Hi, David here. I spent another New Year (or Silvester as we say in Germany), skiing in the lovely Austrian resort of Schladming.
For the winter sports fans amongst you, Schladming has been host to the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships twice, and will host the Men’s World Cup Night Slalom on 23rd January this year. It’s also a resort that is heavily sponsored by Audi Quattro, so I felt pretty at home. 🙂
The resort is actually a set of four mountains, all linked by lifts and runs: Hauser Kaibling, Planai/Schladming, Hochwurzen and Reiteralm. There is also the option to drive a little further and ski on the glacier of Dachstein too.
For beginners and families Planai/Schladming is the best option and has one of the best beginners areas I have ever seen including a six seater lift that is designed especially for kids and beginners.
Planai is also the home of my favourite lunchtime spot, the Schafalm. A very traditional alpine hut serving delicious, hot food. They have a live apes ski band planing on Friday and Saturday afternoons. The Schafalm is great meeting spot if you have a non-skier in your group as they can take the lift from the centre of Schladming and arrive just above the restaurant. I definitely recommend booking as they are crazy busy and you will not get seated without a reservation.
The slopes here are super fun, but somehow always seem really busy. It’s a mountain we did visit a couple of times during the week, and enjoyed the runs, but not the queues. Especially around the middle at lift Quattroalpina, which is really the only way to reach the top. Still from top to bottom is a great longish run which is super fun when taken at speed!
Hochwurzen offered some of the longest runs that I have experienced. And although they could be quite icy at the bottom, it’s fantastic to be able to just keep skiing for several kilometres at a time. The routes take you through farms and villages at the bottom too. Great fun but quite chilly over this side of the resort. Take warm gloves and socks!
My wife fell in love with the slopes at Reiteralm. Though I think it had a lot to do with the amount of really beautiful wooden huts dotted amongst the slopes. It’s probably the prettiest area we have ever seen in terms of a picture postcard Austrian style ‘huetten’. We had lunch at a hut called Hochalm, and it was absolutely everything you want to experience on a mountain. The exterior and interior were so beautifully styled in Austrian wood, we had to drag ourselves back out after lunch!
The slopes here at Reiteralm were super for us but would not be ideal for beginners. I guess that’s why it’s one of the favourite spots for elite skiers to train. And we did see a few of them practising their slalom techniques whilst we were there.
It’s always exciting to visit a glacier – that feeling of being somewhere so remote is hard to beat. I was really looking forward to this as my friend and I planned to take a notorious ski-route (an off-piste, marked run) down the mountain. So we were a little disappointed that after he (I let him check it out first…) climbed up a 20 metre ladder to access a secret door that provided entry to the ski route, he found the door to be firmly locked. Sadly, no off-pisting for us on that day and he had to climb down again. Did I mention he climbed up in ski boots with his skis strapped to his back!
The on-piste skiing on Dachstein is quite limited – just two blue runs and one red, and it is very cold but you can ski there from September! I would recommend a visit to the glacier is perhaps best taken as a walker – there are some really nice walking routes up there and the 360 degree views are breathtaking. There is also a fantastic ice palace to visit containing some impressive ice sculptures, and a very terrifying suspension bridge for the brave.
This was my third week-long visit to Schladming and we stayed in the Rohrmoos area, right on the slopes at the bottom of Hochwurzen.
There is certainly enough variety of connected slopes to keep me coming back again. And I think my wife has a mind to book one of those lovely wooden huts on Reiteralm!
All the best, David