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Kitzsteinhorn Gletscher - keeping it going into June

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 


I'd like to share with you guys my 2 day ski trip to Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, in Austria. Might be useful if someone is trying to ski in mid june :)

It also has my impressions in the skis Ive tried in there.

First thing I've noticed is that people in there are extra nice, be it in the city or in the glacier.

The Kitzsteinhorn glacier season starts earlier and stays up well after the end of the normal european season. The ticket for 2 days costed me 60 EUR. In june the skiable area is about a third from the normal winter size. You need to get 3 lifts to get to the top of the mountain (3000m high), and then a funicular to get down to the beginning of the ski area. The top of the glacier is a beautiful double observatory and there was more people going there to visit the top than to ski (Of course I was there for business, so only visited the observatory after my legs were gone in the 2nd day.

Two days before my arrival condition was "powder slopes, 240cm of snow on the top", which for an unlucky me changed abruptly to corn slush when there was a big heat wave right the day I arrived (31C in the city, 16C in the glacier top). The sun was obfuscating in the first day and condition was not great, most people skied until 12 o'clock only. Noticeably there was a junior italian team practicing in the slopes, crowding the first runs in the lifts with their gear, instructors and entourage. Another noticeably thing was that in 2 days I think Ive seen 3 snowboarders in there only.

Basically there were only 4 slopes opened, I think the reds 4A, 4B and 4C on the top of the glacier with T-lifts on them, and the big blue slope #1 to go back to the base of the ski area. As people say it is usual in glaciers, the slopes are reasonably gentle. The problem was that the corn snow was really heavy and the reds became bumpy very early in the morning, which made them more difficult to me, as an intermediate. The sun was shining strong first day, without glasses completely obfuscating. The installation are really great, bathrooms, restaurant, locker, ski renting, etc. I could see they were grooming some pistes throughout the day. The only annoying thing is it takes a while to get to the top. Each of the 3 steps to the top you have chair lifts and gondolas, and I suppose they decide each will be open based on the weather. In my case it was gondola, quad chair lift, another gondola (also taking non skiers to see the top of the glacier, most arabs seeing snow for the first time and older people doing some hiking and walking in the snow).

I went there to test skis and try to improve my ski knowledge so I can buy the right one. So first day I tried the 2012 Blackeye Ti  181 cm, BBR 7.9 179cm and the Volkl Code Speedwall 178cm (82/79/75 cm waist respectively). For me, the feeling was (Im 6ft, 220 lbs):
1) The Blackeye was very demanding, and was giving me problem controlling the speed (it went like a rocket in the bumpy piste, tiring me very fast). Im not used at all to the piste conditions on that day. I thought this ski would fit my bill perfectly (intermediate to adv ski, and length seemed right at 181 cm). I was lazy and being a while without ski, but still. Any opinions? Was it too long? Or should I just stay away from double metal skis? :)

2) The BBR I didnt ski a lot, but I could see it went well when I accidentally went off piste (also on piste), in an ungroomed part. It was stable in the bad piste, but nothing that would make me want to pay the high price tag it has. So I quickly moved on. It was the ski I liked the less.

3) Then went to the Volkl Code Speedwall. I thought it would be hard to handle, as it race like (but not on weight) but it was surprisingly ok, I think the best of the day. I did try to pass in the small ungroomed area on the sidepiste and it didnt end well, I quickly came back to the groomer. It has a huge waxable sidewall all the way of the ski. It has rocker, so this might have made it easily (and the fact that I already did a couple of runs to readapt myself into skiing.

I was skiing lazy all day, and was far from getting speedy in the unknown terrain that the bumpy piste was for me. This might have been the prob with the blackeye, that was a rocket rabbit, very fast, engaging firmly in turns, hardly skidding.

All day was very hot, unbelievably I was wearing my HH hardshell and it holded pretty well, despite the extreme temperature. I was using HH dry non insulated baselayer, which was also doing well wicking away and drying fast.

Then there was the second day. I had some sense and left the hardshell at home and went with a softshell I have. Temperature in the glacier dropped to "only" 10C, and the fog was the saviour of the piste, as the snow was much firmer this day, without the bright sun melting it away. Pistes were good for longer, but there was less people this time.

Second day the same pistes were open, but snow was much better. In the second day I had an Elan Waveflex 14 Amphibio  168 cm and a Rossignol Experience 74 177cm, both 74cm waist. Then it was like this:

1) The elan was pretty easy, and felt at home in the good snow piste conditions. It was initiating very easily, and handling super easy, as it was the shortest. I could see it wanted to go fast (and it would if I had let it), but it was not making me feel uncomfy (e.g. making me work harder than I wanted to), like the blackeye in the previous day. Its very pleasant to ski

2) Then after a couple of runs I switched to the Rossignol Experience 74. It was the easiest of all 5, handling was so comfy and stable, and I've used it longer than the others, despite the fact that I was already a bit tired. I've used in the good snow, and also when it was already turning into heavy slush (but the glacier slush has big ice cristals, not like the slush I was used before from lower altitude mountains). I tried it in the ungroomed area and it got unstable like the Volkl, with all my lack of ability on skiing them oin the soft snow. It was also the most similar to my fav ski of my first season (the Dynastar Outland 80 pro), no surprise as Rossi and Dynastar are closely related.

Then after lunch Ive visited the top of the glacier, in which there are two observation points, connected by a tunnel that goes thru the stone. Really nice and informative, with panels showing infos about the glacier. The place in winter time looks like its awesome. The pistes are easy (only one black), but they have 5 marked freeride areas, two snowparks (not my cup of tea) and the snow is said to be awesome (just imagine it was snowing in mid june with powder slopes). Apparently you can buy a ticket that is valid in all the resorts from the region Zell am See - Kaprun, so its a pretty good amount of slopes. The local beer is good (Stiegl, from Salzburg), pretty drinkable (this is important, as my experience with Austrianbeers have been quite disapointing, if you have tried Puntigamer you know what Im talking about.

The food in the glacier was ok (Wiener Schnitzel for 13 EUR, not bad), and several beverages, cakes, wines, etc. Of course, redbull is omnipresent in Austria and it was no different in the glacier. In the "summer base station" (the Alpin Center, 2452m) there is renting, food, lockers (small ones and others that can hold skis), info booth (with nice helpful people). In the winter they ski until Langwied station, lower at 1976m, and where most of the freeride routes go to.

The only negative point I can think of is that the gondolas can take a while (but in the winter, the chair lifts will be opened, so no worries). Its quite beautiful place, as you can see i their website and there are also some videos in youtube (specially from the parks and the freerides). I would recommend the place, despite not knowing lots of resorts for sure. I might comeback if I feel I cant handle staying all the warm months ski-less.

In the end I didnt buy any ski, still undecided (or better saying still decided on getting a dynastar outland). What worked best for me so far was skis without metal, with carbon, basalt or something like that in the core. Right now Im in doubt if I should wait more in my ski progress to get something like a blackeye Ti or if I should settle for one of those non metal skis, which suits me better when Im getting tired or not really puting 100% effort in skiing perfectly.

Thats all, hope its useful for somebody wanting to know about the Kitzsteinhorn Gletscher




post #2 of 4

Reading your TR actually got me thinking about how much fun it would be to take a trip there.  Thanks for sharing. 

post #3 of 4

Beautiful place for sure. Skied there as a kid long long ago and remember it well.  Kaprun's a nice village, and Zell am See worthy all the postcards. So did they rebuild the funicular after the accident a few years back?

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
It was replaced by a gondola lift and a funitel (panoramabahn and gletscherjet 1)

But from the base you can see the funicular trail entering the tunnel.
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