Schladming Ski Area
The slopes comprise a vast area of Styria’s Ennstal region, with four principal mountains – Hauser Kaibling, Planai, Hochwurzen and Reiteram – plus the Dachstein glacier and several smaller areas. The Planai and Hochwurzen are the central and most important mountains.
Altogether the Dachstein-Tauern ski region comprises nine ski mountains with 223kms (134 miles) of pistes. Schladming's four main linked ski areas alone will keep most skiers occupied for the duration of their stay, although with some exceptions, off-piste is not one of their strengths. 35% (79km) of pistes are graded blue for beginners, 50% (112km) are red runs for intermediates and just 15% (32km) of pistes are rated black for advanced skiers and boarders. According to official statistics, snow making capacity covers 995 of the ski area and there is night skiing on Hochwurzen and Galsterburg.
Each of Schladming's four linked mountains is served by a gondola (the Haus slopes can be reached by cable car too). Each of the main ski areas are connected by ski shuttle bus which is complimentary for holders of a valid ski pass.
Satellite areas are bewilderingly plentiful, and include Schladming-Rohrmoos, Pichl-Reiteralm; Ramsau, Haus, Gröbminger Land, Naturpark Sölktäler, Vitaldörfer Öblarn and Niederöblarn, Donnersbachwald and the Bergregion Grimming. Even more impressively, Schladming's slopes are included in the vast Ski Alliance amadé region, which includes the Gastein Valley resorts, Flachau/Wagrain and the Gasteinertal and covers 276 lifts serving 860 km of pistes in a total of more than 30 resorts.
Most of the skiing here is an intermediates' playground - an attractive prospect for most skiers and boarders, except perhaps for beginners, for whom the layout is a little awkward, and the beginner slopes difficult to get to. The skiing includes some of the longest uninterrupted runs in Austria; for example, the Plain downhill 4.6-km (2.8 miles), the Hochwurzen downhill 7.7 kilometre (almost 5 miles), Hauser Kaibling FIS downhill 7km, Galsterberg downhill 7km and the 6km Reiteralm downhill.
The 'local' slopes stretch from Hauser Kaibling (2015m), above Haus, to Planai (1894m), Hochwurzen (1850m) and Reiteralm (1850m). Fageralm (1885m), farther along the valley towards Radstadt and Salzburg, is another small area. In the other direction east towards Linz and Graz lies the pretty village of Haus-im-Ennstal, flanked by two gondolas that rise to the top of Hauser Kaibling. Beyond Haus, the Galsterbergalm (1986m) above the community of Pruggern provides even more terrain.
Fundamentally the skiing is similar throughout the resort: with fairly long, fairly steep gladed runs. Exhilarating, but a little on the "samey" side. However it must be said that there is considerable satisfaction to be had from travelling under your own steam from one area to another, and the broad scope of the skiing means that the slopes are usually relatively uncrowded. Also included on the pass is high-altitude skiing on the glacier skiing at Dachstein (2700m), above Ramsau, reached by cable car from Turlwand.
During its more famous World Cup days, Schladming was traditionally an early venue for the World Cup downhill tour. It retains its World Cup status, but is now better known for its floodlit World Cup slalom nights at the Planai area each January. The 'nightrace' has become hugely popular in Schladming, attracting enthusiastic crowds to what many people argue is the highlight of the season here.
On January 22, 2008, one of the biggest parties in the Alps will once again herald the race in which the most talented World Cup racers will try to emulate last winter's winner Benjamin Raich (victorious in this race for the fourth time) More than 50,000 spectators were there in January 2007 to watch Jens Byggmark, a World Cup rookie who won two slaloms at Kitzbühel double-winner battle it out with the Austrians Mario Matt and Benjamin Raich, finishing second to Reich.
The ski season normally opens late November and runs until mid-April and with the support of state-of-the-art snow-making canons the well-groomed slopes are kept in good condition, with tip to bottom skiing, until after Easter.
Out of season the Dachstein glacier remains open for ski touring.