Thursday, 24 March 2016

A blush at the best time of day

The first rays hit the peaks further up the valley
Most modern cameras have a special setting for capturing the colours of a sunset. However, none seem to have a similar setting for a sunrise.

At this time of year it isn’t too much of a struggle to get up in time to see the first rays of the sun hit the peaks which surround Embach. Sunrise is soon after 6am and by that time at the end of March the blackbird is burbling his heart out in the tree outside the window and the cockerel has been making his presence heard for an hour or more. So when the church bells thunder out their 6am extra-loud and long wake up call, spring out of bed and take a walk outside.
First blush on the Baukogel
One or two mountains further down the valley greet the first rays and then the Baukogel – our mini Matterhorn – begins to blush pink. It is a minute or two later that the Hochkönig to the north, though it is nearly 3000m high, begins to warm to the sunrise. Meanwhile the Klingspitz is already glowing.

This really is the best time of day. The sunlight rapidly pushes the shadows down the mountain, to gather in the valleys. The mountains glow and, as the day warms up, the last patches of snow on the sunny side of the village begin their retreat. The promise of spring is in the air.
The Hochkönig begins to warm to the morning rays
By the time you get inside, the breakfast coffee will smell even more wonderful and you will be bubbling with enthusiasm for the wonders you have just seen.

These pictures were not taken with colour enhancing “sunset settings” it is just as it looked on the day they were taken. All pictures were taken within a few steps and within a few minutes of each other.

The Klingspitz is soon a rosy pink

The Baukogel basking in the early morning sun

Friday, 11 March 2016

The pleasure of winter in springtime

Evening shadows over the cross-country circuit
No sooner than most visitors have packed their skis into the roofboxes and driven off home, out come the snow shovels again to clear away the few centimeters of snow that appear each night.

We thought the spring had come but in Embach it is winter once again. The cross-country circuit and ski hill look in good shape. Ski touring is still popular and from Embach the Anthaupten at nearly 1924m is a regular goal beginning directly from the village.

However, the March sun is warm and the snow quickly retreats. Those visitors remaining are often to be found on south-facing benches, faces upturned to the sunshine keen to be able to show off a tan when they return home.
Ski trails on the way home from the Anthaupten
It’s been an up-and-down season, with cold snowy days followed by unseasonally warm ones. But as always there are some of those brilliant days where the sky is incredibly clear and blue, the snow sparkles and glistens and locals as well as visitors can’t help exclaiming how lovely it is.

The lighter snow cover has made the marked winter “wandering” trails more enjoyable and accessible for a stroll than usual. The cold tingles on the cheeks, and anyone coming from a city, as many visitors do, must wonder at the sheer unsullied purity of each gulp of air as they pant up the hill. The sound of snow crunching under foot and the long views down the valley complete the sensual experience that even a modest walk comprises

It’s been 13 years since I came to live here but still there are times when the phrase I used so often at first, comes to mind again: “I can’t believe I live here!”
The long view west along the Pinzgau valley 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Old school skiing - the big attraction

The slopes and long lift directly behind the village, are never overcrowded
Most tourists to Embach come from Germany and the Netherlands.  This week is “Hollander Woche” as there are so many Dutch here. However, in recent times we have entertained friends from New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, the USA, Ireland, Norway, England and Scotland.

They are all agreed about one thing; Embach’s charm lies in the fact that residents of this small farming village are not outnumbered by tourists. Life here continues in time-honoured fashion with old traditions being cherished and nurtured.

Our recent Scottish friends with their two young daughters agreed on this and said that the Embach hill was a great place to start getting their skiing legs back in action. But then, with so many opportunities lying within a short drive, they were ideally located to have a very varied and challenging sporting holiday while returning to the tranquillity of Embach in the evenings.

Embach is what it is. A small farming community that has no added “attractions” to keep tourists amused day and night, and to keep them spending. The mountains around remain as nature created them, without the addition of hanging bridges, lookout platforms and flying fox experiences.

Recent news of Italian villages having to introduce a ticket system to limit the  swarms of tourists pouring off cruise ships and swamping the communities should be a warning to some ski towns that have sold their souls to mass tourism.

The Embach skiing hill, cross-country loipe, snow shoe and safe ski touring opportunities, along with a perfect slope for beginners on that first anxious day on skis, are a great package for the visitor who is looking for an “old-school” winter holiday and doesn’t want to do battle with the increasingly crowded pistes and bars in some of the surrounding ski centres.


Monday, 28 September 2015

Blood moon morning

Did you see the big red moon?

It was cloudy over Embach during the night, but by dawn the cloud was breaking up and the Blood Moon hung over the mist-filled Pinzgau valley.

Most people here wake up early enough to have seen it. The church bells at 6am are the village alarm clock. By 7am children are waiting for the school bus, the shop is open and people are driving down to the valley to work.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Pot of Gold

Embach receives plenty of weather. Not just balmy summer days, or brilliant, crisp winter sun, but every so often, boisterous, rough weather.

Perched on a plateau 1000m above sea level, Embach is easy prey to the elements blasting along the Salzach valley from both east and west. From the south, the Rauris valley opens out just on the corner of our plateau bringing occasional hot föhn winds and sometimes Sahara sand.  To the north beyond the Salzach valley is the 3000m Hochkönig from where the winter snows often blanket the village.

At this time of year, the hot, sunny days often end with a storm. We can see them approaching like a black wall along the valley to the west. Then violent winds preface thunderous rumbling, wild flashes around the neighbouring peaks and crashing rain. Within an hour, the drama is passed, the air sweet and fresh and the rumblings fade into the distance.

Every so often a rain shower interrupts a sunny day and then we are often blessed with a brilliant rainbow. A recent example dropped its pot of gold right on one of the village’s guest houses just as the guests were eating breakfast…what a shame they missed the spectacle.