Skiing in Schladming
Published: October 2011
The 2010/2011 ski season wasn’t an epic year snow wise. However, there are still some resorts where the availability of snow cannons making artificial snow is so top notch that it didn’t really matter. One such resort with great snow making is the Austrian resort of Schladming where I skied for the first time in March this year. The existing snow making facilities have been upgraded with an additional reservoir and pump stations. A new snow making station based on GPS measures the snow cover, which provides more efficiency grooming the ski runs.
Schladming lies amidst the beautiful Dachstein Mountain region in the province of Styria. Four linked mountains provide the main ski area consisting of 111 km of piste offering some diverse skiing from pretty tree-lined runs to the more challenging downhill used annually for the men’s World Cup night slalom. The region (Dachstein Tauern) also encompasses a number of smaller areas, including the Dachstein glacier. For a still greater choice, the resort is part of the vast Ski Amade pass which covers more than 800 km of runs in the wider region.
First up, the resort is an easy 1 hour 15 minute direct transfer from the nearest airport in Salzburg. For film buffs like myself, its fun to pass Burg Hohenwerfen, the castle where “Where Eagles Dare” was filmed on the way. At first glance though the town of Schladming doesn’t come across as that appealing, you enter it immediately of the main road. There’s no twisting mountain road to get you there and it appears rather sprawling and due to the lack of snow on my visit, not at all like a ski resort. However, once you reach the centre, you’ll find it to be charming and traffic free with lots of bars, restaurants and shops. It was Fasching, Austria’s carnival week during my visit which created even more of a party atmosphere. However, unlike St Anton for example Schladming is not known for it’s wild après ski scene. Never the less there were still plenty of people prepared to ski in fancy dress, somewhat bizarrely groups of friends would all dress in the same costume. You’d begin to wonder if you’d had one too many Gluweins at lunch as five Tiggers (as in the Disney character) skied past. Fasching starts on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday (so in 2012, on Thursday 16th February) with a big party on the Monday night continuing onto Shrove Tuesday the next day. It’s a fun time to be in Austria and particularly on the slopes.
If like me, you feel you want to do a journey ie skiing from A to B, rather than up and down doing the same run and want a feeling of actually travelling around the slopes, then Schladming’s a perfect choice of resort. There’s four distinctive mountains, (Hauser Kaibling, Planai, Hochwurzen and Reiteralm) all linked by lifts and with plenty of intermediate skiing. It was almost possible over a 3 days period not to ski the same run twice. Lifts open at 8:15 am, so an added bonus for keen skiers on a short break. However, I’d recommend everybody getting up early at least once to have that glorious feeling of being the first down a slope, knowing the tracks behind you are your own and no-one to bump into on the way down . Another plus is the ski shop Tritscher based at the bottom of the gondola and less than a couple of minutes walk away. You can also store your skis here over night , bliss for someone like me who hates carrying her skies and for the public who invariably get knocked by them when I do. As so often happens in many resorts, the runs into town a red and a black are not easy (the black particularly has a very steep and unwelcome finish if you’re tired at the end of the day). I’d stick to the red, or there’s no shame in taking the gondola down. For a confidence boost and general all round enjoyment, Hauser Kaibling has a gentle blue run running from top to bottom and Reiteralm also has some gentle blues. However, for those who enjoy a more challenging run, the Black run 3A at the tip of Reiteralm is nicknamed ‘The Waterfall’ as the top section is so steep it looks like you’re jumping off a waterfall.
Rather than return to the same resort every year, it’s fun to discover new places and especially resorts which have not only great skiing but something else to offer. Something I’ve never come across before is floodlit skiing. The Hochwurzen 3 km piste is open daily (excluding Sunday) from 7:30 – 10:00 pm, so the aforementioned keen skiers could in fact ski solidly for nearly 9 hours with a short après ski break in the afternoon. There’s a unique atmosphere to skiing at night and good visibility provided by the orange lighting. An alternative and equally exhilarating experience would be to take the 7 km long toboggan run at night. It’s one of the longest sled runs in the alps and can also be enjoyed during the day. Sleds are rented close by the Planai-Hochwurzen Gipfelbahn station where the cable car offers enough space in it’s pods to transport the sleds as well, You can go up and down the run as many times as you want and at your own speed. A well earned Gluhwein in the Tauernalm bar at the end of the run refuels you for the next go.
Schladming hosted the prestigious World Alpine Skiing Championships in1982 and will host them again in February 2013 after beating bids from the likes of St. Moritz and Vail. However, Schladming’s other claim to fame is that it was once the haunt of the young Arnold Schwarzenegger who lived nearby. We dined at The Talbachschenke, an historic restaurant in the centre of town, famous for its barbecued meat and curling, both also enjoyed by the former Californian Governor and infamous terminator.
Schladming is also one of the resorts in the new Crystal Adaptive programme offering accessible ski holidays for people with disabilities. Crystal are working on this with the charity Disability Snowsport UK along with selected adaptive ski schools providing specialist tuition and equipment for both beginners and advanced skiers and selected appropriate hotels. In Schladming these include Freizeit PSO and Hotel AW1.
We stayed at The Sport Royer Hotel, exclusive to Crystal and a 5 minute walk to the Planai Gondola and village centre. It’s a large hotel with an excellent range of facilities , indoor pool, fitness room, sauna, steam room, indoor tennis, a children’s playroom, even a rifle range ! perfect for active families and plenty on offer for those who don’t ski. It’s also in a great location for getting into town for other activities and entertainment.
Last season Austria increased it’s ski market share by 26.7 % (up on the 2009/10 season) due to its good value half board hotel accommodation and improved snow making facilities in resorts. Schaldming with its 100 % snow making cover and first class half board hotels, like The Sport Royer is a good example of how Austria has achieved this increase and if like me you love cruisey blues and can quite happily ski red runs, then it comes highly recommended.
Skiing in Schladming
Petra joined Travel Channel for its launch back in 1994. She looks after our research and works on all original productions. Petra’s one of the most recognisable faces in the travel industry and when she’s not on the canapé circuit promoting the channel, she spends every free moment travelling. She’s visited over 70 countries and prefers back packing to 5 * luxury, unless of course it’s in the name of research!
To find out more about Crystal Holidays visit