After Mandy broke her leg, she decided she wasn't going to try skiing again and Lauren and I went to Garmisch in 2017, but when 2018 rolled around I had 3 trips planned, including a 10 day liveaboard dive trip to the Maldives, planned for the first 4 months of the year and decided that something had to give and it was going to be skiing (Lauren had bought a house, so wasn't going to be joining me, either).
That could have been the end of my skiing days, but in 2019, Mandy said she'd like to go the mountains and walk, as she always liked the scenery and so we decided to go back to Kirchberg, where we'd enjoyed skiing 25 years before and had had a summer holiday slightly more recently.
I got a package deal in the first week of February in the Hotel Zentral, which turned out to be a very nice 4 star hotel, right in the centre of the village.
The Hotel Zentral proved an excellent place to stay
Having researched the cost of hiring skis (and being horrified!), I took my ancient skis with me, much straighter and longer than modern skis, they still work, being more stable in a straight line, but harder to turn, than equivalent skis from recent years.
The first day's skiing wasn't, if I'm honest, a lot of fun.
Murky conditions on day 1 weren't much fun - This is about as good as it got!
It was overcast and had snowed heavily in the previous few days, which meant lots of bumps and choppy snow and little chance of seeing them, which made it very tiring for my ageing legs.
I came back and told Mandy that I'd had "one of my worst day's skiing ever", but dinner was excellent and after that, washed down with a couple of Weissbiers, I felt a bit happier, especially as the next few days were promising clear skies.
Fortunately the weather report was right and we woke to clear blue skies and that lovely crisp look that fresh snow and clear skies brings.
The remaining days, though, were glorious!
I just enjoyed skiing around the area, getting a run down much of the Hahnenkahm, although the Moustrap was fenced off, while Mandy went off exploring on foot, looking for footpaths that proved quite hard to find in the snowy conditions, at times.
On the 3rd day, another bright sunny day, we arranged to meet up for lunch at a restaurant on the Kitzbuhler Horn mountain.
We walked down to the railway station, trains being covered on our lift passes, and took the train to Kitzbuhel, but the bus service from there to the Kitzbuhler Horn gondola was awful and we spent nearly an hour waiting for a bus!
Eventually we got one and hopped aboard a gondola and rode to the top.
View down from the top of the Kitzbuhler Horn
I did some skiing in more glorious sunshine and on wonderful snow, while Mandy had a walk around the snow covered peaks.
Back in 2005 the two of us, with Lauren and Ryan, had ridden the same gondola and walked back down to Kitzbuhel in the Summer and it was unusual to see some of the same landmarks covered in snow!
Small chapel atop the Horn, winter 2019 and summer 2005
We met up for lunch in a large restaurant near the top and then rode part way down the mountain together, but I then hopped out and did some more skiing.
We hadn't often skiied on this mountain, one memorable day was in thick fog, where the lack of any visible reference points caused nausea as we skiied, so it was really enjoyable to have a good day's skiing on 'The Horn', but there's not that much skiing on this mountain, so a day was enough.
The next day, sunny again, I decided to make the long trip out to Pass Thurn.
This is as far from Kirchberg as you can get in the Kitzbuhel ski area and, when we last skiied it, required you to ski down at Jochberg and take a bus!
View at Pass Thurn
There is now a massive gondola that links two mountains and allows you to ski all the way without having to resort to the bus.
The gondola (the 3S Bahn) itself is something to experience. Each cabin can take up to 30 people and itrises as high as 400 metres above the ground and extends across its 3.7-kilometer route with only one aerial lift pylon.
I can imagine that for some, it might be a little disconcerting, but although I'm not great with heights, ski lifts don't usually bother me and this one was just and enjoyable journey, especially when I had a cabin all to myself!
On Thursday, I just skiied around the Kitzbuhel and Kirchberg area, planning to take in the Gaisberg mountain of Friday as the weather was predicted to be poor then.
Descending the Steilhang on the Streif
I did the usual selection of Reds and Blacks and a few runs down most of the Streif again, although the Mousetrap remained closed, so it looked like I'd not get a chance to ski the whole run again, after so many years, which was a small disappointment in light of excellent conditions generally.
A Blutwurst Groestl and a Beer - The perfect Kitzbuhel lunch!
On the Friday, we woke to another day of glorious sunshine, but I started the day on the small Gaisberg ski area. There is only one lift here and a handful of runs, but the views were so wonderful, that I stayed a few hours.
I even posted this photo and said "When I think of skiing, it's days like these I imagine" and months later I don't see any reason to change that opinion!
Glorious view from the Gaisberg - Skiing days should all be like this!
Late in the morning I headed back to the Maierl lift and did a few runs in the Kitzbuhel area.
After lunch, I decided one more run down the Streif was required, but having done the first part, I noticed a group gathered atop the Mousetrap (Mausefalle), but not tape, closing it off.
I skiied over and realised it was now open. Most skiiers were just taking a look, though, and skiing off down to the left to skip it, but it's such an iconic part of the Downhill run, that I felt I really should do it.
My mind was made up when a couple of skiiers, descended it. The first was an excellent skiier, but the second looked no better than me and so I figured it was safe to give it a try.
Looking back up the Mausefalle after finally skiing it
It was very steep and quite icy, but I found it skiable and I was really pleased to have been able to ski all of the downhill run after all!
Overall, I had a great week in Kirchberg. Mandy has commented a few times that we probably picked the perfect week in the 2019 season. It had snowed heavily before we arrived, but was, mostly, clear blue skies and no wind during our stay.
In the following weeks, the temperature rose and there was no more snow, so we definitely enjoyed some of the best conditions of the year, both for skiing on and just the quality of the scenery.
The Hotel Zentral proved to be a lovely hotel to stay in and we would definitely return there if we ever go back to Kirchberg.
For us, the holiday was a trip down memory lane, but also, for me at least, a great week's skiing!
Streif statue, Winter 2019 and Summer 2005
Mandy said she'd enjoyed walking, but I'm not sure (and never had been) that it's really the kind of thing you can enjoy for a week, especially if you've been a skier in the past.
I'm not sure what we'll do in 2020, as I'm not sure Mandy would want to come with me again, so there's a possibilty that this was our last skiing holiday.
If that proves to be the case, it will have been a great way to sign off!