The last time I went skiing it involved a 17-hour coach journey and more après than actual ski. In fact, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a moment my girlfriends and I weren’t either still intoxicated or too hangover to be legally allowed on a pair of skis.
Suffice to say, I don’t remember a thing about skiing.
And while I might have been happy to throw myself half drunk down a Red slope at 19, this time, 10 years later, I found myself refusing to come off the ski lift, goggles steamed up with pure fear.
“Nikki, you need to let go now. NOW, NIKKI!,” our ski instructor was yelling from the top of the tiny lift at the children’s ski school slope in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria.
My husband and I had, thankfully, booked ourselves in for a ‘refresher’ day through our tour operator, Inghams, working one-on-one with an instructor for our first day back on the slopes.
Both of us are what are technically classed as ‘intermediate’ skiiers (which means you’ve been at least once before), but were both at a zero on the scale of confidence and competency when it came to actually hitting the slopes.
And after watching my husband hit the deck almost immediately after clipping himself into his skis, it became abundantly clear to Klaus that we were probably better off with the toddlers on the practice ramp than ‘refreshing ourselves’ on a Blue run like everyone else.
Thankfully, Bad Kleinkirchheim is equally well equipped for novices and learners alike, as it is for Black slope lovers, with over 100km of piste spread across the mountains.
Unfortunately for Klaus, it took four hours for us both to re-master our parallel turns, glaring at the tiny smug toddlers whizzing past in total confidence (kids ski for £1 per day, so this is really their territory).
Trudging back to our hotel battered and bruised, we headed straight for the basement spa in desperate need of a sauna and steam, agreeing with Klaus that we probably needed one more day by his side.
In keeping with Austrian tradition, we were staying at Hotel Trattlerhof , which is widely recognised as one of the oldest buildings in the region, first recorded in land registry files in 1642 – although it’s thought to have actually been built in the 1500s.
The stunning alpine-style building, complete with high beams and horse and cart, is set against Bad Kleinkirchheim’s snowy mountains and peaks, with forest views and – of course - boasting its own basement alpine spa for post-ski aches and complaints.
Hitting up the UV sauna first, we worked our way from sauna to steam and back again, stopping off upstairs in between for a spot of afternoon tea overlooking the grounds.
Pruned to the max, we headed back up to our room for a much-needed pre-dinner nap. Each of Trattlerhof’s spacious Comfort Rooms is kitted out country-style, with classic stonewalls and lengthy balconies for mountain views, complete with cute alpine furniture to top the ‘ski lodge’ look off.
Fully rested as we awoke on day two, my husband and I felt ready to hit the Blues, heading straight for the nearest chair lift (about 100M from Hotel Trattlerhof) and up on to the stunning mountain tops.
The Bad Kleinkirchheim and St. Oswald region is never shy of piste, with 800 snow guns and 25 snow cannons keeping the area well covered, even in hotter winters.
And anyone who wants to take in the stunning mountain views without worrying about whether they’ll survive the journey down on a pair of skis can enjoy 60km of winter hiking trails and even an illuminated toboggan run in the evenings.
As to be expected, it took a matter of minutes before disaster had struck again – this time in the form of the dreaded Tbar lifts.
Despite our confidence following our practice the day before, it didn’t take long for us to feel humbled by the snow again, getting our skis tangled together and falling straight off the Tbar, sliding into the people behind us.
Klaus was not pleased.
Stranded on the side of the mountain, we had no choice but to walk through the thick snow on to the nearest slope – which just so happened to be a Red.
We spent the first hour of our day slowly paralleling down the slope, chic skiiers we were not, taking several stumbles along the way – much to the dismay of the pros zooming past us.
Thankfully, our hour of peril gave us the kick up the backside that we needed and by the time we got back down to the bottom, all limbs still in tact, we were ready to throw ourselves down another Red.
By day three we were Klausless, it was time to fly solo on the slopes - and with our confidence now sky high, we decided to tackle a selection of daunting Reds we had previously avoided like the plague.
Using our “unique” individual styles - I was elegant and cautious, skiing at approximately 1mph, while my husband focused less on technique and more on uncontrolled idiocy - we began our decent to the bottom.
My confidence took a slight dent when my ski buddy flew past me at a disconcerting speed and managed two somersaults as he went headfirst into a mound of snow (some sort of jump, I presume).
Luckily, or probably more miraculously, injury was avoided and we made it all the way to the bottom of the run in one piece, exhilarated and somewhat amazed.
As we glanced back to the top of the huge mountain we had managed to conquer, it occurred to me just why I enjoyed the confidence boosting effects the après-ski provided on my first adventure on the slopes all those years ago.
With slightly unsteady hands we both calmed our nerves with a couple of hot butter rums before we felt brave enough to tackle the slopes for one last time, this time feeling firmly confident with our ‘intermediate’ titles.
Inghams features 30 resorts in Austria, including the new resort of Bad Kleinkirchheim.
Inghams offers a 7 nights staying at the 4* Hotel Trattlerhof on a half board basis from £889 including flights from Gatwick to Salzburg and resort transfers. For more information or bookings visit www.inghams.co.uk or contact 01483 791 114
Ski pack items can be pre-booked:
- 6 days BKK & St Oswald lift pass from £185 (adult) £89 (child) – guests can choose to spend the days at one or two thermal spas instead
- 6 days standard ski & boot hire from £134 (adult) £50 ( child)
- 6 day helmet for children and adults £25
What To Take/Wear:
If it's been a while since your last ski trip, you'll probably need to get kitted out. Helmets, boots and skis can all be hired, but goggles and gloves are a must - and make sure your gloves are waterproof!
The North Face offer a wide range of winter sports clothing, I opted for their Jeppeson jacket, £275 and Jeppeson trousers £200, which kept me super snug on the slopes. If you're looking for a snug mid-layer, opt for The North Face's Thermoball goose-down mid-layer jacket.