Skiing in Saalbach
No matter where you start, the SkiCircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang is a truly excellent circuit which can be skied in either direction.
Saalbach Ski Area Overview
The runs-some above the tree-line, some delightfully gladed-are engagingly varied. Above all, the linked piste networks provide adventurous intermediates with a vast playground-and would-be intermediates with a wonderful opportunity to develop their skills. In addition to your ability, where you stay will have a sizeable influence on where you ski.
Starting from Hinterglemm, the Zwölferkogelbahn provides access to an assortment of runs appealing to skiers of varying abilities. There are both red and blue runs all the way back down to Hinterglemm ideal for beginners wanting to progress, though it is the Zwölferkogel-Nordabfahrt route which is the highlight of the region. Suitable for both confident intermediates and experts, the 3km black run offers a magnificent descent to Lengau, through which skiers can access either side of the ski area. On the other side of Lengau there is a multitude of blues from which to choose, whilst intermediates are well advised to navigate across to the network of connected reds closer to Hinterglemm.
If you are based in Saalbach, the Kohlmaiskopf area is enjoyable and is the best way to access the Bründlkopf and Wildenkarkogel regions. It also offers the quickest access to Leogang for those on skis. Depending on your ability, either the blue Maisabfahrt run or the red Asterabfahrt route provides enjoyably lengthy paths down to Saalbach.
For those not yet ready to test themself on the Zwölferkogel-Nordabfahrt run, the Jausernabfahrt run from Schattberg to Vorderglemm represents the highlight of the ski area. Easily accessible by gondola from either Saalbach or Hinterglemm, the run dissects the network of red runs leading back down to Saalbach to provide skiers with a 7km cruise which is well worth the lengthy trip back from Vorderglemm.
Skiing in the Leogang part of the ski area is limited, with skiers having to spend more time on lifts than on the pistes.
Beginner skiing in Saalbach-Hinterglemm
Of the two villages, Hinterglemm offers better facilities for beginners with bigger and better nursery slopes. While Saalbach offers similar facilities, Hinterglemm offers three babylifts and its nursery area is distinct from the main slopes, allowing children and beginners to build up their confidence without interference. Saalbach’s Turmlift is a good spot, whie the Unterschwarzachlift is surrounded by some of Hinterglemm’s best nursery slopes.
Having practised their skills on the nursery slopes, beginners situated in Hinterglemm wanting to test themselves on the slopes are advised to take the Reiterkogelbahn before skiing back down the Familienabfahrt blue route. The large number of blue runs in this area ensures beginners can transfer their skills onto the mountain at an increasing altitude without fear of being caught on an overly testing run.
For beginners based in Saalbach, the Kohlmaiskopf offers an equivalent area in which they can test what they have learned, with a series of blue runs all the way back down to the village. Bernkogel is an equally good region, with the run down to the mid-station from the top of Bernkogel assuring beginners that altitude is no hurdle as they ski down the wonderfully wide and gentle route.
Saalbach Hinterglemm caters well for beginners, and offer blocks of lift tickets and single tickets at the beginners’ lifts to avoid having to buy an all mountain lift pass.
Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Saalbach-Hinterglemm
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Intermediate Skiing in Saalbach
If ever a ski area was conceived with intermediates in mind, it’s the Saalbach-Hinterglemm circus. With approximately 90% of the terrain suitable for them, there are almost endless opportunities for intermediates to let their hair down and attack mile after mile of trouble-free but exhilarating terrain.
Virtually all parts of the Saalbach-Hinterglemm ski area offer a good choice of runs suitable for intermediate skiers, with the Schattberg Ost, Reiterkogel and Gr. Asitz sections all permeated by a series of short, interconnected reds.
Intermediates will also enjoy the wide range of runs back down to the village, be it Saalbach or Hinterglemm. It is possible to ski all the way down from the top of almost every chairlift or gondola without needing to take another lift. However, should skiers find their chosen run down too tricky or too simple, there is almost invariably a point at which the pistes converge and skiers can continue on a more suitable route down if necessary.
Saalbach’s black runs aren’t as tricky as those in other resorts, providing intermediates with a chance to build up their confidence. Several of the black runs in the area begin relatively gently, allowing intermediates to ease their way into the run before testing themself on the steeper latter sections of the runs.
There is, of course, no need to attempt the circuit-there are plenty of alternatives. Remaining on the sunny side, on the Kohlmaiskopf, Bernkogel, Reiterkogel, Reichkendikopf and Spieleckkogel peaks and ridges will provide more than enough options and avoid some of the more difficult skiing across the valley. Intermediates will also find the wide open, sweeping runs down to neighbouring Leogang a wonderful treat.
Advanced & Expert Skiing in Saalbach
Both the British Royal Air Force and police hold their Ski Championships in Saalbach Hinterglemm. The big attraction for advanced skiers and boarders is not so much the off-piste but the possibility of relentless high-speed cruising over long distances, concentrating on the steeper options.
There are some good opportunities for seriously steep skiing across the valley on the north-facing slopes such as the long black run from Schattberg Ost back to Saalbach.
The region is not celebrated for its off-piste, but there can be sizeable pockets of powder after fresh snowfalls, particularly on the Schattberg, Zwölferkogel and Asitz and even on the wide-open slopes down to Leogang.
The runs marked as black on the map are not as challenging as in other resorts but they have sizeable pockets of powder and tight tree skiing around the sides of them. Notably the number 14 run, reached by the Zwölferkogelbahn gondola and the Zwölfer-Nordbahn gondola, which has a number of trees on either side of the piste all of which lead to the bottom of the run so there is no chance of getting lost. The run is long and is a good one to ski early on if there is powder because there is very little avalanche risk.
The dotted, diamond orange run (meaning approved off piste) along the side of the Westgipfelbahn is good for beginners to off-piste as it is not challenging and is untracked by the locals. Also worth noting on the Saalbach side are the Stiegerabfahrt at Schattberg West, and the extensive run down from Bernkogel back down to Saalbach.
Over towards Leogang the red runs can be skied fast are challenging for intermediate skiers and the Stöcklalm point at the top of the Almlift near the bottom of the resort on the Leogang side is home to some fun tree runs linking in and out with the two black runs in that area.
The Orange Diamond runs are marked around the resort and should be skied with caution. For any other off-piste it is recommended that you hire a guide for a day. It’s possible to arrange guided off-piste tours with Sepp Mitterer, a ski and mountain guide (Tel: +43-664-2420236) on request.
There is also a Carving Funpark and GS racecourse open to the public on non race days which is suitable for advanced piste skiers. The Saalbach-Hinterglemm area also has a number of runs which are specifically for the mogul skiers. These are marked on the piste map with a mogul sign. These are ungroomed, but maintained well and are great for advancing piste skiers.
Boarding & Freestyle in Saalbach
The main highlight for freestyle in this resort is the Nitro Park located up the Asitzmuldenbahn six man chairlift. It is of world class quality and is in the top three parks in the whole of Austria. They constantly change the setup, with only a couple of features for those completely new to the park. For the advanced skiers and boarders there are 25 metre gaps and long snake and rainbow rails. For the intermediate park skiers there are over 6 rail features and two jumps, which are big, but safe.
Right in the centre of Hinterglemm there is a smaller park, located just above the VIP bar at the bottom of the Westgipfelbahn gondola. This park is open to 9pm in the high season lit by floodlight and is home to some easier features.
Because very little of the terrain is flat, as in many other European resorts the area is popular with snowboarders. However, there are many gondola lifts, so be prepared to be stepping in and out of the bindings at the bottom of every run. Favourite spots for snowboarders include Bernkogel (Saalbach), Asitz (Leogang) and Hochalm (Hinterglemm).
Mountain Restaurants in Saalbach
There’s a remarkable choice of mountain restaurants in Saalbach Hinterglemm—some of which double as night spots. The majority of the region’s mountain restaurants are self-service, though there are some more characterful spots to be found.
The Alte Schmiede, at the summit of the Asitzkogel above Leogang, is one such restaurant. Having been painstakingly restored stone by stone, its sundeck makes it an excellent lunchtime destination in good weather. It’s invariably busy in mid-season, but worth a short wait.
The Hintermais Alm, off the blue route 11 on the Zwölferkogel above Hinterglemm, is smaller, with occasional live music, and excellent local food and drink backed up by good table service. Similarly, the Sportalm by the top of the Reiterkogelbahn has a more personal feel to it.
The Thurneralm, just off blue route 56 above Saalbach, is always warm and cosy, with a real fire, convenient location and wonderful views down the valley from the deck. Chilli spaghetti is the house special. There’s extra seating at busy times. The Rosswald Hűtte at the crossroads of the blue link route between Saalbach and Hochalm is ideal for sun-seekers, and the food indoors in recommended.