Ski Amadé: Austrian region links 28 ski resorts
Stars and Stripes March 6, 2008
The Ski Amadé region of Austria offers what appears to be an endless expanse of on- and off-piste skiing.
A few days here is enough to confirm that this network of 28 ski resorts and towns — named after composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born in the nearby city of Salzburg — really is one of Europe’s largest ski areas.
Many resorts are linked by pistes, chairlifts or gondolas, but there are also free buses that shuttle skiers around the various ski areas several times each day.
Ski Amadé includes more than 530 miles of downhill slopes and 278 ski lifts, mostly modern chairlifts or gondolas. The highest ski lift in the region is at the Dachstein Glacier, with an altitude of nearly 9,000 feet. There are also more than 400 miles of marked cross-country skiing tracks.
Ski instructor Sven Elbliger, who works for Siegi Tours organizing trips for American skiers to Ski Amadé, came to the region 30 years ago.
Back then, most of the ski areas had T-bar lifts, but through the years they’ve been replaced by modern gondolas and heated six- to eight-person chairlifts with child protectors to stop children from slipping out of their seats.
Elbliger says the best place to go in the region on fresh powder days is Zauchensee, where there is a lot of terrain above the tree line.
For those seeking extreme action, he recommends Kleinarl and its terrain park. The resort’s “fun park” has 11 jumps and a half-pipe, he said.
The resort with the best facilities and the closest to Siegi Tours’ base in St. Veit is Alpendorf, he says.
“This area is good for family skiing. There are blue and red trails integrated with the black runs. All the mountains have red runs, so the whole family can ski all the terrain easily,” he said.
During last month’s Presidents Day weekend, Ski Amadé had sunny skies and plenty of snow, to the delight of beginner and intermediate skiers. Unfortunately, the snow was a week old without much powder for those who enjoy going off-piste.
Expert skier Nate Atwood from the Bavarian American Ski Club headed into the trees in search of powder at Flachauwinkl and came away impressed with the resort’s potential.
“Zauchensee and Flachauwinkl would be incredible with good snow,” he said. “On piste it is just like anyplace else, but it has a lot of capacity for different levels.
“The lift systems are good, but it would be nice if everything linked up better. Right now you have to catch buses to get to different stops. But for the variety, there is no place that you can go in Austria with so many places to choose from.”
Alpendorf impressed Dawn Will, another skier from Grafenwöhr, Germany. She was on her first ski trip in 10 years.
“I’m a beginner,” she said. “I really liked the long runs (at Alpendorf). They had enough easy stuff where I could go from the top to the bottom instead of worrying about the ice that was going to kill me.”
Excellent food and drink at the many restaurants serving the skiers on the slopes makes for some pleasant rest stops.
Skiers have a choice of a variety of lunch fare, including goulash soup, cheese and noodles, apple strudel with vanilla sauce and a large pizza able to fill the hungriest stomach for 7 euros.
Good facilities, good skiing, good food. Throw in some fresh snow, and it would be hard to ask for anything more.
The Bavarian American Ski Club is planning a trip to Ski Amadé March 14-16. Anyone interested in attending can contact Nate Atwood at: email@example.com.
Know and Go
Austria’s Ski Amadé is made up of resorts around the city of Salzburg and the state of Styria in the southeast part of the country.
Its 28 villages are linked by lifts and shuttle buses. They are in five principal regions: the Salzburger Sportwelt, Dachstein Tauern, Gastein, Hochkönigs Winterreich and Grossarl Valley.
According to several Web sites, these resorts in the eastern Alps — which are normally colder than the western Alps and get more snow — are having a good snow season.
For example, www.bergfex.com rates current conditions for Flachauwinkl and Zauchensee as fair to good for on-piste skiing, with all runs open, and for the valley ski run. More snow is predicted, adding to the 57 inches already in the mountains and 33½ inches in the valley.
See updated conditions, lift prices, accommodations and a schedule of events at Ski Amadé.