Wayne's Austrian 2013 Skibike Trip - Part II

Posted: Wednesday, 23 January 2013 by Waynemarlow in Labels: , ,
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Ski Amade is ski biking Nirvana or what?
So imagine... what seems no lift company restrictions on skibikes, endless blue and red runs perfectly groomed everyday, almost an interest in anything new and innovative, restaurants that are reasonable value, busy bars and cafes, young barmaids wearing Dirndles serving the beer, new high speed lifts, snow making every where, Ski Amade is ski biking Nirvana or what? Imagine turning up to a lift on your custom ski bike and the liftie, not bothering to slow the lift, says “ interesting machine, will it fit on the lift “ a quick nod from me and he says with a nod, we’ll see then. No fuss, no drama, just welcome to my world and we’ll see if you fit in and the lift just carried on at its normal pace.


In a dedicated ski bike bar at Bad Hofgastein
Cool attitude or what? I have been pleasantly surprised at just how laid back the Austrian people are toward ski bikes, its like ski bikes have always been here ( I guess this is Brenter land and yes you can even hire them at the base stations rental outlets ) and in a way they have. At the base of the Bad Hofgastein funicular is a bar dedicated to ski bike racing with a shelf of gold and silver cups like you have never seen before and a wooden ski bike on the wall which the bar owner seems to think is about 1940 vintageand has been in the family at least since 1940. Check out the self levelling front ski mechanism.



"Olde Worlde" charm, as original as it was in 1960 at Pischl
So where to next, the Gasteiner valley, Bad Hofgastein, an old Spa town now updated with a 1500sq metres of water pools in the new Hallenbad centre ( spa world to you and me and yes most of the Wellness area, the saunas and steam areas of which the town is famous for, is strictly a nude zone, so be prepared to drop the inhibitions and join in ) along with Dorf Gastein, Bad Hofgastein and Sport Gastein.

Lots of contrasts here, a series of resorts which updated some years ago, but now left trailing in the wake of other parts of the Ski Amade. A Funicular and a large 80 person cable car up from Bad Hofgastein ( which are to be replaced with a 8 man gondola system in 2015 ) takes you to the top in a pretty scorching time but crowded space. Great great off piste and stunning reds and blues. 14 kms of run from top to bottom, bikes no problem.

Big powder day at Dorf Gastein
Bad Hofgastein town is like an Edwardian street in London, high very solidly built very large houses which are now hotels, showing its past as a Spa town and prior to the ski world in the winter it has become. It’s nice, different and very quirky, but worth a visit and by the noise of the merry drunks passing our hotel at 3.00am there are a bar or two somewhere. The off piste at Dorf Gastein has to be some of the best, most easily accessible from the lifts I have seen at any resort, vast areas just waiting to be explored. We had a really good day there skiing some 300mm of fresh powder in minus 14 in bright clear skies, the bike just took second priority on that day.


And so the last valley, the Hochkonig valley. Muhlbach at one end and Maria Alm at the other. With a flavour all of its own, up one side of the valley and down and then back up the next and down the other, a series of linked small villages and some long long runs. Old slow two man chairs with folding inward safety bar, remember them? to almost new 8 man chairs with a sprinkling of gondolas thrown in, it’s a pot pouri of runs and lifts. It’s nice, has almost exclusively Austrian clientele, very traditional in the mountain restaurants and different to the other valleys. Is it worth a visit, why not, its how skiing was 20 years ago with a modern mix of piste grooming and snow cannons. Off piste would have to be a touring skiers Nirvana with stunning wide open back country bowls without too much climbing at Hintermoos and Hinterthal.

Cool Ski School Iglo - "Ice Age"characters embedded in ice

And so another week of ski biking and a week or so of skiing over new territory, new friends met along the way, a lot of kilometres under the skis, put on a few kilos around the girth, some new experiences, a few tales to be told. What an enjoyable journey this has been.

So where will 2014 lead us then? We have heard about a new area south of the Hochkonig hotel bar that is being proposed with new linked in resorts, ah well we could always go there.

3 comments:

  1. tjbb says:

    Thanks for that.I really enjoyed reading your review. Keep up the good work. You have a talent for writing.

  1. Thanks for this. One of the areas we are considering for 2015, do you know where the Brenter Bike hire depots are?

  1. Sharon, the Brentnors seemed to be everywhere in the Ski Amade, I dont seem to remember exactly if they were able to be hired at Bad Hofgastien but there was a bar to the left of the main lift up that was almost a dedicated ski bike bar and I think there was a ski hire shop there as well. The only place I can remember seeing actual hire bikes was at the ski hire shop at the base of the Rote 8er Gondala which is about 1/2 way between Flachau and Wagrain. Really nice little village with lots of accomodation there as well and probably has the most ski bike friendly areas as well. Well worth a visit and I think has some of the best potential for us ski bikers that I have come across so far.