Kitzbuhel Ski Area

Despite the justifiably fierce reputation of the Hahnenkamm, the skiing around Kitzbühel is enjoyable, but not particularly challenging.

The Hahnenkamm

It is important to distinguish between Kitzbühel's notorious 'Hahnenkamm' World Cup downhill (in reality, the Streif run on the Hahnenkamm) and the much more benign remainder of the Hahnenkamm area. Despite the justifiably fierce reputation of the Hahnenkamm, the skiing around Kitzbühel is enjoyable, but not particularly challenging.

Most skiers with any real experience will want to try the resort's signature feature (not counting the Hahnenkamm) - the 'Safari' route which traditionally ends at the highest end of the valley, at Pass Thurn. For many years this was the end of the road, at least for skiers in Kitzbühel, since there was no way of getting back except by bus at the end of the day,  until 2005 twhen an impressive  new gondola, the 3S, was opened across the Saukaser Valley blinking the resort's two main areas - Hahnenkamm-Pengelstein and Jochberg-Pass Thurn. This eliminated the need for the taxi link and, more importantly, now enables skiers and boarders to return from Jochberg and Pass Thurn to Kitzbühel on snow.

Kitzbühel's Ski Safari

The main Ski Safari route begins at the Hahnenkamm gondola (but can also be accessed down the valley on the Fleckalmbahn on the outskirts of Kirchberg). If there's a long queue at the Hahnenkammbahn, you can while away the time by studying the names emblazoned on the side: famous racers galore, with their individual national flags. Franz Klammer is the only man to have won it three years in a row - and four times in all.

At the top, before you start out on the Safari circuit, you can meander over to the start of the Streif course to see why it's the one downhill the racers nearly all fear - and most want to win. To start the Safari tour, skiers and boarders need to aim for Pengelstein, where the impressive new gondola will take them onwards, and bring them back at the end of the day, on their return from Pass Thurn. Kitzbühel's longest run, the Hahnenkammside Pengelstein Süd (6.8km) is also here.

The next stop is Wurzhöhe, reached either by taking the gondola across the Saukaser Valley, or the old route (including the short taxi ride) via Jochberg. Once skiers and riders have reached Wurzhöhe, the route continues in seemingly endless zigzags all the way to what sounds like a tempting resting place - the Resterhöhe area - before the final plunge down to Pass Thurn. This is traditionally the end of the Safari, but for those with plenty of energy it's now the point at which you can turn back and head for home or perhaps at least try to get half way by skiing back to Jochberg and catching the ski bus from there.

Kitzbüheler Horn

A completely separate area, the Kitzbüheler Horn - the so-called 'sunny side' of Kitzbühel on the opposite side of the valley, and reached by a gondola close to the railway station - has some excellent cruising runs. The T-bars at neighbouring Bichlalm have been removed, and the area is now limited to snowcat skiing and touring - and is regarded as a special area for back-country adventure. All of Kitzbühel's areas are linked by ski bus.

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