The wind is blowing hard against me, and my fingers are feeling numb, even in gloves. Damn. Should have taken mittens, like an Austrian once recommended I do. Always trust Austrians. That’s the first rule. The second one is to check the thermometer and dress accordingly. The final one is to always expect weather changes in the mountains. As the skilift reached the exposed 2000m peak, the temperatures plummeted far below minus twenty degrees Celsius. Plus wind chill that is. It was cold. It was windy. It was kind of cloudy. And I absolutely loved it.
During winter break, like the stereotypical St Andrean, I went skiing to Austria, this time to a mountain resort called Kitzbühel. The place in itself was amazing, with the centre looking like a solid Austrian old town. And the food was great as well. Every day, following skiing, we would grab meals in the town such as deer steaks or game goulash. Such heavy food was the ideal complement to the cold weather outside. The views were magnificent as well, even if the town was in the valley and thus often in the shade.
Above all, a skiing holiday focuses on skiing. So clubbing was shunned in favour of a good night’s sleep, in order to recover for another day of skiing. Sleeping in was hardly an option, as lifts began to operate at 9 a.m. Lunches were used to warm up and eat. And skiing ended when were either completely exhausted or the lifts closed. It was brilliant, even if somewhat exhausting, as this was my first skiing holiday in over a year. Unfortunately, a small crash meant that my physio has become a bit richer and I can’t run for a few weeks. Besides that, it was all a blast.
It is difficult to describe the allure of skiing. Partially, it is about a love of speed: few feelings could rival speeding down a clean, well-prepared slope. Yet I also immensely enjoy hiking and skiing is yet another way of interacting with mountains. Unfortunately, heavy snowfalls meant that off-piste ski tours were not a feasible option. Still, Kitzbühel was far from a small resort and finding a new favourite piste or quiet corner, only to ski down it several times in a row was very satisfying. And the views were spectacular as well. On the second day we took the lift from the valley, somewhat disappointed at the cloudy weather and wondering whether getting up early was that good a decision. Yet, several lifts later we managed to get above the clouds, skiing on peaks but unable to see the cloud-covered valleys below. The views were amazing – one more reason I love the mountains.
To be fair, it is impossible to pin down a single factor that makes skiing an amazing choice of winter holiday. Once, I met a man on a lift who told me that there are two types of people who try skiing. One never comes back after his first attempt, whilst the other becomes addicted to it at great expense. I am far from a light skier – I take it seriously and love it immensely. I would definitely recommend you also try it during your next winter break. What might at first seem like a cold, windy hell can very easily transform into a spectacular heaven.
Photography – Lukasz Krol