When I went to Oberwiesenthal a week ago, I did not expect it to be the last episode of the 19/20 ski season. However, the coronavirus made the slopes close across Europe…
Luckily, my short trip to the German-Czech borderland was very successful, as it was full of surpises!
The first surprise was to discover that Oberwiesenthal is the highest located town in Germany (914 m ). In your face, fancy Alpine towns!
The second surprise was that the Schwebebahn cable car, that operates between the town and the Fichtelberg mountain is the oldest one in Germany, operating since 1924. The charming, red car takes off every 15 minutes and the journey takes only 4 minutes.
Another interesting fact to find out was that during my stay the town hosted the Nordic Skiing Junior World Championships. I bought tickets for the team ski jumping competition and planned to create a pan-slavic support group because I had Polish, Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian and Russian flags at my disposal. However, before my friend arrived at the competition with our flags, it turned out that the Slovaks and Ukrainians were not taking part at all, the Czechs and Poles were eliminated in the first round, and it wouldn’t make much sense to create pan-slavic team with only one flag… Therefore we silently watched as others waved their flags and won the competition…
Speaking of ski jumping – another surprise was to discover that legendary Jens Weissflog was the honorary citizen of Oberwiesenthal. He runs a restaurant there, but I did not decide to visit it, being pretty sure he mainly served schnitzels and soljanka soups, and I was already fed up with those…
Another skiing-related curiosity is that this Oberwiesenthal resort is connected to the nearby Czech ski resort Klínovec, creating together the so-called “Interskiregion“.
The resorts are connected with a skibus, which transports skiers from resort to resort every 30 minutes. The bus stops are located on the top of the mountains – Klínovec and Fichtelberg.
The skibus is served by the Czechs, with a rather worn-off coach and a whiskered driver, definitely named “Honza” or “Pepa”. He had a rather peculiar custom – despite the fact that he often arrived at the bus stop about 15 minutes before departure, he would not open the door. He would rather stay inside the coach, eating sandwiches and looking at the skiers waiting outside. And I remind you that the stops were located at the top of the mountains, where it was often cold, foggy and windy. It wasn’t until 1-2 minutes before the departure time (or even after it) that he opened the door and let that hypothermia bunch in.
Nothing could disturb driver’s peace of mind, not even when at one of the sharp turns the side trunk suddenly opened and skis and snowboards scattered along the road, stopping the traffic in two directions. “Halt!”, “Stop!” screamed the passengers. The driver calmly stopped the bus, opened the door and allowed skiers to run on the road and the roadside and collect their equipment.
The Oberwiesenthal resort itself is not large and offers mainly gentle, blue slopes, ideal for learning or family skiing. “Red” sections are short and few. Only the slope under the cable car (Rennstrecke) is steeper and even has FIS homologation.
As I mentioned, Oberwiesenthal creates, together with the Czech Klinovec, so called Interskiregion, offering a total of over 40km of sopes. The pass valid for joint resorts can be purchased for at least 1.5 days or more.
Klinovec itself is a larger resort, offering quite long and wide slopes, with 3 km long “Jáchymovska” (slope 1) to start with. Also the infrastructure (lifts) on the Czech side is a bit more modern.
Hotels are located at the top of Fichtelberg and Klinovec mountains – the German one is open, while the Czech one is closed and decays in a picturesque way, bringing to mind horror films and Scooby Doo cartoons 🙂
It turned out that my timing was perfect. I visited Oberwiesenthal on March 7th-8th, and just few days later the scenery changed rapidly:
Not to mention coronavirus spread…