Winter Joy in the Ore Mountains

You can find high-speed winter fun not only in the Alps. According to our colleague Steffen Scholz, the Ore Mountains have a lot to offer, too.


In Germany's east

Ore what? Here is a short sketch of the region. The upland Ore Mountains forms the natural border between southern Saxony and the Czech Republic. In the east it changes into Saxon Switzerland, in the west into the Vogtland. Nearby bigger cities are Chemnitz, Aue and Dresden. The Ore Mountains' mountains are between 600 and 1,300 metres high, the highest points being the Fichtelberg together with its neighbouring mountain on the Czech side, the Klinovec. And this is where you can find the best prepared skiing regions.

A spot for various kinds of sports

The narrow trail network of the Ore Mountains is a great platform for various kinds of outdoors sports and games. It is especially great for mountain biking and cross-country skiing. You can also find ski lifts in most of the smaller towns nearby, some even include floodlights. Over the past few years, kiting with skis or snowboards has become more and more popular. And this is actually doable as the thick forest fell victim to a high air pollution in the 90s. However, kiting in the open space has since then rivalled with wind power. Usually, the wind power wins as more and more wind turbines are being built. And who wants to have a ride on the merry-go-round with a kite...?

Ski touring has also found some more fans, who are seeking their outdoors adventure on the free hillsides. If you let creativity take over, you will find beautiful tours with ascents and descents that lead you across the countryside.

Take your snowboard into open terrain

It takes me less than an hour to get there from my home town Dresden. By now, my interests have shifted away from the slopes to the open terrain. So I always look for hillsides with a good incline, wait for enough snow, ideally with sun - and have fun. It does not take a longer descent for that. The good thing is that you can just quickly go there, only taking your basic equipment and without worrying about avalanche risk as the area is mostly pasturage. I often check out the area during bike tours in the summer and think about the possibilities there for the winter. The inclination of the hillside and its accessibility play an important role therefor.

Maybe I should point out that there is also wildlife in the Ore Mountains and the wild animals (now even including wolves again) have to manage winter with only little food - so they should not be scared into fleeing. This means to not go criss cross through the forest but rather stay on the open hillside and on trails that are already being frequented more (cross-country skiing) - or stay on your dream hillside. Use topo maps for preparation - you can use the contour lines to find open space with hillsides.

Add to your equipment a bigger snow shovel as only the parking lots near the skiing regions are cleared of snow, which means you sometimes have to shovel your own parking space. And do not forget your snow chains in case of an emergency.
A great example for a descent in open terrain is the old "Sachsenabfahrt", located at the Geising mountain between the cities of Altenberg and Geising. It is approx. 2 km long, starts steep in a swathe near a former ski lift, leads you then over open terrain over a still-in-use railway line and runs out over grassland all the way to Müglitz valley. I know that in the beginning of alpine skiing, skiers would jump on the trains in the valley and use them as ski lifts. But this is not possible any more.

Recommendations for your equipment

Starting with your basic equipment: Obviously, you need the right wear. Best to go for pieces you can combine and which are alsouseful for other outdoor activities. For the ascent you will need soft-shell trousers, which allow enough movement, (e.g. Bowles Pants by Tatonka) gaiters to avoid snow in your boots (e.g. Gaiter by Tatonka), a soft-shell jacket to fight the wind (e.g. Barro Jacket by Tatonka) and, for a longer break, hard-shell trousers and jacket (e.g. Islington Pants and Coban Jacket by Tatonka). Add a shirt made of merino wool, a beanie, a light cap and touring gloves or gloves consisting of an inner glove and a cover glove. Sun glasses are always a good idea. The backpack together with its universal fixations for snowboards, skis, poles or snow shoes, is a very important part of your equipment. (Recommended: Vert EXP or Vert 35 by Tatonka). You should ideally pack some nibbles and enough to drink. A real highlight on a tour like this is to enjoy a hot soup for lunch, heated up on a little stove. Alternatively you can use the Hot&Cold Stuff 1l bottle - not just for the soup but also for hot tea or water.

by Steffen Scholz