Friday, April 30

Going up the wall

I spent a relaxing weekend in Austria with family. The weather also played its part. Each day was blessed with wonderfully warm sunny conditions, providing an ideal backdrop to Kitzbuhel’s postcard-perfect snow capped alps. It’s days like these that make me envy my brother’s life in Europe. Just look at these photos. Wouldn’t you want to be greeted by these scenes your local neighbourhood?

With the weather in such fine form we spent plenty of time outdoors. Lunch on Saturday was spent at a cafĂ© on the shores of the local Schwarzsee. Sunday afternoon was spent visiting Krimmler waterfall, followed by the year’s first delicious BBQ. Krimmler is said to be Europe’s largest waterfall, cascading more than 400 metres in three separate sections. You climb to the highest fall using a well marked trail. However, we elected to take the more leisurely walking path to the base of the bottom fall.

We also stopped in at the Hohe Tauern National Park museum. This stunning building, nestled in the shadow of the alps, has some terrific exhibits about the geology, flora and fauna of the surrounding area. I particularly enjoyed a short 3D film explaining the tectonic history that formed the alps millions of ago. I've never seen a clearer, more compelling explanation of plate tectonics anywhere.

Saturday night saw us venture out to watch the finals of the national indoor wall climbing competition. For several hours we watched some incredibly athletic men and women climb walls fitted with impossibly small hand grips and overhangs. At times the finalist swung on nothing more than tips of their fingers, high above the stage. Some even tied themselves in knots, making the most unlikely gravity-defying maneuvers look routine. It was an impressive sight.

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