I met up with Matt Liebsch and the Pioneer Midwest staff in Ramsau, Austria last weekend. They were in Austria to pick skis at the Salomon, Atomic and Fischer factories this week. But before picking skis, you have to get out and ski, right?!
We woke up to a rainy Sunday morning in Ramsau. One of those mornings you don’t even want to step outside there’s so much rain. Fortunately, our host Marianna had hot coffee ready when we arrived at her full breakfast buffet. Eggs cooked to order, warm rolls, fresh fruit, homemade yogurt and chocolate croissants helped with our motivation.
It had been three years since I saw Matt and Adam, owners of Pioneer Midwest, here in Austria. The last time was in August of 2019, before the Covid pandemic stopped international travel and ski picking trips. We hiked up to the Dachstein Glacier, cruised around the rollerski track, discovered fresh blueberry buttermilk at an alpine hut and picked skis at Salomon, Atomic and Fischer. That week was the inspiration for the Lumi Experiences Factory Tour Trip.
Last summer, international borders reopened in time to run Lumi’s first Factory Tour trip, where we brought guests to explore the Dachstein, hike and rollerski in Austria & Slovenia and learn how skis are produced in the world’s most advanced ski factories.
This year, our former teammate Andre Watt, Salomon’s Nordic Community Race Manager, preceded our visit to the Dachstein by a week. Andre’s report was that we should expect excellent crust cruising conditions on the glacier.
We were finally caffeinated enough to get out the door after a morning of stories and laughs, though the rain was still coming down in sheets when we got onto the gondola. Stepping out of the gondola and onto the glacier, it felt like the middle of winter, everyone seemed giddy to go from rain to snow in a matter of minutes. In Austria, if you don’t like the weather, just change your elevation.
Testing Skis on the Glacier
Pioneer Midwest Ski Picking Team
Low Visibility, High Fun Meter on the Glacier
Trying to Orient Through the Fog
Don't Walk Too Close to the Edge
We did find excellent crust for skiing on the glacier…buried under 6 inches of fresh powder. Without much risk for crevasses this time of year, we took off into the cloudy conditions with only intermittent bamboo poles marking the way to guide us. It wasn’t long before the elevation of close to 10,0000 feet caught up with me. We took it easy and used photo stops as an excuse to catch our breath – there wasn’t much to photograph in the whiteout conditions.
Despite weather that wasn’t quite what we were expecting, simply getting out for a summer ski with old friends and making new ones was a great way to end an excellent ski season…or kick off the next one, I’m not quite sure which. I’m already looking forward to sharing the glacier experience with our Lumi trip guests on the next Factory Tour trip.
Rollerskiing with Lumi Trip Raphi and USA Nordic Combined Head Coach Nick Hendrickson
In the meantime, I’ll just have to settle for rollerskiing with friends here in the Tyrolean Alps. It’s already too late to sign up for the 2022 Factory Tour Trip, but send us a note if you’d like to join in August 2023: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to ski with you and share some of our favorite corners of the Alps.
See you on the trail,