by: Patrick Thorne - 23rd January 2007

  • 4
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced/Expert
  • 5All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 4Family Friendly
  • 5Aprés Ski
  • 5Terrain Park
  • Overall Value

Full review

Saalbach and Hinterglemm have some of the country's most exciting skiing and were the location for the 1991 Alpine World Championships. The resort is the second most popular destination in Austria (after the capital Vienna). Especially popular with the Dutch and German markets, Saalbach is marginally the larger (and louder) of the two villages. Originally 4km (two and a half miles) apart, which have grown so much that they now almost meet in the middle. The Glemm Valley above the resort offers one of the largest and best integrated ski areas in Europe, with over 200km (125 miles) of trails fully lift-linked so that you can easily travel in either direction around the 'Ski Circus'. Intermediates will enjoy the vast ski area the most: with nine different access points to the skiing spread along the valley, including lifts from the village centres, it's extremely easy to get up and around. Experts head for the north-facing Zwolferkogel which has an exciting, if tiring 3km (2 mile) black mogul descent. Another ‘must’ for advanced skiers is the long black under the Schattberg gondola. A run over to lift-linked Leogang is well worth the effort and there’s a wonderful long red dropping a vertical kilometres to get there. Floodlighting on the trails below the Unterschwarzach lift in the resort centre mean you can stay on the snow 6pm to 9.30pm each evening. There’s an estimated 100km (65 miles) of off-piste terrain locally, best tackled in the company of a local guide. Some purists do feel that possibilities can be limited by thick forest and limited powder fields whilst others enthuse about the very same thing – and abundance of trees, steeps, powder and natural hits to make the off piste terrain great fun for free riders and boarders alike. Boarders also make up a large proportion of the clientele, attracted by and at the same time creating the party atmosphere in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The large number of chair and cabin lifts on key routes is another big attraction for boarders, who rarely need to worry about a drag.
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