SkiBike Tour 2015-16 - Saalbach & Hinterglemm

Posted: Monday, 11 January 2016 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

I have heard a lot about Saalbach and Hinterglemm over the years for being the place in Austria to skibike. Blog commentator Sharon Shinwell highly rates it and Blog writer Wayne Richards has been taking his buddies round the area on skibikes for quite a few seasons now.

Saalbach and Hinterglemm occupy an area conveniently spanning the length of a wide valley, this topography allows for many easy skibike touring possibilities in a day. There are even links across to Leogang and Fieberbrunn which elevate the area on to 3 Vallees scale riding. The predominance of blue runs make the area a cruiser's paradise, whilst there are often red alternatives for the thrill seekers.
As it was only twenty minutes from Zell am See and we had a few extra days to spend in the area, it would have been churlish to miss such an opportunity. Wayne graciously offered to put his guiding skills to use on this, his last day in Austria.

Saalbach - sparse snow cover, just thin ribbons from the snow cannon

We started our day at Vorderglemm, little more than a gondola station and parking lot just down the road from the town of Saalbach. No doubt this is a handy access point into the network of lifts for day trippers and those denied the luxury of accommodation in the town centre. The sole uplift was via the Schonleitenbahn gondola. As can be seen from the image about there wasn't much snow on the hill when we arrived, just thin ribbons provided by snow cannon. But at least there was no shortage of parking spaces.

With sparse snow cover and a somewhat icy start to the day, some of the blue runs were much more tricky than you might have expected; both Thierry and Stephane conceded that some of these blues would have been graded red in France.
We worked our way over to the Kohlmaisgipfelbahn to head above Saalbach town itself then descended into the bustle of this attractive ancient conurbation.

Hinterglemm - some of the blue runs would have been graded red in France

After a short walk we took the Bernkogelbahn  heading up towards Hochalmspitze at the top of the valley. We had to change our route after encountering problems using the Spieleck and Hochalm chairlifts without foot skis. This seemed to be the only area with such chairlift issues and Wayne confirmed that this had been the case on his previous visits too.

We stopped for lunch, after which we very briefly met up with Andy Upsylon and Carl Day who, like us, had also decided to stay on after the EUSA Skibike Weekend and explore the area.

Unable to progress any further up this side of the valley, we dropped down to Hinterglemm and took the Zwolfer-Nordbahn to the summit of the Zwolferkogel. The weather was progressively closing in as the afternoon wore on, so we hurried home via the Schattberg and enjoyed the long 2b run back down to Vorderglemm in total whiteout conditions. Arriving back at our base covered from head to toe in snow and soaked through to the skin; tired, wet, but happy with our exploration of the area.

Final descent in whiteout conditions

Saalbach and Hinterglemm offer many kilometres of cruising potential. There is no shortage of gondolas and lots of modern, easy loading and large chairlifts; this is pretty much ideal for the modern freestyle skibiker. There are very few drag lifts and mostly for nursery slopes with the odd bit of expert terrain served by them. With a little bit of map reading you can get around the area unrestricted.

On a sunny day, sauntering down through the woods redolent with the smell of pine trees would be a delight at Saalbach and Hinterglemm.


  1. Its a shame that some lifts have suddenly reverted back to old habits of about 4 years ago, with Herr Flick dictating that foot skis have to be worn, we haven't been asked anywhere in the area for some years to do so. It was interesting to see at the top of the lift 2 lifties appear with ski bobs and guess what, not a footski in sight. We have got around the 1 lift problem by carrying very small footskis in our rucksack, you can buy plastic kiddies ones for £ 12.00 on Ebay, weigh nothing and once they see you wear them once, you don't seem to get asked again, daft or what.

    This is one of the few resorts in the world which has something for everybody, cool long long blues, reds that will scare you in parts, long long blacks with no escape and some pretty impressive off piste when the snow has fallen.

    Couple that if you fancy really really thumping apres ski, or quiet drinks in smaller Austrian style bars, then this is one of the few resorts that just has something that tickles everyones fancy.