BSB2010 : BOOTSKIboys in Zillertal

Saturday 30th January to Saturday 6th February 2010

Lifts: 70

Vertical metres: 23,967

Downhill km: 166

How old are the BOOTSKIboys ?

That is the question we were posed on this year’s BOOTSKIboys tour.

Inghams’ Customer Satisfaction survey wanted to know our age, but the response box was divided into groups into which we did not entirely fit.  How best to answer?

David C, who we had hoped might be touring with us but couldn’t, provided guidance.  He e-mailed the story of a group of men who met up for a ski reunion in Austria every year.

  • When they were 40, they decided to stay at the Hotel Ziller because the waitresses looked pretty in their traditional low cut dirndls.
  • When they were 50, they decided to stay at the Hotel Ziller because the food was excellent, as were the wines.
  • When they were 60, they decided to stay at the Hotel Ziller because it was smoke free and in a quiet location away from the noisy discos. 
  • When they were 70, they decided to stay at the Hotel Ziller because there were elevators and wheel chair access throughout. 
  • When they were 80, they decided to stay at the Hotel Ziller because they hadn’t been there before.

So into which age group did we fall?

Read the evidence than decide.

Our destination was Mayrhofen.  I had been there twice before. The first time in the summer of 1963; the second a short ski break with Margaret and our children, Jamie and Emma, in 1991 when we were all beginners.

How the town has changed.  It is almost unrecognisable from the traditional village I recall the first visit when it predominately had wooden buildings.  Even the church has been rebuilt.

And it is much larger than was the case in 1991 when the cable cars were outside the town and now are more or less on the main street.  Several hotels (including ours) are massive developments of what were separate buildings to become linked complexes.

Also, the clientele has changed.

A now rare wooden chalet

I knew that Mayrhofen has a reputation as a party town, favoured by tour operators and snow boarders.  To that list should be added Russians.  I have never heard so much Russian spoken.  At least I presume it was Russian- it seems like Martian spoken in an Italian accent.  

The menus are printed in Russian.  The shops have goods tagged in Russian.  Some shops are purely Russian.  

I wonder if there were any other folk called Bootski in town?  It would not be a surprise!


Saturday 30th January 2010

First impressions as Nick and I entered our room at the Hotel Strass in Mayrhofen were threefold.

The location could not be more convenient as the main Penken lift was literally just outside our window.

The room was superbly fit for purpose as there was a settee if the intimacy of the Austrian twin bed (i.e. double bed with separate duvets) proved too close for comfort plus a semi circular corner with seating and table that would admirably serve as a club house- Philip and Robert having opted for single rooms.

The view from the bedroom  window

The Club House Comitibus in the bedroom

On the other hand, the noise was intense.  Below us was the hotel’s ice bar- an après ski bar where the participants were having a riotous time singing and dancing along to the music.  How on earth could we put up with that racket?

Having arrived late, we made our way down to the rather busy but soulless bar and awaited the arrival of daughter Emma and Scott who were driving down from Munich in their campervan, Van Wilder, to join us for dinner.

I ordered beers in my best German only to discover that the English barmaid didn’t speak that language.

Once our guests had arrived we went through to the dining room.  No pretty dirndled waitresses.  Dalibar, the helpful young man with good English who was assigned to us, was Serbian.  No doubt a useful nationality to have around for the Russian guests.  Our other waiter was Anthony.  From Kent.  Why have I been going to German classes?

However the food and the wines were very good all week!


Sunday 31st January

Lifts: 10

Vertical metres: 3,374

Downhill km: 26

Emma and Scott had stayed at the campsite just out of town so they picked me up in Van Wilder and we parked at the Schwendau lift.  The plan was to leave Emma, who is six months pregnant, in the café at the top, where she would do her marking, whilst Scott and I would ski.  

Meanwhile, Robert, Philip and Nick would come up the Penken lift and make their way over to meet up with us in the café.  

The plan worked!

For a first day, I wasn’t going too badly but it must have been frustrating for Scott to have to keep waiting for me.

Emma and Scott arrive in Van Wilder

Nick and I decided it would not be sensible to overdo it so finished early after lunch, discovering in the process the downside of Mayrhofen as a resort.  The queue for the Penken lift was huge- there is no way to ski back down to the town so the inevitable happens on a busy day.

Festering later in our room, the noise from the après ski bar was just as intense.  But somehow rather more enjoyable!


Monday 1st February

Lifts: 5

Vertical metres: 1,738

Downhill km: 14

Emma and Scott had returned to Munich the previous evening, so the four BOOTSKIboys walked together to the Ahorn lift.  

Ahorn is a much smaller area with limited skiing but well prepared pistes although the steep slope down to the valley was somewhat icy.  

An Ahorn panorama

We lunched down in the valley in a nice small hotel on the edge of town.  My Gröstl was excellent.

Posing on the Ahorn

Another Ahorn view

Afterwards, Robert and Philip went up the Penken but Nick and I decided to pack up for the day.

I had not been skiing at all well.  By the end of the day I had decided that this was my last ski holiday. I knew exactly how Margaret felt about skiing and what is the point of struggling around on skis, half terrified, when there are so many other things that I can do more competently and with far great enjoyment?


Tuesday 2nd February

Lifts: 14

Vertical metres: 4,629

Downhill km: 29

Back up the Penken with some trepidation and lack of enthusiasm but, to my surprise and relief, I was skiing much better.

We went over to Eggalm and back, passing en-route the Hari Kari- allegedly the steepest black run in Europe.  It is so steep that the piste basher has to be winched up by cable.  We saw one poor soul take a spectacular tumble, losing both his skis and continuing head over heals down the hill for many metres, in the process of which he attempted a dive to catch one of his skies.  It was a valiant effort but unsuccessful.  

Even though confidence was returning, it did not encourage me to try that slope!

The Ice Bar Polar Bear

A polar bear was prowling outside the Ice Bar when we returned.  We resisted its entreaties but those inside were certainly enjoying the music and so did we, from above.


Wednesday 3rd February

Lifts: 11

Vertical metres: 2,992

Downhill km: 19

The light deteriorated somewhat and, in consequence, so did my skiing.

We all decided to finish early and consoled ourselves with an excellent lunch at the Hotel Neue Post in the centre of town, a traditional building that I remembered from 1963.


Thursday 4th February

Lifts: 14

Vertical metres: 4,954

Downhill km: 39

Skibus to the train station, bus to Zell in Zillertal train station, some miles down the valley, then skibus to the Zell Arena before taking the bubble up the hill.  

Was all that travelling worthwhile?

It certainly was.

Scott had predicted that away from tour operator dominated Mayrhofen, the nature of the clientele on the pistes would change.  

There would be a higher percentage of Germans and Austrian and they are less enamoured of snowboarding. His prediction proved right.  Far less Russian, Dutch and English being spoken and much fewer snowboarders.

The Ziller Zug

Relaxation, Zell style

Zell is an interesting area with a long travel over to the far Königsleiten valley and back- just the sort of ski tourism that we enjoy- good snow, well groomed pistes and even the black run was manageable.  Or dare I say enjoyable?

Have I ever skied better?  I don’t think so.  The sun was out, albeit slightly veiled at times. Suddenly, it all came together and I even managed to keep controlled short swings going on direct descents of steep slopes rather than my normal ungainly long carving turns on the edge of disaster.

Our return could not have worked better had the Austrians subpoenaed the public transport to work exclusively for us.  Off the bubble straight onto a skibus.  Likewise, skibus to train and then from train to skibus back to the hotel.  


Friday 5th February

Lifts: 16

Vertical metres: 6,274

Downhill km: 39





We thought about going down the valley to Kaltenbach but the weather looked grey in that direction and snow was expected so we decided to go up the Penken especially early and ski till the weather caused us to stop.  Beating the crowds worked well and the weather remained much better and brighter than expected.  As a result we covered a huge amount of ground before calling it a day in the mid afternoon, beating the lift queues down.

A cold view from the Rastkogel Cable Car

Comitibus with Scott and Emma

Emma and Scott came down from Munich again to join us for dinner.  Afterwards Philip and I walked with them to the campsite for our evening constitutional.  When we returned, it was starting to snow, not very heavily but huge sized flakes.


Saturday 6th February

We awoke to see the results of a heavy snowfall.  I had hoped to spend the morning with Emma whilst Scott skied but there was a text from him saying that Emma had been ill in the night and that they had headed home.  They stopped at a hospital on the way and were reassured that it was “only” food poisoning and that the baby was alright.   

It carried on snowing all morning so any thoughts of a bonus day’s skiing were discounted.  On arriving at Innsbruck in the late afternoon, we discovered that the small airport was grossly overcrowded with unfortunates whose return to the UK had been delayed.  We feared a long wait on our two square feet of floor space.  However our flight departed more or less on time.  The drive back from Manchester was more of a challenge- the north west of England was fog bound so it was rather later than expected when I had the welcome sight of home.

I have some thank-yous to record.

To Philip, for organising yet another successful ski trip.  He will be relieved that this year there is no aftermath of compensation to be claimed.  Inghams remains our ski tour operator of preference.

To Robert, for being such an effective “Red Leader”- he guided us around the pistes as if he were a local rather than a first time visitor.

To Nick, for being such a cheerful roommate and char wallah.

To all three, for their company and making it an enjoyable BOOTSKIboys expedition.

And, of course, to Margaret, for uncomplainingly releasing me for the week!


So, to return to the question posed at the outset, how old are the BOOTSKIboys?

You've read the evidence and the guidance notes.  The verdict is yours.

And where will the BOOTSKIboys got next year?  

I suggest somewhere with pretty, dirndled waitresses, good food and wine, in a quiet location, with elevators, to which we haven’t been before.

Don, 7th February 2010


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BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February


BSB2010 :
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February





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To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys click on Wainwrights

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!