Austrian Dreaming - Dec/Jan Trip Report

blueandwhite

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Great report absolutely loving it. Im also interested in this as the link was pretty much built when I was there but not fully active. When you are going back to Zell I can highly recommend the 68 blue (the restaurant halfway down is amazing) and 61a red starts from same place and is one of my all time favourite fast sweeping reds
Hey LDJ, are you talking about Zell or Saalbach for the 61a and 68 blue? I can't find these on the trail map for either but am keen to check them out!
 
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LDJ

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Hey LDJ, are you talking about Zell or Saalbach for the 61a and 68 blue? I can't find these on the trail map for either but am keen to check them out!
In Saalbach but 68 ends at Viehofen to the link to Zell I believe and 61a finishes in vorderglemm which is the next little village up. It looks like they may have updated the numbers since I was there pre-COVID. You will love it so many great runs, loops and wonderful views
 

Hyst

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In Saalbach but 68 ends at Viehofen to the link to Zell I believe and 61a finishes in vorderglemm which is the next little village up. It looks like they may have updated the numbers since I was there pre-COVID. You will love it so many great runs, loops and wonderful views
Is called 168 to Viehofen now
 
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blueandwhite

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The Germans
The hotel clientele is almost exclusively German speaking as you might expect given current travel restrictions. We interact with as many people as we can but there are obviously limits to our communication. For the kids this is also hard. They have left their friends behind in Australia and we have not really been in any situations yet where they could make new friends with other children. Six weeks is a long time for them to only be talking to mum and dad and we have been aware of this as a potential issue since we booked the trip.

It was with some glee then that we watched as daughter met a group of German girls one night after dinner in the Spielraum. The girls are a little older than her (they are eleven and she is eight) but they seem very nice and like all Germans they claim to speak very poor English but actually the reverse is pretty much true. Communication was a little limited for them all as vocabulary by age eleven is not massive as you might expect. But the international language of gymnsatics, dancing and electronic devices always wins through.

There is a point to this. Daughter asked if she could invite the girls to ski together and after a few messages between devices we managed to agree that all parents had said it was okay and we were to all meet in the Skiraum at 0830am the following morning. Having not met the parents and unsure if the older generation would speak English or understand my poor German there was some trepidation at this point!
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It was a cracking start to the day. I managed to capture the sunrise (above) from our over-sized balcony. What a view. We hit breakfast and exchanged some nervous Guten Morgens with the other kids although we still had no idea who their parents were as they were seated in the other dining room. We wolfed down breakfast and keen not to be late I got the kids suited up and hit the bootroom ASAP. The others hadn't arrived yet. England one, Germany nil. (joke!)

When they arrived I went over to talk to one of the girls and she pointed out her dad. Using my finest German I introduced myself and asked if he would like us all to ski together or if the girls wanted to just come and ski with us. Zusammen (together) is today's vocabulary learning and as a bonus I have also found that this word comes in useful in the self-service restaurant at the checkout if you have two trays...

The dad rattled off a rapid-fire couple of sentences in German and the only parts I truly picked up were Ja, aber and schwarz. So I assume he had said yes we can ski together but we will be skiing black runs. Determined not to regress to English so early in the piece and having semi-competently taken down the Trass and 13 black yesterday I shrugged and delivered a line that I had always wanted to use in conversation with a German - 'Ja, das ist cool...'

I have no idea if Germans even say that. But it sounds like the ultimate fusion of English/American and German that they might think was, well, cool. I had even been party to a somewhat similar fusion in England many years ago when I used to go to watch the football in Bristol. We had a pub we would frequent for beers before home matches called The Wellington that served German beers and we would casually describe the pub as Das (Wellington) Boot. Not quite the same thing but you get the picture. And yes I know it doesn't translate correctly...

He seemed to be okay with it although I feel quite strongly that in his mind they were about to give this family of random English/Australians with a five year old in tow a solid skiing reality check! Nonetheless we kitted up and wandered down to the launch pad. With skiing underway it became immediately clear that they were all pretty competent and the adults were very good skiers indeed.

We took the gondola to the top and they immediately wanted to hit the Trass. At this point they began to start speaking perfect English to me. It was like they hadn't wanted to speak English until they knew we could actually ski! And having passed that test we all got on famously. Here are the kids heading for the Trass in the early morning sunshine.
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As you can see the playing surface was in great condition with grooming sitting under a solid layer of new artificial snow. It skied really nicely.
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Sam acquitted himself very well (including some very large powerslides!) and wasn't the last kid down so was suitably pleased with himself. We all headed back to the top and after a beautiful start to the morning the weather started to close in. Oddly our German friends then decided they wanted to do a fairly lame but nicely covered blue run on repeat. After doing this short run and the associated chairlift about five times in row and with a cold wind whipping across the top of the chair we decided it was time for a break so we left them to it. We headed into the Eder Hutte for refreshments and warmth. Food was good and beer was cold.
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Back at the top we came across one of a number of signs that are scattered around the resort that have given us some mild amusement.
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From what we can make out it seems very much like the Austrians attach medieval style jousting lances to the front of their groomers with the intention of spearing errant skiers who have the temerity to ski into their path. It certainly looks rather painful and seems a fairly strong deterrent to skiers like myself who might otherwise have considered ignoring the signage.

On the topic of pisteing you would have to say they are piste crazy in Austria. I don't know if it's Europe-wide or just Austria but they just love to groom stuff. And not just the blues and the reds. The blacks get groomed by winch as well. The Trass sometimes gets groomed twice a day which seems almost extravagant! If it's marked on the piste map, they groom it. Last night I caught them grooming the fairly steep red outside our hotel with the winch before I went to bed. It's almost mesmerising to watch.
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Back in the daytime we were dodging the snow showers and headed over to an area with a bunch of red runs and where the terrain park was meant to be (although as we discovered yesterday this is MIA). Not wanting to crowd our German ski buddies we had left them to ski by themselves for the rest of the day. They are two families from Augsburg near Munich and are all skiing together. So not wanting to tread on any toes we gave them some space.

When the clouds parted the views were still great and the skiing still pretty good.
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That said there is a massive amount of artificial snow here. Fun Fact: 100% of their pistes have snowmaking at Zell, including all of the black runs. Pretty outstanding in times of low natural snow. I should also point out though that the Germans thought the snow was very ordinary indeed, even though you can ski top to bottom on all runs. Not sure what they'd make of Australia in late June!
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Our intent had been to go back up to the top and explore down towards the Saalbach link by skiing the long red run down towards Viehofen. But when we got near the top ridge the wind got up, one of the link lifts stopped running and it started puking snow. It was absolutely freezing. So in the blizzard conditions we decided for the kids sake to ski back to the hotel and call it a day. It dropped maybe 5cm high up and then relented an hour later.

On our way back we skied past this Alm. They are mad for a bit of log stacking in this part of Austria and it can be quite artistic.
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Back down to the hotel on the red run and inside to warm-up.
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Made a cup of coffee, sat by the window and looked at the view. I could sit and watch this view for days on end.
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blueandwhite

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The Germans (part zwei)
The weather was fairly socked in today so the photos aren't great. It was a very flat light and in the afternoon it snowed fairly constantly so fingers were kept in gloves rather than on phone cameras. I did get a few shots off in the area around the hotel this morning though including the traditional morning lake shot from the balcony. This time a little earlier while the streetlights were still on.
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The view after we kitted up was still good as well. I shall really miss this view when we head to Kitzbuhel in two days time.
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Here is the front of the hotel. We really like the hotel (Berghotel Jaga Alm) and it is awesome to be right there on the snow. We have a 3/4 pension here with buffet breakfast, afternoon snack at 4pm (more like a full meal!) and then full 5 course dinner at 6pm. I'm so fat and unfit right now it hurts. I'm wheezing when I reach the top of the stairs which means it's lucky that they also have a lift. I'm not sure I can keep this elite level of eating and drinking up for another three weeks!
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We were primed and ready to go in the launch bay.
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We headed out with our new German companions. It is their last day as they head back for school and work in Augsberg tomorrow. They also brought their dog with them and lots of hotels in Austria seem to be cool with dogs in hotels. There are of course rules. The compendium tells me that dogs are totally allowed in the dining room but specifically they are not allowed to go near the buffet. Glad we got that one sorted out! In honesty they probably need to extend this rule to some of the young kids as well...

Anyway, back on the snow and we took down an early morning Trass to get the day started in the best possible way. Snow comprising artificial and yesterdays very light top-up. Skied very nicely indeed.
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The sun very briefly poked out for me to claim what I describe as a dad's victory in the race-off from the last corner. This means that you claim victory irrespective of whether daughter is actually several yards ahead of you or not. Arbiter's word is final. Arbiter is the oldest person present (therefore me).
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We then skied from der Gipfel down to the bottom car park on the 4, 3, 2, 1 piste run with the Germans. And having got the gondola back to the top we then offloaded some of the kids who wanted a break. This left just the three dads, my daughter, her German friend and her brother. All of whom (with the possible exception of yours truly) were pretty rapid. This was to be the glory run.

Knowing the odds were not stacked in my favour I resisted the urge to organise a Germany vs England race. Rather like in the football I feel like we'd have been a good chance to take them down in a friendly but when it came to the actual business end of the competition they would usually towel us up in methodical fashion and leave us in pieces crying into our beer... I can tell you that the two dads were absolute jets on planks. Fortunately they had to stop occasionally to wait for their offspring which gave me chance to make up the required ground.

It was great fun though. We bolted down to Zell at lightning speed and then back up the City Express before taking down the best run of the day on the 13 black that had absolutely magic snow on it. Really great fun and good to just blow the cobwebs out on a few runs.

We took the gondola back to the top and it was time to part ways. We said lots of goodbyes and we were genuinely grateful for their friendship and for welcoming us into their group. It had made a world of difference to my daughter to have some friends to ski with and to play with and we had all enjoyed skiing together.
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I am obviously of a generation that did not live through the second world war (or the aftermath) but it always amazes me that we ever managed to have a war with Germany as every German I have ever met is unfailingly kind, polite (although sometimes blunt!) and wonderfully friendly. I know it is not a topic that most Germans would ever want to talk about and I have only discussed it in earnest with one close German friend. But I still ponder how it ever happened as I have lived a life only knowing friendship and football banter with people from Germany. This will again sound like an incredibly naive comment but it is genuinely something that has perplexed me.

Anyhow, the two families have headed back to Germany now along with many of the other skiers from the last week. The hotel is almost deserted and the pistes are much quieter this afternoon. It's almost ghostly in the hotel!

Back to the skiing and after a quick lunch at the summit we headed over the back of the resort as I'd noticed that the T-bar that had not been operating all week was suddenly operating. Kind of weird to only start running the T-bar once everyone had left! We felt like this lift needed ticking off and got our first assisted load of the holiday - every other T-bar has been self-loading.

Anyone who has had small kids learning to ski will relate to the painful muscle memories that this picture causes. I can assure you it was worse doing it 2 years ago - at least he's slightly taller now!
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It was now chucking it down with snow and the T-bar serviced a single blue run that had been groomed all week but had not been accessible by lift. It was therefore beautifully smooth and covered in a soft layer of snow. It was nice but rather slow going. It also bordered the access trail to the Pinzgauer Hutte which is a restaurant and lodge 800m down a cat track with no return lift access. Apparently they bring skiers back up on a motorised sled after lunch! We are dead keen to try this out tomorrow on our last full day but it has been reservation only until now and also the view in a whiteout may not be that great. We will see how tomorrow pans out.

We managed to find a tiny bit of off piste through the trees that my daughter and I hit up. It was a layer of 5cm of fresh snow on a harder layer of snow from last week that was skiable but not epic. It made us feel a little more adventurous though. Off piste adventures have been virtually non-existent this trip, mostly due to the conditions. We go off piste all the time at home but we know where we are going and the snow is generally softer and more forgiving than the crusty under-layer that we've had in Austria for most of the trip.
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Back at the summit the wind had suddenly got up again, just like it did yesterday. Again the kids were not thrilled with the prospect of skiing in the blizzard so we headed for home via a few red runs. Sam's parallel is stellar in all conditions but he is starting to get on his rails quite nicely too now. His lesson at Ski Juwel has really improved this part of his skiing and he seems to have naturally brought it into his repertoire now.
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We headed home and chilled in the very quiet hotel for the afternoon. The forecast is for light snow for the rest of our time here so visibility may not be great. Daughter and I are still chasing Manfred's Trass record so hopefully conditions allow for that! And a quick look at the snow forecast this morning gave me a bit of a surprise which I am sure will disappear in the next model run. Over a metre of snow next week. I'll believe that when I see it! Maybe it's the @Kletterer effect...
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Finally there is a gastronomic delicacy that I forgot to mention from yesterday and I feel it cannot pass without being shared. Dinner had a few options yesterday but mostly involved roast cuts of meat with some buffet sides. There was however two stews that could also be added to your plate. The first was a beef goulash and the second the delightfully titled 'Ragout of the innards'... This was their translation, not mine! I was tempted to take a photo of the name plate but felt it would be rude to do so. I got the gist of what they were saying but I feel the translation could have been a little more sympathetic!

Anyhow I put the goulash and the Ragout of the innards side by side on my second buffet helping and they were delicious taken together. Just like a steak and kidney pie but without the pastry. Bravo!
 

PMG

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Really enjoying these reports. It's good that you're getting some fresh snow. Have you been up the Sonnkogelbahn chair yet? There is some nice off piste terrain off it if the conditions are good.
 
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Heinz

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Anyhow I put the goulash and the Ragout of the innards side by side on my second buffet helping and they were delicious taken together. Just like a steak and kidney pie but without the pastry. Bravo!

On that subject, have you had a Leberknõdelsuppe? (Liver dumpling soup).

On the subject of 'cool' you will notice when you are Saalbach lots of references to it being the "Home of lässig" which roughly translates to cool, although I hadn't noticed much use of that before.
 
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blueandwhite

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On my own today. Going to try and get to Viehofen and bus to Schonleiten. All very confusing. Says bus is free, except if it's the postbus and then it isn't free. Sends you to a timetable that is marked as Postbus. So is it free or isn't it??? Watch this space.
 

Kletterer

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On my own today. Going to try and get to Viehofen and bus to Schonleiten. All very confusing. Says bus is free, except if it's the postbus and then it isn't free. Sends you to a timetable that is marked as Postbus. So is it free or isn't it??? Watch this space.
Asitz Brau does good lunches. Enjoy.
 
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Heinz

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On my own today. Going to try and get to Viehofen and bus to Schonleiten. All very confusing. Says bus is free, except if it's the postbus and then it isn't free. Sends you to a timetable that is marked as Postbus. So is it free or isn't it??? Watch this space.

Yes, strictly speaking the regular Postbus would have a fee, but there are regular ski buses up and down the valley that certainly are free (if you are in ski gear). I would expect that Viehofen to Schönleiten would be free.

Update. Here is the webpage and this is the timetable.

Depending on the season, the ski bus comes every 20 or 30 minutes from 08:30 h until 17:00 h, on the route between Viehhofen and Lengau and stops at each bus station along the Glemmtaler Landesstraße L111.
  • Ski pass owners can use the services to or from the lifts for free
For the regular public transport service, you can use the post bus number 680 for a fee

If it is a Skibus it should clearly say so, Otherwise it will list the route number.
It is just run by the Postbus which is part of the ÖBB (Austrian railways).
 

Skifahrer

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On my own today. Going to try and get to Viehofen and bus to Schonleiten. All very confusing. Says bus is free, except if it's the postbus and then it isn't free. Sends you to a timetable that is marked as Postbus. So is it free or isn't it??? Watch this space.

The best thing to do is to follow the other skiers at the bus stop.
 
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Heinz

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The best thing to do is to follow the other skiers at the bus stop.
that as well. I was going to say it would be hard to go wrong, but Austrian ski areas do have quite an extensive array of skibuses and I have been known to jump on the wrong one a couple of times :doh:
But in this case the service will be running up and down the valley and Viehofen is the starting point so should only be heading up the valley. If you end up in Maishofen, you will have done it wrong. :)
 
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blueandwhite

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We had a slow start this morning. We'd laid off the beverages last night (only one bottle of wine at dinner) to try and get some proper sleep. When I got up the house was silent and the lake was covered with swirling cloud. The timelapse therefore ended up being fairly good this morning. It looks rather like waves washing up on a beach I think...


It seems to have been snowing for days. Only sporadically has it actually been heavy snow. It's mostly light stuff and with strengthening winds at the summit each day. Oddly despite the car having 5-10cm of fresh snow on the roof since we arrived it's very hard to see any accumulation on the runs themselves. And the condition of the pistes has generally been the same the whole way through. Smothered in artificial snow, scratchy in places and okay in others. Nonetheless it's been a lot of fun skiing the pistes but it would be quite nice to have some visibility back at some point! The photo of the launchpad below shows the snow we have had this week on the rail.
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However, we haven't been off piste more than once or twice, there's just not enough snow unless you know where you are going. Most of the runs seem to be below the treeline and are bordered by dense forestry with nowhere to dip into a little powder off the side. There are a few areas that look like they have potential up the top but with low visibility and big swathes of trees below you have no idea if they actually come out anywhere viable. There also seem to be a lot of trees cut down in some of these areas and the sawn off trunks still stick up out of the snow - or at least the ones you can see stick out. It's the ones you can't see that you have to worry about...

As I mentioned it is very, very quiet now. I think there are three groups (including us) staying at our hotel. The Skiraum was absolutely deserted this morning and the Wingmen had the pick of the lockers.
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There was significant push back from our children over breakfast and we decided to give them a day off in preparation for the sunfest that Kitzbuhel is looking like it might be. I'd rather they were primed for that rather than battle through the poor visibility and cold winds here in Zell. You have to pick your battles. Daughter also fell on her sprained thumb yesterday (and claimed it was my fault!) and it still looks quite sore. But nonetheless I ploughed ahead solo anyway...

With daughter staying home I seized my opportunity to retake the family Trass title. Skiing down to Schmittenhohe station I got the mega-gondola to the summit. This was my first trip in the big gondola as it doesn't depart that often and the thought of hotboxing with 30 British skiers who'd slipped through the EU's covid net didn't thrill me that much. But if I wanted to get to the start box of the Trass this was the most direct route. The gondola was designed by Porsche don't you know! It was quite funky actually.
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This was the first time I had heard so many English voices since we have been in Austria so I think Boris must have let them off the leash for a while and there was much joviality, self-deprecation and talk of learning to ski for a week back in 2003 when Tarquin went to Courcheval with mumsy and dadsy. Those not in the higher social circles would regularly mention the Milton Keynes Snow Dome rather than Courcheval - but in equally self-deprecating fashion. It's just our way you know. At least the queuing was more civilised.

Anyway I got to the top and unloaded the mega gondola which requires walking past the ski-in ski-out schnapps kiosk. Nine thirty in the morning. Bit early even for me. If I still needed to shave a few extra seconds off the Trass by tomorrow I might consider it. I got my phone out, set the timer running and burst through the Trass start gate.

I spent the first hundred yards trying to get my phone back in my pocket, put my gloves back on and get a pole in each hand - all done at high velocity with snow pelting my face. Manfred never had to deal with this. I bet he has a whole team of official timers. I whizzed past the top of the Trass Express and with very few people about I had no issues with avoiding other skiers. Visibility wasn't great and with my hatred of wearing goggles it was all rather down to using my limited jedi powers to guess what the terrain was doing. I felt I was making great time though.

I turned into the black section and it was still in good condition much to my delight. It was a little icy in places but it was flat and rippable. When daughter and I had timed ourselves on the first afternoon it had been fairly messed up and I knew this had really impacted on our 7m 20s final time.

I'm not going to claim I carved down the whole thing but on some of the not quite so steep sections I think I managed to put a bit of style onto it. The steeper sections still required regular parallel turns pushing snow though and I know this slows me down a fair bit.

There was virtually no-one on the run and I swept down the sections knowing I was ahead of the game. My legs were very sore I might add but the need to put cocky daughter in her place - particularly when she may get no right of reply - was over-riding the need for an ice bath to cool my quads. With the end in sight I let go early on the final drop and with skis chattering slammed through the finish line. BOOM!
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Ín. Your. Face. And you can take off ten seconds for the time I counted for me to slide to a stop, remove my phone from my pocket and stop the clock. 4 minutes and 44 seconds is only 74 seconds off Manfred and his massive support crew. I suspect they are 74 seconds I will never, ever be able to make up but I'll take it! And I'd also taken about two and a half minutes off our previous family record. It was almost too good to be true. Nonetheless I immediately texted the family to ensure daughter was aware of my triumph as soon as was feasible...

Resplendent in the personal aura that only comes with crushing an eight year old girl's hopes and dreams I headed up the Trass Express. Feeling pretty cocky by this stage I was looking to press home my advantage and head over to Saalbach. To do this I needed to ski down to the base of the KapellenBahn and take said lift up to the summit. This had been the scene of daughter and my only previous Zell off piste and I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass when confidence was so high. Sure, the last time I cut this particular little corner my five metres of powder skiing had ended with an unedifying scrape across some gravel and rocks to get back onto the piste but these are mere details. The base of my skis might be a little scratched up but as @CarveMan once said there is nothing in skiing that can't be fixed by throwing money at it. And I'm sure he'd be happy to oblige if I return to Australia with a mangled pair of skis.

So I dropped from the Cat track around that small bunch of trees in the foreground on the far right hand side of the picture, gave the five metres of powder its medecine and prepared to launch back onto the piste, hopefully with a stylish but small air. And launch I did. My right ski appeared to hit some kind of large, sharp obstacle next to the piste and immediately ejected me into a superman style head-first death dive.
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It's amazing how much thinking you can do in the short period of time you are aerial in these situations. Many things went through my mind. How did that happen? Why is my ski not still attached to my foot? Is anyone watching from the chairlift? Did I do my helmet strap up? Who gets my ski and surfboard quiver if I die? How deep is the snow where I am landing? Has a boy ever been born that can swim faster than a shark?

At this point, and midway through my superman-esque dive my left foot must have got within about 86cm of the ground again as my remaining ski dug into the snow and ejected itself, clearly not wanting to finish this particular ride whilst still attached to the rest of my body.

Picture if you will this man still mid-flight in superhero dive pose - but now with no skis attached and with only milliseconds before gravity arrived to close out the final deal. And there it was, my torso struck the ground and with not even so much as a second bounce I began to slide prone, penguin style, on my belly down the hill.

Finally managing to retard my motion after five or so further penguin metres I stood up, dusted myself off and walked the shameful five and ten metres back to retrieve my skis. There is literally no way to look cool while doing this. You just have to wear it. Fortunately this day was pretty much as quiet as it could be and save for people on the lift and an instructor about 50 metres away (who I think may have used me as an example of what not to do to his two students) there was really not that many people around. But it was still humiliating.

I put my naughty skis back on and checked that all my vital signs were still there. Amazingly it hadn't hurt at all. I think the excessive beer and Grostl that I have consumed in the last three weeks cushioned the blow of my penguin belly hitting the piste. What a result. The only thing I did find was that my helmet strap had indeed been undone. Fortunately my head was currently so large after taking the family Trass record that the helmet had remained wedged in place.

I have already stated how powder tries so hard to avoid me when I travel overseas and this simply backs up my case. The powder literally spat me back out onto the piste (sans skis) when I had the brass neck to try and ski a mere five metre corner cut!

Not to be dissuaded I still dropped into the second bit of off piste that daughter and I had found on the way down to the KapellenBahn. This was out of sight of the lift and therefore much less humiliating in the event of disaster.
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It looks so nice. But unfortunately looks can be deceiving and although it had a lovely soft 5cm of snow on top, this hides a rock solid layer of chopped up snow and ice below it. I think the record temperatures over New Year which were then followed by rain and a hard freeze have resulted in a bulletproof layer below the light covering of snow that arrived this week. It was a scary ride through the gaps in between a couple of trees and fallen logs and I was happy to get out safely at the other end.

Finally up the KapellenBahn and I then took down black 9 which I had been looking forward to for a while. This is a big wide run with a fairly constant pitch and is on the edge of a red and black steepness really. It was on the limits of my carving ability and some of it was simply too steep for me to carve. This didn't apply to the guy in front of me who literally took the run to the cleaners. Impressive.

I love carving, but as with all my skiing I am self taught which is probably non-ideal. It's such a great feeling when the skis respond to the bend you put into them and spring you back. And with only myself and Captain Carve on the run I could afford to use the full width of the run to take off some speed in my carves and have a go on a slope that I might not normally be comfortable with. As I sat on the chairlift the confidence had come back and the penguin had almost been forgotten.

To Saalbach. I skated across to the top of the Zell am See express and hit the long red run that heads down towards Viehhofen under the gondola. It's a fun run with a combination of cat tracks and a decent winding red descent. This guy seemed to have it all wrong and was trying to walk sideways up the run on waterskis. Dude, look up. That big box thing on a cable will take you up much quicker! The Saalbach valley winds its way through the middle of this picture too if you look carefully.
1910.jpg


Unfortunately there is no skiable trail (that is marked anyway) to get right down to the valley so you have to download the final gondola sector to Viehhofen. Once there you walk out the front and there is a bus stop with a legion of other skiers waiting to be picked up. The buses run every ten minutes in the morning and afternoon peaks and every twenty minutes in between. But fear not, if you have to wait there is a bar literally right by the bus stop to keep you hydrated! As luck would have it (or not) I was right on time to catch the bus.
1911.jpg


The bus was free which is terrific. The only real cost was the need to once again hotbox with dozens of covid-ridden English skiers for the ten minutes it took to get to the SchonleitenBahn further up the Saalbach valley in Vorderglemm. But all of the infrastructure is impressive. The buses are all very new and the gondola terminals are more like modern architect designed train stations than skilifts.
1912.jpg


I rode the gondola up to 1,900m and wanted to give the main red back down to the valley a shot after it was recommended to me. In honesty it wasn't stellar on this occasion. The visibility was still pretty ordinary at this point and while I think it may have been groomed at some point last night I reckon it was early and a decent amount of snow had fallen on it since. This seems like a good thing but by the time I reached it it was pretty chopped up and my skis were chattering like crazy as I blindly felt my way down it.

When groomed this would be an epic run to charge down for sure but today it was a bit of a leg burner for me! The good skiers can just let their legs relax and bomb stuff like this but the intermediates amongst us tense our legs, need to turn more, and then feel the burn when it gets bumpy. One day I shall be like Captain Carve and not notice the bumps. I look forward to that day! This is not a complaint, just an observation. Any ski is a good ski!
1913.jpg


With that run complete I once again ascended to the heights and started working my way across towards the Asitz Brau which had received multiple recommendations as a lunch spot. This required multiple pistes and multiple lifts of varying hood colours before I reached the right spot. The snow was starting to come down harder now and I was ready to head in for a pint. But on my way down to one of the lifts I finally spotted some untracked snow and thought I'd give it a go. I'd had a small go lower down and it had been Zell-like which was not great, but this looked a bit better so I dared to leave the piste once more and get a couple of teeny-tiny turns in before skulking back to the safety of the groomed area.
1914.jpg


With joy in my heart I hit the Asitz Brau to get out of the snow and crap visibility.
1915.jpg


To the victor the spoils. And what spoils they were with an absolutely delicious beef goulash adorned with some kind of phallic pickled vegetable, a large bready dough ball and a chilli that appears to be on every dish they serve. It was sensational. My only gripe was the lack of schwarz or dunkel bier which was a slight disappointment that was easily overcome.
1917.jpg


I was essentially billy no mates sitting in the place on my own with half a litre of the darkest beer I could find and a large beef goulash - but I didn't care. The place is lovely, and the toilets even have a great view. It would however have been inappropriate to be taking photos in the toilets with other people in there. Or maybe waiting in the toilets until everyone had left. That would have been a bit odd too.

So I wandered out with a full belly and a light wallet and lo and behold the snow had stopped and the visibility had improved. Not wanting to ruin the Saalbach surprise for our stay in five days or so I decided to work my way back towards the exit run that heads back down to Viehhofen. However with visibility now good it became apparent that large swathes of powder were in fact all over the place in between the marked runs.

I wasn't really sure about going off piste. At Buller pretty much anywhere is fair game but in Japan you can have your ski pass and your first born taken away if you go off piste in some places. And I wasn't sure what the deal was in Austria. So I had been very, very cautious. But now with visibility and the ability to see that much of this off piste dropped to other runs lower down I began to get tempted, especially seeing tracks on some of it to suggest that this was at least semi-tolerated. I took the SportBahn 6 seater up and the off piste just looked delicious.
1916.jpg


At the top of the Sport Bahn is a cat track that leads to the exit run to Viehhofen. But off the side was a lovely wall of powder with a couple of pisted runs and - god be praised - another cat track at the bottom. Ensuring there were already some tracks I timidly took down a powder run and enjoyed every second of it. It was smooth and fluid and only occasionally would you feel the base layer below.
1918.jpg


And so I started lapping the SportBahn and moving further and further along the ridge to get my own fresh lines. Each time I thought about dropping right off the ridge to go back to Viehhofen I would instead drop left and take another powder line. It was addictive. By the time I'd done about eight laps the wall looked like this.
1919.jpg


I was loving it. The powder was nice and light. It's not total talcum powder like the one good day we'd ever had in Japan but it was great to ski on. The turns were silky smooth and at one point I hit a ridge and aired only to land and get bounced back up by the soft powder landing and carry on. I let out an audible whoop. Such a kook!
1920.jpg


Finally the weather closed back in and after about 90 minutes of lapping the powder maybe ten times I conceded that it was time to go home and had to turn right off the ridge! I headed down the cat track towards Viehoffen happy with my work and very happy I had chosen to ski and not stay home. Clearly in algebraic terms Saalbach > Zell. The snow was way deeper and the off piste options appeared infinitesimally better.

The only minor fly in my Saalbach ointment was when I discovered that the trail back to Viehhofen was in fact closed and I had to ski back across to Vorderglemm and get the bus again.
1921.jpg


This was slightly annoying and then when I arrived for the bus that leaves at twenty minute intervals and needed to wait nineteen minutes that was also a little irritating. But these are minor things. I got the gondola back up to the top of Zell, skied down to the hotel and told greatly embellished tales of powder hunting and Trass record making.

That 90 minutes at Saalbach was easily the best skiing of the trip. In the big scheme of things I'm sure good skiers would think it was all a bit naff. But for someone who normally simply cannot score powder overseas this was mana from heaven. A wise Welshman (possibly a contradiction in terms?) once told me that the best surfer is the one having the most fun. Well I'm skiing and I'm having fun. Although when I got back to Zell the off piste was still crap (I did try!) and it just made the whole thing seem like a bit of a weird dream.

And to top it off yesterdays one metre powder storm forecast for next week has lost 80% of it's grunt today as I predicted. But I will take today's adventure and be very happy with it thanks very much!
 

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
3,796
363
TQY
Living the Dream
Our last day in Zell. Although technically we are in Schmittenhohe. ** Hopefully the german speakers can forgive the lack of umlauts in my trip reports - I know it must be annoying! **

We were packed and ready to go in the morning and were welcomed by another great lake view.
2002.jpg


I know the locals probably become desensitized to it but that view truly is breathtaking. We live very close to the beach back home and we don't appreciate it nearly enough these days - so I'm sure it's the same for many mountain dwellers who see this same view every day.

The good news was that it appeared that visibility may have returned! Constant days of poor visibility can start to get you down and although I have loved skiing Zell it has suffered by comparison to Ski Juwel and Konigsleiten with their many sunny days and clear vision. This day had promise though.

We started the day with daughter wanting to give son a lesson on the first run of the day from the hotel down to the gondola. She wants to be a ski instructor (or maybe a facepainter, she's not 100% sure which career path to follow yet) and so occasionally she will dish out a detailed and very convoluted lesson to her willing younger brother. It can be a bit painful to watch though and she has a rather condescending tone that might need to be worked on before she is released upon the paying public.
2004.jpg


With today's lesson complete we hit the gondola and headed for the heavens. It had been my fond hope that daughter would be sufficiently crushed by the magnitude of my Trass victory yesterday that she would simply cave and admit defeat. Sadly this was not to be and she only seemed more stoic that dad could be taken down and put in his place. We therefore started the day here:
2001.jpg


I had her on toast over the blue section. With decent visibility I was able to put my extra weight and longer skis to good use and open up about a 100m gap on her before we turned onto the black run. Somehow - and to my surprise - I was able to maintain this lead over the first half of the black descent. But as we neared the bottom of the run she caught me on a corner where I had hesitated before blasting into the lead.

At this point I knew there was no catching her although a glimmer of hope was raised when our path was impeded by a bunch of skiers and snowboarders criss-crossing the final run down to the finish line. Despite this she tucked and went down the margins of the run and I followed over the line five seconds later with pain in my heart.

As a latecomer to skiing (I have always been a snowboarder) I knew that my days would be numbered when it came to being faster than my kids. In honesty I thought both kids might be at least in double digits before they beat me but embarrassingly that day has already come with daughter. And she's riding dwarf-sized twin tips on this trip as well, just to twist the knife.

My only hope was that even though she had beaten me today my record from yesterday (4m 44s) would still stand. However the cold hard facts were that she had taken it down in 4m 32s. I had improved my time to 4m 37s but that was scant consolation. I ran the numbers and this worked out to about an average speed of 54kph sustained over 4.1 kilometres of winding black piste! I tend to ski within my own limits so I'm not sure I can personally push this much harder...

With racing complete we turned our attention to powder for a while. The car had caught another 5cm on its roof last night and with visibility much improved we hoped to find a few little powder turns somewhere. Now able to use daughter as a guinea pig on these runs I hoped to avoid any further superman dives as well. First, we hit up the old favourite through the small patch of trees near the KapellenBahn which was still solid underneath but a little better for the freshen up overnight.
2005.jpg


And buoyed by that success we hit a further and as yet untested line down to a lower cat track that we'd now seen from the lift. This was much better and save for two snowboard tracks had clearly not been touched for a while as the powder was deeper and softer. Yum.
2006.jpg


We rejoined son and mum on the cat track and headed to the lift. Son had been remarkably keen to join us but anyone who has ever previously taken a five year old with 100cm race skis through untracked deep powder far from piste will understand why that request was denied!

We all had a run down black 9 that was very nice indeed and then hit the long red down towards Viehhofen which was fine at the top but pretty scratchy down low. It was however the only gondola son had not yet added to his collection so was a must do for the day.

Back at the top we took the cat track back towards the KapellenBahn with early lunch on our minds. The weather was starting to clear nicely and if Zell has one major thing going for it then it's the views which are amazing everywhere you look. Apparently they look even better if you are in a race tuck!
2007.jpg


We had been given a tip by my cousins back in England that the place to go for lunch was the Pinzgauer Hutte. This 'off the beaten track' lunch spot is accessed at the bottom of the KapellenBahn via an 800m long downhill access trail that is not serviced by lifts. To get across to the access trail we had to take down black 9 again which was no great hardship on a day with nice weather and great snow on the ground.
2008.jpg


And once across far enough we headed down the access trail through the beautiful forestry.
2009.jpg


And were rewarded with this gem of a spot sitting on an isolated mountain-side all on it's own and commanding views across the valley.
2010.jpg


The views were partially shrouded by cloud but the window in the cloud showed a glimpse of what it must be like on a sunny day looking over towards the mighty Kitzsteinhorn and Maiskogel beneath.
2011.jpg


It was a truly wonderful spot and we went in to warm up and order the traditional lunch fodder. And they had a dunkel Bier. Game on.
2012.jpg


The staff were super friendly and the food was good. And to complete the picture - and much to the kids delight - they take you back to the lifted resort area on a motorised sled when you've finished your lunch! I was perched behind Where's Wally (who was driving) apparently on account of the need for additional ballast over the wheels to aid grip in the snow. How insulting!
2013.jpg


The remainder of the team was in the sled behind.
2014.jpg


It was a great way to spend our last lunch at Zell and the kids were very keen on the sled ride - although daughter reckoned she copped a large volume of snow from the wheels as she was sat at the front. See - it's not always advantageous to be coming first...

We hit up a few final runs and I got a last glimpse of the Kaprun valley when the clouds parted briefly with this spectacular view.
2015.jpg


And finally we headed down the steep black 13 down to the bottom of the valley, stopping only to look at our hotel high on the hill on the other side.
2016.jpg


And that was that. Zell done. Time to head to Kitzbuhel for the next adventure. We packed the bags and skis haphazardly into the over-full Tucson and popped our heads into the hotel to see if the receptionist thought we should fit wheel chains. The road was still covered with compacted snow all the way down to Schmittenhohe gondola station. Is it a 4WD? No. Is it a big car? No. And these answers resulted in the Austrian equivalent of give it a go, she'll be right mate. Stick it in first gear and see what happens.

So we did. And it was. We have chains but I didn't really want to fit them unless we had to. And it was fine, just needed to take it slowly. We were on our way through Zell, Mittersil and Jochberg before we knew it. Over the Thurm Pass which was clear but had plenty of snow on the hills and the side of the road.
2018.jpg


And after a bit of a random route through Kitzbuhel (thanks google maps!) we pulled up in the loading bay outside the Kaiserhof hotel. I'd thrown a bit of cash at this one. It was the last hotel to be booked and I'd come in under-budget on the rest so I got a bit carried away. We are not normally ones to throw big bucks at accommodation - I'd rather stay somewhere more modest and stay for longer normally. But this one had slipped through the net in my haste to book.

In honesty we felt a bit scrubby when we walked into reception in our stinky ski kit with hair all over the place and kids in tow. The rest of the clientele on the nearby bar lounges looked like they'd done one blue run after breakfast this morning and then been for a massage and settled in at the bar for the rest of the day in their best clobber. Places like this always make me feel a bit nervous. But we checked in and the very serious check-in man took our details and told me that another man would come to unload our car for us.

Wait, what? He's going to unload our car for us? Has he seen our car? Are you sure I can't just do it myself? No sir, here is our man now! The man didn't really speak English and having gestured for me to pull the car up outside a door at the side of the hotel he opened the boot and the entire contents of said boot pretty much fell out at his feet. Skis, poles, boots, suitcases, half eaten bags of chips. It was priceless. I think the guy is used to unloading a couple of well packed brand new suitcases from the back of a late model Discovery and maybe a couple of never-actually-used skis from the roofbox of an AMG. He didn't seem super-impressed by the Tucson and the ramshackle mess that was now sitting on his well polished black shoes.

However he was being paid to help and help he did. We wheeled the suitcases into the room together and carried helmets, backpacks and half-eaten bags of chips there too. And then he told me the skis could go back in the car and could be taken around to the ski room. Except he physically stopped me as I tried to get in the car. NO! he said extremely firmly. I DRIVE! And he made it very clear that at this point the car had become his property and I was to have nothing more to do with it. Which I found a bit odd as he'd made me back it up to the hotel originally. If it's your car now why didn't you back it up yourself wiseguy!

Anyway he wished me a very happy holiday and took my car away without telling me where he was going. This did rather make me think of that part in Ferris Bueller where they leave the dad's car with the valet and the valet then takes it joyriding around Chicago for the afternoon. He's probably doing hotlaps around Kitzbuhel right now. Actually, maybe not in the Tucson.

I did wonder if I was maybe meant to tip him but jesus mate you've already got my car, isn't that enough for you?? But we were into the room and although it cost by far the most it was also the smallest room of our trip so far. But it was very nice and you are paying for Kitzbuhel and also for the location. When they said it was near the gondola they weren't kidding. I could pretty much climb into one of the gondola cabins as they go past.
2017.jpg


We cleaned ourselves up and familiarised ourselves with the hotel. I noticed that in between hot laps our mate had managed to put our skis and boots into the boot room for us. Except three pairs of boots were missing. Ah yes, due to some spacial constraint issues in the Tucson during my hasty packing we'd had to stuff these behind the drivers seat and the guy must not have seen them. So I went to reception and pleaded with them to tell me where they had put my car and give me the keys back. Eventually after some persuasion they handed the keys over and sent me to level -1 using an obscure lift down a long corridor.

And lo and behold there was the Tucson sandwiched in between it's new friends in the basement. And lets be honest it really didn't look out of place at all! I think that particular spot is for a motorbike normally because there is no way the Range Rover or the Beemer were going to fit in there.
2019.jpg
 

Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Sep 29, 2010
13,635
10,329
813
Living the Dream
Our last day in Zell. Although technically we are in Schmittenhohe. ** Hopefully the german speakers can forgive the lack of umlauts in my trip reports - I know it must be annoying! **

We were packed and ready to go in the morning and were welcomed by another great lake view.
2002.jpg


I know the locals probably become desensitized to it but that view truly is breathtaking. We live very close to the beach back home and we don't appreciate it nearly enough these days - so I'm sure it's the same for many mountain dwellers who see this same view every day.

The good news was that it appeared that visibility may have returned! Constant days of poor visibility can start to get you down and although I have loved skiing Zell it has suffered by comparison to Ski Juwel and Konigsleiten with their many sunny days and clear vision. This day had promise though.

We started the day with daughter wanting to give son a lesson on the first run of the day from the hotel down to the gondola. She wants to be a ski instructor (or maybe a facepainter, she's not 100% sure which career path to follow yet) and so occasionally she will dish out a detailed and very convoluted lesson to her willing younger brother. It can be a bit painful to watch though and she has a rather condescending tone that might need to be worked on before she is released upon the paying public.
2004.jpg


With today's lesson complete we hit the gondola and headed for the heavens. It had been my fond hope that daughter would be sufficiently crushed by the magnitude of my Trass victory yesterday that she would simply cave and admit defeat. Sadly this was not to be and she only seemed more stoic that dad could be taken down and put in his place. We therefore started the day here:
2001.jpg


I had her on toast over the blue section. With decent visibility I was able to put my extra weight and longer skis to good use and open up about a 100m gap on her before we turned onto the black run. Somehow - and to my surprise - I was able to maintain this lead over the first half of the black descent. But as we neared the bottom of the run she caught me on a corner where I had hesitated before blasting into the lead.

At this point I knew there was no catching her although a glimmer of hope was raised when our path was impeded by a bunch of skiers and snowboarders criss-crossing the final run down to the finish line. Despite this she tucked and went down the margins of the run and I followed over the line five seconds later with pain in my heart.

As a latecomer to skiing (I have always been a snowboarder) I knew that my days would be numbered when it came to being faster than my kids. In honesty I thought both kids might be at least in double digits before they beat me but embarrassingly that day has already come with daughter. And she's riding dwarf-sized twin tips on this trip as well, just to twist the knife.

My only hope was that even though she had beaten me today my record from yesterday (4m 44s) would still stand. However the cold hard facts were that she had taken it down in 4m 32s. I had improved my time to 4m 37s but that was scant consolation. I ran the numbers and this worked out to about an average speed of 54kph sustained over 4.1 kilometres of winding black piste! I tend to ski within my own limits so I'm not sure I can personally push this much harder...

With racing complete we turned our attention to powder for a while. The car had caught another 5cm on its roof last night and with visibility much improved we hoped to find a few little powder turns somewhere. Now able to use daughter as a guinea pig on these runs I hoped to avoid any further superman dives as well. First, we hit up the old favourite through the small patch of trees near the KapellenBahn which was still solid underneath but a little better for the freshen up overnight.
2005.jpg


And buoyed by that success we hit a further and as yet untested line down to a lower cat track that we'd now seen from the lift. This was much better and save for two snowboard tracks had clearly not been touched for a while as the powder was deeper and softer. Yum.
2006.jpg


We rejoined son and mum on the cat track and headed to the lift. Son had been remarkably keen to join us but anyone who has ever previously taken a five year old with 100cm race skis through untracked deep powder far from piste will understand why that request was denied!

We all had a run down black 9 that was very nice indeed and then hit the long red down towards Viehhofen which was fine at the top but pretty scratchy down low. It was however the only gondola son had not yet added to his collection so was a must do for the day.

Back at the top we took the cat track back towards the KapellenBahn with early lunch on our minds. The weather was starting to clear nicely and if Zell has one major thing going for it then it's the views which are amazing everywhere you look. Apparently they look even better if you are in a race tuck!
2007.jpg


We had been given a tip by my cousins back in England that the place to go for lunch was the Pinzgauer Hutte. This 'off the beaten track' lunch spot is accessed at the bottom of the KapellenBahn via an 800m long downhill access trail that is not serviced by lifts. To get across to the access trail we had to take down black 9 again which was no great hardship on a day with nice weather and great snow on the ground.
2008.jpg


And once across far enough we headed down the access trail through the beautiful forestry.
2009.jpg


And were rewarded with this gem of a spot sitting on an isolated mountain-side all on it's own and commanding views across the valley.
2010.jpg


The views were partially shrouded by cloud but the window in the cloud showed a glimpse of what it must be like on a sunny day looking over towards the mighty Kitzsteinhorn and Maiskogel beneath.
2011.jpg


It was a truly wonderful spot and we went in to warm up and order the traditional lunch fodder. And they had a dunkel Bier. Game on.
2012.jpg


The staff were super friendly and the food was good. And to complete the picture - and much to the kids delight - they take you back to the lifted resort area on a motorised sled when you've finished your lunch! I was perched behind Where's Wally (who was driving) apparently on account of the need for additional ballast over the wheels to aid grip in the snow. How insulting!
2013.jpg


The remainder of the team was in the sled behind.
2014.jpg


It was a great way to spend our last lunch at Zell and the kids were very keen on the sled ride - although daughter reckoned she copped a large volume of snow from the wheels as she was sat at the front. See - it's not always advantageous to be coming first...

We hit up a few final runs and I got a last glimpse of the Kaprun valley when the clouds parted briefly with this spectacular view.
2015.jpg


And finally we headed down the steep black 13 down to the bottom of the valley, stopping only to look at our hotel high on the hill on the other side.
2016.jpg


And that was that. Zell done. Time to head to Kitzbuhel for the next adventure. We packed the bags and skis haphazardly into the over-full Tucson and popped our heads into the hotel to see if the receptionist thought we should fit wheel chains. The road was still covered with compacted snow all the way down to Schmittenhohe gondola station. Is it a 4WD? No. Is it a big car? No. And these answers resulted in the Austrian equivalent of give it a go, she'll be right mate. Stick it in first gear and see what happens.

So we did. And it was. We have chains but I didn't really want to fit them unless we had to. And it was fine, just needed to take it slowly. We were on our way through Zell, Mittersil and Jochberg before we knew it. Over the Thurm Pass which was clear but had plenty of snow on the hills and the side of the road.
2018.jpg


And after a bit of a random route through Kitzbuhel (thanks google maps!) we pulled up in the loading bay outside the Kaiserhof hotel. I'd thrown a bit of cash at this one. It was the last hotel to be booked and I'd come in under-budget on the rest so I got a bit carried away. We are not normally ones to throw big bucks at accommodation - I'd rather stay somewhere more modest and stay for longer normally. But this one had slipped through the net in my haste to book.

In honesty we felt a bit scrubby when we walked into reception in our stinky ski kit with hair all over the place and kids in tow. The rest of the clientele on the nearby bar lounges looked like they'd done one blue run after breakfast this morning and then been for a massage and settled in at the bar for the rest of the day in their best clobber. Places like this always make me feel a bit nervous. But we checked in and the very serious check-in man took our details and told me that another man would come to unload our car for us.

Wait, what? He's going to unload our car for us? Has he seen our car? Are you sure I can't just do it myself? No sir, here is our man now! The man didn't really speak English and having gestured for me to pull the car up outside a door at the side of the hotel he opened the boot and the entire contents of said boot pretty much fell out at his feet. Skis, poles, boots, suitcases, half eaten bags of chips. It was priceless. I think the guy is used to unloading a couple of well packed brand new suitcases from the back of a late model Discovery and maybe a couple of never-actually-used skis from the roofbox of an AMG. He didn't seem super-impressed by the Tucson and the ramshackle mess that was now sitting on his well polished black shoes.

However he was being paid to help and help he did. We wheeled the suitcases into the room together and carried helmets, backpacks and half-eaten bags of chips there too. And then he told me the skis could go back in the car and could be taken around to the ski room. Except he physically stopped me as I tried to get in the car. NO! he said extremely firmly. I DRIVE! And he made it very clear that at this point the car had become his property and I was to have nothing more to do with it. Which I found a bit odd as he'd made me back it up to the hotel originally. If it's your car now why didn't you back it up yourself wiseguy!

Anyway he wished me a very happy holiday and took my car away without telling me where he was going. This did rather make me think of that part in Ferris Bueller where they leave the dad's car with the valet and the valet then takes it joyriding around Chicago for the afternoon. He's probably doing hotlaps around Kitzbuhel right now. Actually, maybe not in the Tucson.

I did wonder if I was maybe meant to tip him but jesus mate you've already got my car, isn't that enough for you?? But we were into the room and although it cost by far the most it was also the smallest room of our trip so far. But it was very nice and you are paying for Kitzbuhel and also for the location. When they said it was near the gondola they weren't kidding. I could pretty much climb into one of the gondola cabins as they go past.
2017.jpg


We cleaned ourselves up and familiarised ourselves with the hotel. I noticed that in between hot laps our mate had managed to put our skis and boots into the boot room for us. Except three pairs of boots were missing. Ah yes, due to some spacial constraint issues in the Tucson during my hasty packing we'd had to stuff these behind the drivers seat and the guy must not have seen them. So I went to reception and pleaded with them to tell me where they had put my car and give me the keys back. Eventually after some persuasion they handed the keys over and sent me to level -1 using an obscure lift down a long corridor.

And lo and behold there was the Tucson sandwiched in between it's new friends in the basement. And lets be honest it really didn't look out of place at all! I think that particular spot is for a motorbike normally because there is no way the Range Rover or the Beemer were going to fit in there.
2019.jpg
Incredible, spectacular, beeindruckend and all the other superlatives in both languages. The pic of the Kaprun Velley is 'chef's kiss'. Also, great that you and the kids got to get some tasty powder turns, they look like nice sections to ride.
 
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Tanuki

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Sep 29, 2010
13,635
10,329
813
A few trail maps claim to be interactive, but really aren't. However this one from Kitz is amazing (maybe it's common but I've never seen one before) I love the interactive tour or 'rounds' you can take:
 
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Heinz

Fully vaccinated and travelling again!
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
29,289
17,001
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Adelaide
LOL Yes, Kitzbühel is home for some of the rich and famous. I have only stayed there once for a couple of days many years ago.
I like you wouldn't feel comfortable staying in a hotel like that. I much prefer the smaller family run pensions more like some of your previous locations.

As for umlauts, not a problem at all. I am used to using them myself, but I have no expectation of non German speakers doing so. I have no idea on using French accents so mostly don't bother. Now even NZ are using Maori macrons on words and places names, mostly recently Wānaka. Will take me a while to get used to that.

But FYI it is possible to use Windows char codes to enter these on English keyboards. The ones I am most familiar with are ä = Alt 0228, ö = Alt 0246 and ü = Alt 0252. The capital equivalents I use much less often so usually have to look them up.
 

Heinz

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Also, I think I mentioned this before, but be wary of trying to repeat Trass heroics when in Saalbach on Shattberg nord or Zwölferkogel nord. They are different beasts when seriously hard packed.

Of course before that there is the famous Streif where you are now which will be closed in preparation for the Hahnenkamm world cup downhill next week.
 

gettingtooold

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Living the Dream
Our last day in Zell. Although technically we are in Schmittenhohe. ** Hopefully the german speakers can forgive the lack of umlauts in my trip reports - I know it must be annoying! **

We were packed and ready to go in the morning and were welcomed by another great lake view.
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I know the locals probably become desensitized to it but that view truly is breathtaking. We live very close to the beach back home and we don't appreciate it nearly enough these days - so I'm sure it's the same for many mountain dwellers who see this same view every day.

The good news was that it appeared that visibility may have returned! Constant days of poor visibility can start to get you down and although I have loved skiing Zell it has suffered by comparison to Ski Juwel and Konigsleiten with their many sunny days and clear vision. This day had promise though.

We started the day with daughter wanting to give son a lesson on the first run of the day from the hotel down to the gondola. She wants to be a ski instructor (or maybe a facepainter, she's not 100% sure which career path to follow yet) and so occasionally she will dish out a detailed and very convoluted lesson to her willing younger brother. It can be a bit painful to watch though and she has a rather condescending tone that might need to be worked on before she is released upon the paying public.
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With today's lesson complete we hit the gondola and headed for the heavens. It had been my fond hope that daughter would be sufficiently crushed by the magnitude of my Trass victory yesterday that she would simply cave and admit defeat. Sadly this was not to be and she only seemed more stoic that dad could be taken down and put in his place. We therefore started the day here:
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I had her on toast over the blue section. With decent visibility I was able to put my extra weight and longer skis to good use and open up about a 100m gap on her before we turned onto the black run. Somehow - and to my surprise - I was able to maintain this lead over the first half of the black descent. But as we neared the bottom of the run she caught me on a corner where I had hesitated before blasting into the lead.

At this point I knew there was no catching her although a glimmer of hope was raised when our path was impeded by a bunch of skiers and snowboarders criss-crossing the final run down to the finish line. Despite this she tucked and went down the margins of the run and I followed over the line five seconds later with pain in my heart.

As a latecomer to skiing (I have always been a snowboarder) I knew that my days would be numbered when it came to being faster than my kids. In honesty I thought both kids might be at least in double digits before they beat me but embarrassingly that day has already come with daughter. And she's riding dwarf-sized twin tips on this trip as well, just to twist the knife.

My only hope was that even though she had beaten me today my record from yesterday (4m 44s) would still stand. However the cold hard facts were that she had taken it down in 4m 32s. I had improved my time to 4m 37s but that was scant consolation. I ran the numbers and this worked out to about an average speed of 54kph sustained over 4.1 kilometres of winding black piste! I tend to ski within my own limits so I'm not sure I can personally push this much harder...

With racing complete we turned our attention to powder for a while. The car had caught another 5cm on its roof last night and with visibility much improved we hoped to find a few little powder turns somewhere. Now able to use daughter as a guinea pig on these runs I hoped to avoid any further superman dives as well. First, we hit up the old favourite through the small patch of trees near the KapellenBahn which was still solid underneath but a little better for the freshen up overnight.
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And buoyed by that success we hit a further and as yet untested line down to a lower cat track that we'd now seen from the lift. This was much better and save for two snowboard tracks had clearly not been touched for a while as the powder was deeper and softer. Yum.
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We rejoined son and mum on the cat track and headed to the lift. Son had been remarkably keen to join us but anyone who has ever previously taken a five year old with 100cm race skis through untracked deep powder far from piste will understand why that request was denied!

We all had a run down black 9 that was very nice indeed and then hit the long red down towards Viehhofen which was fine at the top but pretty scratchy down low. It was however the only gondola son had not yet added to his collection so was a must do for the day.

Back at the top we took the cat track back towards the KapellenBahn with early lunch on our minds. The weather was starting to clear nicely and if Zell has one major thing going for it then it's the views which are amazing everywhere you look. Apparently they look even better if you are in a race tuck!
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We had been given a tip by my cousins back in England that the place to go for lunch was the Pinzgauer Hutte. This 'off the beaten track' lunch spot is accessed at the bottom of the KapellenBahn via an 800m long downhill access trail that is not serviced by lifts. To get across to the access trail we had to take down black 9 again which was no great hardship on a day with nice weather and great snow on the ground.
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And once across far enough we headed down the access trail through the beautiful forestry.
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And were rewarded with this gem of a spot sitting on an isolated mountain-side all on it's own and commanding views across the valley.
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The views were partially shrouded by cloud but the window in the cloud showed a glimpse of what it must be like on a sunny day looking over towards the mighty Kitzsteinhorn and Maiskogel beneath.
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It was a truly wonderful spot and we went in to warm up and order the traditional lunch fodder. And they had a dunkel Bier. Game on.
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The staff were super friendly and the food was good. And to complete the picture - and much to the kids delight - they take you back to the lifted resort area on a motorised sled when you've finished your lunch! I was perched behind Where's Wally (who was driving) apparently on account of the need for additional ballast over the wheels to aid grip in the snow. How insulting!
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The remainder of the team was in the sled behind.
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It was a great way to spend our last lunch at Zell and the kids were very keen on the sled ride - although daughter reckoned she copped a large volume of snow from the wheels as she was sat at the front. See - it's not always advantageous to be coming first...

We hit up a few final runs and I got a last glimpse of the Kaprun valley when the clouds parted briefly with this spectacular view.
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And finally we headed down the steep black 13 down to the bottom of the valley, stopping only to look at our hotel high on the hill on the other side.
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And that was that. Zell done. Time to head to Kitzbuhel for the next adventure. We packed the bags and skis haphazardly into the over-full Tucson and popped our heads into the hotel to see if the receptionist thought we should fit wheel chains. The road was still covered with compacted snow all the way down to Schmittenhohe gondola station. Is it a 4WD? No. Is it a big car? No. And these answers resulted in the Austrian equivalent of give it a go, she'll be right mate. Stick it in first gear and see what happens.

So we did. And it was. We have chains but I didn't really want to fit them unless we had to. And it was fine, just needed to take it slowly. We were on our way through Zell, Mittersil and Jochberg before we knew it. Over the Thurm Pass which was clear but had plenty of snow on the hills and the side of the road.
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And after a bit of a random route through Kitzbuhel (thanks google maps!) we pulled up in the loading bay outside the Kaiserhof hotel. I'd thrown a bit of cash at this one. It was the last hotel to be booked and I'd come in under-budget on the rest so I got a bit carried away. We are not normally ones to throw big bucks at accommodation - I'd rather stay somewhere more modest and stay for longer normally. But this one had slipped through the net in my haste to book.

In honesty we felt a bit scrubby when we walked into reception in our stinky ski kit with hair all over the place and kids in tow. The rest of the clientele on the nearby bar lounges looked like they'd done one blue run after breakfast this morning and then been for a massage and settled in at the bar for the rest of the day in their best clobber. Places like this always make me feel a bit nervous. But we checked in and the very serious check-in man took our details and told me that another man would come to unload our car for us.

Wait, what? He's going to unload our car for us? Has he seen our car? Are you sure I can't just do it myself? No sir, here is our man now! The man didn't really speak English and having gestured for me to pull the car up outside a door at the side of the hotel he opened the boot and the entire contents of said boot pretty much fell out at his feet. Skis, poles, boots, suitcases, half eaten bags of chips. It was priceless. I think the guy is used to unloading a couple of well packed brand new suitcases from the back of a late model Discovery and maybe a couple of never-actually-used skis from the roofbox of an AMG. He didn't seem super-impressed by the Tucson and the ramshackle mess that was now sitting on his well polished black shoes.

However he was being paid to help and help he did. We wheeled the suitcases into the room together and carried helmets, backpacks and half-eaten bags of chips there too. And then he told me the skis could go back in the car and could be taken around to the ski room. Except he physically stopped me as I tried to get in the car. NO! he said extremely firmly. I DRIVE! And he made it very clear that at this point the car had become his property and I was to have nothing more to do with it. Which I found a bit odd as he'd made me back it up to the hotel originally. If it's your car now why didn't you back it up yourself wiseguy!

Anyway he wished me a very happy holiday and took my car away without telling me where he was going. This did rather make me think of that part in Ferris Bueller where they leave the dad's car with the valet and the valet then takes it joyriding around Chicago for the afternoon. He's probably doing hotlaps around Kitzbuhel right now. Actually, maybe not in the Tucson.

I did wonder if I was maybe meant to tip him but jesus mate you've already got my car, isn't that enough for you?? But we were into the room and although it cost by far the most it was also the smallest room of our trip so far. But it was very nice and you are paying for Kitzbuhel and also for the location. When they said it was near the gondola they weren't kidding. I could pretty much climb into one of the gondola cabins as they go past.
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We cleaned ourselves up and familiarised ourselves with the hotel. I noticed that in between hot laps our mate had managed to put our skis and boots into the boot room for us. Except three pairs of boots were missing. Ah yes, due to some spacial constraint issues in the Tucson during my hasty packing we'd had to stuff these behind the drivers seat and the guy must not have seen them. So I went to reception and pleaded with them to tell me where they had put my car and give me the keys back. Eventually after some persuasion they handed the keys over and sent me to level -1 using an obscure lift down a long corridor.

And lo and behold there was the Tucson sandwiched in between it's new friends in the basement. And lets be honest it really didn't look out of place at all! I think that particular spot is for a motorbike normally because there is no way the Range Rover or the Beemer were going to fit in there.
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Thanks again for a great report.
Keep up the good work.
Sticky and humid Torquay awaits your return.
 
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blueandwhite

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Also, I think I mentioned this before, but be wary of trying to repeat Trass heroics when in Saalbach on Shattberg nord or Zwölferkogel nord. They are different beasts when seriously hard packed.

Of course before that there is the famous Streif where you are now which will be closed in preparation for the Hahnenkamm world cup downhill next week.
Fear not, I think my racing days are over. I know when I am beaten!
 
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Skifahrer

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I just looked at the ski map. The Streif is still open. Only the ski route below the Hausberg Kante (Traverse) is closed (as it almost always is). But this section can be skied around. The Mausfalle can also be skied around after the start at the Hahnenkammbahn. Skiing the Streif is a must. I think that the Streif will probably be closed in the next few days for preparation for the World Cup.
 
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LDJ

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Also, I think I mentioned this before, but be wary of trying to repeat Trass heroics when in Saalbach on Shattberg nord. They are different beasts when seriously hard packed.
My dad is in mid 70s and still a competent fast skier. We finished on shattberg nord everyday as staying not far from bottom. We came down it last lift when it had started to harden/ice up with shade and flat light dad was going a decent pace caught an edge and did an epic slide for about 100m on almost the final section. Luckily more of a funny comical slide than a proper big crash. An instructor helped stop his ski which was threatening to beat him to the car park. Always the way crash when there’s an instructor there. He gave dad 10/10 for the stack. First words from dad while laughing not a word to mum about this…
 

Heinz

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My dad is in mid 70s and still a competent fast skier. We finished on shattberg nord everyday as staying not far from bottom. We came down it last lift when it had started to harden/ice up with shade and flat light dad was going a decent pace caught an edge and did an epic slide for about 100m on almost the final section. Luckily more of a funny comical slide than a proper big crash. An instructor helped stop his ski which was threatening to beat him to the car park. Always the way crash when there’s an instructor there. He gave dad 10/10 for the stack. First words from dad while laughing not a word to mum about this…

yep, done that myself. You go down on that when it is hard being in the shady north side and stopping a slide is not easy.
 

Kletterer

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Many years ago a Kassbohrer groomer went for a balistic slide into the forrest there. Henceforth there wss only one legendary groomer dude from Zell permitted to groom that piste.
 

blueandwhite

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Sun-Kitzed
Pardon the terrible pun to start this episode but it really was that kind of day. Sunny from start to finish with not a breath of wind. A really amazing day with cold temperatures keeping the snow good and powder still lying around in many places.

I pulled back the curtains on our ground floor room to start the day.
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All indications were that this was going to be fun. We trooped down for breakfast and tucked into the buffet. People said the hotel buffet was dead when covid first hit but nothing seems to be further from the truth. Nothing - not even covid - comes between me and a round of sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs in the morning. My only gripe was that the coffee was from a machine and given they park your car for you I'd have thought it might not be too much to ask to have an espresso machine and a semi-competent European in place to operate it. Sure, they go and press the button for you and bring you your coffee to your table but still... first world problems once more.

One of Sam's instructors from Buller works and lives in Kirchberg (near Kitzbuhel) and had kindly helped us to organise some of our trip and with lots of advice. Can highly recommend Alpen Adventures for all your Kitzbuhel area ski needs! She had also organised an instructor for us for today to show us around the mountain and give us some tips along the way. And Tom was already waiting for us when we got to the gondola station. In fairness it was all of about twenty yards to the gondola station from the back door of this magnificent (if espresso-less) hotel.
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Tom is a native Tirolean (if that's what they are called) and has a 16 year old ski champion daughter and an 8 year old daughter doing her first ski races. He also spoke great English and had once driven around Australia many years ago in a VW kombi he'd picked up for 200 dollars. He therefore seemed well qualified on a number of fronts to be teaching us.

On the face of it we are a bit of a weird group to be teaching. A five year old, an eight year old and two adults whose ages shall remain undisclosed. But given we all ski together normally I was hoping that Tom could give each of us some useful advice as we went along. It certainly didn't seem to phase him and he happily tucked into the beers and lunch I bought him as a tip along the way!

We hit up the gondola to head up the mountain. Each gondola was painted with a flag and inscribed with the name of a ski racer who had won the Hahnenkamm. Son is obsessed with flags and countries and had already sat by our hotel room window watching each gondola go by and guessing the flag. On this occasion we got Atle Skaardal who was from Norway and this seemed to please Sam as it was one of the more obscure flags in the set.

At the top of the gondola Tom showed us the very top of the Streif and we then did a short blue run before hitting a chairlift. This allowed us to undertake the traditional tourist photo with the large KitzSki letters. As you can see the weather was decent.
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What followed was an excellent day trip encompassing a large amount of the KitzSki area with some tuition, stories, drink stops and lunch. It was a really good day. The action shots are however limited as Tom insisted that I wear my pole straps which makes retrieveing phones from pockets and taking pictures on the fly rather hard. I did manage to sneak a few out under the radar though. The view from the top is pretty stellar all round with views of GrossGlockner and many, many other large and snow covered mountains.
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We kicked off with some long turns and short turns as he assessed our ability. Once more it always amazes me how instructors can tell your ability when they ski at the front and never appear to look back. Sam went first in the group and was practically skiing on the back of Tom's skis throughout the process so maybe that was all Tom needed to know!
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A little later Tom took us off to the side of the piste to teach us some powder basics. Teaching powder to skiers with a range of ages and abilities like ours is probably not the easiest and so we really took it back to basics which was probably for the best all round. I was certainly keen to take on board some ideas of what it was I had actually been meant to be doing all this time. We found a suitable location with a very low pitch. There's something about a field of virgin powder that looks amazing no matter how lacking in steepness it is.
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We started with a very basic tram track to get the feel of the snow. It was light and soft and so nice to ski on. Tom was VERY keen to impress the need to ski next to the previous line in order to preserve the precious powder for as many riders as possible. Good in theory but I think he'd have an absolute heart attack if he ever skied in Australia on a powder day!
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We then did the same thing but bouncing our knees as we went in order to get the feedback from the snow which is always an amazing feeling and one that I had experienced a couple of days earlier at Saalbach. And following that we did a final line where we added in some gentle turns, all the while trying to maintain symmetry with Tom's line.
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We weren't even particularly good at it but I take Tom's point about the symmetry. It does look good if you can get the four meandering paths all coming down next to each other!
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With that done we headed a little further and stopped for a drink at this great spot. Some of the mountain huts in Austria really are amazing and this one was a terrific spot to stop.
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We moved on to carving and Tom gave us some chat and a demonstration before we all had a crack at copying him. Annoyingly he said that the wife was the best which was not that well received by daughter and I. But I did pick up some good tips about where I was going wrong with my own carving. Tom had also had half a litre of beer by this stage and I did wonder if this might have been affecting his judgement a bit.

We headed towards the large and powder-strewn mountain shown below. I did ask Tom what it was called but he was unable to name it. Given that there are 15,000 odd mountains in Austria this is probably not that unreasonable in the big scheme of things.
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Tom was telling me that he had ascended all 3,800 metres of the GrossGlockner last summer which sounded like a fairly impressive feat. It took two whole days apparently and he was adamant that there was no chairlift to help him. Meanwhile we continued to lap up the excellent scenery as we continued our tour de force in the sunshine.
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And we continued to follow him like the pied piper down the red pistes linking each of the chairlifts in turn.
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After a nice lunch in the Panorama Alm we headed back from whence we had come and we eventually took a final chair past the unnamed mountain (which I think my trail map later named as the Klein Rettenstein) and marvelled at the lines that some people had managed to take down it's face. I'm not sure if the photo is clear enough but there are some insane lines from the very top down some absolute death chutes before reaching the nice looking powder field.
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There had been much excitement earlier in the day when we had taken the sizeable 3S gondola linking the Kitzbuhel and Jochberg areas. This bohemeth of the gondola world escaped my camera lens but was very similar to the mighty 3K gondola that had linked Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn - although not quite as new and shiny. Impressively however the whole thing ran 400m above the valley floor between the two ski areas and used only a single tower to do so. It was quite the feat of engineering and replaced the previously required long ski to the bottom of the valley followed by a bus ride. It was therefore a highly useful addition to the KitzSki armoury in my opinion and somewhat akin to whacking in a mega gondola to link Hotham and Falls Creek. Imagine how cool that would be. But I'm thinking we just don't have the money, motivation or Environmental Effects Statements to be able to do that kind of thing in Australia.

Anyhow we took the gondola back across and skied a few reds back towards the main resort area. Tom then took us down a very icy black without so much as a look back to see if his 5 year old, 8 year old and two highly inexperienced adult skiers were still upright. As it happens Sam was on his hammer the whole way down but mum and dad were scratching our way down in the background desperately searching for grip. Late in the day a lot of the steeper pistes were pretty bare, particularly those that had been shaded for much of the day.

We took a last look across to the impressive Wilder Kaiser before we began to descend towards the town.
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With daughter now getting very cold we were keen to wrap the tour up but Tom was very keen to give us a blow by blow account of the Streif and we would stop at 100m intervals to have the course described to us. This was very interesting but would have been better received if daughter wasn't hypothermic. Thi swill happen when she refuses to wear more than a back protector and a t-shirt under her ski jacket so is largely self-inflicted.

Nonetheless the Streif is utterly crazy. Due to the shade on that side of the mountain none of my pictures could do justice to the insanity that this race involves. The first section is ridiculously steep and icy and was mercifully closed off to the public as they were setting up for the big race next week. I did manage to get a shot of one of the early sections but it just does not do it justice.
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Tom took us down and showed us the crazy steeps, the ridiculous right angle turn and the silly jumps that these competitors undertake. I love a black as much as the next man or woman but this was bonkers.

He had also mentioned to us previously how the course is prepared to essentially be blue ice (rather than skiable snow) which makes the course faster but incredibly difficult to ski on. And then on a lower and flatter section we were able to sample this as we skied on the Streif itself on the most unskiable piece of piste I have ever been on. And I ski Buller! It was utterly silly. We were on a section that was akin to a blue run and I literally could not get an edge. Even Tom was struggling. The thing is prepared like an ice rink that you might play ice hockey on. It was scary. We just slid in slow motion practically helpless until we reached the edge of the 'piste' and reached the sanctuary of some normal snow.

Imagine doing that at maximum velocity and trying to turn at the same time. It's mindblowing. Their edges must be like razor blades. No thanks guys, you can keep that!

We finally got dropped back at the hotel and we thanked Tom for a great day and took hypothermic daughter for a hot bath. I then went in search of hand warmers for daughter in the main street which is very scenic.
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It had been an incredible day and hypothermia aside we had all really enjoyed it. Despite the weird age dynamic in the group we had all learnt something and we had seen so much of the resort in just one day. If you only have a short time in a resort and want to see a lot quickly then it's a great way to go. You get that local knowledge without all the trial and error. It did of course help that it was an amazing day of weather and snow.

As a final note Sam did point out that there were no Australian flags on the gondolas. I pointed out that Australians tended to shine in freestyle rather than racing. More light for the reasons for this were shed later in the day when Tom asked me about daughter's race club. He was curious to know why we said skiing in Australia was so expensive. I told him how much it cost for her to do race club and he nearly fell off his bar stool. I asked him what his daughter's race club in Kitzbuhel cost and he said it was 35 euros for the year. When I had picked myself up he mentioned that an adult also needed to be a member and that was another 35 euros. Wow, big deal. That's still literally 100 times cheaper than doing a race club in Australia. No wonder the Austrians do so well in the ski racing!

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Heinz

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Tirolean is valid. A male from Tirol is a Tiroler, a female a Tirolerin.

The downhill on the Strief is amazing to watch. Never seen it live, just on TV. One of the (many) scariest parts for me is the 'Traverse' - they are most of the way down legs absolutely burning then they have to try and hold a line on diagonal traverse at speed on this icy slope.
Here are some camera runs from Hans Knauss (who won himself in 1999).









 
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Heinz

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There was also a film made on the preparation for the race on the Strief.
Trailer here:



Full film here:


The actual run:
 
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davekinkead

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> I told him how much it cost for her to do race club and he nearly fell off his bar stool. I asked him what his daughter's race club in Kitzbuhel cost and he said it was 35 euros for the year. When I had picked myself up he mentioned that an adult also needed to be a member and that was another 35 euros.

I did the sums once on putting 2 kids into race club at Hotham and it turned out cheaper to fly everyone to Europe and rent an apartment for the season!

Not sure what exactly drives up the costs in Oz but most clubs in Europe are volunteer efforts with the local ski school providing coaches for free and the lift companies providing sub €50 season passes to the kids. All that's left to pay is membership / insurance which again is usually less than €50 per year.
 

blueandwhite

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> I told him how much it cost for her to do race club and he nearly fell off his bar stool. I asked him what his daughter's race club in Kitzbuhel cost and he said it was 35 euros for the year. When I had picked myself up he mentioned that an adult also needed to be a member and that was another 35 euros.

I did the sums once on putting 2 kids into race club at Hotham and it turned out cheaper to fly everyone to Europe and rent an apartment for the season!

Not sure what exactly drives up the costs in Oz but most clubs in Europe are volunteer efforts with the local ski school providing coaches for free and the lift companies providing sub €50 season passes to the kids. All that's left to pay is membership / insurance which again is usually less than €50 per year.
Yeah, he was literally dumbfounded at how anyone could pay that much money for a race club. In fairness there are some pretty significant differences between the availability of skiing in Austria and skiing in Australia but still...
 

blueandwhite

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Rinse and Repeat
It was another crazy good weather day in Kitzbuhel and in the absence of a local to show us around today we simply did it ourselves and had a marvellous day looking around the resort in the sunshine. The day started much like the day before with a quick snap just outside the well-located bootroom.
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We took the Hahnenkammbahn up the mountain and today's gondola Streif winner was Andreas Wenzel of Liechtenstein. Who knew! The flag certainly caused some consternation until we saw the sticker on the inside of the gondola with the explanatory details. Another day, another learning.

The gondolas are actually relatively old school and the windows are pretty scratched up. The upside of this is that if you press your phone camera against the window you get a cool sunshine effect on your picture.
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The ride up also gave us the chance to check out the top part of the Streif again. It looked no less scary in the sunshine than it had in the shade last night. What a setting for a race though.
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We headed up the mountain and it all looked amazing again in the bright sunshine.
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We stopped for Sam to get a good look at the 3S gondola and bought his compliance with a promise that we would take said gondola later in the day after we had explored some of the Kitzbuhel side of the resort that we hadn't seen with Tom yesterday.
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We then hammered down a blue and red run to the SkiRast village to tick off another gondola. The piste was great up high and a little crusty in the shade down low but there was still some powder to the side that we enjoyed - although the lower you get the thinner it gets and I may or may not have added further character to my skis at various points of the run!

With the extra gondola under our belt it was one more run and a chairlift to the top to get back to the 3S gondola. Apparently one of the gondolas has a glass bottom that lets you look 400m straight down but we have yet to find it. Not sure I am that keen...
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A couple more runs and we headed down towards Jochberg and en route found a very nice drinks stop.
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We sat in the warm sun and had drinks for a while taking in the amazing views This was a really good spot right on the edge of Piste 66. There was also adequate room to park your skis if you were inventive enough.
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We then charged down to Jochberg on a brilliant red run which was made for carving and launching off berms and even Sam was letting the brakes off and absolutely flying. Not sure what they'd put in his hot chocolate...

On the way back up you could see how empty the runs down to Jochberg were. I don't know how they are making any money this year to be honest. Maybe they aren't.
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With spirits and confidence high the kids were taking down the powder next to the pistes and getting bolder with each turn they took.
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Things came to a head shortly after. Like his sister Sam has been working really hard on his three sixties so it was really rewarding to see him finally land one...


I did tell him never to follow his sister but as you can see he ignored my advice and those shorter skis of his just didn't agree with the ditch!

Daughter was cock-a-hoop about this and as you can see suddenly had a real spring in her step...
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We headed further across towards the Klein Rettenstein and retraced our steps from yesterday to find the drinks spot we had enjoyed so much. After a slight navigation error by yours truly we finally made it and settled in for lunch in the sun.
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Full to the gunnels we hit a few more runs before turning for home.
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It takes a long time to get back from the far end of the resort to the town of Kitzbuhel so you can't leave it too late. We got a last glimpse of the Mini Rettenstein before we left. They call it 'klein' but in reality it's an absolute giant.
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We made it across the 3S gondola and got those spectacular panoramic views that the resort offers.
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It's actually quite confusing trying to get back to the town from the top of the resort and the trail map is fairy poorly marked. But we made it back to the top of the Hahnenkamm gondola eventually. The kids were keen to download the gondola. I think they were slightly taken aback by the blue ice of the Streif that we had briefly skiied yesterday but also they probably wanted to look at more flags. We got another Norwegian this time.

The gondola ride did let us look at our hotel room at close quarters on the way down. All very tasteful.
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And then after a quick wash and rest we took a look around the town centre before dinner. The town is amazing. So many old buildings and so, so quiet.
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It's all a bit weird though with the medieval town streets and buildings juxtaposed next to the posh shops selling fur coats for 17,000 euros (I said no by the way). And I really wasn't entirely sure what this shop was selling but I reckon it'd look sick for a night out at the Birdcage at Buller.
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Skifahrer

Addicted
Feb 6, 2021
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You can also go to Ski Welt. The bus starts at the Pengelstein Bahn in the direction of Aschau. You have to get off at the Ki West stop. The bus only takes 5 minutes.
You can then take the Ki West gondola. There are some nice chair lifts at the top. I think this part is the most beautiful in the ski world.
I wouldn't go to Brixen on the other side of the valley, though, because you might run out of time.
 

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
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The Horn
Today was our last full day in Kitzbuhel. We'd limited our time staying in Kitzbuhel partially for budgetary reasons and partially because I thought we might not like the glitz and the glam that was supposed to come with it. As it happens I feel like we could have stayed a lot longer. This is partly due to the amazing weather and snow and partly due to the covid restrictions limiting the number of people that have made the effort to get here. There have been virtually no lift queues, acres of space on the pistes and still there are powder stashes to be had fairly close to the trails for ordinary skiers like us. The town itself is also quiet and not as in your face as I thought it might be. I love it with it's historical buildings, it's background and of course the race itself which we shall now be sure to watch on TV when we are in Saalbach.

Today we hit the Horn. I'd asked Tom and our instructor friend in Kirchberg about the Kitzbuheler Horn and both had said it was well worth a visit, even if only for half a day. And how right they were. The Horn is not directly connected to the rest of the KitzSki lift infrastructure so you have to make your own way there and back if you want to ski it. But it was pretty straightforward and gave us an awesome morning's skiing. It's literally just on the other side of town to the Hahnenkamm area.

We started by wandering the 50 yards down the road to the HahnenkammBahn gondola station to catch the RingBus that circulates around Kitzbuhel. It's free if you have a ski pass although carrying skis is enough that the driver doesn't bother to check. On our way down to the bus stop a train came through to the Hahnenkamm Station. The station is literally right next to the gondola station - got to love European addiction to public transport...
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You can see the Kitzbuheler Horn in the background right at the top of the photograph. We hopped on the bus (which leaves every 15 minutes in the AM and PM peak periods) and after a circuitous tour around Kitzbuhel we were dropped at the base gondola of the Horn to start our day. The gondola is not the newest but it takes you up to where you want to go and gives a lovely view back across the valley to the main Kitzbuhel resort - even if it is through very scratched windows.
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The snow low down looked very thin with plenty of bare patches but as we ascended it improved. There is a mid-station and we'd hoped to switch to the 44 person GipfelBahn gondola at the midstation which then takes you right to the summit. Sadly the GipfelBahn was not operating and slightly later we saw it dangling from the cable and felt somewhat pleased not to be using it. It looks very nostalgic but rather old! Can you really fit 44 people in there?
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The gondola we were in does not quite reach the summit so we skied down a lovely groomed run to the Gamer Chair (our name) and headed to the top. By god this snow was nice to ski. Primo condition groomed runs with hardly any tracks on them.
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It was delicious skiing and an absolute joy to carve on and hit jumps off the various berms in the piste.
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We headed over to the back valley which is serviced by a brand new ten seater gondola with heated seats (it was even a gamer gondola!). The red run down this valley is awesome. Wide, rippable with some steeper sections and some twists and turns. It was probably the nicest piste we have skied since being in Austria. It was like when you are skiing on a Spring day and you hit that magical hour when the piste softens just slightly and you can absolutely thrash it. Full belief in your rails no matter how much weight you throw into your carves and grip like you're on train tracks. The picture below is just the first straight section before it winds down to the gondola. The black on the left hand side got hit later in the day and was also amazing.
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The views from this side of the Horn were also fabulous.
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We continued to shred pistes and occasionally drop into powder on the side. The front side of the valley had some awesome groomed runs that started steeper and then shallowed out into a bowl in the middle where a number of the chairlifts met. As you can see, competition was not high.
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We took the two seater chair up to the ridge and dropped into the back valley again on the black run. How they groom this I do not know as it is very steep (I mean clearly they use a winch but it's still amazing). Obvs I sent the kids down first to make sure it was okay for the oldies...
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Whilst not that long this was probably steeper than anything we'd skied in Austria yet - it was definitely a slider if you fell! But the grooming and piste condition made it amazing. Even mum and dad were relatively comfortable...

Back down to the bowl and we then did the world's slowest T-bar so the kids could do the 'funslope' which had flags, boxes, bridges and tunnels. They also had a tubing park which the kids did twice and was free which I thought was terrific. Then it was back up the two seater for drinks near the top. This shot looks back to the flat section of the bowl and the tubing and kids park.
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At the top of the two seater we had spotted a good looking Alm for drinks and it looks like it's just perched on the edge of the mountain.

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The sun was out, the beer was cold, the kaiserschmarnn was warm, the beats were playing and the view was out of this world. Nobody does the catering and apres of skiing like the euros, nobody. This is what we come for! Here's the view from our table.
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With drinks down we did a few more laps of the groomers and some powder and decided to head for home. Whilst the snow was still very good it was softening fast in the sun and we knew the kids needed some rest - we've had some fraying at the edges in the last few days!

So we took the run down the mountain. Theoretically you can ski all the way down to the base station but there's not nearly enough snow at the moment. The trail is open to the gondola mid-station and is a nice cruisy meander through the trees.
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I stopped at the mid-station to get a shot of the Streif on the other side of the valley with the zoom on my camera phone. I got most of it but must have had a slight wobble when I took the picture!
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We loved the Horn. It helps that it was warm and sunny and no-one else was there. It helps that the snow was in primo state for carving. But this would be a good day trip irrespective. There are some great powder options in addition to the pistes and the layout is logical and user friendly.

The only downside to the day has been that three of us have been feeling a little sick with a stomach bug. Not sure if it's something we ate but daughter and I have been a bit poorly all day and wife took a turn for the worse over dinner. Our Greek waiter (Zsisis is his name) notice my wife hadn't touched her food and asked if she was okay. She said the food was fine but she wasn't feeling that well and he asked if she wanted a banana. So seemingly all Greek ills can be cured by the simple consumption of a banana. Random!

I did ask Zsisis how a Greek waiter ends up in Kitzbuhel and he told me his story. He was in the Greek army through compulsory conscription. You have to do a year apparently, but if you are on the front line with Turkey then you only get 9 months which is what he did. He then saw an advert on Facebook for wait staff in Kitzbuhel, replied and within 2 hours they'd called him and signed him up! Rapid work.

I also overheard him in conversation with the next table who asked him where he was last night (he wasn't working). He said he was waiting for his negative result and was quarantining. Doesn't sound quite like the news we wanted to hear. I think you can keep your banana to yourself mate!
 

Heinz

Fully vaccinated and travelling again!
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
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Adelaide
More good stuff. You are making me more impatient to get back there myself. Your reports reminds me that I also skied the Horn on my brief visit in the 80's. It was in the school holidays so was almost no accommodation available. I was on my way back from Switzerland, mamaged ti get two nights at 2 different hotels. Skied the Horn one morning I think then wandered across town to the Streif side - can't remember if I walked or got the train to Hahnenkamm station.

Great overview shot of the Streif. :thumbs:

Definitely agree that the on mountain catering ands atmosphere in Europe and Austria in particular is exceptional, better than anywhere else in the world and is one of the things apart from the amazing terrain that makes it so special.

There was no Ringbus back when I was there, but as far as ski area public transport goes I can't ever recall anyone actually asking to see a skipass. If you are in ski gear with equipment it's all good.
 
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blueandwhite

One of Us
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May 26, 2016
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Sublime to Ridiculous
Our final day in Kitzbuhel. It hadn't been a great night all in all. Wife had come down ill over dinner and had subsequently spent most of the night in oral interface with the toilet bowl. Daughter and I had both also had the Austrian equivalent of Delhi Belly all day and were struggling to retain our day's consumption. The only common thread that we could find was the scrambled egg from the buffet breakfast, something repeatedly noted by daughter as we fell asleep in the room that night.

The next morning we awoke to find that wife had spent approximately half of the night asleep on the bathroom floor and was only feeling slightly better and was therefore not able to come to breakfast for fear of redecorating the carpet. Heroically I took the kids to the buffet alone and when queried on what she'd like for breakfast daughter boldy proclaimed she was immediately getting back on the scrambled egg horse. I considered this quite the ballsy move but was hoping that executive chef Ernst would have his shit more firmly together this morning. In fairness it may not have been the eggs in the first place but Ernst seemed like a decent fall guy and we had him solidly in our crosshairs.

With checkout looming I managed to locate the car which the porter had cunningly hidden two storeys below and packed all of our belongings before returning to the desk and paying a king's ransom for our four night stay. It's a great hotel and an amazing location but you do pay for it. Both in Euros and also seemingly with the contents of your stomach.

It was looking like another ripper day outside but parental enthusiasm was struggling in the wake of the eggstravagant night we had endured.
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We had arranged a lesson for the kids with our friend from Kitzbuhel who had given Sam lessons at Buller over the last two years. We somehow got to the Hahnenkammbahn by 9.30 and headed up in Manfred Pranger's Austrian gondola. He'd taken down the slalom in 2005 but there hadn't been a main event that year so I can only assume the visibility wasn't good enough to run it. I've no doubt the Austrians were happy to have taken down the slalom anyway...

We sent the kids on their way with their instructor Jacqui and we went for a leisurely ski whilst trying not to redecorate the snow. The weather was epic yet again. I'm starting to think it is only ever sunny and windless in Kitzbuhel. I'm not sure when the snow actually comes, maybe it just appears at midnight each day...
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It was actually quite busy today but we managed to find a few quiet corners to skulk into. With last night's lack of sleep and not feeling that great my skiing was definitely below par though! We skied down towards SkiRast and then did a few runs down to Kirchberg. Being trapped in a long gondola ride with other people when you have an upset stomach is not a great situation but somehow we made it through without disgracing ourselves...
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There's a great view over to the Kitzbuheler Horn from this side of the valley and the full zoom was put to great effect once more.
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We could pick out some of the runs we had done yesterday from the picture which was very cool. And even when zoomed out the view is amazing. On the right of the photo below is the top of the HahnenkammBahn and in the background at the top of the picture is the Kitzbuheler Horn on the other side of the valley.
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One last view across from the top with some mist down in the lower parts of the valley.
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And then we met up with Jacqui and the kids and all got the gondola down to the bottom. The kids had enjoyed their lesson and we were feeling a little better for all of the fresh air. We co-erced the porter into bringing the car up from the nether world for us and I once again set about packing in a measured and orderly fashion.
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And like that we were off to pastures new. Scrambled egg aside, we had loved Kitzbuhel. I hadn't expected to like it but given the weather and the snow it had been amazing. The ski areas are terrific and the town is beautiful. The hotel was amazingly located and although it's not really my kind of hotel it gave us something a bit different from the other places we had stayed (listeria for one...). It was certainly well worth our time and effort to visit and it really also helped having a friend to point us in the right direction with where to go and what to do.

We set sail for Saalbach but not before a quick stop in Kirchdorf en route for some lunch. Our friend helps run the ski school in Kirchdorf and also has a cafe in the same building. Decent coffee! From an espresso machine! We chatted for a while and then popped down to Scotty's Burgers next door which was run by another Australian that turned out to be the guy who had given daughter a shout out a couple of days ago while she was skiing in her Buller jacket. The burgers were great and the views of the Wilder Kaiser from the tables and benches set up out the front were even better. It is some mountain.
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Whilst it is great to immerse yourself in the local culture it is just occasionally nice to have a few luxuries from home. However when we first arrived I had no idea if the person serving at Scotty's was German or English speaking. With daughter being very fussy I did start my order at Scotty's Burgers with the classic line Hallo, ich mochte ein cheeseburger aber mit nur Rindfleisch, Kase, Brot und ketchup - keine other stuff bitte... Got to love Gerglish. If you don't know a word then don't try to guess it!

We hit the road again and headed up through a number of valleys on our way to Saalbach. Some of these valleys appear to never see the sun in Winter and although it was warm and sunny up high the valleys were absolutely baltic although very pretty. I'm not sure I could live somewhere that got so little sunshine.
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As we got closer to Saalbach the mist started to clear.
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And eventually, having passed through Viehhofen (which I visited a week or so ago from Zell) we reached Saalbach. This was a bit of a culture shock having just been in Kitzbuhel. Saalbach is fairly ugly. All concrete infrastructure and big buildings. There were some nice buildings in there but they were dominated by the ugly ones. There's even a massive concrete multi-storey car park which was the last thing I expected to see. I'm sure it's useful tohave this car park on busy days but having spent time in Alpbach, Konigsleiten and Kitzbuhel it was a bit of a shock!

Our hotel is located a couple of kilometres past Saalbach and is on the main road which is amazingly busy for a road that effectively goes nowhere. I booked it on the strength of the great Trip Advisor reviews and it did look quite nice as I took a photo when there was a gap in the heavy traffic thundering past me.
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However there is no getting past the fact that it's on a busy main road and appears to be opposite the equivalent of a large Travelodge or council estate (delete as appropriate).
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To add to our woes we were fairly disappointed that the claimed ski-in aspect of the hotel was not even close to being possible. We had hoped that blue 86 would be open to allow us to ski back to the hotel each day but there is very little snow low down. In my wisdom I had thought that by mid to late January snow would be down to the valley but in hindsight this is the sunny side of the valley so I don't imagine this is actually skiable that often. There is also no snowmaking so I guess it will be the bus for us. I think we've had it too good so far and have set expectations a bit high!
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That said the staff were very nice and friendly. The chef even bailed us up as we were unloading to ask if we were 'the Australians'. So word of our arrival clearly precedes us! The hotel is modern and welcoming inside and the dinner was very nice so I'm sure it will all work out. They do charge 1 Euro for the table football though and this does lose them points. Free table football elevates hotels to very high status in our family so they still have work to do!
 

Jacko4650

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 15, 2014
3,965
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Sun-Kitzed
Pardon the terrible pun to start this episode but it really was that kind of day. Sunny from start to finish with not a breath of wind. A really amazing day with cold temperatures keeping the snow good and powder still lying around in many places.

I pulled back the curtains on our ground floor room to start the day.
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All indications were that this was going to be fun. We trooped down for breakfast and tucked into the buffet. People said the hotel buffet was dead when covid first hit but nothing seems to be further from the truth. Nothing - not even covid - comes between me and a round of sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs in the morning. My only gripe was that the coffee was from a machine and given they park your car for you I'd have thought it might not be too much to ask to have an espresso machine and a semi-competent European in place to operate it. Sure, they go and press the button for you and bring you your coffee to your table but still... first world problems once more.

One of Sam's instructors from Buller works and lives in Kirchberg (near Kitzbuhel) and had kindly helped us to organise some of our trip and with lots of advice. Can highly recommend Alpen Adventures for all your Kitzbuhel area ski needs! She had also organised an instructor for us for today to show us around the mountain and give us some tips along the way. And Tom was already waiting for us when we got to the gondola station. In fairness it was all of about twenty yards to the gondola station from the back door of this magnificent (if espresso-less) hotel.
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Tom is a native Tirolean (if that's what they are called) and has a 16 year old ski champion daughter and an 8 year old daughter doing her first ski races. He also spoke great English and had once driven around Australia many years ago in a VW kombi he'd picked up for 200 dollars. He therefore seemed well qualified on a number of fronts to be teaching us.

On the face of it we are a bit of a weird group to be teaching. A five year old, an eight year old and two adults whose ages shall remain undisclosed. But given we all ski together normally I was hoping that Tom could give each of us some useful advice as we went along. It certainly didn't seem to phase him and he happily tucked into the beers and lunch I bought him as a tip along the way!

We hit up the gondola to head up the mountain. Each gondola was painted with a flag and inscribed with the name of a ski racer who had won the Hahnenkamm. Son is obsessed with flags and countries and had already sat by our hotel room window watching each gondola go by and guessing the flag. On this occasion we got Atle Skaardal who was from Norway and this seemed to please Sam as it was one of the more obscure flags in the set.

At the top of the gondola Tom showed us the very top of the Streif and we then did a short blue run before hitting a chairlift. This allowed us to undertake the traditional tourist photo with the large KitzSki letters. As you can see the weather was decent.
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What followed was an excellent day trip encompassing a large amount of the KitzSki area with some tuition, stories, drink stops and lunch. It was a really good day. The action shots are however limited as Tom insisted that I wear my pole straps which makes retrieveing phones from pockets and taking pictures on the fly rather hard. I did manage to sneak a few out under the radar though. The view from the top is pretty stellar all round with views of GrossGlockner and many, many other large and snow covered mountains.
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We kicked off with some long turns and short turns as he assessed our ability. Once more it always amazes me how instructors can tell your ability when they ski at the front and never appear to look back. Sam went first in the group and was practically skiing on the back of Tom's skis throughout the process so maybe that was all Tom needed to know!
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A little later Tom took us off to the side of the piste to teach us some powder basics. Teaching powder to skiers with a range of ages and abilities like ours is probably not the easiest and so we really took it back to basics which was probably for the best all round. I was certainly keen to take on board some ideas of what it was I had actually been meant to be doing all this time. We found a suitable location with a very low pitch. There's something about a field of virgin powder that looks amazing no matter how lacking in steepness it is.
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We started with a very basic tram track to get the feel of the snow. It was light and soft and so nice to ski on. Tom was VERY keen to impress the need to ski next to the previous line in order to preserve the precious powder for as many riders as possible. Good in theory but I think he'd have an absolute heart attack if he ever skied in Australia on a powder day!
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We then did the same thing but bouncing our knees as we went in order to get the feedback from the snow which is always an amazing feeling and one that I had experienced a couple of days earlier at Saalbach. And following that we did a final line where we added in some gentle turns, all the while trying to maintain symmetry with Tom's line.
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We weren't even particularly good at it but I take Tom's point about the symmetry. It does look good if you can get the four meandering paths all coming down next to each other!
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With that done we headed a little further and stopped for a drink at this great spot. Some of the mountain huts in Austria really are amazing and this one was a terrific spot to stop.
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We moved on to carving and Tom gave us some chat and a demonstration before we all had a crack at copying him. Annoyingly he said that the wife was the best which was not that well received by daughter and I. But I did pick up some good tips about where I was going wrong with my own carving. Tom had also had half a litre of beer by this stage and I did wonder if this might have been affecting his judgement a bit.

We headed towards the large and powder-strewn mountain shown below. I did ask Tom what it was called but he was unable to name it. Given that there are 15,000 odd mountains in Austria this is probably not that unreasonable in the big scheme of things.
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Tom was telling me that he had ascended all 3,800 metres of the GrossGlockner last summer which sounded like a fairly impressive feat. It took two whole days apparently and he was adamant that there was no chairlift to help him. Meanwhile we continued to lap up the excellent scenery as we continued our tour de force in the sunshine.
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And we continued to follow him like the pied piper down the red pistes linking each of the chairlifts in turn.
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After a nice lunch in the Panorama Alm we headed back from whence we had come and we eventually took a final chair past the unnamed mountain (which I think my trail map later named as the Klein Rettenstein) and marvelled at the lines that some people had managed to take down it's face. I'm not sure if the photo is clear enough but there are some insane lines from the very top down some absolute death chutes before reaching the nice looking powder field.
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There had been much excitement earlier in the day when we had taken the sizeable 3S gondola linking the Kitzbuhel and Jochberg areas. This bohemeth of the gondola world escaped my camera lens but was very similar to the mighty 3K gondola that had linked Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn - although not quite as new and shiny. Impressively however the whole thing ran 400m above the valley floor between the two ski areas and used only a single tower to do so. It was quite the feat of engineering and replaced the previously required long ski to the bottom of the valley followed by a bus ride. It was therefore a highly useful addition to the KitzSki armoury in my opinion and somewhat akin to whacking in a mega gondola to link Hotham and Falls Creek. Imagine how cool that would be. But I'm thinking we just don't have the money, motivation or Environmental Effects Statements to be able to do that kind of thing in Australia.

Anyhow we took the gondola back across and skied a few reds back towards the main resort area. Tom then took us down a very icy black without so much as a look back to see if his 5 year old, 8 year old and two highly inexperienced adult skiers were still upright. As it happens Sam was on his hammer the whole way down but mum and dad were scratching our way down in the background desperately searching for grip. Late in the day a lot of the steeper pistes were pretty bare, particularly those that had been shaded for much of the day.

We took a last look across to the impressive Wilder Kaiser before we began to descend towards the town.
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With daughter now getting very cold we were keen to wrap the tour up but Tom was very keen to give us a blow by blow account of the Streif and we would stop at 100m intervals to have the course described to us. This was very interesting but would have been better received if daughter wasn't hypothermic. Thi swill happen when she refuses to wear more than a back protector and a t-shirt under her ski jacket so is largely self-inflicted.

Nonetheless the Streif is utterly crazy. Due to the shade on that side of the mountain none of my pictures could do justice to the insanity that this race involves. The first section is ridiculously steep and icy and was mercifully closed off to the public as they were setting up for the big race next week. I did manage to get a shot of one of the early sections but it just does not do it justice.
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Tom took us down and showed us the crazy steeps, the ridiculous right angle turn and the silly jumps that these competitors undertake. I love a black as much as the next man or woman but this was bonkers.

He had also mentioned to us previously how the course is prepared to essentially be blue ice (rather than skiable snow) which makes the course faster but incredibly difficult to ski on. And then on a lower and flatter section we were able to sample this as we skied on the Streif itself on the most unskiable piece of piste I have ever been on. And I ski Buller! It was utterly silly. We were on a section that was akin to a blue run and I literally could not get an edge. Even Tom was struggling. The thing is prepared like an ice rink that you might play ice hockey on. It was scary. We just slid in slow motion practically helpless until we reached the edge of the 'piste' and reached the sanctuary of some normal snow.

Imagine doing that at maximum velocity and trying to turn at the same time. It's mindblowing. Their edges must be like razor blades. No thanks guys, you can keep that!

We finally got dropped back at the hotel and we thanked Tom for a great day and took hypothermic daughter for a hot bath. I then went in search of hand warmers for daughter in the main street which is very scenic.
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It had been an incredible day and hypothermia aside we had all really enjoyed it. Despite the weird age dynamic in the group we had all learnt something and we had seen so much of the resort in just one day. If you only have a short time in a resort and want to see a lot quickly then it's a great way to go. You get that local knowledge without all the trial and error. It did of course help that it was an amazing day of weather and snow.

As a final note Sam did point out that there were no Australian flags on the gondolas. I pointed out that Australians tended to shine in freestyle rather than racing. More light for the reasons for this were shed later in the day when Tom asked me about daughter's race club. He was curious to know why we said skiing in Australia was so expensive. I told him how much it cost for her to do race club and he nearly fell off his bar stool. I asked him what his daughter's race club in Kitzbuhel cost and he said it was 35 euros for the year. When I had picked myself up he mentioned that an adult also needed to be a member and that was another 35 euros. Wow, big deal. That's still literally 100 times cheaper than doing a race club in Australia. No wonder the Austrians do so well in the ski racing!

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Totally get how scary the World Cup Race Course is. I once made a mistake in Jasna, Slovakia on a morning with no visibility. I came across a well marked piste and thought "Beauty! This will get me down the hill!" not knowing that it was watered to produce ice. No matter what I did, I couldn't find an edge. Absolutely frightening on a zero vis day. Brown pants session for sure!
 

Heinz

Fully vaccinated and travelling again!
Ski Pass
Oct 14, 2005
29,289
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Adelaide
I can see where you are staying. Looks to be about midway between Saalbach and Hinterglemm. Given that it is really the only road in the valley and there is still a fair bit based in Hinterglemm if not much past that I guess there will still be a bit of traffic. It looks like you have an MPreis supermarket across the road from you. In my two visits to the Ski circus I have actually seen very little of the town of Saalbach itself as I was based in Leogang in the next valley (where @Kletterer and @DidSurfNowSki are now) or in Vorderglemm (between Viehhofen and Saalbach). The only little bit of Saalbach that I have actually seen is the short walk down the street and up the elevator to link up to I think the Bernkogelbahn.

You will have plenty to explore in the Skicircus. You have seen some large ski areas, but it goes up another level here. They have a number of circuits you can try. The ultimate being The Challenge covering Leogang, Saalbach, Hinterglemm & Fieberbrunn (but not Zell am See). 12,400 vm, 65km over about 7 hrs. Might be a stretch with the family. I did it 2019 in spring and needed pretty much the full 7 hours. First few hours were easy on nicely groomed pistes, but going got tougher later in the afternoon coming back from Hinterglemm and finally down Jausern in sloppy spring slush.

Normally best to stick with a particular part of the valley on each day. eg. Saalbach circuit, Hinterglemm circuit, Fieberbrunn circuit, Leogang circuit.

If even with all that you are interested in a change of scenery I can recommend a drive (about 30 mins) to Maria Alm via Saalfelden and ski the Hochkönig region which is also included in your ski pass. You can do the Kings tour from Maria Alm (Natrun lift) all the way over to Mühlbach and back which should be achievable - roughly similar I think to Königsleiten to Zell am Ziller and back - maybe a bit more. The tour is pretty well marked (from memory yellow signs in one direction, orange in the other).
 
Last edited:

blueandwhite

One of Us
Ski Pass
May 26, 2016
1,162
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I can see where you are staying. Looks to be about midway between Saalbach and Hinterglemm. Given that it is really the only road in the valley and there is still a fair bit based in Hinterglemm if not much past that I guess there will still be a bit of traffic. It looks like you have an MPreis supermarket across the road from you. In my two visits to the Ski circus I have actually seen very little of the town of Saalbach itself as I was based in Leogang in the next valley (where @Kletterer and @DidSurfNowSki are now) or in Vorderglemm (between Viehhofen and Saalbach). The only little bit of Saalbach that I have actually seen is the short walk down the street and up the elevator to link up to I think the Bernkogelbahn.

You will have plenty to explore in the Skicircus. You have seen some large ski areas, but it goes up another level here. They have a number of circuits you can try. The ultimate being The Challenge covering Leogang, Saalbach, Hinterglemm & Fieberbrunn (but not Zell am See). 12,400 vm, 65km over about 7 hrs. Might be a stretch with the family. I did it 2019 in spring and needed pretty much the full 7 hours. First few hours were easy on nicely groomed pistes, but going got tougher later in the afternoon coming back from Hinterglemm and finally down Jausern in sloppy spring slush.

Normally best to stick with a particular part of the valley on each day. eg. Saalbach circuit, Hinterglemm circuit, Fieberbrunn circuit, Leogang circuit.

If even with all that you are interested in a change of scenery I can recommend a drive (about 30 mins) to Maria Alm via Saalfelden and ski the Hochkönig region which is also included in your ski pass. You can do the Kings tour from Maria Alm (Natrun lift) all the way over to Mühlbach and back which should be achievable - roughly similar I think to Königsleiten to Zell am Ziller and back - maybe a bit more. The tour is pretty well marked (from memory yellow signs in one direction, orange in the other).
Thanks Heinz, good advice. The trail map is daunting, barely fits in my jacket pocket it's so big!
 
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