Winter worlds: Austria around the corner

Photo: Stubaier Gletscher
Austria’s winter in all its facets - from relaxing to nail-biting. 4-Seasons introduces the coolest.

Awesome slopes, Wilde Grub’n

Into the powder – free riding in Stubai valley.

Photo: Stubaier Gletscher
»Even though Stubai is famous for glacier skiing, our freeride slopes are excellent too.«, says the guide from the Powder Department. »You just need to know where they are and which ones you can use.« We are up to 3000 metres, close to Daunkopf, just taking a few minutes break for the beautiful view. Then off to Glamersgrube, a large corrie with wide powder-snow slopes. Perfect for free riding with lots of powder down the steep slopes towards Wilde Grub’n. Many »Yeaaaaaaahs« and face shots later, the gondola lift and the valley station of the glacier lift are coming closer into view. Everybody knows what follows: »Up again and straight into the powder snow!«, says the guide.

Tourist Association Stubai Tirol, Dorf 3, A-6167 Neustift,
Phone: +49/501/88 10, stubai.at.

 

Once in paradise

New snowshoeing tour in Zedlacher Paradise in Hohe Tauern National Park.

Photo: TVB Osttirol/Fotowerk Nusser Aichner
A trudge through a remote winter landscape and then straight through paradise is what the ranger at the national parking house in Matrei in East Tyrol promised us. It sounded too tempting. The tour started at Trumerhof with guide Andreas Angermann. The first steps with our snow shoes are clumsy ones. You get used to the shoes pretty quickly though, and after a short ascent, the slope leads through Berwald to Zedlacher Paradise. Its name comes from the 500 year old larches that turn into a beautiful gold-brown in late autumn. A trace of a deer, a trace of a chamois, explains Andreas. Impressive too is the wrought-iron artwork in the form of ants, woodpeckers and screech-owls. After two and a half hours we reach the Wodenalm, a rustic Austrian snack-bar which is unfortunately closed during winter. So we have our goodies in our rucksack. And it is not the worst place for a snack with a wonderful view as far as to the Dolomites.

East Tyrol Information, Albin Egger Straße 17, A-9900 Lienz,
Phone: +43/50/21 22 12, osttirol.com.

 

Tyrol’s side of Zugspitze in a different light

There is just one thing: you cannot see Zugspitze when it is dark. So it is all the more fun to sledge through the night.

Photo: Tiroler Zugspitz Arena/U. Wiesmeier
It is no secret that there are excellent slopes in Tyrol’s Zugspitz Arena. But there are other pleasures too: every Tuesday and Friday evening you can go night sledging at the Ehrwalder Alm. You are not confined to narrow sledge runs but wide well prepared ski     slopes which are only open to sledging fans during these evenings. Make your way up from 6.30 pm with the Ehrwald cable car. Up top, a four kilometre long sledge run stretches out in front of you and down 400 metres. A quick jodel or two, onto the sledge, and off into the night. Faster and faster, its such a good laugh. If you happen to nosedive, you will usually fall soft into the snow. Further down, the wide slope leads into the forest and finally stops at a ski hut. By the way: a multi-day ski-ticket includes night sledging.

Tyrol’s Zugspitze Arena, Am Rettensee 1, A-6632 Ehrwald, Phone: +43/56 73/200 00, zugspitzarena.com.

 

Icy hot-spot in Maltatal

Climbing is trendy. And ice climbing is definitely the coolest version of it. Experts are especially keen on the routes in Maltatal (Malta valley) in Kärnten.

Photo: Franz Gerdl/Kärnten Werbung
»We rarely have wind in our Malta valley«, says Michael Koller. »That’s why the con­ditions are stable and the ice lasts into the spring.« Koller, training officer for the mountain rescue and an expert at ice   climbing, is at home in the Malta valley. Usually the valley in the Hohe Tauern   National Park is calm and quiet, but since ice climbers discovered the frozen waterfalls and the iced cliffs, it has turned into a real hot spot. »There are around 30 different routes, easy ones for beginners and challenging ones for experts«, adds Koller. People who come here for the first time are impressed by the names of the routes. They have names like Superfeucht (Super Wet), Kathedrale (Cathedral) and Schweinchen Dick (Porky Pig).
The best way to get to know more about all this is for someone to show you the ropes. The basics: how to put together a crampon, how to work with an ice axe and ropes, how to fix ice screws and what‘s important as a first-time ice climber. There are many top-rope routes in Malta valley where you fix the rope at the top, but there are also lead climbing routes, where you are roped up from below. A lot of information for a beginner. No surprise: it is a challenging way of alpine travel. So, get ready for the top-rope route. »Clack, clack, clack«, trying to get a firm hold with ice axes and crampons. After five metres the arms start shaking – it sure is a bit different to rock climbing.
If that all sounds a bit too tricky for the start, there are heaps of other icy alternatives in Hohe Tauern National Park. For example, you can go on guided trips through ice gorges. And there are many attractive offers in Möll valley, north of Kärnten. An ice climbing area is located in Heiligenblut south of Großglocknerstraße, and there is an illuminated ice climbing tower in Lainach. As part of the Tauern­Alpin-Outdoor program, mountain and ski guides offer courses for newcomers to ice climbing. And one day, you will return to Malta valley for a date with Porky Pig.

Visitor information Kärnten, Casinplatz 1, A-9220 Velden, Phone: +43/463/30 00, kaernten.at.

 

As free as a bird

Paragliding above snow-covered Bregenz Forest.

Photo: Bregenzerwald/Christoph Lingg
The start is always the scariest part. »We start at a sloping field so there is nothing scary about it at all.«, says Mathias Moosbrugger from the flight training school Bregenz Forest. Tandem paragliding is especially popular during winter. The top of Diedamskopf is the starting point. Count to three and we’ll take to the air. The birds-eye view of the white landscape takes about 20 minutes. We hover above snow fields, passing ski lifts and slopes. Below us is the village of Schoppernau, to the left the valley going up towards Warth and Arlberg. Suddenly you are in a flow, similar to free riding, only this time you are free like a bird.

Bregenz Forest Tourism, Impulszentrum 1135, A-6863 Egg,
Phone: +49/55 12/23 65, bregenzerwald.at.

 

The easy way

The Breitegg Gern in Wildschönau is a mountain for ski touring for beginners and experts alike.

Photo: Wildschönau Tourismus
The locals at the Schönangeralm promised us a magnificent view. The ski tour along the Breitegg Gern is a classic. A moderate steep slope leads uphill, mostly through open country. We climb up easily to the border of the forest, then further across fields to the Breitegg­alm. To the left behind the Alm, then, after a passage through the forest we reach the summit slopes. The locals were right: the Ziller­taler to the south, the Kaisergebirge to the north, and further over there must be Großglockner. The descent is beautiful and easy, open slopes and fresh snow. In the valley, mouthwatering Kaiserschmarrn is waiting for us.

Wildschönau Tourism, Hauserweg, Oberau 337, A-6311 Wildschönau,
Phone: +43/53 39/825 50, wildschoenau.com.

 

Conquering the emperor’s ski world

The ski area Wilder Kaiser Brixental offers white enjoyment for the whole family.

Photo: Kinderkaiserland Scheffau
In a picture-postcard setting, the Wilde Kaiser looks perfect sitting under the deep blue sky. What are we going to do on this glorious sunny day? Mum wants to go cross country skiing, dad wants to go carving. The kids favour the fun park. Everything is possible in Brixen valley. Ski-runs stretch over a total of 279 kilometres with over 90 ski lifts. It is Austria’s biggest interconnected ski area. Varied slopes, sledge routes, cross country ski trails and more than 70 huts. Tomorrow we will stop at a bar. Afterwards snowshoeing? Our juniors prefer the sledging route on the Astberg. And at the end of the day? We will conquer the water park.

SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental Marketing GmbH, A-6306 Söll,
Phone: +49/53 33/400, skiwelt.at.

 

More freezing winter tips as well as a competition to win a trip to Kärnten at 4-seasons.de/oesterreich/winterwelten.
Film clips about the region: 4-seasons.tv/winterwelten. Austria Marketing has a free hotline for tourists to get more information: 008 00/40 02 00 00. General information on Austria.info/winterwelten.