The Ski Amade - Wayne's Ski & Skibike Tour

Posted: Tuesday, 22 January 2013 by Waynemarlow in Labels: , , ,

Old or new, this Restaurant was built about two years ago
It's interesting reading Mark's adventures in typically French small resorts, some years ago I abandoned French resorts for a number of reasons, principally they no longer seemed to jingle my bells, pricing in the mountain restaurants and the typical lack of French hospitality in the Alps, had finally done for my sense of wanting to continue what had been fun times in France. The days of packing the car with all the young uns favourite bunnies and their favourite game for the then 12 hour journey to the Portes du Soleil, has since been replaced with a quick Easyjet or Ryan Air flight out to Austria or Italy.  In this year's case with 3 sets of skis and two ski bikes plus 2 1/2 weeks of kit, it was a 15 hour door to door car journey.

Not knocking French skiing as I have had some really great times there, but life moves on and in particular Austria really has invested heavily in new lift infrastructure and snow making equipment, its almost become a race between areas to have the latest and greatest architecturally designed lift, the fastest uplift, the most number of seats on a chairlift, the wackiest competition or a first for me, seeing a ski in massage service whilst on the slopes. I would guess that the Eco warriors of the world have now stopped any further development in the mountains and there fore to attract paying guests to your area you must have the best facilities.

So this year we made a trip to "Ski Amade" ,4 large valleys just outside of Salzberg, that were basically small local community lift companies and for whatever reason, seem to have invested zillions of Euros into the lift infrastructure. 830 kms of largely interconnecting runs, where they don’t meet up they have a free bus service between lifts, over the top and down the valleys they have replaced old lifts with new, gondolas, chairs, new cable cars, new restaurants, new bridges and most importantly over 75% of runs now have snow making equipment. To visit has simply been truly an eye opener to see what wise investment can do. Now one can do modern things pretty awfully architecturally, but the Austrians seem to have put a lot of thought in and kept traditional wood buildings, kept the traditional food and ambiance in the restaurants, even the loos are almost works of art with there marble and painted mural walls. But and here is a big but, they seemed to have moved the game on as far as positioning of the lifts and maintenance of the runs.

 So we began our 2013 adventure in the Salzburger Sportwelt Valley.  Wagrain linking Alpendorf one way and to Flachau the other, lots and lots of easy reds, lots and lots of new lifts, pretty stunning to say the least. The new interconnecting cable car between the two sides of Wagrain when completed is going to be truly one of the highest cable cars around, what a bungee jump from the middle that will be. Flachau Winkl and Zauchensee where I had a memorable day on the bike on some pretty tough reds and blacks. Irony though at Zauchnesee, I had to for the first time, take my skis off the bike to get it into what reminded me of an elderly Fiat 500 but speedy 4 man gondola, something to consider if you plan to tour resorts such as I do. Long long runs from mid station to the villages, 20 minute runs at a fair lick are not uncommon, despite the piste map showing some pretty small ordinary runs. I have to say I was impressed with this valley, it has a lot going for it and I’m sure for that 2 week a year skier, it will become one of the worlds best areas to visit once people become aware of its potential and the traffic then generates busy villages. The slopes can handle it but apart from Flachau and the mountain restaurants, the Apres Ski is pretty quiet. Saalbach it’s not yet, but it could one day be a rival.

Onwards, to the Schladming Dachstein valley. Schladming with its stunning massive two churches, an old Brit town in the 60’s but now full to over brim with Ruskies and Eastern Block clientele, who said the old soviet states don’t have any money, they really have replaced the Brits, Danes and Cloggies of old, these guys are the new kids in town and boy do they have some money to spend. Haus Ennstal with its fabulously long blues and red runs down into the village from the Hauser Kaibling peak, the other direction to Rohrmoos with what has to be the best dedicated toboggan run right from the top of the highest peak Hockwurzen down to the village, Pichl and Gleiming, really poor cousins at the end of the line with old old lifts and really “Old Worlde” charm but stunning slopes on the Reiteralm range. We ski- ed  here for 4 days and for the first time travelled over the same area as our friends who met us here, liked the Hauser Kaibling runs and link back to the Planai area and wanted to revisit it on the last day of their trip. Big wide open well groomed Blues and reds through  tree lined avenues, not my ideal but for the two week a year skier, sheer joy. Before we had even reached base we could hear our friends excitedly discussing whether they could fit another ski trip in this year. Yup skiing is like all good things in life, the more you do it, the more you want to do it. 

Read more in part 2