In Search of Gemutlichkeit

Kitzbuhel, Austria

I have always been an atmosphere guy. Nothing did my heart better this year than having a white Christmas here at home. It just added to the atmosphere or the Gemutlichkeit as the Europeans would say. Getmutlichkeit officially is described as a feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. But it is so much more with the creation of atmosphere in a particular setting.

I love to ski but there is so much more to skiing than just sliding down a hill. The first time I learned that was when I was a kid and walked around our local ski resort – Seven Springs, and took in the Bavarian atmosphere. The log, stone, and glass architecture of the old world was present in the original buildings built by Adolph Dupre back in the 30s. I related skiing to this wonderful world of European elegance which I could not wait to take in someday.

The Town of Kitzbuhel

Fast forward and I was in a little church in Engleberg, Switzerland for midnight mass at Christmas. As I listened to Silent Night sung in a German dialect, I was enthralled with the atmosphere of this little town in the Alps. Later in my young life I returned to Europe and was part of a PSIA Ski Instructors outing in Austria where we skied and visited many places in the Austrian Tyrol. I learned the significance of plum schnapps (tough on the stomach but you can never refuse it),and the fun tradition of the Rodelrennen which is a sled race down the mountain roads in which I took part. After the race, we all went to the awards in the town of Kuthai and I reveled in the Gemutlichkeit of the local party and the understanding that skiing is a lifestyle in Austria. The atmosphere that is created there with the food, the beer, and the traditions celebrates everything winter. I was hooked for sure.

Rodelrennen in Austria

My wife Janet and I spent our honeymoon hiking in the Swiss Alps and visiting Austria once again and together we experienced that Gemutlichkeit in places like Verbier and Zermatt , where a candlelight fondue set the atmosphere just right. We have not been back since, and it is on the bucket list to return someday to take all of that in.

Today- I still search for that wonderful way of life when we travel westward. Some of the ski areas of the west still create that Bavarian atmosphere and it makes the trip aside from great ski conditions . Perhaps the closest we get is when we visit our good friends the Birsics in Park City and take in lunch at the Stein Eriksen Lodge.

Although the atmosphere is Norwegian, it still celebrates the feeling of Gemutlichkeit in the mountains of Utah. Nothing like coming in from the slopes and walking in to the Stein and having lunch. Linen tablecloths, fantastic food and drink and looking at all of Stein’s awards and medals in the trophy case just make the ski day all that more special. Spoken by a man who currently eats a peanut butter sandwich and boots up in his Jeep due to Covid regulations at our local area.

We celebrate a little Gemutlichkeit in our home around the holidays. Janet makes it her business to create that Christmas atmosphere with the decorations and the food.

So, I don’t know, I am just an atmosphere guy. I love the winter and when I have an opportunity to create or take in that feeling of warmth, friendliness and good cheer, I do it. Covid has been tough and things are different this winter. But someday, it will be over and we can all search and take in some Gemutlichkeit whether it is in our home, a ski area, or even out in the woods on a pair of showshoes- with some cheese and wine in the back of the Jeep. Thanks for reading and have a great New Years.

10 thoughts on “In Search of Gemutlichkeit

  1. Michael Kridler says:

    Pat, never heard of Gemutlichkeit before reading your post but I love it! Happy new year!

  2. John McWilliams says:

    Pat, awesome article. as always! Can’t wait for some serious Gemutlichkeit too, as I’m a fanatical atmosphere person as well! Merry Christmas!

  3. skimeister says:

    Thanks for jogging my memory of the many great times Skiing in Austria and Switzerland. I have many schnapps stories but your mention of the Plum Schnapps and Kitzbuehl triggered a very interesting one. I forget which lift we took for the beginning of the day, but when my friends and I arrived at the summit terminal there was an old woman shoveling the deep overnight snow from the deck by herself. With my limited German i asked if she would like some help. She lit up like a Christmas tree and found a few more shovels. We made short work of the task which surely would have taken her several hours. She thanked us profusely then produced a bottle and some glasses. She said, “Fur dein arbeit, Obst! (which of course was plum schnapps)

  4. Lea says:

    Hi Pat,

    I used to live in Austria. Went to Grad School in Wien (Vienna). Skied at Lech, Zurs, St Anton, Kitzsteinhorn, Saalbach – Hinterglemm. Beautiful there.

    This year I’m (along with my wife & another couple) going to the Bavarian town of Leavenworth Washington. Will ski at Mission Ridge, Stevens Pass, & Loup Loup Ski Bowl (will ride the Luge here, saw your luge picture). This will be the 41st State/Canadian Province that I’ve skied. Will take me up to 122 total ski areas.

    Here are some links to the town of Leavenworth: , , , , – Lots of great Bavarian restaurants there.

    Links to Loup Loup Luge: scroll down on page. , Already have our reservation. Looks like lot of fun.

    Hope this helps in your search for Gemutlichkeit! Lea Givens


  5. Lea Givens says:

    Back from Leavenworth, WA and my Search of Gemutlichkeit was successful. Beautiful Bavarian town was lots of Austrian/German food & bier. Skiing at Stevens Pass & Mission Ridge was fantastic & the Luge at Loup Loup Ski Bowl was tons of fun.

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