Top 5 Iconic Ski Runs Austria
From tippy tops to valley bottoms, here are five classic Alpine descents you’ll be proud to tick off – or possibly even admire from the comfort of your deckchair.
The Streif, Kitzbuhel
Chances are you’ve hit 90 miles per hour in a car, but you’ve almost certainly never done it on skis. No ski race is bathed in such glamour and mortal danger as Kitzbuhel’s uber-famous Hahnenkamm, the most celebrated event on the ski racing calendar. With jumps of over 265 feet and gradients of 85 percent – It’s Hollywood, Formula 1, and the circus all in one. To win the Streif is to join the pantheon of ski gods — and we can all ski the same piste. Beginning with a ride in one of the gondolas bearing winners’ names — Killy, Sailer, Klammer, The Hermanator – it’s a cruisy top-to-bottom two mile piste which – apart from the actual race weekend in January – is a lovely red run we can all handle. Go figure.
Valluga North, St Anton
This season, St Anton linked up with Zürs and Lech via the spanky new Flexenbahn gondola. Until that moment, the only way to connect on ski was via the backside of Valluga. This classic off-piste run still carries the torch for the adventurous. Summon your pluck, go armed with a transceiver, shovel pack and a head for convex slopes and cliff bands. To enter the rickety five-man Valluga II lift everyone must be accompanied by a qualified mountain guide. The first handful of turns off the backside is the definition of ‘exposure’. A toe-curling traverse above a sheer drop soon gives way to a rolling long powder descent, deep into the rugged beauty of the Pazieltal all the way down to Zürs.
If the name doesn’t ring any alarm bells, the view from the cable car might. Harakiki is steep, at points that kind of fall-off the piste steep that they’ve eyeballed as clocking in round the 78 degree mark. It may be Austria’s steepest groomer but there is some comfort in its wideness, though even this is countered by the shady, firm snow factor. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
HöhenFresser, Zillertal Arena
Standing at the highest point in the Zillertal Arena, it’s a splendid 8200 feet push-off all the way down to the valley and a glorious 6 miles of skiing in between. This spectacular run covers nearly 6500 vertical feet and is billed as Austria’s longest downhill valley run. One non-stop descent (though you are free to take breaks as breaks are required), the ‘HöhenFresser Tour’ loosely translates as Vertical Meter Eater. Bon appetit or, as they say in Austria, Mahlzeit!
Perched poetically above the charming city of Innsbruck, the bijou Nordkette ski area is an ideal option for the day or for a few hours. Most of the runs are on the steep side on Hafelekar, but the ungroomed itinerary route called Karrinne truly takes the cake. One of the steepest ski runs in Europe reaches inclines of 70 degrees, so it’s not for everyone — though on a powder day, Innsbruck is said to have its share of empty desks and the really good skiers just might be there. For the rest of us, enjoying a few runs at this historic hill and a slice of strudel at its panorama restaurant is a pretty great choice, too.