Author Archive david123

Bydavid123

ST ANTON, THE ARLBERG, AND 5 REASONS YOU SHOULD VISIT

I have been lucky enough so far to have visited a few ski resorts in the Alps, some in France and now a couple in Austria. I enjoy skiing very much and it is a pleasure to visit different places. My recent trip to ‘St Anton’, supported by Inghams Ski was particularly good and I wanted to write about my experience there.

 

 

Arriving in ‘St Anton’ had a great atmosphere and it was evident from the start that St Anton was a traditional Austrian town which felt also vibrant and modern. Some resorts you visit feel like ski resorts and not much else. ‘St Anton’ felt very different. My hotel, ‘Hotel Post‘, was situated on the main street facing onto what looked like the town hall or civic centre.

 

 

 

 

I was made very welcome in the hotel and I was shown to my room without any delays. ‘Hotel Post‘ was very comfortable indeed and everything was delivered to the highest standard. The hotel had a swimming pool and a thermal suite. The food was of a high standard with a buffet breakfast and a five course evening meal. I would highly recommend ‘Hotel Post‘ as a place to stay in ‘St Anton’. It is a very comfortable, welcoming hotel, the food is excellent and it is in a great location, being very close to the ski lift.

Skiing in ‘St Anton’ is fantastic. ‘St Anton’ is part of the ‘Arlberg’ Ski Region, one of the biggest interlinked ski areas in the world. Five villages make up the ‘Arlberg’ region and there are ski lifts and regular bus services that connect them all. The ski pass entitles you to use any bus as well as the lifts. When the new cable car systems opened in December 2016 – all ski resorts on the ‘Arlberg’ turned into Austria’s largest inter-linked ski area with a total of 305 kilometres of marked runs and 88 lift and cable car systems The ‘Arlberg-Arena’ extends from St. Anton in the Tyrol to Lech and Zürs, as well as Warth and Schröcken in Vorarlberg.

One of the highlights of the week was the weekly Ski Show in ‘St Anton’. Every Wednesday during the winter season they hold a ski show. This is a display of all types of skiing showing historical beginnings to the present day. We were treated to a wonderful display of skiing, lights and fireworks. It was a wonderful event and something I’ve never seen in other resorts.

My trip to ‘St Anton’ felt too short as there is so much more to see. As well as skiing there is a fantastic Apres-Ski scene. I had the pleasure of visiting some great bars and restaurants where a lot of fun and a great atmosphere can be found. I really hope to return to ‘St Anton’ soon to explore further and soak up more of its wonderful environment.

 

 

To finish, here are my 5 reasons you should visit St Anton.

  • The ski area is huge. 5 villages are inter-linked providing miles of pistes and a great variety of runs.
  • There is a fantastic apre scene you can’t fail to enjoy.
  • Its a pretty place with modern and vibrant atmosphere.
  • Great shops, bars and restaurants for off the slopes
  • An easy hour transfer from Innsbruck Airport.
Bydavid123

INGHAMS SKI HOLIDAYS, AND THEIR SUPPORT FOR DISABLED TRAVELERS

I still love the moment when I click my boots into my skis. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been skiing, I get the same feelings of freedom and joy. Although, just accessing the snow can be difficult, ski resorts can be challenging environments for anyone. My recent trip to St Anton, supported by ‘Inghams Holidays’, gave me an opportunity to observe how I could cope. I wanted to know if a disabled person like myself, supported by a holiday operator like ‘Inghams’, could manage in a ski resort. What a fabulous week I had .

I could see the Alps from both sides of the plane as we descended into Innsbruck. It was quite spectacular. After being met in arrivals by an ‘Inghams’ Rep, I was shown to my coach for the short transfer. In just over an hour we were arriving in St Anton and I was checking into my accommodation for the week, ‘Hotel Post’. Situated right on the main street I was in a great location for shops, restaurants, bars and most importantly it was only a short walk to the Gondola. The main street seemed quite charming with many traditional looking buildings. It had the wonderful feeling of a small Austrian town and not just a ski resort.

After settling into my hotel room, the first task was to obtain my lift pass and organise my ski hire. Accompanied by an ‘Inghams’ Rep, I made the short five minute walk round to ‘ Alber’ ski hire, which was situated right next to the Gondola. I collected my skis and left them there with my boots as I was able to store them for the rest of the week. This was really a tremendous help. Sometimes just moving around a ski resort can be difficult. This can be compounded even further if there is snow and ice on the ground and having to wear ski boots or carry heavy skis. I and I have no doubt many other disabled people can be exhausted before they even start skiing. Having help to transport equipment like this and make arrangements to store it was a tremendous help and made me feel much more independent.

 

‘Inghams’, along with the Tourist Board of St Anton, had arranged for me to ski with a guide for the first two days. This gave me a chance to find my bearings and learn my way around. I had a super time with my guide ‘Naggy’. He showed me a number of suitable pistes in and close to St Anton. This was really important as it helped build up my confidence which helped me tremendously later on during the week.

Confidence is really important for anybody, and I’ve found this so both on the slopes and off the slopes. Like most people, I imagine I grow more confident the more activities I do and the more opportunities I have. When I started skiing, I wouldn’t have dreamed of skiing alone. Now I am fully independent on the slopes, I feel fantastic and I love the freedom it allows me. Building and maintaining my confidence has been key to helping my skiing.

Over the next few days of my stay with ‘Inghams’, I had some wonderful experiences both on my own and with a group. One morning I had choice to stay on what was now familiar slopes or explore another area. I chose to go somewhere different and I was so glad I did. I skied an area called ‘Randl’ which I enjoyed very much. The sun was out, I achieved a few red runs that day and I had a fantastic time.

Later in the week, I joined an excursion with ‘Inghams’ to a neighbouring resort of ‘Sonnenkopf’. A coach took us on a half hour drive through the mountains on what was a beautiful morning. Just the journey to get there was amazing and I could have sat on the bus all day admiring the view. ‘Sonnenkopf ‘was a beautiful ski area with many red and blue runs, wide pistes and some lined with trees. We had a fabulous day. I skied with a group in the morning but had time to myself in the afternoon. I had a similarly fantastic day on Friday skiing with a lovely group of people I met in the hotel. After a super morning on the slopes I packed up and joined them again later in the day. I couldn’t believe that was the end of my trip. How quickly it had gone by but how much I enjoyed it.

‘Inghams’ went to a lot of trouble to make my stay as smooth and comfortable as possible. I am very grateful to them for that. Just moving around takes up so much of my energy that practical assistance is immensly helpful. Having someone to help transport my equipment and organise the experience was a huge help. I really hope to travel with ‘Inghams’ again as I will know that they can provide the support I need to make a it fabulous holiday. I hope that other travel operators will look closely at what support they can provide for disabled skiers.

Factbox

David was a guest of Inghams.

Inghams offers a seven-night holiday on a half board basis at the four-star superior Hotel Post in St. Anton, Austria, from £1,338 per person based on two sharing in January 2019. Price includes return flights from Edinburgh to Innsbruck and airport transfers. Lift passes, equipment hire and tuition can be pre-booked through Inghams. To book, visit www.inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays or call 01483 791 114.  

Bydavid123

DELIGHTED TO HAVE DISCOVERED HILLTREK’S VENTILE TROUSERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must admit, I hadn’t heard of Ventile material before, but I am now so thankful that I have. Thanks to ‘ Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing ‘,I got to try out their Ventile Blaven trousers and was delighted with what I found. I put them right to the test by going out into the snow and I was not disappointed.

Ventile material is a natural fabric made out of cotton. It is highly durable and it is ideal for outdoor pursuits. Made from cotton fibers it is comfortable, heard wearing and protects you from the elements. Once the fibers are wet, they swell and provide a barrier to any further water. This makes them weather and wind proof providing comfort and warmth while staying completely breathable at the same time. These trousers are all hand made to the highest standard. The have two pockets front and back, as well as two cargo pockets on each side. The rear pockets fasten securely with a zip and the cargo pockets with poppers.

I have to put my hands in the air now and say that I am a convert. The first time I wore them I really put them to the test by going out on a cold winters day in the snow. I must say I was really impressed with them. I was very warm and comfortable. The bottom of the trousers of course got wet with snow but I didn’t even notice. They formed a fantastic barrier keeping me warm and dry. I am very grateful to have discovered these trousers and I look forward to using them again in the near future.

Bydavid123

MY PASSION FOR SKIING AND EXPERIENCING ADAPTIVE SNOWSPORT IN NIEDERAU

 

 

 

My motivation and inspiration doesn’t get much higher than on a ski trip to the Alps. On behalf of Crystal Ski Holidays, I visited Niederau in Austria to take part in a Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK) holiday. Thanks to both Crystal and DSUK, I had a fantastic time and my enthusiasm for skiing went through the roof again.

 

 

 

 

Skiing had been a passion of mine for the last 15 years. I learned to ski as an adult on Hillend dry ski slope, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It took me a very long time to find my balance on skis, much longer than the average person I suspect. I fell over many times in the early days and, on the dry slope matting, I really hurt myself. However, it wasn’t enough to stop me. I was absolutely determined to be able to ski and be able to move myself around the mountains. After many lessons, and spending hours on Hillend with a close friend, I began to find my balance. Since that time I am fortunate enough to have made several trips to the French Alps.

 

This trip however was to be my first time back on snow for a long time. It was also my first holiday on a trip organised by DSUK. I had a brilliant experience and, most of all, I had lots of fun. DSUK are an exemplary organisation when it comes to inclusion and they should be very proud of what they do. There is no disability that prevents anyone from taking part in Snow Sport. Whether a skier has full paralysis, or a learning disability, DSUK bring out the best skier in them. They have their own highly trained instructors as well as a large team of helpers on hand. All their ski instructors have to undertake additional training in Adaptive Skiing.

Using a range of equipment DSUK can support anyone skiing either sitting down or standing up. There are several disciplines that come under the name of Adaptive Skiing. A skier with poor mobility might use a bi-ski or at mono-ski where they can sit down to ski. Others, for example amputees, might use what’s called a three track, a single ski but with out riggers on their poles. A visually impaired person might use tethers on their skis. Learning disability is another category all together and DSUK and very skilled at bringing out the best in anyone.

The groups that take part  are totally inclusive. There is no distinction between disabled skier, instructor and helper. They are just a group of people going skiing and having fun together irrespective of anybodies ability or not. Personally, it was an absolute joy for me to be in that sort of community for seven days. It had been a very long time since I had been in a group situation where I felt so accepted and welcome.

In everyday life there can be, for disabled people, pressure to present as able or as mainstream as possible. It felt special to be in such an inclusive group for a week. Most of, I just met some lovely people, had lots of fun and I am really thankful for that. One of the great benefits of Adaptive Skiing is that it breaks down barriers of disabilities. When I get on my skis I suddenly feel equal to everyone else because I can ski as well as the next person, able-bodied or not. I am aware that other disabled people feel the same way when they ski which can, for many, be a real liberating experience.

Taking part in a DSUK holiday has really given me the bug to ski again. I have to be honest and say I might not return to Niederau because I prefer a slightly larger skiing area. I would love to go on another DSUK holiday. I am very grateful to Crystal Holidays for the opportunity and I hope to travel with them again. I have plans to Ski in Scotland in February but I would love to make another trip back to the Alps before the end of the season.

Bydavid123

MOTIVATION FOR THE MOUNTAINS DOESN’T GET MUCH BETTER THAN THIS

Motivation and inspiration doesn’t get much higher than on a snowy Scottish mountain below a clear blue sky. On a picture postcard day myself and a friend set out to climb two mountains in Glenshee and what a day it turned out to be. The two Munros, Cairn an Turic and Cairn of Claise can easily be reached for from the Glenshee road. A convenient car park, just north of the ski station was the start of the walk.

 

The path passed over a footbridge and gently undulated along the floor of the valley. After a kilometre or so, the path started to rise. Walking through the heather and grasses was relatively easy as we gradually gained hight.

The walk between the two tops self fantastic. Walking was fairly easy as the snow wasn’t deep and the wide open spaces provided amazing views. We were soon at the top of Cairn of Claise.

We had quite a long walk back down from there and I was beginning to feel pain in my joints. I popped a couple of pain killers which helped a little. The walk back was magical though, a long wide shoulder and the sun beginning to fade provided some wonderful views.

We got back to the car just before dark and the afternoon sun was just catching the tops of the hills. I was in a fair amount of pain by this time but it wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits on a truly fantastic mountain day.

Bydavid123

WINTER WALKING AND THE EXTRA DIFFICULTIES THAT THE SNOW CAN BRING

The Beauty of Winter

My motivation and inspiration to be in the Scottish mountains has gone through the roof recently. Winter had seemingly arrived when driving up the A9 recently there was a covering of snow right down the roadside. How beautiful it looked and this just reinforced my determination to climb up into the mountains. Walking in Winter however, has its own set of difficulties and points to be aware of when planning a trip.

 

Extra Challenges

Walking the mountains for me, at any time of the year, can be challenging. Meeting the physical demands required to enjoy the glorious views from the summits I can find particularly tough. Winter can be very unpredictable indeed and the conditions bring an extra level of preparation. However, they are not enough to diminish my motivation and desire to venture onto the hills. The Scottish Mountains in winter are stunningly beautiful. Anyone who has experienced this will understand, but for those who haven’t, I don’t think it is easy to explain. ‘

Below are some of the things that can make a Winter outing more challenging:

  • The days are short: With so little daylight it is important not to take on more that I can handle. Being off the hill by dark is an absolute must and as a result, this can can create a little time pressure.
  • Much more to carry: Going out in winter is always a bigger undertaking and its important to take enough kit and food with you. You must be sure of having enough to keep warm, and have extra for an emergency. Your rucksack can be quite heavy in winter.
  • Walking in Snow: To be knee deep in snow is exhausting and I must factor in the extra energy and time it will take me. It is so important to plan carefully and not take on too much.
  • The Weather: At any time of year in Scotland, the conditions can change in an instant and you must be both aware and prepared for it. Again making sure you have the correct kit is essential.

 

David on The Snow covered Hills

Golden Rules

For me, in order to enjoy the mountain in Winter there are a few things I do to keep myself safe.

  • Plan more thoroughly taking into account all factors
  • Be prepared for anything
  • Know my limits and respect them
  • Be really aware of my energy levels, running out is not an option.
  • Never take a risk, its just not worth it.

Last Word

Enjoy! The Scottish Mountains in Winter are just spectacular and this preparation and planning makes it all worthwhile. I am feeling so excited about venturing out very soon.

Bydavid123

SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN WALKING AND THE SHORT DAYS OF AUTUMN

The Great Glen Hostel just south of Invergary provided the location of the Walk Highland Autumn meet. I, along with around 30 others, attended for a two night stay. Taking over the hostel for the weekend, a fun time was had by all. Walk Highland, as many people know, is a fantastic website and a source of information for walks throughout Scotland. Many people use it for information on all sorts of walks from the Grahams to the Munros. People arrange to meet through the site and they have four organised meets each year.

I went along to my first Walk Highland meet in the Spring and really enjoyed it. I met lots of great people and had lots of fun, so thought I would go again and experience another Walk Highland meet. I was looking forward to the weekend and catching up with some friends again.

Weather was mixed with a little snow on top on the hills but it could have been much worse. I arranged to climb a Corbett with a few others. The day was quite challenging due to the lack of day light and as a result people tended to go quite fast in order to get back before dark. This I found really difficult because I simply can’t go as quickly as the others.

The weekend brought to my mind again some of the difficulties faced by disabled people in accessing the outdoors. The Scottish mountains are a challenging place for anybody and this is even more so in winter conditions. For disabled people like myself it is a particularly difficult thing to climb mountains in the snow.

I am inevitably slower than the average person which is not ideal when the daylight is so short. For disabled people it can be really difficult to get people to agree to go into the mountains with them in winter. People’s leisure time is limited and who wouldn’t want to make the most of it. I feel very lucky however to have found some great friends through the Walk Highland group who will make the time and allow me to go along with them. I had a really great day walking and a good weekend.

Bydavid123

DISABLED PEOPLE DESERVE BETTER ACCESS TO THE OUTDOORS

Having access to the outdoors is sometimes taken for gtranted.  However for disabled people finding oppotunities to spend time in the wilderness can be more difficult. I was lucky enought to writte this article for Mountaineering Sotland Magazine and share a bit of my expereince.

 

The outdoors have always been a part of my life. Growing up in rural East Lothian, I spent much of my childhood walking hills and beaches with my family. Having Cerebral Palsy of course could make things more challenging for me. My stamina and ability was not as good as it is now. However, I never saw this as something that might stop me but rather just made me more determined.

 

As I moved through my teenage years and into adulthood, my passion for the outdoors continued to grow. In my early twenties I discovered the Munros and during my time at University with the Hillwalking Society I managed to head out and begin Munro bagging. I would go out at weekends either with the club or with friends made through the club. It became clear quite early on that, much as I loved walking, I didn’t have the same energy and stamina as most of my contemporaries. When we climbed the mountains I would invariably have to descend earlier and walks would take me much longer than the average person. I didn’t seem to matter to the University society and I made friends with understanding, compassionate people who would accompany me hill walking.

My walking ability was never really a problem until well after I left university and settled again in Edinburgh. It was at that time I would approach mainstream clubs and try to find people to go walking with. It was then that I ran into difficulties and one that would continue throughout my adult life. Finding people and opportunities to go walking has been difficult and, so much so, I gave up mountaineering for many years. I got so frustrated at people’s lack of patience and lack of support from clubs that I really didn’t think I could put myself in that position any longer. I had resigned myself to the fact that the Mountains were not going to be part of my life. Before I knew it 20 years had drifted by but, unbeknown to me, I still had a spark inside me for the mountains.

I have rediscovered my passion for the mountains in recent times and I’m still hopeful of finding more open minded people to walk with. I was aware though that I could well come up against a similar range of problems that I had experienced all those years ago. Many of us live in quite pressurised times and individual leisure time is very precious. People want, and quite rightly so, to get the most out of the spare time that they do have, so spending a day walking at a slower pace is not very appealing. Disabled participation in outdoor sports is still relatively low, and that might be for reasons such as,

  • Mountaineering is dangerous and involves a certain amount of risk.
  • People generally don’t like the idea of being, or feeling like they are, ‘responsible’ for another person on the hills.
  • Peoples’ leisure time is often short and they want to achieve as much as possible in it.
  • People always think someone else will have the time but not them.

I think there is another aspect of people walking with disabled people just once, as if they have ‘done their bit’ but they would not make a regular commitment. There are still a lot of attitudinal barriers that prevent disabled people taking part in outdoor sport. For example

  • Many people don’t imagine outdoor sport is an option for disabled people
  • Others tend to make decisions of behalf of disabled people
  • Disabled people are not seen as equal outdoor partners

There can be no doubt that sporting opportunities for disabled people are improving and this is, in part, due to the success of the Paralympic movement and London 2012. There is, however, still a long way to go in terms of outdoor sport and mountaineering. It is here that clubs have an important role to play. Thankfully many clubs now have an equality or inclusion policy which covers all minority groups and not just disability. These policies try to insure that nobody is treated differently on the grounds of gender, race, disability or sexual orientation. In the case of disability however, and if there is some kind of physical impairment involved, such as in the case of disability, it is more complicated than just a change in attitude.

To include a disabled person in a mountaineering or walking club, its takes more organisation and planning. On club activity weekends for example, there could be volunteers who agree to walk at a slower pace to support those with disability. Club members could take turns at this so everybody shares responsibility. At committee level in a club there ought to be an equalities office bearer whose role is to ensure that everybody who wants to be, is included in the life of the club.

These are just a few ideas although with any social or leisure club, it is not good to impose rules of what people must do. However a balance has to be struck between this and club responsibilities. I hope to rekindle my walking career again. There are many more activities I’d like to achieve. I would like to climb more Munros and would like to experience staying out in a bothy in our beautiful wild places. I hope to find people to do that with who will share that experience with me.

 

Bydavid123

THE VANGO ROAR STOVE AND HOW WELL IT SUITS MY NEEDS

Vango Roar Stove Review

I had been looking for a good, reliable and versatile stove for a long time but now I think the search is over. I’ve been testing out the Vango Roar stove and I’m really impressed with its performance. For me it seem ideal for my purposes and I know that lots of others could use it in different situations. It has won an Independant Best Buy award and it didn’t take me long to see why.

 

First Impressions A very nicely made stove. It folds up really small and fits into a container for travel. Its fairly lightweight making it idea for hiking. It connects really easily to a small gas cannister and has an electronic ignition. It boiled a pan of water in 2 -3 minutes.
Features
  • When open it is very stable
  • The ring where the pan sits is wide for a large pot
  • Its very powerful
  • Had an electronic ignition
  • Folds up really compact
  • It is light enough to carry whilst hiking
  • Easily screws onto a gas cannister

Comments

I am delighted to have discovered this little stove because for me it ticks many boxes. Having cerebral palsy makes me a bit shaky and clumsy. I was concerned about how safely I could used a hiking stove. The Vango Roar stove takes all these worries away. Its small and easy to carry but at the same time very stable. The way it folds in and out is fantastic making it really safe when in use. The electronic ignition makes it really easy to light and saves the danger of matches (although I would never go without them!). Its wide enough to take a large pan, making it suitable for more than one person. I was just amazed how quickly it boiled a pan or water. I think this is fantastic versatile stove and I would really recommend it for most outdoor expeditions and uses. Well done Vango.