Herts & Bucks Wing

  Adventure Training Group


Geoff's Oberammergau diary

Friday 4th April

Joined the course at RAF Uxbridge, and spent the evening in the transit block getting to know the other staff and cadets

Saturday 5th April

After an 0600 breakfast at RAF Uxbridge, we boarded the bus for the short drive to Heathrow. It takes a long time to check in a group of 40 people, but there was time to check out the shops or have a coffee before the British Airways flight to Munich. At Munich, a coach was waiting to take us to Oberammergau, where we were accommodated in one of four guest houses

I was dropped off with the first group at Stadler Haus and we were introduced to our hostess (Antonia) and the two instructors (Steve and Bob) who would be staying with us

We dropped our kit off in our rooms and went to the Ski Hire shop to be fitted with boots, skis and poles. Now we had a couple of hours free to settle into our accommodation and explore the area around the house, before walking into the centre of the village to find the restaurant for the evening meal. The whole course met there for introductions, a short briefing and an excellent meal. Then most of us repaired to the “Rustico” bar next door, and started getting to know each other a little better

Sunday 6th April

We were all up for breakfast at 0700, and in the minibus ready to leave at 0745. We drove to Garmisch Partenkirchen, where we boarded the cable car to the Hausberg. It had been snowing heavily since dawn and it continued to snow now that we were on the slopes

 We clipped on our skis, and tried to remember what to do with them in a free session on a fairly friendly slope. Visibility was too poor to see more than a few metres, so there was some very slow, nervous skiing until we got to know the way down


After the free session we took it in turns to make a couple of descents in front of the instructors, so that they could assess our ability and allocate us to one of 6 ski groups. I was put into group 3, led by instructor Bob Palmer. After a brief stop for lunch in the café, we spent the afternoon following Bob down a variety of runs to show him what we could (and couldn't) do

The soft, lumpy snow and poor visibility made it difficult to practice the finer points of skiing technique or to ski with any pretence at style, so we just skied as many runs as we could to get our confidence and skiing legs back 

Many of the lifts in this area are the T-bar type, and we all had some embarrassing moments when getting on or off - here our instructor shows us how it should be done!


Back in Oberammergau we enjoyed tea and cakes at the house, then went to the very impressive local swimming pool to ease aching muscles. As well as the usual facilities the pool had a selection of hot and cold pools, including a warm outdoor pool where we could swim under the falling snow. Once again the whole course attended dinner - at the Rustico - for another excellent meal, with a spectacular plateful of mixed meats

Monday 6th April

We watched it snowing hard as we breakfasted, loaded the van and set off for Ehrwald in Austria. We were on the roads before the snow ploughs so progress was slow - not helped by one of the buses sliding off the road into a ditch. There were more delays while we worked out how to put snow chains on the rear tyres, but eventually we all rode the gondolas up into the mist and onto the slopes


It was still snowing as we clipped on our skis but visibility was much better than yesterday and the skiing was glorious, with fresh powder on the pistes. We got in a lot of runs, but fell often if we ran into the deep, soft powder at the edges of the piste

Tonight each of the four houses arranged its own dinner, and ours voted to go to el Puente – the local Mexican restaurant. There was some grumbling at the longish wait for food, but the wait was quickly forgotten when it arrived in impressive quantities! Walking back to the house was tricky, as the night was cold and the roads and pavements were covered in black ice

Tuesday 8th April

It had finally stopped snowing when we woke to a cold clear day with a brilliant blue sky. We drove to Eibsee, where a long cable car ride took us to the summit of the Zugspitze, and another took us down to the skiing area on the glacier

The mountain views were magnificent and the skiing equally superb, whether on the immaculate pistes in “the bowl” or on the longer runs, down into the valley 

The runs were steep, but the pistes were broad and smooth - ideal for trying to perfect turning techniques at various speeds and gradients. Today it was group 3's turn to enjoy Air Commodore Chitty's company, and it was nice to see that our instructor had some tips on how he could improve his skiing too...


For dinner, we went into Garmisch for a pizza, after which most of the course visited an Irish pub. Apart from the usual attractions, it just happened to be showing an International football match they all wanted to see!

Wednesday 9th April

After yesterday’s brilliant weather and perfect snow it was back to a grey day, after another heavy overnight snowfall. We took the gondola to the Kreuzeck, and found the slopes covered in deep soft snow, which was quite hard to ski in the poor visibility 

I also had problems with my sunglasses steaming up, so spent a lot of time falling over piles of soft snow until I could borrow some better goggles from one of the instructors

By now we were confident - if not competent - enough to make several descents of the top section of the Kandahar World Championship run. After lunch, we descended the whole run to the valley – a tiring but very satisfying run!



Dinner tonight was at Vlado’s Magic Bar, where the host entertained us with his conjuring tricks during and after our meal


Thursday 10th April

Back to the Zugspitze, but what a difference from Tuesday. As we left Oberammergau, the weather looked good, with the sun trying to break through thin cloud. On the Zugspitze it was quite different with very flat lighting that made it impossible to see ground features

We spent the morning in "the bowl", with each group practicing and performing a display, in front of the other groups and instructors

After lunch, we packed in as many runs as we could before finishing early. This gave us time for some shopping at a nearby American base before returning to Oberammergau

Tonight we dined by Ski group, and group 3 voted to go back to the Mexican restaurant with our instructor. After a comparatively modest first course, I made the mistake of ordering dessert – which turned out to be the “mother of all crepes”. Afterwards, we called at the Rustico for drinks, and found people from several other ski groups there too

Friday 11th April

The last day of skiing, but what a magnificent one. The weather was clear and sunny as we returned to the Hausberg, where we started the course on Sunday. Today was about skiing for pleasure on as many different runs as possible




We skied the top section of the Kandahar several times and had a lot of fun playing with jumps on a rather gentler slope, but the highlight was going (by lifts, cable cars and paths) to the next mountain - the Osterfeldkopf - then skiing back. This was true high altitude mountain terrain, with some staggering scenery and excellent descents


All too soon we had to leave, as we had to get back to return our equipment to the hire shops, pack our bags and complete the usual end-of course admin. tasks

We finished the course with an excellent buffet meal at Zur Rose, with a final debrief and the presentation of our certificates


      Web site by: Flt Lt Geoff Bowles RAFVR(T), ML(S), SPA                                                            This page last updated on 04 May 2003