Kitz ski calling

8th February 2012, by Chris Gill

Steinbergkogel slopes from Sönnbühel, above Kitzbühel  (c) W King

Steinbergkogel slopes from Sönnbühel, above Kitzbühel (c) W King

Sometimes there just aren’t enough superlatives to describe that “life’s wonderful” ski day sensation, but my day today in the Kitzbühel Alps could easily be summed up as ‘most splendid’, ‘perfect’ and the best of the trip. What could match that fine combination of blue skies, fabulous snow and mountain vistas that stretch for miles; plus lots of delightful huts to rest up in? And I can’t remember the last time I skied a low altitude resort with such good snow conditions, if at all.

The thermometer reached a balmy zero degrees above Kitzbühel this afternoon, a complete contrast to Tuesday’s minus 20 and much more comfortable. I was supposed to be driving further east on Wednesday morning, but with the skies promising a super bluebird day, ten minutes down the road to Kirchberg was all I could manage before desperation to get out on the slopes took over. The drive could wait until after a full day’s skiing.

Kitz Alps slopes. Looking to Gross Rettenstein peak – I can vouch as a good climb in summer

I had spent Tuesday skiing around Westendorf’s slopes, which were splendidly refreshed with new snow that had fallen overnight. This ski area is a little off the beaten SkiWelt track, but gives some of the more challenging descents in the area. Away from the resort’s main hub of Choralp, there are splendid uncrowded red runs that get you over to the high point of Gampenkogel and its long blue run to Ki-West. From here there is a short bus ride to take you over to the Kitzbühel ski area at Pengelstein – a bit of a trek on a bitterly cold day, and I only had time for a couple of runs there before heading back.

Fast and fine Westendorf’s home red run, Tues 7 Feb

The highlight was the direct descent of Choralp to Brixen im Thale at the end of the day – a great home red run of over 1000m vertical, with a short section of black in the middle (although it only merits black in comparison with the rest of the area’s slopes). It was blissfully quiet too, which of course meant something: I was late down and the rope tow back had stopped for the day. What’s more, the last bus is at 16:50. Miss it and you could have a long trek back to your accommodation, which I did.

I started today at Kirchberg and cruised the wide, gentle slopes served by its two gondolas (one newish) and a fast eight-pack. Oh, what a delight to have heated seats; could have done with that yesterday – these recent lift changes have made a big improvement to access from this end of the ski area, which used to be queue-prone and painfully slow progress.

Going Peak2Peak on the 3S

After an early lunch at the smart and welcoming Maierl Alm I travelled across to Kitzbühel, took Europe’s version of the Peak2Peak gondola in Whistler – the 3S, which spans a vast wooded gorge and drops you off on Jochberg’s slopes, and managed a few steeper descents off the next hill in the network (Bärenbadkogel) before returning to Kirchberg. But there was time to dip into Steinberkogel’s bowl, which has some of the most challenging runs in the area above Kitzbühel – Hahnenkamm excepted – and a quick apple strudel at its Sönnbühel hut.

Naughty … but nice! And 6 euros (upper end for area’s huts).

I am making the most of my Kitzbüheler Alpen All Star lift pass, which gives access to over 1000km slopes in ten major ski areas in Tirol and Salzburg; including some smaller resorts such as Fieberbrunn. It is ideal if touring by car or by train (which, is a good way to stop by some of the quieter bases in these major ski areas).

Tomorrow I take on the Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang circus, my last day of this trip. There was a rumour that it might be snowing again …

Just a perfect day … © W King

Here’s your amateur broadcaster with a quick snow report:

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