0100 and the alarm woke me up after tossing and turning for a couple of hours. It's ok though as I was as excited as a kid at Christmas. The car was packed and ready to head to Gatwick, just a little detour to Hucknall to pick a couple of lads up.
3 hours later after a comfortable drive and we're sat around a table with a Guinness and a poor excuse for breakfast, but all 8 lads are together, a little giddy in anticipation of what's to come.
We flew with Easyjet into Innsbruck and it only took around 90 minutes. An hour in a minibus later and we were all unloading at the Hotel, surrounded by snow and the mountains, this is what we had come for. Less than 12 hours from door to door.
We only had a short time in Ischgl so we got kitted up and headed to the slopes in the hotel's shuttle bus, just 5 minutes up the road and we're all eager to part with our euros in exchange for a pass up the mountain.
The ride up the Alps was quick in the new luxurious cable car. We attempted to find our snow legs so we dived straight into the mixer. The first run opened up into a valley where a dozen runs came into one, this place was huge with ski lifts going off in all directions, it became apparent 3 and a half days just wasn't going to be enough. Would I dare ring my wife and say I was staying another couple of days?
You're probably thinking this was a pricey break so let's just bust a few myths, 50 euros a day for your pass up the mountain with access to all the lifts. Sat on top of the alps a beer was less than 5 euros and a big portion of freshly cooked spag bol for 10 euros. Better price and food than a Frankie and Bennys with views to die for.
We were lucky enough to have 2 clear blue sky days with great snow on the mountain. Our first full day there we decided to go to the top and down the other side into Switzerland, actual Switzerland. Here there were enough runs to occupy us for our full trip not just the day we got to spend there and probably some of my favourite runs with plenty of off-piste powder to float off into. No picture will do the scenery justice.
After a full day of Snowboarding my legs felt like they were made of smoke. Luckily Apre Ski was at the bottom of the slopes and a great meeting point. Most days we had a few to hydrate before we headed back for a sauna and shower.
As a group we headed back out at night for a bite to eat and hydrate some more. 2 things.... they know how to party and love a bit of trance. We just got amongst it and joined in, we got into full voice for a chorus or two of Sweet Caroline. The local late-night delicacy was irresistible after beer, a kebap, kebab meat and salad in a cob and then toasted under sandwich press.
The last day we were up the mountain nice and early again, no gondola queues, it was snowing and below -10 so I was thankful for the heated chair lift. We pottered around some steady runs, had a bash on the speed trap with the record in our group hitting a cool 68kmh and the airbag jump took some hammer too from us all wanting that perfect profile picture. We all met up for a light lunch and spent the afternoon f*cking about on the snowpark which was great fun, as we grew in confidence we were soon hitting the tabletops and boxes one after another.
Overall I would rate Ischgl 10/10, granted I don't have many points of reference but it was bang on, great flights and transfers, good price, Ski was incredible and the nightlife was fun and friendly.