A love/hate relationship draws me back to the Alps year after year. Last February was no exception. Conditions were “on,” and TransWorld photographers Andy Wright and Kevin Zacher also made the trip, each with their own crew. Summing up the Alps in words-XXX!-wouldn’t be sufficient, so I want to share a collection of shots that were taken by the three of us.
There’s an old saying that, “when it rains, it pours,” and for the past couple of seasons, when low-pressure systems moved over Europe in February, it dumped. But with the all-time conditions comes an influx of Euros on holiday. Prices are at their highest, and every bed in every mountain town is spoken for. German holiday is usually the last two weeks of February, and St. Anton, in Austria’s famed Arlberg region hosts a high population of Swedes on holiday. Dance floors full of drunken tourists rocking out in their ski boots at 4:00 a.m. aren’t uncommon.
Resort villages may be packed, but escaping the crowds on the hill isn’t hard to do. There’re usually a handful of resorts in close proximity to wherever you’re at, and village-to-village runs are an experience every rider should have.
Depending on weather patterns, snow conditions can be better at high-altitude resorts, so get out there and explore. When I lived in France, we’d ride over to La Thuile, Italy (about two hours and sixteen lifts away) when the snow went bad. We’d ride pow for a couple of hours, have an espresso, and then start the long trek back.
Resort options are seemingly endless, but wherever you may be going in Western Europe, trains will get you there. And chances are, the trains will be on time. In Austria, things run like clockwork. The trains and buses are so punctual that you can set your watch to them. Lucky for us, February snowstorms are almost equally reliable.-Nick Hamilton