Farewell to Kitzbühel
This morning I woke up, to find Jake asleep at the breakfast table — apparently, after last night, him and Mitch managed to flood the bathroom, and the flood spread into the entire lounge-room area. Man, I'm gonna miss those boys, they're the biggest bogans on Earth: I just hope they don't get kicked out of the hostel. I had some brekkie, said goodbye to everyone (especially to my good friends, the crazy Swedes)... and that's it for Kitzbühel! It's been an incredible week: as with my previous week in the snow this year, it's been one of the best weeks of the whole trip. Pity that spending the whole year skiing would send me broke — otherwise, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Kitzbühel's been a great place to ski. It's very easy to get to, and very easy to get around: the train goes right into the village; the whole resort is linked by gondola and chairlift; and the various villages that make up the resort area are linked by free shuttle buses. It's very good value: the whole week has cost me no more than $1,000, which is amazing considering that it's a fancy place in the middle of Europe. The runs are excellent: plenty of challenges for all skill levels, and enough to quantity to still leave some sections unexplored after a week; although they could use more black runs, and they could easily create more black runs, simply by marking many trails that are currently "off-piste". The pistes would have been better had there been more snow: but then again, the sunny weather was certainly nicer than a week of blizzards and avalanches; and it's also been much better than last year, when they had almost no snow at all for the entire season.
My only serious complaint about the skiing at Kitzbühel, is that it's too spread-out. It takes half the day to get over to the excellent eastern ridge trails, if you're starting at Hahnenkamm (as most people do); and then the other half of the day to get back. The Kitzbühelerhorn is completely separate from the rest of the resort, as is another set of trails on the far side of Kirchberg (which I didn't even get around to exploring). Most of it is linked by gondola or chairlift, and all of it is accessible by bus; but nevertheless, the distances and travelling times are significant. Kitzbühel suffers from a similar problem to that of Perisher Blue, back in Oz — only worse: Perisher consists of 4 resorts that have combined together, whereas Kitzbühel has more like 7 areas that are now combined under the Kitzbühel "umbrella". The historical separation of the areas is clear: they were never designed to be easily merged into a single park.
Finally, this is also a farewell to one of the best things of all about Kitzbühel: Snowbunnys! I've had an amazing time here, and I've met quite a few people with whom I've become good friends, and with whom I'll no doubt be keeping in touch. Dave may be a weird bastard, but his hostel rocks nonetheless. In a place as upmarket as Kitzbühel, it's nothing short of a miracle that Snowbunnys exists, and that it allows cash-strapped backpackers such as myself to enjoy the very best that Austria has to offer. I'd love to stay here again, if ever I get the chance.