- December 29, 2011
A Zulu on Skis from United Kingdom
I went to Bad Gastein for the first time in the 2005/6 season and I have been back many times since then. It is hard to beat the setting of the town with the spectacular waterfall. Despite having had more than 100 days of skiing there on various trips, it has never felt as though we were running out of options in the valley. We have had trips there any time from Christmas to a very late Easter and there are always places to ski. The ski bus network is excellent but if it is within you reach, get a car. It will add versatility and get you to where you want quicker, for that early morning ski on those satin corduroy groomed pistes.
In “Kaiser Wetter” (weather fit for a King) Sportsgastein, at 2700m, delivers some of the best views in the Eastern Alps, back down the Gastein Valley and across to Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. After fresh snow there is some great off-piste. The blue run is good for beginners not scared of a challenge and the black from the middle to the bottom will really test your control, as you approach the river at the bottom. Sportsgastein is snowsure to end April.
Stubnerkogel and Schlossalm have extensive linked skiing, snowparks and many “Hutte and Alms” to eat at. My favourite runs are Hohe Scharte Nord (H1) which if skied to the bottom is reputedly the longest run in the Eastern Alps (>14km) and Jungeralm (B19/22), both referred to in our family as “going over the back”. Angeltal is the linking ski centre, you will see a lot of it but I would advise to eat elsewhere on the mountain. It is, however, a great meeting place and fantastic for beginners. If you are one, go there to start.
Dorfgastein and Grossarl is another linked mountain with extensive skiing and well worth a visit. There are some good short wide blue slopes for beginners at the top of Kreuzkogel. I have always found the lift system on the Grossarl side a bit awkward for getting back to Dorfgastein but all in all definitely worth a day or two.
Graukogel, simply referred to a Grau in our family and, as classic onomatopoeia, pronounced with a guttural growl. Difficult to get to, slow lifts, no snow making, basic infrastructure but overwhelmingly my favourite place. Crowds, what are those? Top to middle Black and Red will have you doing circuits because you can’t get enough. The blue run is a fairy tale jeep track that I would take any 1 week in beginner on to really get them on the hook.
Night life, if you are young you have to branch out using “The Silver Bullet Bar“ as your starting point. If you have a family I would recommend doing Bellvue Alm. The rickety single seat chairlift to get up there, the views and the really traditional setting will make it an evening to remember and for those brave enough, take a toboggan to get down.
So that is the Gastein valley but your ski pass can take you much further. If you are a group of 6 or more get up early and arrange a taxi to take you to Zauchensee and do a ski safari back to Dorfgastein from there (~70km), it involves a few very short ski bus or taxi hops but tales of a finer days skiing will be hard to find after that. Another option is to head over to Hochkonig and ski the “Kings Tour” and thoroughly enjoyable snakes and ladders ski safari from Muhlbach to Marie Alm and back