Skiing in Nassfeld

Nassfeld Ski Area Overview

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.

Major snowfall comes from the frequent low pressure from the Adriatic Sea rather than the northern weather systems in other parts of Austria.

The Nassfeld mountainscape resembles that of the Sud Tirol to the southwest 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 (on the left as you face 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 and has a good reputation among the boarding brotherhood. The Pipe is spoken of in hushed tones of reverence.

Beginner Skiing in Nassfeld

Nassfeld has dedicated beginners’ areas at Tressdorfer Alm, beside the second station of the Millennium Express gondola, and at the on-mountain village of Sonnenalpe where the snow conditions are better and the runs sunnier.

Both areas have beginners’ lifts with blue runs for easy progression. The resort makes great efforts to specialise in the care of novices and with myriad languages available in the ski school you’re sure to find an instructor who speaks your language.

Those staying at Tropolach can easily reach the beginners’ slopes by using the gondola while those at Sonnenalpe are right there anyway. Lessons are available in any combination, group or private from a half-day upwards.

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Intermediate Skiing in Nassfeld

Nassfeld is an intermediates’ resort par excellence. It is dripping with red runs where intermediates can improve themselves. There is a choice of red runs from virtually every lift – many are more blue than red, the higher certification just because of the occasional steeper pitch.

The Madritsche area is where intermediates will tend to gravitate and an intricate network of reds and blues is served by the Madritschen 6-person chair, the Dreier draglift, the Sonnleitn four-person chair and the Millennium Express from Tropolach.

Staying at Sonnenalpe gives the chance to make the most of these intermediate slopes with the accommodation being mostly ski in-ski out – still a fairly unusual option for Austria. You can even ski straight down from the village to the Trogl 4-person chair which takes you up to Tressdorfer Hohe from where an array of blues and reds fans out.

And for intermediate skiers who want as much skiing in the sun as possible without the added complications of trying to see in a snowstorm, Nassfeld typically offers more sunny days in Austria than other resorts.

Advanced Skiing in Nassfeld

The tougher runs in Nassfeld are to be found to the right of the mountain as you look at it from the valley – the area below Trogkofel. These are served by the Rudnigsattel lifts, the Trogkofelbahn gondola and the Zweikofelbahn gondola.

Leaving the Rudnigsattel draglift to the left will bring you to a steep, unpisted ski route down to Mossern, which can be testing, while the Trogkofelbahn gives access to the steep and sometimes icy Trogkofelabfahrt black run. The area is full of steepish and interesting, sweeping red runs such as the Schnittlauchkofel down to Rastl. The Zweikofelbahn takes you to the wonderful Carnia run which goes all the way to the valley station at Tropolach, a vertical of nearly 4,000ft.

The Hohe-Hohe lift from Mossern to Madritsche takes you to the start of the unpisted and engaging Hohe-Hohe Variant black run. While the area is not known for fearsome black runs, when the snow is good there are a number of good off-piste and powder options within the ski boundaries and advanced skiers are unlikely to be bored. And in addition, there are the nearby off-piste and touring options to consider. The Lesachtal Valley is one of the most untouched landscapes in the Eastern Alps and a wonderful choice for ski-touring.

It is uncrowded with a good record for great snow and usually offers the chance to find untouched slopes. You can have first tracks here sometimes days after a good snowfall.

There are basically seven popular routes here, all scenically glorious. They require an ascent, on skins, of between two to four hours but the effort will be worthwhile with long, long, deserted descents, often in powder, of over 4,000ft vertical. The local tourist offices all have details of the possible routes with guides available from the ski school.

Boarding & Freestyle in Nassfeld

Nassfeld caters for boarders and freestyle enthusiasts big-time with a famous half-pipe, quarter pipes, jumps and snowcross park. The resort likes to see itself as something of a Mecca for boarders with World Cup events having been held here.

Nassfeld similarly appeals to freestylers who have a terrain park with rails and jumps, mogul runs and a ski school that runs courses incorporating fun park and mogul skills.

Snowboarders tend to gravitate to the Garnitzen Alm 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 and is gaining a big reputation among the boarding brotherhood. The Pipe is spoken of in hushed tones of reverence.

Cross-Country Skiing in Nassfeld

Nordic skiing is increasingly popular and exponents of the art can be seen on the slopes of Nassfeld. The ski school has instructors who can teach Nordic skiing.

There are more than 11 kilometres of high-altitude marked cross-country trails up on the mountain. One is on the Italian border – the Seeloipe, a 4.5 kilometre lakeside trail above Sonnenhalpe. Another is 4 kilometres long through the woods at Tressdorfer Alm and accessed from the Millennium Express gondola. 

But many cross-country enthusiasts will head for the 50 kilometres of double-track groomed trails at Weissensee which climb to 1,400-metres. Gliding along this network above the frozen Lake Weissensee is a supreme cross-country experience. At some points the cross-country trails run alongside the ice rinks,so entertaining impromptu races often take place between langlaufers and ice-skaters.

Cross-country instructors are also available from the ski schools and they teach both the classical and skating styles. Special packages are organised for cross-country skiers – they can include half-board in a hotel, ski rental for a week and a 3-day cross-country skiing course from 415 euros.

The trails are well-known in cross-country circles for being especially well maintained and have been awarded the Carinthian Cross-country Seal of Quality. They have even received a commendation from Markus Gandler, Olympic silver-medallist and World Champion, who often uses them for training. ‘The trails are always in excellent condition,’ he says. ‘Just like the ones I’m used to in international cross-country competition.’

And of course, apart from ski rental and lessons, cross-country skiing is otherwise completely free throughout Carinthia.

Mountain Restaurants in Nassfeld

Situated as it is on the Italian border, Nassfeld tends to be influenced heavily by Italian cooking in its mountain huts and also by Carinthian specialities. This melding of culinary styles can only be good for skiers and the standard of cooking is usually high.

Nassfeld is well supplied with mountain restaurants – 18 at the last count, 12 of them with table service. The Watschiger Alm is known for its kasespatzle (cheese noodles topped with fried onions) and kaiserschmarren (chopped up pancakes with sultanas and fruit compote) and its large sun terrace.

The Tressdorfer Alm specialises in pizzas and spare ribs and has an afternoon umbrella bar for early après-ski revellers. You can nip across the border to eat Italian-style at the Albergo Ristorante Al Gallo Forcello at Pontebba – a restaurant so confused it has intriguingly an Austrian telephone number and an Italian fax number. Perhaps different rooms are in different countries with the border running through the middle of the building!

At Sonnenalpe, the Alpenhof Plattner does both good lasagne and Austrian grostl. The Rudnigalm, halfway down the Schnittlauchkofel red run, is another popular lunchtime stop-off with a good sun terrace.


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