Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Smitten with Schmitten

Now this is a white Christmas (Kitzsteinhorn)
We've skied some pretty amazing resorts while living in Austria -- Bad Gastein, Stubaier Glacier, and Bad Kleinkirchheim -- but nothing quite like the two in Kaprun:  Schmitten and Kitzsteinhorn.  Kaprun is a quaint Austrian town situated on a lake -- Zell am See -- featuring year-round recreation:  365-days-a-year skiing (glacier skiing at Kitzsteinhorn in the summer), mountain biking, hiking, climbing, swimming, and paddling.  I'm not sure if it was because several inches of snow fell during our three days of skiing or because the terrain was unlike anything I'd skied in Austria (certainly a combination of both) since Schmitten is, at least for now, my favorite resort in Austria with Kitzsteinhorn a close second.  The terrain at Schmitten reminded me a lot of the terrain at Snowbird, Utah:  easily accessible and extensive off-piste terrain, steep groomers, and trails unlikely to see a snow cat all season.  Great terrain and fresh snow = great turns. 

Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!
We arrived in Kaprun on Friday evening, skied Schmitten on Christmas Eve, headed over to Kitzsteinhorn on Christmas Day, then hit up Schmitten again the day after Christmas.  We were hopeful and optimistic that we'd arrive to decent snow conditions but were prepared to turn this ski vacation into more of a apres ski vacation -- this hasn't been the snowiest winter in Austria -- so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to lightly falling snow that progressively got heavier as Christmas Eve wore on.

On Christmas morning it was sunny, clear, and crisp with several inches of fresh snow...a Christmas miiiiiirrrraaaacle!  (And for the second consecutive year:  last year we also woke to fresh powder on Christmas day.) 
Fresh tracks accessible from a t-bar.  Go figure.
Praise Father Christmas!
Hurry, fresh tracks await!
I'm trying to go that way really fast but I think something -- a snow-covered rock? -- is in my way
This is one reason to be smitten with Schmitten...
...and this another.  The reason, in fact.
Not so graceful tumble in the powder but I skied out of it.  Really.
About to carve up these slopes like a Christmas turkey!
And the chicken, too!
A wonderful Christmas break even if the Abominable Snowman had taken up residence just outside our apartment:
Don't try anything, Mr. Snowman.  We know how to carve.

Frohe Weihnachten aus Österreich!

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