Touring Innsbruck, Austria

The weather was not quite as nice in the mountains this morning, so we took a day off from skiing.  Hopefully we’ll be rested for tomorrow- we plan to ski the Stubai Glacier, a place where it is possible to ski year round (although I don’t think many ski in the summer).

After sleeping in a bit, we hit up the Alpenverein Museum, which is a museum of mountain climbing I saw in an Innsbruck information packet.  This museum was great, and only 4 euro each.  We saw the complete history of mountaineering, including the tools people use to scale a mountain, how people map out mountain passes/routes/terrain, pictures people drew of mountains, stuff about mountain sickness (from high altitude), and stories and thoughts from mountain climbers themselves.

The thoughts got deep, as one mountaineer saw mountain climbing as a metaphor for overcoming our self-induced inhibitions in life, and others saw mountaineering to be associated with freedom in some other way.  However, the thing that stuck in my mind was the story of rope.  Specifically, the quality of rope was improved greatly in 1865, in response to four mountaineers falling to their death due to poor rope quality.  From a 21st Century point of view, it seem as though we should have been using much better rope all along, recognizing that human lives are at stake.  It brings up thoughts about the insurance industry charging inadequate rates in Florida prior to Hurricane Andrew, or the fact that the financial markets had to explode before they stopped leveraging 40:1.  Why are we so often collectively unable to recognize these risks until a disaster of some kind happens?

We went to lunch after the museum at a placed called Maria Van Bergund.  The food was great, but we had a strange encounter.  This woman sitting at the table next to next to ours was wasted (noon Sunday, and we were not sure what she was wasted on).  Abby noticed this first, but I thought it was no big deal, as I continued to share thoughts on mountaineering.  Then, she started asking me questions.  She spoke little to no English.  At first here somewhat less intoxicated friend helped her out (he knew English better).  Eventually, he left and she came over and sat at our table (to be in the sun).  Random people do talk to me a lot.  I feel like I am typically a welcoming person, and when I’m in a decent mood, I give off a fun and approachable vibe.  So, I try to have a conversation with her but I know very little German, so it’s hard.  I think Abby was nervous.  Eventually, she moved to another table, as she desired to sit in the sun and the sun/shade pattern advanced.  When she sat with a random old man, she got asked to leave the restaurant.  This did, however, spark up a pleasant conversation with a nice family from the UK.  Some of these events were strange, and I may have been uncomfortable, but I’d still rather stuff like this happen periodically and deal with the stress it causes than never have anything interesting happen.  Simply put, monotony would suck more than occasional stress, or drama.  I did not expect many encounters with random people in countries where I don’t speak the language, but the way I am, I don’t think I can avoid it, even here.

In the afternoon, we walked about 3 km, partially uphill to the Bergisel ski jump arena, where the 1964 and 1976 Olympic ski jump took place.  I was curious about how people watched this particular event.  It did not seem possible to me, but I think I was overestimating the spatial scale of the jump in my head.  I imagined what it was like for a ski jumper.  According to the info, once you start you accelerate to 90 km/hr in only 4 seconds!  Then, you take off.  You have a view of the whole city while in the air, as well as the entire crowd, and multiple mountain ranges.  Then, you have to land- how mind bottling!

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