Nassfeld Ski Area
Despite being Austria's sunniest resort (with about 15 per cent more sunshine over the winter than the Tirolean resorts) Nassfeld also claims to be one of the snowiest. The major snowfall comes from the frequent visits by low pressure systems from the Adriatic rather than the northern systems that supply resorts in other parts of Austria. The weather systems from the sea provide heavy precipitation which falls as snow in Nassfeld.
The Nassfeld mountainscape resembles that of the Sud Tirol to the south-west and the slopes are protected by the towering ramparts of the Nock mountain range and the peaks of Rosskofel and Trogkofel. A lot of work has been done recently on many of Nassfeld's ski runs to make them wider and more 'carver-friendly' for sweeping grand slalom turns. Nassfeld also prides itself on the grooming of its runs,as well as its snow-making system which covers virtually all the 110-kilometres of runs.
Madritsche is the focal point of Nassfeld's skiing with runs radiating out to left and right. The higher and more advanced skiing is to the right beneath the Trogkofel at 2,280-metres. These slopes, with some well above the tree-line, are served by the Trogkofelbahn and Zweikofelbahn gondolas. There is some exciting terrain from the Trogkofelbhan including the superb sweeping Schnittlauchkofel run, which offers a black option in the Trogkofelabfahrt running parallel to it. There is an open-to-all timed speed run near the top of the Schnittlauchkofel.
The Zweikofelbahn bottom station at Rastl, beside that of the Trogkofelbahn, takes you to just below the Zweikofel. In the shadow of this peak begins the Carnia run which descends all the way to the Tropolach valley station - a wonderful slope which eventually takes you along a tree-fringed ridge to Gmanberg, the first station of the 4-mile long Millennium Express where the floodlit skiing begins once a week. The floodlit part of the run, 2.2 kilometres long, is open every Wednesday from 7pm to 10pm. This run is also a certified FIS race track.
At present, to return to Madritsche from the Trogkofel side of the mountain you can either ski down to the bottom and ride the Millennium Express again or take the Trogkofelbahn back to the top and follow the Sattelabfahrt run which links the two sides of the mountain. But there are plans to build a new lift from Rastl which will provide a quick return to the Madritsche slopes.
Back at Madritsche there are red runs galore served principally by the Madritschen and Trogel chairlifts. At the foot of the Madritschen 6-person chair is the on-mountain village of Sonnenalpe Nassfeld with ski-in ski-out accommodation. The Italian border is here and, indeed, you can actually choose to stay in the Italian part of Sonnenalpe. There is also another beginners' area here. At the foot of the Trogel 4-seater chairlift is another base area with carparks and restaurants.
The main nursery slopes are at Tressdorferalm, at 1,590-metres, which is beside the second station of the Millennium Express. Having the beginners' slopes area here means that novices can be assured of good snow and be in the sun instead of being down at the bottom of the mountain, often with poorer quality cover and in the shade. There are two beginners' lifts here too for easy progression.
Snowboarders tend to gravitate to the Garnitzen Alm area of the mountain - to the left as you look at the mountain - where there is a terrain park and half-pipe. The Snowboard Arena has quarter pipes, high jumps and a snowcross park guaranteeing plenty of fun and action.
Nassfeld has been the venue for the Snowboard Junior World Cup and four World Cup races, so is gaining a big reputation among the boarding brotherhood and the The Pipe is spoken of in hushed tones of reverence.