Love Powder? There is nothing like having a freshly groomed mountain all to yourself, first thing in the morning. If you think this privilege is reserved for a few avid skiers willing to rise before dawn and wait patiently at the front of a lift line, think again. The “First Tracks” and “Early Bird” programs, offered at several Tirol Ski Resorts, puts you on the mountain ahead the masses. But what’s it all about – is it really worth waking early for First Tracks?
The alarm goes on. At half past six. It’s dark outside. I am not a morning person. I don’t like alarm clocks and I am prone to sleeping in. I hate getting up in the dark. I’m on holiday! So why should I get up that early? Thinking of skiing doesn’t help much either, I definitely have a problem getting out of bed… But there’s no way back. I bought the ticket and, wait; someone mentioned breakfast on the mountain. I grab my things and make my way to the gondola loading area.
My friends and other skiers are waiting at the gondola, getting to upload at least one hour before the rest of the world. You know what the Fresh Trackers say: “The early bird gets the corduroy”. Well, there is something about it, at least it means sharing the experience with many fewer people and no waiting in lines. We board the gondola in company with others who prioritize skiing before lifts officially open.
The mountains are sublime in early morning. As we ride up the gondola, the sun rises over the mountains. By the time we reach the top, the summits are bathed in light. Maybe First Tracks was worth getting up early, after all…?
An untracked mountain — the first run of a Fresh Tracks morning has an eerie, end-of-the-world feel to it. Perfectly empty runs beckon and a carpet of fresh corduroy lays in wait. Ripping a ski trail totally alone is a Zen-like experience.
A ski instructor greets us at the top at 7:30am. Why would we need a ski instructor? After all, we are all advanced to expert skiers… Dressed in red and looking chirpy and way too happy for this time of the day, he’s asking “Are you ready for powder?”
OK, I see. This doesn’t mean our skiing is not good enough. Instead, this guided mountain experience is part of an exclusive service. The professional guide is ready to whisk us away on a private tour for ultra-exclusive snow moments. Once we are geared up at the top of the mountain, now knowing we have to “shift weight to the lower ski”, our guide sends us on our way with a friendly “after you all.”
A spectacular sunrise atop an exclusive, untouched mountain. The freshly groomed slopes look inviting under a crystalline blue sky. A pristine canvas of groomed corduroy unfolds before us as we set out to carve the very first tracks of the day. Navigating an untouched trail is an exhilarating experience, letting you soak in the solitude without distraction. This experience is definitely better than lying in bed at your hotel room. Although, that felt fluffy and looked white, too! Well, never mind. I work my way down the long run leaving sinuous tracks in my wake.
Skiing freshly groomed corduroy works up an appetite. Fortunately, our ski guide starts talking about “having some coffee and grabbing a quick bite”. That was quite an understatement. Honestly speaking, we are greeted by a delightfully satisfying breakfast buffet on the top of the mountain. From plate-sized pancakes over eggs to mountain cheese and crisp fried bacon. And for the healthy eaters, homemade muesli and fresh fruit. Tasting just right after the exertion of the morning…
After breakfast, and with a few laps of perfect solitude already under my belt, the day begins. The masses are now on their way up the mountain and crowds line up at the lifts. Time to leave; after all, I’m accustomed to having my private ski mountain now. Finally, is it really worth waking early for First Tracks? Of course, you have to get up at dawn, but when you board that first gondola and the early sunlight is sparkling off the fresh snow awaiting your ski signature, it’s worth every second stolen from your pillow. Now, I get back to bed and set my alarm clock to be the first at après!
Before the lifts open to the public, you get ultra-exclusive snow moments at these ski resorts: