Skiing in Schladming

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.

Schladming Ski Area Overview

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 at 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 is connected by a 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.

Schladming 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, the Hochwurzen downhill 7.7 km, Hauser Kaibling FIS downhill 7 km, Galsterberg downhill 7 km and the 6 km 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 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 one of the early venues for World Cup downhill racing. It retains its World Cup status but is better known for its floodlit World Cup slalom night race on Planai each January. The ‘night race’ in Schladming is hugely popular, attracting more than 50,000 spectators and causing one of the biggest parties in the Alps.

The ski season normally opens in 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 top-to-bottom skiing, until after Easter. Outside the main winter season dates, the Dachstein glacier remains open for ski touring.

Beginner Skiing in Schladming 

Schladming isn’t great for first-time skiers as they must use the lifts to get to and from the nursery slopes at Planai or take a bus to Rohrmoss to access the easiest skiing.

The best mountain for beginners and the nearest to town is Planai (1,894 m), which is mostly red runs. There are good nursery slopes near the top. Unless experienced enough to cope with the runs down to the Planai West chair-lift which, rather quirkily, includes a tunnel to the outer base area of Hochwurzen, novices will prefer the Rohrmoos plateau, which is a bus ride away for skiers based in Schladming. Unfortunately, even novices at Rohrmoos have to pay for a full lift pass.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Schladming

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Intermediate in Schladming

Much of the skiing here is ideal for intermediates and families. Depending on your point of view, one of the region’s strengths – or weaknesses – is that so much of the terrain is within the capabilities of the average skier.

The central and busiest mountain, Planai, is a veritable cat’s cradle of red runs interspersed with almost as many blues – 25kms of the 32kms of runs are intermediate.

The pattern is similar on Hauser Kaibling (where almost the entire mountain is easy-to-intermediate), Hochwurzen (which has no black runs at all in its 15kms of skiing) and Reiteralm (where 21kms out of 27kms are intermediate, with skiing up to 1860m).

The Reiteralm ’round trip’ is a six-kilometre downhill run starting from the Gasselhöh top station, moving on to the Holzer slopes, the Reiteralm piste itself and then finally down the ‘Finale Grande’ – up to 80m wide in places – right next to the new Silver Jet cable car.

At Planai-Hochwurzen there are wide, long slopes which the resort says, poetically, “will make a carving fan’s heart beat faster” There’s night skiing there too with the three-kilometre floodlit racing slope.

The connection between Hochwurzen and Planai has vastly improved with the opening of the new “Goldenjet”, which transports skiers to Planai in just a few minutes.

Even on the Dachstein Glacier, intermediates rule: most slopes are lower-intermediate friendly. Of the total 18 kilometres of skiing at Ramsau/Dachstein, 14 kms are easy-to-intermediate.

And even on the Fageralm (930m – 1885m), the mountain beyond the Reiteralm, there are no black runs either on this sunny and scenic plateau.

The Mitterfager run there can be skied by the whole family. It’s a blue run, with a vertical drop of around 200 metres, which can even be attempted by relative beginners.

There’s breathtaking scenery too, with wonderful views across to the Dachstein.

Advanced Skiing in Schladming

The skiing includes some of the longest uninterrupted runs in Europe; for example, the 4.6 km FIS downhill run or the 7.7 km Hochwurzen Valley.

In the days when Schladming had a regular World Cup downhill, it was a severe test of the racers’ skill and bravery. “It was quite difficult skiing out of the trees into the open because of the sudden change from relative shadow to bright sunlight,” says Konrad Bartelski, the former British World Cup downhill specialist. “Imagine driving down a windy forest lane at night, trucking along at 85 mph and there is a loose connection to your headlights?

That’s what it was like chasing down the hundredths of a second on the Schladming downhill. The sunshine cuts off as the dark shadows from the trees, momentarily extinguishing your sight, with only a safety net to protect you from colliding with one of the stout tree trunks hiding behind them. And Schladming had one of the most dramatic finishes on any World Cup downhill as you sweep down straight into the town at 80 mph – simply breathtaking.”

Elsewhere, the Edelgriesskar – a challenging black run from the Dachstein glacier to Ramsau has a vertical drop of 1,500 metres. For a wonderfully scenic and breathtaking exhilarating run, take the Kaibling six-seat chair to the top of the World Cup run on Hauser Kaibling (red and blue sections) and ski down to Haus (Vertical: 400 metres).

Whilst not a major destination for off-piste adventure, Dachstein-Tauern is well known for ski touring with 8 back country routes for guided touring on or off the Dachstein glacier and guides are available via the ski school. The Edelgriess is an 18km freeride downhill route across the Dachstein massif down to Ramsau and the 25km Austrian national ski tour across Dachstein glacier to Hallstadt is recommended, with a guide.

Boarding & Freestyle in Schladming

The Dachstein-Tauern region is one of the best destinations for snowboarding in the Eastern Alps and the world’s biggest snowboard school is in Schladming.

The area has three halfpipes, a boardercross run and an excellent terrain park. There’s a halfpipe in the middle of the Planai area, and another at the top of the gondola at Reiteralm. But pride of place goes to the huge halfpipe in the snowpark along the valley at the top of Galsterbergalm.

At the 300-metre-long “Hochwurzen Playground” boarders and free-skiers can demonstrate their tricks on a five-metre rail-line, a rainbow rail, a pro-jump with a 12 metre table, and a curbbox on slopes that are floodlit from Monday to Saturday. There’s a Straight Jump with a six-metre table.

Those who want to explore the backcountry at Planai, Hochwurzen and Dachstein can talk to one of the local mountain guides.

In November there’s a “Pleasure Jam” in the Burton Superpark on the Dachstein Glacier when world-class professional boarders like Marc-André Tarte and Stefan Gimpl train before the new season starts, with a big snowboarding exhibition and parties and concerts in Schladming.

The Burton super-park on the Dachstein glacier is open in early summer and in the autumn – one of the best freestyle playgrounds in the eastern Alps.

Many professional snowboarders like Flo Mausser and Marko Grilc spend their autumn on the Dachstein preparing for the winter season. The Superpark, with its kicker and rails, is designed by the snowboard pro Bernd Mandlberger.

Schladming Mountain Restaurants

There are restaurants on every mountain, particularly the busiest, Planai which has no fewer than 15, starting with Planaistub’n Charly’s Treff right at the bottom of the lifts at the Planai stadium – a natural meeting place.

The Zum Holzhacker on the lower slopes is next to the start of the FIS slalom run.

The Schladminger Hütte is handily placed at the top of the gondola.

Onkel Willi’s, with live music and a sun terrace, is popular.

A little way below Onkel Willy’s is the Märchenwiese Hütte, which specialises in home cooking. The Larchkogelhütte is right next to the Lärchkogel chairlift upper station. Other choices include the Weitmoosalm and the Planaihof. The latest addition to the huts on Planai is the Schafalm with 500 seats, directly under the Top Station of the Planai Gondola

On Hochwurzen above Rohrmoos, the most popular choice is the Seiterhütte which has a sun terrace below the summit of Hochwurzen. Nearer the nursery slopes at Rohrmoos, there’s a choice between the Tauernalm, the Hotel Austria and Jagastüberl.

At Haus, the Krömmelholze gets many people’s vote.


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