I first visited a spa sauna in March 2007, after my first ski touring trip. It was in Bad Aussee in Austria. We had been skiing in the Totes Gebirges region. A combination of new soft snow and some difficult navigation meant we didn’t make it to the first hut until around midnight. And then we still had to find and dig out the door to the winter room. I was, of course, hooked from that point on. After five days skiing from hut to hut, we came down to Bad Aussee and visited the town sauna. That was the beginning of a second addiction.
I however remember being concerned about etiquette; I didn’t know either the language or culture. What were you expected to do – or not do? It is pretty basic, but this is what I eventually learned:
- If you can, bring a sauna robe, sauna shoes, a large sauna towel, a book, a bottle of water, and a second clean towel (for your shower afterwards). But if you dont have any of that with you, you can probably hire a towel.
- Remove clothing in the appropriate changing area. And put on your robe or towel.
- Find out when the Aufguss sessions are, they are worth attending. There is usually one every hour or so. The times and locations of the sessions will probably be on a board somewhere. For the Aufguss session itself, a sauna employee waters the coals three or sometimes four times and then wafts, or snaps, a towel at everyone inside – after each watering. This mixes the air. The Aufguss might last 12 minutes or so. Often something is handed out after the second or third watering of the coals, for example orange segments, or tea, or ice cubes.
- When going into the Aufguss or other sauna session, leave your sauna robe and any specs by the sauna door. Take in your large sauna towel, and minimise any direct contact with the bare wood – standing on a corner of your towel is better when finding a place to sit. Once out, and after a shower, a dip in a cold pool is lovely.
- Finally, there is usually a variety of nice places to read your book and drink some water, maybe outside, while relaxing and cooling down.
- If there is time, 3 or 4 individual sauna sessions seems a good number for one visit.
And it is the perfect end to a ski touring trip.