I mentioned the 10 Resort Challenge in a blog a few years ago, and have only successfully completed the route since then on my own. Attempts with friends have either run into bad weather, closed valley runs or – more often – legs that ran out of steam mid-afternoon.

A group of five of us recently set off on the Hahnenkammbahn with the aim of visiting nine other resorts by the end of the day. As we sre no longer in the first flush of youth – and one of our number had four pain killing injections in his back the day before – I wasn’t expecting that we would make the full trip. The route takes in Kitzbühel, Kirchberg, Westendorf, Brixen im Thale, Hopfgarten, Itter, Söll, Sheffau, Ellmau and Going.

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Conditions were mild for January, but not too mild, and while low cloud meant that the light was a bit flat, it also kept the sun away so we hoped that the snow would remain firm. One of us made an impressive start, failing to clip into his bindings properly and not discovering his error until he had travelled 100 metres and tried to turn… this didn’t bode well. After visiting the outskirts of Kirchberg we headed towards the bus stop at Skirast for the link to the Ki-West gondola that would take us on towards Westendorf. On the way we passed the Rohrerstadel restaurant that used to have a 25-foot dinosaur sitting next to it. This has gone, but it seems that its mini-me now sits on the roof.

Austria ski slopes

On arriving at Skirast we were in luck as the bus to Ki West had just arrived, saving us a 15-minute wait. We took three lifts to cross from Ki-West to Westendorf, but at one lift only four of our group arrived, the fifth failing to follow both my simple instructions and my bright yellow ski trousers. I think the rest of the group were happy to use the ten-minute wait as an excuse for a toilet stop (which was otherwise strictly banned), and we were soon a group of five again. After crossing to Westendorf and getting the gondola to the top of the piste that runs down to Brixen, we were relieved to find that the link was open.

When we arrived in Hoch Brixen one of my friends seemed reluctant to leave the gondola, and then spent ages going through his pockets one by one. Eventually I asked what the problem was, and he said that he’d lost his glasses – the same glasses that he hadn’t noticed that he was wearing! Talking of glasses, one of our group broke his sunglasses half way through the day and had to switch to goggles. He then proceeded to tell us in great detail how he had been sold the glasses on the strength of them being indestructible, and that this was the second pair that had broken.

Skiing in Austria

The next phase of the tour went smoothly and quickly as we ticked off Hopfgarten, Itter, Söll, Scheffau and Ellmau in quick succession. Indeed, we were making such good time that we could afford a short stop for lunch to recharge our batteries. This was my first visit to the Ski Welt this season, and I was sorry to see that the funicular railway at Ellmau had been replaced by a gondola – but I was pleased to discover that the new gondola has twice the capacity of the old train.

Ski slope Austria

Having taken our first lift of the day at 8:51, we arrived in Going at 15:59, just in time to ski back to Ellmau for a drink at the Memory Pub, across the road from the bus stop that would take three of us back to St Johann and the other two back to Kitzbühel.

According to skiline.cc we skied 11,383 vertical metres using 29 lifts and covered just over 100 kilometres (63 on skis, 38 in lifts), and had 429 minutes of fun. Perhaps we’ll try the reverse route next year.