Carinthia’s Hohe Tauern National Park offers great skiing on uncrowded slopes, more than 30 peaks above 3,000m and spectacular panoramic views including Austria’s highest mountain, the mighty Grossglockner at 3,798m. You can ski here in summer too: the Molltaler Glacier is open for skiing 330 days each year.
The largest of seven national parks in Austria and the largest nature reserve in the Alps, Hohe Tauern National Park prioritises environmental protection and maintaining Alpine traditions over commercial development. Tourism has increased only slightly since national park status was declared in 1971. No purpose built or rapidly expanding ski resorts here and après ski is muted, but there’s plenty of good ski terrain for intermediates and advanced skiers especially, freeriding included. Prices are generally cheaper than in better-known ski areas and good deals for weekends and short breaks are readily available.
The Grossglockner-Heiligenblut ski area offers a choice of four blue runs, eight red runs, one black run and four ski routes served by a dozen lifts across three mountains. Start by riding the Rossbach gondola from Heilgenblut (1301m) and check out the runs (and huts) from Schareck (2604m) down to middle station, then take the Tunnelbahn to Fleissalm, from where a chairlift then T-bar lift provide the ascent to Hochfleiss (2902m). The ski runs totalling approximately 50km are well groomed and fun for cruising and usually uncrowded, but keep your eyes peeled for beginners sharing the same slopes. Much of the skiing is above the treeline including extensive open terrain for freeriders and a local culture that supports skiing and touring off-piste with safety checkpoints, as well as guiding and coaching. Most of the ski area below 2500m is covered by artificial snow-making when needed. The only run down from Rossbach (middle station) to Heiligenblut is a red run so beginners take note. Best for intermediates, advanced and experts. The ski map lists 10 mountain huts and restaurants including a handful of charming Alpine huts serving traditional local dishes. The Fleisskuchl, Spatzlalm and Schistadl Tauernberg are recommended for good food as well as for their cosy, rustic interior and sun terraces for sun-worshippers Also, for fabulous views, the panorama restaurant on Schareck at 2604m. Email: email@example.com; Website: www.heiligenblut.at
More information: Ultimate Ski guide to Grossglockner-Heiligenblut >>>
Ski Moelltal Glacier
The Moelltal Glacier ski area is snow-sure from Autumn until Spring and used for race training by several national ski teams, in summer also. With just 18km pistes and 7km of ski routes served by nine lifts and 750m vertical between 2400m to 3100m, it’s fun for recreational skiers visiting for the day, but not a vacation resort. Groomed pistes ratings are 30% blue, 40% red and 30% black. Ski routes are predominantly black. Located 54km (45 mins drive) from Heilgenblut, 10km from Flattach and 15km from Obervellach, with ample parking and Intersport ski rental at the lift station. The ski area is above the treeline and offers little protection in bad weather. The self-service panorama restaurant at Eissee with Sonnblick bar and Europa umbrella bar outside, the Duisberger Huette and Weissseehaus offer simple on-mountain dining and a large sun terrace, no frills and very affordable. The Weissseehaus also offers low costs ski-in, ski-out accommodation at 2380m. Though not busy when visited mid-week, the Glacier Express funicular and gondola to Eissee can involve queuing at weekends. Best for intermediates, race training and Spring skiing; ski area and lifts open for skiing 330 days per year (closed mid-May until mid-June)! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.gletscher.co.at
Ski Ankogel / Mallnitz
Located 66km (1-hour drive) from Heiligenblut, 14km from Obervellach and 5km from Mallnitz, Ankogel is a small ski area with 12 pistes (50% natural snow) served by five ski lifts between 1267m and 2637m including freeride runs up to 1km and 29 ski touring routes covering 164km and nearly 35,000m vertical. Also 25km of cross-country skiing (classic and skating) nearby. Well regarded by freeriders, the terrain is good for learning to freeride off-piste and Patrick Sterz at Ski Ankogel (+43 664 9620 717) is a great contact if you need help with that as well as for ski lessons. As far as refuelling on the mountain is concerned, the Gasthaus Hochalmblick is near middle station and the Hannoverhaus is just a few meters from Bergstation. Ski rental is available at Wolliger Sports, partnered with SkiSet who offer discounts if you book online. Email: email@example.com; Website: www.ankogel-ski.at
There’s also a small ski area at Emberger Alm offering family-friendly skiing and cosy mountain huts on gentle south-facing slopes between 1600m and 2200m served by three drag lifts. Situated near Berg im Drautal and Griefenburg and is convenient for locals, but also easily combined with other ski areas above.
Where to stay in Hohe Tauern?
Heiligenblut is a small village, pretty in parts with a mythically important church dominating the picturesque valley and village. There’s a reasonably good selection of accommodation within 1km radius of the village. No nightlife of any great note and relatively few restaurants, so checking into an hotel or guesthouse with bar and restaurant is your best bet. The 4-star Nationalpark Lodge Grossglockner is Heiligenblut’s most luxurious hotel with full-service dining and wellness. Conveniently located in the centre of the village, with Intersport ski rental nearby and just a few minutes’ walk from the gondola, the Lodge is quite reasonably-priced and the benefits outweigh the extra cost compared to lower-priced alternatives. For other options check out Ultimate Ski guide to Grossglockner-Heiligenblut.
Obervellach is a small market town, not a ski resort, conveniently situated for the Molltaler Glacier (15km) and Ankogel (14km) and only 50km from Grossglockner-Heiligenblut. Quiet in the evenings with just a few bars and restaurants serving the local community, it is not a tourist destination as such, but offers affordable accommodation within easy reach of the ski areas by car, but not so easily by public transport. The OberstBergerMeisteramt apartments in the town centre offer affordable 3-star accommodation with sumptuous breakfast and the Landgut Moserhof in Penk (5km) is a delightful riverside development of chalets and apartments (4-star rated) with on-site restaurant is also recommended. Both are rated exceptional on Booking.com
Mallnitz is a good bet if you prefer to stay closer to Ankogel with free ski bus to the ski area and easily reached by rail. For the best accommodation check out Hotel Bergkristal (4-stars), fully renovated in 2016 and offering a great choice of rooms and suites with wellness and a la carte restaurant. The Sterz family are excellent hosts and if interested in freeriding Patrick Sterz is highly regarded for coaching as well as guiding.
Getting to Hohe Tauern Ski Resorts
If travelling by air search for flights either to Ljubijana (Slovenia) or Klagenfurt (Austria), and ask the tourist office for latest transfer options or book directly with the resort’s transfer partner, RG Reisen (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: +43 4785 20770). For example, Easy Jet flights from Stansted or Gatwick take roughly two hours (plus time difference) and airport transfers by road from Ljubijana (216km) and Klagenfurt (161km) approximately 2 hours 30 minutes and 2 hours respectively. If booking an early morning departure from UK expect to arrive early afternoon. If travelling to Carinthia by rail, express trains stop at Mallnitz-Obervellach from where you can take the shuttle service to Obervellach or local taxi service to your accommodation. Rail options include Motorail.
Ultimate-Ski visited Hohe Tauern late February 2018 for 4-nights and 3-days skiing Grossglockner-Heiligenblut, Molltaler Glacier and Ankogel courtesy of Hohe Tauern National Park Tourism. More information including special offers available from the Tourist Office below: