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Welcome back,

Today I’m taking you to Austria for more adventures amongst beautiful mountains, achieving my snowboarding goals and exploring exciting places like an ice igloo!

If you haven’t read my previous blog post, click this text– to get some more insight into this amazing journey and how it all began.

MAGICAL MORNINGS

Awaking each day in this magical location I felt as if I was still dreaming. With sleepy eyes, I’d drag myself out of bed, walking over to the balcony where mighty, misty, mountain views were awaiting me. I made it my mission to spend each morning cherishing this incredible scenery. All the while breathing in the crisp, fresh mountain air. After making myself coffee and breakfast, I’d sit there wrapped up in a duvet. Admiring the views, writing in my journal and drinking coffee, before starting my day.

AHORN

Practicing on Penken for a few days in a row, I decided to change the scenery and head over to Ahorn slopes. Stepping out of the ski lift, I was instantly stunned by the dramatic landscape. The rigid, grand mountains seemed so close- it felt as if I could touch them by a stretch of my hand. Just as dramatic as the mountains are, so are the ski trails there (at least in my opinion). Skiers and snowboarders were speeding past me down rather steep hills that carry on all the way down the mountain.  It instantly became apparent to me why Penken is considered the most beginner-friendly.

CHALLENGE

I practiced on the flatter terrains but as soon as I started gaining speed, the panic would set in. After all, it takes one wrong turn to start speeding towards the main track down the mountain. I visualized tumbling down the mountain cartoon-style, hitting every tree along the way.  

Those terrains were however a good practice of stopping the board frequently, since you know- in my eyes- it was a life and death type of situation. Hehe.

After a few sweaty hours, I sat down on top of the hill and admired the skills of the fellow snowboarders and skiers. Their movement so fluid with complete control over their muscles and boards- it looked like they were gliding through water. One day I will be one of them. And maybe one day I will also inspire a girl sitting on top of the hill, with quivering muscles who will dream of moving through these mountain giants with such ease.

ICE IGLOO

Time has come to recharge. I headed to the peak of Ahorn to find an ice igloo made by the hands of very skilled ice-sculpting artists. This type of construction needs constant care, I could see some individuals shaving and buffing ice in specific areas. The beautifully lit entrance transforms you into an icy-fairytale. Individual rooms inside featured amazing wall sculptures and designated seating areas- all carved from ice.

Entering the bar area, I was amazed by everything surrounding me- I already felt energized by excitement alone. I ordered a hot chocolate with rum and a little snack, before sitting down in one of the ice- booths. While the drink was warming me up, I was admiring all the details of this place. The atmospheric lighting, the joyous conversations of fellow travelers. Quickly enough, I struck a conversation with skiers and the time flew by.

As it was time to leave the mountain, the beautiful pastel colors started deepening in the sky. I almost missed the last ski lift of the day. The only other way to get down the mountain is through the ski track that carries on all the way down the mountain. One day I’d like to do that certainly, but not this day.

PENKEN – SNOWBOARDING CHALLENGE

Last day on top of Penken- I returned to tackle that big steep hill I’ve set my eyes on since my first arrival here. Dramatically the weather turned for the worse as I was climbing that hill. Heavy snowfall has transformed everything into a white blur. My heart was thumping in my chest, not only from climbing up this hill but also from the anticipation of what was about to happen. All the days practising snowboarding led to this point.

Once on top of it, the hill seemed even steeper. All the other practice areas I worked on -have been on flatter terrains or more gradual and gentle hills- with plenty of space to stop or as a last resort- fall on the butt. With this one, I could easily see myself face-planting the snow and tumbling the rest of the way down.

I took a deep breath, adjusted my goggles, and shifted my board off the little snow ledge. I’d like to say that I absolutely aced it from my first try. But the reality was that I did in fact face-plant the snow, rolling down and making a few twirls while at it before coming to a full stop. Anger struck me but then I realized that this was inevitable. This fall was a necessary step to get rid of the last hesitation I had in me about this hill. Now, I was more determined and more prepared.

I came back up again, and this time, I put all my focus on the legs and controlling the board. As I glided down the hill, with full focus, controlling my speed and direction- I finally made it down. I looked up with tears in my eyes and felt the joy of accomplishment rush through my body. It might seem insignificant or amateur to some people, but to me, this hill was a major milestone.

The 3 months of training prior to this trip, as well as all the sweaty hours I’ve spent learning the basics of snowboarding and practicing on the mountains were leading up to this small moment of victory. If I could achieve this after my doctors’ initial diagnosis – what else could I conquer? What other great adventures can I have? What other goals can I achieve if I set my mind to it? That’s when the tears came in, the realization that things are not just black and white anymore. That I can still achieve whatever I set my mind to.

LESSONS LEARNED

This hill wasn’t the only achievement of this trip. It was the dedication. It was the practice of listening to my body. Taking small steps, and setting myself doable goals. I learned that I know my own limits best, and can make correct judgment calls that aren’t reliant on other people’s opinions or even driven by my own hunger for success. It’s important to know when to take a break and when to stop. To push just far enough, to make progress from last time but not to go hard enough to injure oneself further.

After that achievement, the hill didn’t seem so scary anymore. So I went back up with my board to go down a few more times. I didn’t document those parts of the experience that well with photos or videos, the moment just consumed me fully.

LAST MOMENTS OF THE SLOPES

With the newfound joy and excitement, I proceeded to use the day I had left with my snowboarding gear, on the slopes. Hours spent in snow. I walked back to the restaurant chalet to have one more round of the best hot chocolate I tasted and marveled over its rich creamy chocolate taste. I then made it my mission to build a snowman. My snow-deprived self couldn’t resist this basic activity. The snow was soft and fluffy, making it harder to mold and the whole building process took longer than expected. But he turned out so cute, ready to welcome people heading over to the chalet.

THE GOODBYE

This joyous day came to end so quickly. Just before the last ski lift would go down, I sat down on the snow in front of a scenic view. I took deep breaths, filling my lungs with fresh air, admiring the sun-struck mountains in front of me, savoring the last moments in this place.

I wanted to celebrate my small-yet very significant achievement. So prior to this day, I bought some questionable alcohol shots from the tourist gift shop. I must say that aside from the slightly edgy packaging this little shot was quite delightful with strong vanilla flavours. I will involve some photos of it, but I fully trust in your discretion and lack of judgement, please. Haha.

THE EVENING

After evening dinner, I walked over to the small open field across from my chalet, where I just laid in snow staring at stars in the sky above me. I was thinking about this magical day and all the incredible moments that will stay in my memory forever, feeling gratitude beyond words. I already missed the snowboarding gear, even though it has only a few hours since giving it back. In my head, I was already dreaming of my next trips where I could set the bar even higher for myself in terms of my snowboarding journey. Maybe even go down a full mountain? If I work hard enough, possibilities are endless.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, tune in for next week’s blog post where I will take you to last location in Austria- the mighty Hintelux Glacier!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post!

Thank you so much for reading,

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See you again,

Marta x

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Marta

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