5 Photos That Will Make You Want to Book a Ski Holiday in Austria Right Now

by Max Hardy

5 Photos That Will Make You Want to Book a Ski Holiday in Austria Right Now
Nowadays it’s all about the Facebook photos. The Instagram likes. The Twitter hashtags. On rainy days in the UK many of us find ourselves sighing over photos of places we’d rather be, thinking ‘if only’.

But why can’t we be the ones taking the photos for once? Today I’ve been surfing the web for some awesome pictures of people having some amazing ski holidays in Austria that will make you wish you were out there in the mountains yourself, clogging up everyone else’s newsfeed with your own photos.


1. This perfect little village

This perfect little villagePhoto: instagram.com/emma_hakansson1978
This is the kind of photo you might see on Instagram, or on a billboard, and think ‘places like that don’t exist anymore’. Picture the modern ski holiday and you’d be forgiven for seeing budget apartment blocks, ski rental complexes, machine-like canteens, unbearable queues of squealing ski school kids in your mind’s eye.

But alpine resorts aren’t all purpose-built concrete towns – the idyllic chocolate-box villages still exist, you just have to find them. This photo is a perfect example of a traditional Austrian ski resort.

Skiing in Austria doesn’t necessarily have to involve a big party resort like St Anton with its fair share of intoxicated seasonnaires, either – that quite understandably doesn’t appeal to everyone. Most of the villages popular with tourists have been around far longer than skiing was ever even considered – these are real towns or villages that happened to be surrounded by breathtaking mountains. Forget the soulless, purpose-built ski resorts you may have visited in other parts of the Alps and look to Austria for its traditional architecture, friendly locals and family-run businesses.

If you’re looking for an unspoilt ski resort, try Alpbach with its charming cosy chalets and tree-lined slopes. Kitzbuhel and Seefeld are two other gorgeous medieval towns with a traditional and atmospheric feel to them – all worthy of being considered among the most romantic resorts in Austria.


2. This I’m-drinking-Gluwein-and-you’re-not snap

This I'm-drinking-Gluwein-and-you're-not snapPhoto: instagram.com/robert_verberne
The classic ‘Gluhwein with mountain backdrop’ photo – a mandatory upload that promises to make all your friends sitting bleary-eyed at their office desks back home in the UK jealous. Who could resist gloating about their fantastic day’s skiing followed by relaxing and warming up with a hot drink? Gluhwein is enjoyed after a long day on the Austrian slopes in a typical wooden hut. It’s basically red wine with plenty of cinnamon and cloves, but warmed up to become quite exotic. Gluhwein is an essential part of any ski holiday.

Choose to leisurely sip a glass or two on the sun terrace of a busy mountain hut like the Idalp in Ischgl (there are 800 seats outside in the popular self-service) or the Grillhofalm in Mayrhofen (think deck chairs, music, and reasonable prices) and rest your aching legs as you sunbathe after a delicious lunch.

Or if you’re looking for a stylish, much more luxurious après-ski experience, watch skiers as the slopes drown in the shade of the setting sun in Lech at the Sun Terrace and Ice Bar of Hotel Krone.

Wherever you are in Austria you’ll find you’ll want to spend every afternoon in the cooling fresh air with a drink in your hand, watching the sun fade over stunning snowy peaks.


3. The amazing looking powder day in this pic

The amazing looking powder day in this picPhoto: instagram.com/superterje
Is there anything more beautiful than untouched snow? Mounds and mounds of it. Instead of searching the hashtag #freshpowder or #powderday or the tragic, seasonaire-esque #powpow (yes, you’ll actually find thousands of photos under this), why not be the one to post your own photo like this? More and more skiers nowadays are venturing off-piste – away from the crowds and into the deep stuff, and thanks to fatter skis and other advances in equipment, it’s easier, safer, and more affordable than ever.

New to off-piste? Try Lech, a resort on the northern side of the Alberg Pass in Austria. Super posh but super snowy, with around 7.3m of snow per season at resort level. The terrain isn’t as tough as somewhere like St Anton, but if you’re a little rusty or hitting the off-piste for the first time, it’s ideal.

So hire some powder-bashers, don your avalanche bleeper, and get back out there. But never ever without expert guidance. The best off-piste guides in the resort can be found at the Alpin Centre.

Make it your mission this winter to seek out the fresh powder and make the first tracks of the day. Stop staring at your smartphone wishing you had the guts to get back out on the mountain, and actually do it. Oh, and take a photo to prove you really did do it, obviously. #nofilter guaranteed.


4. How warm and welcoming does this chalet look?

This I'm-drinking-Gluwein-and-you're-not snapPhoto: chalet-n.com
Can you picture yourself in this photo? Rosy-cheeked in sallopettes heading back to the warm chalet for a mug of hot chocolate after an exhausting but brilliant day on the mountain? Yes, I thought so. We’ve all seen the photos and dreamed of stepping inside one.

Forget noisy hotels and bleak rental apartments – a chalet like this is the ultimate way to treat yourself. There’s little better than snuggling up after a chilly day with friends and family in a traditional Alpine wooden chalet.

Most chalets in Austria are run by English tour operators, but local owners are still around too. Prices range massively, and I mean that. Chalet N in Lech, often claimed to be the world’s most expensive ski accommodation, costs an average of £11,430 per person per week. Wow.

For the rest of us though, there are still options. Bargain hunters, be sure to book off-peak times in the season: early December, late January, and March.

In your typical chalet, half-board provisions usually consist of daily breakfast and afternoon tea (yes, cake everyday), as well as dinner with wine six nights a week – all included in the price. So instead of flicking through that travel magazine or scrolling through your social media feed, feeling envious of friends and family as they splash their oh-so-perfect ski holiday photos all over for you to see, check out some of the incredible available chalets this season on chalet finder or on the Crystal website.

Chalets are the ideal accommodation for big groups of friends or families with children, and some great deals can be sought out.

Inside the wood and stone building the floors will be stripped and polished, the bare beams and panelled walls made from oak or pine. The spacious rooms will be furnished with carved and hand-painted chairs and wardrobes with colourful rugs on the floor to keep your toes warm and cottagey curtains at the windows. Most essential is a crackling open fire to complete the scene. Cosy…


5. It doesn’t get any more après-ski than this!

It doesn't get any more après-ski than this!Photo: agnarchy.com
This picture perfectly sums up Austrian après-ski. If you’re looking for a party on the slopes, Austria’s the place for you. They love their Bier (beer) and of course a Jaegermeister or two (or three or four). And around 4pm every day of the season, resorts are transformed and locals and tourists alike go wild. Après ski is a big deal for the Austrians, and boy do they know how to drink. Just make sure you brush up on your German so you can get a round of drinks in.

Soelden has 45 different après-ski bars and upholds its reputation of a hard partying resort, along with Ischgl – both play host to some of Austria’s most magnificent alpine events. Here you’ll find plenty of hot post-skiing spots fuelled with unlimited Schnapps, best washed down with live music at the Trofana Alm.

You don’t need to be a youthful seasonaire to down a Spiegelei (Austria’s inventive shot served in an egg shell), but remember: if you’re partying on the slopes often you’ll have to ski down.

No matter where you are, the locals will show you a good time. And after your first Austrian après experience, it’s unlikely you’ll be getting that first lift up the next morning…


Your Turn

Your Turn - Book a Ski Holiday in Austria Right Now
So this year I dare you to book that holiday you’ve been meaning to book. It’s your turn to make them all jealous.

And when you return home with stories and photos of beautiful Austrian villages and endless adventures on skis, you definitely will.

Max Hardy is a director of ski information website Welove2ski.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 28.02.2015  |   No comments

Skiers and Non-Skiers Alike Should Try These 12 Alternative Activities in Austria

by Max Hardy

Skiers and Non-Skiers Alike Should Try These 12 Alternative Activities in Austria
You’ve had a great day’s skiing but you’re still full of energy – perhaps you’re not ready to go back to your hotel or chalet for an evening of rest and relaxation? Or perhaps you’re not as keen on skiing as your friends, and want to get more out of your holiday by trying something new?

If that’s the case, rest assured that ski holidays in Austria don’t actually have to involve skiing all day, every day. In fact, all leading resorts have a wide range of other sports and activities you can try in the evening or daytime – perfect if you’ve got friends or family that want to come on holiday with you but don’t ski.

Today we’re going to take a look at some of the most exciting alternative winter activities out there, as well as some of the best places to try them. Who knows? It might inspire you to mix it up next time you book at trip to the Alps.


High Rope Course in Niederau

High Rope Course in Niederau
Take an afternoon off skiing to try the high rope course in the Wildschönau. This Go-Ape type activity is open all year round and claims to be the highest of its kind in Austria. The 27 different ‘stations’ are all between 17 and 21 metres above the ground and provide an exciting and challenging rope course for any adrenaline seekers out there. This fun (but challenging, so be prepared) course is open to children and adults over 140cm.

You can enjoy breathtaking views of the Inn Valley and over to the Wilder Kaiser Mountains as you swing from the trees before heading back to the hotel for a warming Gluwhein or two.


Horse Sleigh Riding in Ischgl

Horse Sleigh Riding in Ischgl
Yes, you really can ride through the snow in winter in Ischgl. Enjoy the fresh mountain air on an exhilarating horse-drive sleigh ride through a snowy winter landscape. Snuggle under warm blankets and listen to the snow crunching underneath galloping hooves, exploring an unspoilt winter landscape.

You’ll see the parts of Ischgl that most tourists aren’t lucky enough to experience! There’s more information on ischgl.com right here, if you plan on trying it.


Hot Air Ballooning in Filzmoos

Hot Air Ballooning in Filzmoos
Next up, balloon rides in Filzmoos. This is a fabulous activity where you glide over the snow-topped mountains. Take in the beautiful icy views and blue sky, or book your balloon ride for sunrise or sunset to enhance the experience. The best time of the year for ballooning in the region is during the annual International Balloon Festival, help here each January, where you can see colourful balloons from all around the world.


Ice Climbing in Mayrhofen

Ice Climbing in Mayrhofen
Whether you’re already a mountain enthusiast or fancy trying this out for the first time with an expert guide, ice climbing in Mayrhofen will be an extra adrenaline kick on your holiday that you won’t forget. You’ll need climbing boots and crampons on your feet, two ice axes, along with a harness and helmet when you take part in this exhilarating sport. It’s essential to be accompanied by a mountain guide, and tours are offered for all abilities.

If you’re not feeling too confident, you can try the sport indoors before bravely venturing onto a frozen waterfall at Schettla’s Boulder Hall, with its 120 square metres climbing surface and colour co-ordinated climbing routes. You’ll need plenty of upper body strength though, or you may struggle.


Ice Karting in Saalbach

Ice Karting in Saalbach
You mustn’t leave Saalbach without trying out Austria’s only ice karting centre. Much like go-karting, but on a 3.5km circuit of snow and ice, vehicles are fitted with spiked wheels that allow them some traction on the slippery track. Not much traction though, and that’s the fun of it – you’re guaranteed to slide and skid as you make your way round. Safety helmets, gloves and professional instruction are provided on site.

If you opt to try you hand at ice carting on an evening, you’re in for a treat, as the track is fully floodlit for night racing. Don’t expect to have a relaxing evening, but do expect a thrilling one!


Ice Skating in Alpbach

Ice Skating in Alpbach
Ice skating is a lovely après-ski activity, especially when you are in surroundings as beautiful as those around Alpbach’s ice rink. Austria’s most beautiful village (yes, it was really named that), has an outdoor ice rink open from 1pm to 5pm seven days a week.

Skate hire is not available from the rink itself, but you can hire ice skates from local sports shops. This is a brilliant, fairly relaxing activity for all ages. And what a picturesque setting to do it in, too.


Nordic Walking in Zell am See

Nordic Walking in Zell am See
Normally thought of as a summer sport, nordic walking in Zell am See is also popular in winter. Numerous trails here are perfectly suited for nordic walking tours. This is great training for the whole body, gets the heart rate up, but won’t have you sweating and panting.

A particularly enjoyable sport when it takes place in beautiful mountain scenery. What could be more satisfying than exploring icy mountain trails in the fresh air with friends and family, or even by yourself.


Paragliding in Sölden

Paragliding in Sölden
Experience flying above the clouds with a bird’s eye view of Soelden’s snowy pistes and valleys. Flights start 200 metres from the Giggijoch gondola and take you up to 2270 metres high above the resort. This ultimate adventure starts with a free fall – but don’t worry, novice paragliders can do a tandem flight with an experienced guide. You can choose to fly with or without skis.

This will be a feeling you can’t come close to imagining until you try it. So if you want to glide close to the sky and experience weightlessness with stunning panoramas, this is an activity you’ve got to try out. There’s more information about paragliding in Soelden right here.


Snowshoeing in St Johann in Tirol

Snowshoeing in St Johann in Tirol
This is a good option for non-skiers who want to enjoy their surroundings and at the same time get some exercise. Or maybe you simply fancy getting away from the slopes for the day and seeing an unusual side to St Johann in Tirol on showshoes. The shoes themselves look a bit like tennis rackets which are then attached to your boots to prevent you from sinking through the snow. A hike through the snow is a unique experience and you can hire a guide to show you the best routes through the snow.

There’s a range of cleared trails of varying difficulty levels so this is an activity for you no matter what your level of fitness may be. You’ll feel it the next day in your legs, but exploring a dreamy winter wonderland will be something you’ll be glad you did.


Snowtubing in Ellmau

Snowtubing in Ellmau
For snowtubing in Ellmau – a modern reimagining of tobogganing – head for the TOP ski school’s meeting point. You’ll ride up the longest covered magic conveyor belt in the Alps to the start, before sliding down the 120-metre Funpiste in your inflated tube (like a large rubber ring) either at high-speed, swirling in circles, or at a more leisurely pace if you prefer.

It takes places on a floodlit track three times a week until 10pm, with loud music to enhance your blast down the mountain. This is certainly a unique way to spend your evening, so if you feel like an evening off the Jaegerbombs, give it a go!


Thermal Spas in Bad Kleinkirchheim

Thermal Spas in Bad Kleinkirchheim
Does any other wintersports resort in the world combines spa-ing with skiing in such an impressive way? Not that I know of. In fact, the village’s own slogan is: ‘From the piste to the spa’, so you know they take it pretty seriously. The 12,000-square-metre Römerbad Thermal Spa is one of the most beautiful alpine-inspired spas in Europe. Soothe your aching muscles with a gentle swim in the huge pool or by chilling out in the outdoor area.

There are plenty of saunas and steam rooms as well as some unusual spa treatments if you’re looking to treat yourself, including a mint-chocolate steam room scrub. Also a great way to spend a white-out day if the slopes aren’t calling your name.


Wildlife Tours in Lech

Wildlife Tours in Lech
Not what you’d expect to do on a ski holiday, but once a week there are guided hikes to watch the wildlife in Lech. Wild animals, particularly the native red deer, are shy creatures and it’s not often that you can spot them in the wild. However, during the winter when food becomes scarce, deer come close to populated areas, meaning you can watch from close up feeding at dusk.

With an expert guide accompanying you to answer all your questions as well as knowing the exact spots to observe, you can spend the early evening surrounded by Lech’s incredible nature – not to mention take some fantastic pictures.


What Do You Think?

Get the Most Out of Your Holiday - Don't Be Lazy
So get the absolute most out of your holiday to Austria – don’t laze around in your thermal underwear when the ski boots come off at the end of the day! Don’t be afraid to take an afternoon off skiing to challenge yourself in a new way or to get that adrenaline rush you’ve been hoping for.

Look further than the ski lifts when it comes to adrenaline seeking or simply relaxation this winter, and take advantage of Austria’s huge range of beautiful resorts and all they have to offer.

Max Hardy is a director of ski information website Welove2ski.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 21.02.2015  |   No comments

Vienna Insider Tips


By Niklas Kadoch


There are many great different places for having fun with your friends and family.

In my opinion the whole family will be able to tell a hilarious story to their friends after visiting Vienna.


First of all, it is not just the places you go to. It does not matter where exactly in Vienna you are, you will always find pleasant people who will not hesitate to help you.

However, if you want to tell your friends and family one of the best stories you can possibly relate to them, you definitely have to go to Vienna at least once in your lifetime.


So if you have not planned to go to Vienna, you should do it now.

It has a lot to offer you. There are places like “Prater”, “Donauzentrum”, “Stadthalle Wien”, “Oper”, “Parlament”, “Schönbrunn”, “Burgtheater”, ”Rathaus”, “DC Tower”, which counts as the highest building in Austria, and still a lot more.


For example the Prater is an Amusement Park for everyone to visit and have fun. You are able to ride with roller coasters and do all different kinds of activities there. Plus there is a huge park right next to it, not even ten meters away where you are able to play football/ soccer or some other kinds of sports. You even have a Skate- and a bicycle arena where you can just drive for fun if you want to or challenge other people.

The Donauzentrum is a great place for shopping. It does not matter what you need, you will find it in this shopping mall. It has got everything from food to clothes and shoes. But here is a good tip from my personal side. If you like it more quiet and where you do not have to “fight” for the dress or shirt that fits you perfectly, you should check out the “Stadion Center”. The Stadion Center has some positive sides too. It is easy to reach with the tube (U-Bahn) and with the bus or by car of course.

If you have children and they are with you at the mall and you need some alone time, you can drop them at the kids fun zone, buy and do what you want to do alone and pick them up as soon as you are finished.

Nevertheless you will enjoy your time at the Stadthalle Wien as well. They have always got some amazing shows. If I would have the chance to go there I would buy a ticket as soon as I can and just watch the show. For me it does not matter what is on their program. I just recommend it to everyone. I have watched motorbike shows in there and a dinosaur show when I was nine years old.


I also have been in the DC Tower. It was incredible. You have such a beautiful view over Vienna and there is a bar in the highest level. If that is not paradise, what is!? Drinking cocktails and just enjoying the view.


Are you someone who wants to enjoy his time and have a lot of fun? Then Vienna is the right city for you.

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 Anna Blum on 17.02.2015  |   No comments

Five Amazing Events in Austria Worth Booking a Ski Holiday For

by Max Hardy

Five Amazing Events in Austria Worth Booking a Ski Holiday For
A great ski holiday doesn’t have to be all about skiing. In fact, these days more and more people are headings to the mountains for a hybrid trip where skiing or snowboarding isn’t the only activity experienced. That could mean taking advantage of the wide array of other winter sports on offer in many resorts – such as tobogganing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and dog-sledding.

But that’s not the only way to mix it up. In recent years, one of the most rapidly-emerging formats of ski holiday in Austria is the special event holiday. From live music to major competitions like the Alpine World Cup, there have never been so many amazing events taking place in the Alps as there are in 2015.

Today I want to show you a handful of the most exciting ones taking in place in Austria for the rest of the season. If you’re interested in finding new ways to enjoy the Alps, they’re well worth checking out.


February: Audi Alpine Ski World Cup

Audi Alpine Ski World Cup
Place: Saalbach-Hinterglemm has a similar hard-partying atmosphere to the more famous St Anton, but with skiing much better suited to less experienced skiers. The resort is set in a long, forested valley called the Glemmtal, with Saalbach and its neighbour Hinterglemm surrounded by a 200km circuit of mainly intermediate-friendly pistes. Recently the two adjoining villages have developed a fantastic reputation for their après-ski scene, which gets underway by 4pm and continues until the early hours. The town has a laid-back atmosphere with frequent live music taking place in the main square.

Date: 22 February, 2015.

The Event: Alpine Skiing World Cup action returns to Saalbach-Hinterglemm with races in the men’s Super G and Downhill disciplines. More event information here.

What to Expect: An atmosphere like no other. Even if you thought ski racing wasn’t your thing, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Stand among the roaring crowds and soak up the excitement as the best racers in the world fly through the crisp mountain air, regularly reaching speeds of well over 80mph. Tickets, heavy security and other restrictions that you might expect at an event in the UK are also at a minimum – so you can choose to ski or hike up with a picnic in your backpack and watch the races from halfway down the mountain. Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy the sunshine – and you’ll certainly be able to take in the stunning views as well as the pure thrill of the race.

Price: It’s free; you just need a valid lift pass for which prices start at £166 for six days. Alternatively, VIP packages which include a full day of food, drink, lift pass and seats in the grandstand cost €280 (£207).


March: Altitude Comedy Festival

Altitude Comedy Festival
Place: Mayrhofen is a picturesque town in the Ziller Valley, renowned for its lively atmosphere and buzzing nightlife as well as its wealth of excellent skiable terrain. Here you’ll find stunning alpine peaks, panoramic snow-covered plateaux, pine forests and one of Austria’s best-known pistes – the incredibly steep Harakiri (check out this GoPro footage of it here), as well as an award-winning terrain park. With 159km of varied pistes, as well as an astonishing amount of skiing in the neighbouring resorts of the Zillertal, it’s particularly good for beginners, intermediates, freestylers, and anyone who likes their pistes steep and deep.

Date: 23-27 March, 2015.

The Event: The world’s number one alpine comedy festival featuring some of the top comedians from around the globe. More event information here.

What to Expect: A truly unique experience that combines the thrills of a top-notch comedy festival with the adrenalin rush of a ski holiday. Expect six days of hitting the pistes in the spring sunshine with your friends before heading to the après-ski shows, and laughing at your favourite comedians. The shows go on until late with a party vibe that doesn’t end until the sun comes up for another fantastic day of skiing. You’ll squeeze into 100-capacity bars to watch O2 arena-filling acts and you’ll love every second of it. This year’s line up features panel show favourites Bill Bailey, Sean Lock and Marcus Brigstocke, as well as performances from a wide array of other upcoming talent. So whether you want a week of hardcore skiing and solid partying until dawn or a quieter holiday with some gentle runs and amusing early evening comedy shows, this will be a brilliant event for anyone attending. What could be more relaxing after your first day back on the slopes than settling down in a warm bar full of laughter, sipping a Glühwein?

Price: Entry wristbands for five fabulous days of comedy are just £180.


April: Snowbombing, Europe’s #1 Snow and Music Festival

Snowbombing, Europe's #1 Snow and Music Festival
Place: Yet another world-class event in Mayrhofen – more details above.

Date: 6-11 April, 2015.

The Event: The 15th year of Europe’s biggest snow and music festival. More event information here.

What to Expect: Picture yourself dancing in a crowd of 5,000 people to your favourite DJ with a backdrop of beautiful snow-topped mountains. Add fresh air, blue skies, music from the likes of Fatboy Slim plus an incredible atmosphere, and you’re starting to get the picture. Head to Snowbombing and you’ll enjoy a whole week of world class DJs and bands in this idyllic alpine setting, spending your days skiing and enjoying music on mountain-top stages and your nights in an igloo watching even more cutting-edge performances. You’ll never dance this close to the stars again.

Price: Prices start from only £334 for 5 nights’ accommodation and festival wristband, with deposits priced at only £125.


April: Hannibal in the Alps Theatre Spectacular

Hannibal in the Alps Theatre Spectacular
Place: Sölden is a large village with high-altitude, mainly intermediate skiing and two glaciers with year-round skiing. It’s often compared with its similarly high-altitude neighbour Obergurgl, but has a younger and more vibrant après-ski scene. From around 3pm until 7pm the village turns into a party location, with crowds thronging the terraces of the many open bars along the main street. The party atmosphere continues throughout the evening and night, with a dozen nightclubs staying open until the early hours.

Date: 17 April, 2015.

The Event: A piece of experimental theatre telling the story of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps. No-one really knows the route the Carthaginian general took in 247BC on his way from Spain to the gates of Rome. But one theory is that this is where he crossed into Italy with his 26,000 men and 38 war elephants. More event information here.

What to Expect: Expect to be amazed by this modern, breathtaking performance. The theatrical production takes place more than 1000 metres above sea level on a staggeringly big outdoor stage made from snow and ice – which makes a change from sitting in a cramped theatre in London, right? Some 500 actors, dancers and acrobatic skiers perform as the warriors, with snow-grooming machines standing in as war elephants. As well as this you’ll be able to marvel at base jumpers, helicopters, artificial avalanches, explosions, incredible lighting effects, fireworks and the state-of-the-art film projection. Spend the evening watching this one-of-a-kind spectacle under the night sky with a snow and ice backdrop sculptured into a Mayan Pyramid. Be sure to charge your camera because this will be a spectacle like no other.

Price: Packages for two nights including lift-passes start at £194.


May: Top of the Mountain Concert

Top of the Mountain Concert
Place: Ischgl is a compact, traditional-style Austrian village tucked away south of St Anton in the long, narrow Paznaun valley. It has a superb ski area of over 230km, mostly nice and high, as well as some good off-piste skiing. You can ski from here across the border to Samnaun in Switzerland – which is duty free, so be sure to bring a backpack so you can stock up on perfume, alcohol and electrical goods! Ischgl itself is renowned for its incredible lift system: it’s modern, speedy, and some of the lifts even have heated seats. Down in the resort there is a big party scene with plenty of late-night dancing and bars to try.

Date: 2 May, 2015.

The Event: A world-class pop concert on the snowy peaks of the Alps. More event information here.

What to Expect: A giant open-air stage in the mountains with a megastar yet to be announced (past performers include Robbie Williams, Elton John, James Blunt and Pink), performing at 2300 metres. You’ll be amongst 24,000 tourists and seasonaires in the crowd surrounding the world-famous Idalp-stage. Few things could be more incredible than enjoying a live concert with such an impressive alpine backdrop. After an early start to catch the best snow before it gets too slushy by midday, you’ll be ready for an amazing afternoon. Spirits will be high and the atmosphere will be buzzing as Ischgl celebrates the season finale. A concert on the mountain is something you’ll remember forever, and what a way to end the season this will be!

Max Hardy is a director of ski information website Welove2ski.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 16.02.2015  |   No comments

Hiking in Austria – 4 Highlights from Summer 2014

Hiking in Austria (c) Ross Priestlyby Ross Priestly

My love for mountains began with my Dad taking me on hikes as a boy, so last summer I decided to return the favour with a hiking trip to Austria. We stayed for 2 weeks using hotels, guest houses and mountain huts for accommodation and a hired car for transport. Armed with my trusty “Walking in Austria” Cicerone guide book, I was able to find dozens of day and multi-day walks to suit the ability level of our group, including my Dad’s partner who had never climbed a mountain prior to 2014 and my wife who was 15 weeks pregnant. The holiday was fantastic. Austria was as beautiful as ever, with breathtaking scenery around every corner. The warm welcome and excellent tourism infrastructure that has brought me back time and time again has left just as much of an impression on my Dad. I could go on for hours about hiking in Austria, so decided to narrow it down to 4 highlights from our 2014 trip.Lünersee (c) Ross Priestly


1. Lünersee Circuit and Totalp Hut

Located at the head of the Brandnertal, the Lünersee is easily reached by cable car. We started our walk quite late in the day and walked up to the Totalp hut to spend the night. With friendly staff, beer on tap, hot showers and delicious hot meals we were very comfortable. The views from the hut early the following morning were out of this world!


2. Radsattel and Wiesbadener Hut

Marmot Radsattel (c) Ross PriestlyThe 2652m Radsattel is the highest point on the circular walk we started at the Silvretta Stausee and offers amazing views of Piz Buin. This route was one of the more demanding ones we tackled, so we opted to spend a very enjoyable night in the Wiesbadener Hut. A dusting of July snow made the higher parts of the walk a little more interesting and the views that bit more spectacular! We particularly enjoyed spending time watching some playful marmots.


3. Hohe Mut and Langtalereck Hut

Hohe Mut (c) Ross PriestlyThis walk made for a very relaxed day in the mountains. The 2659m Hohe Mut can be accessed directly by cable car from Obergurgl, allowing a very pleasant walk along the Rotmoostal. With plenty of energy left, we ventured up the Gurglertal to the Langtalereck Hut for refreshments and a gentle stroll back to Obergurgl. Mountains, glaciers, rivers and a cold pint of beer, a great day out!


4. Sudetendeutscher Höhenweg

This 2-day walk marked the literal and metaphorical high point of our trip. It was by far the most demanding of the Sudetendeutsche Hut (c) Ross Priestlywalks, but also the most rewarding. The route follows a grassy ridge before crossing the rocky 2823m Dürrenfeldscharte and descending to the spectacularly positioned Sudetendeutsche Hut. By using the Goldried cableway, total ascent is kept down to 720m, and apart from a short steep descent from the col, supported by a fixed cable, the route isn’t technically difficult.

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 Anna Blum on 11.02.2015  |   No comments

Impress the Locals on an Austrian Ski Holiday With These Simple Phrases

by Max Hardy

Impress the Locals on an Austrian Ski Holiday With These Simple Phrases

If you’re like me, ‘Sprechen Sie Englisch?’ is often your best bet at expressing yourself as a British tourist on a ski holiday in Austria. But just in case the answer is a dreaded ‘nein’, or you simply want to make a good impression with the locals, it’s handy to have a smattering of the local lingo up your sleeve.

If you want to get the most out of your holiday and make some new friends along the way, then now is the time to have a crack at the old Deutsch. Don’t worry though, I’m here to help. Take a few minutes to digest this article, and refresh yourself by reading again before your next trip, and you’ll be a couple steps closer to being the perfect tourist.

Let’s start with a simple hello. First, you’ll know you’re in Austria because everyone you meet after 10am says ‘Grüß Gott’, which quite literally means ‘greetings God’ – except it has little to do with religion and is said by religious and non-religious Austrians alike. It’s just what they say.

Before 10am you say ‘Guten Morgen’, which means (you guessed it) ‘good morning’. At any time of day, if you are on first name terms, you can say ‘servus’ instead. This is the equivalent of ‘alright mate’ or ‘hello love’.


In the Bar or Restaurant

Bar - Impress the Locals on an Austrian Ski Holiday With These Simple Phrases
‘Bitte’ means ‘please’. It has nothing to do with bitter which, while we’re on the subject, is largely unavailable unless you happen to find yourself in a proper British pub like The Scotland Yard Pub in Mayrhofen or The Londoner in Kitzbühel. Even then it’s mostly lager, too (The Londoner is even sponsored by Austrian brewery Stiegl).

‘Thanks’ is ‘danke’, and ‘thank you very much’ is ‘vielen Dank’ but you could also say ‘dankeschön’. When you say it, the other person will echo back ‘bitte schön’ which often leaves me a bit confused. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to say anything back – it just means ‘it’s a pleasure.’

While we’re still on beer (which we weren’t, I admit), a pint is ‘ein großes Bier’ and half a pint is ‘ein kleines Bier’. Draught beer is ‘vom Fass’ and if you don’t want to end up with an overpriced small bottle of imported Carlsberg, make sure you remember to say it.

Beer is as much a part of the Austrian way of life as Lederhosen or Strudel – whether it’s a large or a little one consumed at lunch time, during après-ski or in the bar at night, you can’t really go wrong.

Inevitably it follows that, a few ice cold glasses of Stiegl in, you’ll need the loo. ‘Wo sind die Toiletten?’ should get you pointed in the right direction. In a mountain restaurant, they’re nearly always downstairs which is an effort in ski boots, so prepare yourself for that. Damen is the ladies and Herren is the gents.

‘die nächste Runde geht auf mich’ meaning ‘I’ll get the next beer’ is useful for impressing your new ski friends at the self-service mountain restaurant (or indeed anywhere). And after you’ve said that, your friends may offer to get the food. When he or she asks whether you want Bratwurst (veal or pork filled sausages cooked in beer or broth) or Knackwurst (oak wood smoked veal and pork garlicky sausages) you can say ‘das ist mir Wurst’ which quite literally translates as ‘that’s sausages to me’ but means something along the lines of the typically English ‘I don’t mind’. Now you’re punning in German!

‘Mein Freund wird bezahlen’ meaning ‘my friend will pay’ is always useful in any language and will leave your friend confused and wishing they had some command of the German language. ‘Ich bin Vegetarier’ meaning ‘I am a vegetarian’ is also useful if you’re not a big meat eater, but often useless in a land where Fleisch (meat) and Knödel (suet dumplings) rule – although this is now rapidly changing.

‘Es war lecker’ meaning ‘it was delicious’ – will come in handy after tasting the pudding that made Austria famous: Apfel Strudel. And if you liked that, be sure to check out some of the other mouthwatering dishes no Austrian ski trip should be without.


On the Chairlift

Chairlift - Impress the Locals on an Austrian Ski Holiday With These Simple Phrases
We’ve all been there – entranced by an attractive person sharing the chairlift with us. Instead of quietly eyeing up your companion from behind goggles and a neckwarmer, why not strike up conversation – your German may not be perfect but you’ll certainly get bonus points for trying, right?

‘Wie geht’s?’ is the simplest way of saying ‘how’s it going?’ to someone of similar age. But maybe you find yourself on a chairlift with somebody you got to know pretty well the previous night in the bar, in which case ‘na?’ is the best option. Not to be confused with ‘na und?’ Which means ‘so what?’ or ‘what’s your point?’ and may come off a little harsh for early morning chairlift small talk.

For awkward morning-after encounters, ‘nur weil wir letzte Nacht zusammen geschlafen haben, bedeutet es nicht dass wir heute zusammen Skifahren machen werden’ is a complex but useful line to have up your sleeve – meaning ‘just because we slept together last night it doesn’t mean I’m going to ski with you today.’ Don’t blame me – I first heard that one from the mouth of an Austrian ski racer (no, he wasn’t speaking to me).

‘Der Schnee ist wunderbar, oder?’ your lift buddy might remark, which means ‘isn’t the snow wonderful?’ And if it is wonderful – which it will be – ‘das stimmt’ is always a safe response, meaning something like ‘isn’t it!’. In fact, you’ll find ‘das stimmt’ is the Austrians’ response to pretty much everything – nobody’s really sure why, but it sounds better than ‘innit mate’, anyway.

‘Mir ist kalt’ is ‘I’m cold’. Useful if it’s time to indicate you’re ready for the first gluhwein of the day. But don’t get mixed up and make the mistake of saying ‘Ich bin kalt’ which means ‘I am a cold-hearted person’. Similarly, if you’re wearing too many layers then ‘I’m hot’ is ‘mir ist heisse’, NOT ‘Ich bin heisse’ which is ‘I’m horny’.

If you wisely book your ski holiday in an off-peak week of the season, you’ll perhaps want to exclaim ‘mein Gott! Die Pisten sind so leer!’ meaning something like ‘bloody hell the mountain’s empty!’ We all have memories of ski weeks with everlasting lift queues that resemble the mosh pit at a heavy metal show. You needn’t relive it. Book your holiday in early December or in January or March and you’ll find you have the slopes almost to yourself! Wunderbar!

Other chairlift chat up lines include ‘Machst du allein Skifahren?’ (‘are you skiing alone?’) and of course the most important, ‘Sollen wir eine heiße Schokolade Pause nehmen?’ (’shall we stop for a hot chocolate?’). Nothing can beat a day whooshing down a mountain then sitting in the bright sun, surrounded by snow-covered peaks, simply wearing a t-shirt and sipping on a hot chocolate and rum.


In the Disco

Disco - Impress the Locals on an Austrian Ski Holiday With These Simple Phrases
Why is it that after a few Jägermeisters you can suddenly speak the local language fluently? Ok maybe you’re slurring a bit, but – per this article on slate.com – studies have shown that alcohol’s ability to lower your inhibitions really does make you better at speaking a foreign language.

Austria has some unique drinks which go hand-in-hand with skiing and après ski. Make sure you try a Flügel (cranberry vodka and Red Bull), or a vodka and Spezi (a bizarre mix of Fanta and Coke) – both will be sure to make you happy after a long day’s skiing. ‘Eine weitere Lage’ is ‘another round of drinks’ and nightclub is der Nachtklub or Diskothek.

If that’s what you’re looking for, try one of Austria’s biggest party destinations, Soelden. With its 45 different après ski bars and eight nightclubs, you won’t be disappointed. Ischgl also has a brilliant nightlife scene, or Nachlebenszene. If you’re unsure where to go, ask any passer-by ‘Wo ist die nächste Diskothek?’ meaning ‘where is the nearest club?’ or do your research before you go so you know where to head.

The Austrians party harder than you can imagine, and although at the beginning of the night you may be asking ‘warum tanzen sie auf den Tischen?’ (‘why are they dancing on the tables?’), after ein paar Getränke (a few drinks) you’ll be up there with them saying ‘bitte nicht mehr Fotos!’ (‘stop taking photos!’). But of course they won’t stop, because you with a goggle tan line dancing on a table at Schirm in Solden or downing a Spiegelei at Feuer & Eis in Ischgl is just too good to not feature on tomorrow’s Facebook newsfeed. Spiegelei, by the way, literally translates as ‘fried eg’’ and are shots served in real eggshells.


If In Doubt, Style It Out

Style - Impress the Locals on an Austrian Ski Holiday With These Simple Phrases
So don’t let your poor language skills be the reason you don’t book a ski holiday this year. Most Austrians – at least those in ski resorts – do speak English, but pull out a few of these phrases and you’ll find your way around the mountain and village with ease! If in doubt, say the English word in a German accent and a lot of the time it will be along the right line. I’m not kidding: ski = Ski, piste = Piste, ice = Eis. See? You’re already semi-fluent.

Max Hardy is a director of ski information website Welove2ski.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 06.02.2015  |   No comments

To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started

by Max Hardy

SkiWorkShop - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started

The ski season is here again and soon all of your friends will be sorting out their beanies and backpacks ready to brave the slopes on two planks.

Every year the snow reports come in, and every year you stay behind. Something always comes up, doesn’t it?. Your friends return with tales of Gluhwein and amazing food on the mountainside, horizons as far as the eye can see, and blasting out of that first lift like a World Cup winner in the starting gate. And what you really miss are the little things: the happy faces, the après-ski stories, flying down those black runs and dropping “hey, are you single?” in the lift queue, and sinking into a bubbling hot tub back at the chalet.

Sound familiar? Then it’s time you took a long hard look at those so-called ‘reasons’ that have stopped you heading to the Alps in recent years. Let me take you through them, show you why they can be easily dismissed, and then you’ll really have no option but to get cracking.

In other words: if you want to get back into skiing again but don’t know where to get started, I’ve got you covered. The truth is getting out there is easier than ever.


Reason 1: “It’s so expensive!”

Expensive? - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started
When February half-term at a top resort in the Alps for a family of four comes in at over £4,000, it’s no surprise that the biggest obstacle keeping many of us from returning to the slopes is the price of the thing.

But whilst skiing is never going to be a cheap holiday, it needn’t cost a fortune. Sure, there’ll always be the loaded Martini-advert lookalikes willing to spend it big at the top resorts. But for the rest of us the good news is: tour operators are trying to offload some pretty fantastic deals. In fact there’s some great skiing to be had out there.

Here are some easy ways to get more for your Euro this season:



Whoever said the key to everything is patience clearly never stood elbow-to-elbow in a lift queue. It’s hard to say which is worse about a ski resort at capacity: the traffic jams in mountain restaurants, the crowded pistes, or paying top prices to boot.

February half-term is notorious – transport and accommodation will cost a fortune and the queues for lifts can be interminable. With some flexibility and careful planning, though, there’s a solution to overcoming these problems: go when it’s quieter.

The cheapest months to ski are early December (the start of the season), January (short days and snow storms), March and April (apart from the Easter weeks).

If you want to experience a world-class ski area, consider staying in a satellite village. It’ll be cheaper than the main resort and you can still ski the entire mountain. Places like Soll, Höpfgarten, Brixen and Ellmau, along Austria’s Orion’s Belt of skiing, offer easy cruising on pleasantly wooded slopes, and all come in at a super-low price point compared to the larger towns on the same lift pass.



If you’re inflexible about dates or resorts, monitor the online deals pages of your preferred ski holiday website with the assiduity of a Facebook addict. If hotel rooms and apartments are still unsold a couple of weeks before the departure date, you can reasonably expect tour operators to slash their prices.

The Ski Club of Great Britain and Welove2ski.com are two of the most indispensable resources when researching ski resorts, deals and current snow conditions.

If you’re piecing together your own deal, consider the hidden costs that are unique to a ski holiday. For example, there’s the special clothing and equipment you’ll need (more on that shortly), refresher ski lessons if your skills need brushing up, and a lift pass.

In fact, lift passes will be one of your major costs, and tour operators buy theirs in bulk. It’s often more cost-effective to buy your 6-day pass through them – call and ask if they have any surplus lift pass vouchers to sell.

The simplest solution in this area, though, is to just go inclusive. Find a package deal that includes the lot at a good price, and benefit from the bargaining power of a larger tour operator.

For example, packages offered as part of Austria’s Ski Again programme include flights, transfers, 7-night half-board accommodation, a 6-day lift pass and 6-day ski hire, plus a 16-hour small group refresher training course with a local instructor. You better believe it’d cost a lot more to purchase all these things on your own!

You can find more information about that Ski Again programme at the end of this article.



Now, you can’t skimp on water – especially at those high altitudes – but it also doesn’t make sense to spend £4 on a bottle you’ll probably gulp down in two minutes. Pack a small refillable water bottle, or even better wear a Camelbak, so you can stay hydrated while saving money.

The same goes for food – the most hardcore ski bums I know wouldn’t be seen dead in mountain restaurant. They pack their own lunch in the morning and eat it on the chairlift. Money saved + more ski time = a winning strategy.

Now, ski clothing. Got none of your own? Then borrow. It’s easy to spot the types who dress to impress and can’t really ski. Good skiers wear whatever works, no matter how mismatched. Start by recycling the things you already own: thermals, your waterproof winter jacket, and sunglasses. As for the things you don’t: borrow helmets, ski gloves, ski pants and goggles from friends. It’s the done thing.


Reason 2: “Don’t you need all your own gear?”

Ski Equipment - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started
We’ve all been there: the ski hire boots that were near impossible to get into, that crushed your feet, smelled like cheese and a sweaty Danny DeVito. The ski edges that were blunt with poles so old and so bent that you vowed never again to hire ski equipment.

But that was then. Now, with ski hire shops offering the very best in high-quality equipment and airlines charging for sports equipment, it really makes you think twice before splashing out on brand new ski gear.

Charges made by airlines vary, but some add as much as £54 return for one piece of sports equipment. That’s a fair chunk on top of the cost of your holiday just to take those Atomic Redsters you’re ogling right now along for the ride. Plus there’s always the chance that they’ll arrive damaged, or not at all. Once at the airport you’ll have to lug them to the transfer bus, too.

Considering some ski shops charge as little as £65 for ski and boot hire per week, travelling with skis does seem like a great deal of effort.

Another thing to bear in mind is snow conditions. It only takes a small rock to butcher your cherished skis or board, and, unlike hire shops, you probably won’t have the state-of-the-art tools to repair them which means forking out yet more money to have them fixed.

Meanwhile, Inghams says that: ‘provided you take every precaution to safeguard hired equipment, the Inghams insurance policy covers you for all loss or damage.’ So, unless you throw your skis under a snow machine, it’s pretty smooth sailing.


Reason 3: “I’ve been away for too long.”

It's Never Too Late - To People That Want To Get Back Into Skiing But Can’t Get Started
Forget dodgy knees and broken wrists. The one thing that a doctor can’t fix is the one thing that’s kept many of us away for so long: lack of confidence.

You’re too old to go back.

You’ve been thinking it. Pictured, even, speeding down the mountainside like a wrecking ball, knocking people over like fancy-jacketed bowling pins.

You won’t remember anything.

You’ll struggle to keep up.

If anything, the opposite is true. Most of the changes in ski design share a common goal, and that is: to make turning easier. Take the most recent development, the rocker. The easiest way to think about it is to imagine the legs of your grandmother’s rocking chair. As the tips and tails come up on both sides, so now does the modern recreational ski, with a manoeuvrability that is so much lighter.

It was an innovation originally intended only for experts, as rocker skis and snowboards offer superior float in soft or deep snow. But manufacturer K2 soon realised that for a less experienced skier, having some rocker in the tip and the tail made the ski easier to start to turn and release from turns and minimises the risk of catching an edge by pulling the tip up to skim over a surface – inspiring confidence.

Developments like these are just some of the reasons why skiing is constantly becoming simpler, less physical, and more effortless than ever.

But in any case, superbly groomed slopes, true mountain charm and a side dish of tobogganing, snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides mean you can take it all at your own pace.



Because it’s all about being free in the mountains. “There used to be a pressure to get in as many runs as possible,” says Petra Hutter-Tillian from the Ski Instructors Association Salzburg. “Nowadays the focus is on fun, absorbing the fresh air and the peace and calm.”

And when you get right down to it, carving up the slopes certainly beats lunging at the gym. The proper squatted posture and all the moving you do on that downhill ski will help to tone your lower body muscles, particularly the glutes and thighs. Then there’s the 400 odd calories you’re burning – more than a regular session on the treadmill.

When your workouts have become stagnant, or your results have reached a plateau over time, the fastest way to shake up a regimen is to challenge your body in a new way.

So don’t stay behind. Make this the year that you join your friends for an après-ski Gluhwein on the mountainside, fly down those black runs and relax in a Jacuzzi back in the resort.

It’s never too late to go back to skiing again.

Max Hardy is a director of ski information website Welove2ski.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 20.01.2015  |   No comments

Late Christmas Presents in Montafon

Jean Massad Skiing (c) Chris Loerkeby Matt Clark

It was a strange start to the ski season in the Northern Alps. A late October snowfall gave way to worryingly warm and sunny weather through November and December, and snow panic was starting to set in. Constant refreshing of resort reports yielded no hope, ski forums were filled with threads of despair as the Christmas holiday weeks approached, and a state of weary resignation permeated the air. Some resorts managed limited openings, and we scrambled to track the limited amounts of piste-side powder available, but things weren’t looking good. We headed back to our various homes for Christmas, praying that things would look better on our return…


Praise be to the bearded one in red: Santa delivered our presents in the end! Shortly after Christmas Frau Holle’s beautiful white bounty began to fall like benison upon the heads of the faithful, and winter was back on track. As the LUEX Snow Travel team re-convened in our Top Secret Alpine HQ, we were astounded at the depths of snow lying on what just a few weeks before were verdant green fields and pine forests: Vorarlberg was right in the firing line of the storm, and scored big time. Giggling like children, we made plans to meet for first lifts, and went to bed.


The next morning we met up at St Gallenkirch in Austria’s Montafon valley, one of Europe’s lesser-known freeride gems, and headed straight for the Garfrescha lift. Diving off the piste and into the pow was a revelation: this wasn’t typical dense alpine snow; it was more akin to the cold smoke of dreams that’s normally the preserve of the powder paradise Hokkaido: dry and light, billowing into clouds at the slightest disturbance, and well over 40cms of it. With exclamations of disbelief (“OH MY GOD!” was a common theme), shouts of pure glee and more than a few expletives, we threw ourselves downhill in an orgy of faceshots, pillows and pure snow-gluttony. What a way to start the New Year!


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 Anna Blum on 15.01.2015  |   No comments

Off the Map Treasures: Austria’s Top 5 Off-Piste Spots

by Loulou Baylis 

The Snow Gods have smiled upon Austria. This winter season has proved slow-starting. With sparse snowfall in France and other parts of the Alps, Austria is one of the only snow-sure destinations. Thanks to many of the resorts being at a particularly high altitude, there’s no snow “panic” over whether there’ll be enough white stuff to cover all the mountain. While this means that the pistes may be busy with snow-hunting holiday-makers, there’s always off-piste for those of a gem-hunting disposition. Why stick to the piste when the whole mountain is your playground?

With many of the locals displaying ABS bags and freeride bindings, you’d be in safe hands hiring a guide to find the mountain’s hidden treasures. We also recommend checking out a skiing or snowboarding buying guide to make sure that you have the right skis or board for hitting the backcountry, as well as the correct safety equipment. Here, we expose our favourite off-piste spots for powder-hounds and adventurous riders alike.


FieberbrunnTirol’s Best Kept Secret: Fieberbrunn

If backcountry freeriding is what you’re after, there’s no better place to head to than the only place in Austria to hold the prestigious and extreme Freeride World Tour 2014: Fieberbrunn. The legendary Wildseeloder mountain is the venue for the world’s top off-piste riders, and is tribute to the high level of off-piste terrain that Fieberbrunn has to offer. However, if you’re testing off-piste riding for the first time, this resort holds the gentle terrain as well as the challenging, and all easily accessible from the lifts.

Although it’s often overlooked amongst its better known neighbours of Kitzbühel, Saalbach and Scheffau, Fieberbrunn is nestled between them with fresh powder waiting to be tracked. The locals have named Fieberbrunn a “Schneeloch” (snow hole), capturing all of the fresh snow when the heavens open. This “snow pocket” means that Fieberbrunn collects nearly 50% more snow than Kitzbühel over a season. It’s no surprise then that Fieberbrunn has been termed Tirol’s best kept secret.

Our top tip: ride the “Wildsee Runde” for an off-piste route you won’t forget!


SöldenMind the Gaps: Sölden

How many other resorts do you know with three mountain peaks over 3,000m, two glaciers and off-piste aplenty? If you prefer to ski the off-piste next to the piste, then Sölden offers a terrific powder trail that runs to the right of t-bar-34. Another parallel run is to the side of run-36 from the top of the Rettenbach gondola. However, as with any off-piste adventures, it’s highly recommended getting a guide to avoid those crevasses and cliffs, particularly in the steeper off-piste areas such as Wasserkar. The Sölden Freeride Centre offer guided tours to find the spots that Sölden likes to hide.

Our top tip: Sölden is peppered with difficult terrain so check your line / route carefully. Helicopters regularly have to rescue people who are unprepared, and a single fair is a cool 500 euros!


IschglPowder over Party: Ischgl

With most of the resort above 2000m, Ischgl is not the resort for those looking for powder through the tree lines. Yet, there is fun, steep powder-filled terrain to be had. Forget Ischgl’s reputation as being most prominent for partying, even though this does ensure that most people are too hungover to attempt first tracks on a bluebird morning. The off-piste potential is huge thanks to the likes of the Palinkopf and Pardatschgrat areas.

Even just heading up on one of Ischgl’s lifts, there is an endless sight of powder bowls and untracked terrain. Some of Ischgl’s “off-piste” are in fact recognised ski routes, but are unpatrolled and best attempted with a guide, such as beneath the Hollenspitz area. We recommend Skischule for your guiding needs.

Our top tip: Head to the Piz Val Gronda cable car that opened last year. With runs of 700 vertical metres, this dedicated freeride area always offers fresh tracks.


GaltürGood Things Come in Small Packages: Galtür

With only 40km of pisted terrain, it’s no surprise that skiers and snowboarders head here for an off-piste challenge. With the small village’s population of below 1000, Galtür is also the place to head to for escaping the crowds. There are only 3 chairlifts and a gondola, encouraging you to find the powder without relying on the pisted terrain. Located at high altitude, this is a resort that will offer some of the best powder, untouched and ready for those first tracks.

Our top tip: For those fresh powder days, the Ballunspitze run is a must!


St. Anton am ArlbergFreeriding before Après: St. Anton

St. Anton am Arlberg may be known for its legendary après, but before the crowds hit the Jäger, there’s plenty of powder to be found: all 200km of off-piste trails! Yet, St.Anton’s status as a freeriding Mecca is not such a well-kept secret, so it’s worth being up early in order to ensure that it’s you making the first tracks. Kapall is where the guys in the know start their day, but there’s always the mid station of Valluga Grat, via the Galzing cable car, for long unpisted runs. If you can afford it, St. Anton is also the only place in Austria where you can heli-board.

Wherever you start, your off-piste riding will most certainly involve deep virgin snow, powder bowls and fun tree lines that are hard to beat. This is a resort that encourages you to venture beyond the piste markers, and for good reason.

Our top tip: Invest in an off-piste technique refresher lesson with the experts at Piste to Powder.


Loulou Baylis is an avid skier, having spent three seasons in Tignes in the French Alps. She’s now based in London, where she combines her love of skiing with that of writing on the new ski and snowboard magazine Style Altitude.


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 Anna Blum on 06.01.2015  |   One comment

Why You Should Go Skiing in Austria This Season

Thinking about dusting off your ski jacket for a trip to the slopes this year? You’ve tried the same half dozen purpose-built resorts that everyone in the UK goes to, but there has to be more to ski holidays than that, right?

There is!

For example, a recent study of UK skiers and boarders rated five Austrian destinations in the top ten ski resorts anywhere in the world. And yet the country only makes up 28% of winter sports holidays taken by Brits each year.

If you’d consider trying somewhere new this year to reawaken your passion for the slopes, then there’s never been a better time to book a trip to the Austrian Alps. And that’s just the tip of it… there are a ton of very good reasons people choose to visit.

Here are some of them…
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 Martina Jamnig on 16.12.2014  |   No comments