lead up to the Steinplatte sitting at nearly 1900 meters. The slope area actually crosses over the Austrian border a bit, but your base access can be accessed from the German side.
At first glance, it doesn’t appear to have the biggest slope area; however, it actually has a few kilometers more than Garmisch Classic ski area when looking closer. There are several ski schools and places to take a break on the slope area. There’s also a Dinosaur Park at the top plateau which, if my German isn’t in error, is beginning a Winter Ski Kindergarten this year.
Apparently, it’s one of the best areas in Germany for natural snowfall and coverage so we’re really looking forward to our visit, there.
Spitzingsee/Tegernsee’s ski area is situated about an hour’s drive south of Munich. As you can tell, the base of the ski area, which appears to be split into two different regions, is situated at the Spitzingsee and Tegernsee. Based on some internet sleuthing, it looks like the peak of the area tops out at just under 1600 meters.
The actual slope area is relatively small with around 20km of pistes…so it’s not the largest area to visit when taking into consideration how far you may have to drive; however, the nice thing is that it’s pretty close to another Skigebiete that I’ll mention called Lenggries so you can make a multi-slope trip out of visiting Spitzingsee and the surrounding region.
We’re pretty excited to visit this, area as well.
Lenggries/Brauneck ski region is a place we’re really excited to get to, this year. The area is a bit bigger than its nearby neighbor Tegernsee with a total of around 35 kilometers of groomed runs. Just as I mentioned previously, since Tegernsee is so close (an easy 30 minutes) you can make a nice 4-night trip down to the region and visit both ski areas for a total of nearly 60 kilometers of pistes.
The tip of the Lenggries slope region tops out at over 1700 meters so, if this Autumn is any indicator, I think Lenggries stands to have a lot of natural snowfall this winter. The village of Lenggries is actually of decent size compared to that of Spitzingsee and there are some pretty fantastic places to book lodging if you’re lucky enough to find something available.
Lenggries is still very close to Munich but is also within 45 minutes of the Garmisch ski region, as well. When you take that into consideration, Lenggries/Brauneck is in a fantastic location to take side trips elsewhere. Whether you’re passing through, or using it as a homebase of sorts…I’m really really curious to see how it is first thing, next year.
Oberstdorf is home to a ton of things to do in the winter. This beautiful region is actually not in the center of the Bavarian Alps as many of the other (above) slope areas are. Oberstdorf is seated in the heart of the Allgäuer high alps and is nearly an hour west of the Zugspitze Arena. It is also home to the legendary Nebelhorn: a 2200 meter prominence usually only climbed and ski’d by advanced climbers and snowsport enthusiasts.
Don’t let the “advanced” part of that scare you out of taking your kids. The entire region has an endless amount of ski areas big and small. You can even take a slope from Germany into Austria (although with COVID, think carefully). I’ve done some looking and there are some ideal ski schools available with meeting places scattered throughout the region.
I’m not necessarily as excited to visit this place over the ski schools as I am, selfishly, for the opportunity to snowboard the Nebelhorn. I was really excited to take the GoPro the entire 7km ride down and that’s precisely what I did a few months later.
Life is tough right now. For those of us who enjoy the Winter and the beautiful white blanket of calm that it brings us every year, don’t let the current global issue take something away that brings you happiness: especially something that gets you outside.
With some luck, you’ll at least get to enjoy your own nation’s slopes and ski schools. If you live in Germany like I do, I hope you make it to some of the wonderful pistes that Bavaria has to offer. In any case, stay healthy, stay happy, and above all else, get out and enjoy the snow when it comes! I have a feeling this winter will be a good one.
Bis zum näschtes mal!-the snowboard dad in europe
*UPDATE* I did actually decide to say to hell with it and hiked up some of the Black Forest’s hills. The result was pretty amazing. I also took the journey up to the Nebelhorn on New Year’s Day while hungover!