A Page from James Bond

Ron Karpinski  1996


There is no better skiing than springtime in Garmisch.  Garmisch is a small quaint village in the German Alps.  On this weekend, the ski gods smiled, blessing the area with bountiful snow, bright sunshine, and clear blue skies.

Of the three ski areas in Garmisch, the one atop the Zugspitze is the best.  At just over ten thousand feet, the Zugspitze is the tallest mountain in Germany.  Its lone black ski trail has caused many people untold grief.  Few can master it.

This time, however, I eased off a nearly vertical ledge and dropped down into a steep mogul field, twisting and turning for over two hundred yards without mishap.  Mother Nature does not often give in like that; so I did it again, and again, savoring the moment, knowing the next time might not be so easy.

Late in the afternoon, rather than returning by cable car, we rode the cogwheel train down off the mountain.  The cogwheel train consists of eight antique wooden coaches running on standard rails; however, due to the steep incline, a third toothed track runs in the middle.  A large gear wheel in the lead car meshes with the center rail, thus providing traction.

One-third of the way down, as the train exits a long tunnel, it stops briefly.  Those who wish may exit the train there and ski down to the Eibsee cable car station.  From the station, they can catch a later train to downtown Garmisch.

I had always wanted to do that.  After a hurried discussion, Irmi, Stephan, and I sprang from our seats, grabbed our skis, and stepped down onto the siding.  As the train pulled out, we pointed our ski tips downhill and pushed off.

For twenty-five minutes, we raced nonstop down the mountainside.  Deep fluffy snow formed a wide swath of broad gentle curves through the trees and rocks.  In stretches, the course ran over narrow snow-covered dirt roads.  The crisp, cold air brought tears to my eyes.

At the bottom, the trail ended in a huge asphalt parking lot.  We stepped out of our skis and began walking toward the Eibsee station.  To the right, a train approached. Stephan's wife, Connie, waived through an open window.

The train the same one we had exited two-thirds of the way up the mountain pulled to a halt at the platform.  The three of us jumped aboard just before the doors slammed shut.  Sweating, but otherwise none the worse for wear, we took our original seats, much to the amazement of nearby passengers.

James Bond himself could not have done it better.


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