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Skiing in Austria

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I live in the US, but I have just learned that I have to travel to Vienna in mid-February for a meeting.

How difficult is it to travel over to the Alps once I am there and how long would it take?

If I am looking for a resort that has the best chance for powder, what should I consider? My favorite terrain would have to be powder and steeps. I would consider myself a decent advanced skier. I spent a winter in Jackson Hole a couple of seasons ago and can handle most in-bounds territory there to give you an example.

Thanks in advance,
post #2 of 19
Talk about a nice Christmas surprise! I believe one of your best bets will be to drive or train over to St. Anton, approx 6 hours west from Vienna. St. Anton and surrounding Arlberg ski region is huge, with great steeps and verticals...Jackson Hole x 5. Should be great in Feb.
If you need to stay closer to Vienna try searching epic under Vienna. There are a few decent places within 3 hours that should be good in Feb.
post #3 of 19
You'll have to play it by ear about where the snow is seeing austria is having a tough winter as far as very little snow.

Ski Club UK weather


Snowheads is a good forum specifiacally for this

I went to st anton last year and it just blew me away. The skiing was fantastic. The mountain was mainly above tree line. Most europeans stick to the groomers so there were huge swaths of powder where one could catch freshies days after the storm. Just stuff that blew me away. I also connected with a few Norwegians who really knew the mountain and showed me many many sweet spots. People were very friendly so this was not a problem to get in with some like minded skiiers. Only problem was if you wanted to stay on trail it did get a little crowdeed.

If you are looking for closer to slazburg check out bad gastein. Again, fantastic skiing.

Austria basically has one huge valley down the middle length wise so it is fairly easy travel by train or car. Going up and over the mountains is usually fine as well. Can be a lot of fun.
post #4 of 19
Another thumbs up for St Anton from me - great skiing and usually good snow. At that time of year you should get decent snow, there's not been a good start to the season in Europe, but by Feb you should be fine.

Accomodation might be tricky to find if you are unlucky enough to be there at the same time as school holidays, might be worth booking a room in advance.

Have fun.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'll do some checking on St. Anton over the weekend and see what I can find out.

Thanks for the information.

Happy Holiday's,
post #6 of 19

st anton snow report from 12/22

st anton snow report from 12/22 from

Last snowed:18 Dec 2006
Powder alert:No fresh snow today
Lifts open:33 out of 86

Lower slopes:15 cm
Upper slopes:55 cm

On piste:Artificial
Off piste:Limited
Resort runs:Artificial

more info
Ski/board conditions are okay, more snow would be good

Snow News for Austria - last updated on 21 December 2006

Flachau (15/40cm) and Zauchensee (25/45) both reported 5cm of fresh snow today which will certainly freshen up the piste conditions. The weather at both resorts continues to be cloudy with possible snow flurries. Igls (10/36cm) had 6cm of snow fall yesterday, Wednesday. Many resorts across Austria saw fresh snow fall last Tuesday. Ischgl (5/55cm), Mayrhofen (5/40cm), Obergurgl (20/60cm) and Zell am Ziller (0/40cm) saw between 5 and 10cm landing at resort. The biggest snowfall was at Kaprun (41/110cm) which reported 11cm falling last Tuesday. In the Ski Welt region Soll (0/25cm) opened for skiing today, Thursday with 3 lifts in operation. Scheffau (0/40cm), Ellmau (10/20cm) and Westendorf (5/40cm) are all open but are still in need of some more snow to help the manmade piste conditions. Hopfgarten (0/25cm) is still closed but will open as soon as there is more snow. Bad Kleinkircheim (15/35cm), St Johann (0/25cm) and Waidring (5/15cm) all plan to open on the 23rd December
post #7 of 19
Frankly, travelling over the Alps out of Vienna takes forever - at least if you are looking for really good skiing.

Pretty close options (1-1.5 hrs) - snow permitting - are Semmering, Schneeberg, Hochkar.
Next skiing of reasonable size is Schladming ( about 3 hrs) but it's not highly elevatet either. Hovever if you are lucky to encounter powder then the Krippenstein from Obertraun around the corner is the way to go - 5000 ft. vertical of challenging freeride terrain if that is your thing. But on those days it gets crowded so better get there the day before and catch the first tram the next morning.
post #8 of 19

Take the Train to Innsbruck

As others have noted, Vienna is generally not convenient to most of the skis areas which are in the western part of Austria. St. Anton, while a great resort area, is probably the longest drive you can do.

If there is snow, and you should check this carefully this year, I would go to Innsbruck by train. This is a lot easier than driving yourself. There used to be a train from Vienna to Innsbruck with sleeping cars that left at about ten in the evening and got you in to Innsbruck at five or six in the morning. Don't know if this is still running so you should check availability and times. If you get a Eurail or Austrian rail flex pass then all you'd have to pay is the supplemental cost for the sleeper compartment which is cheaper than a hotel.

Then stay in downtown Innsbruck and buy the combined bus/ski pass to the local areas like Igls,Tulfes, Mutters and Axamer Lizum. Igls was the site of the Olympic downhill in 1964 and 1976, while Axamer Lizum hosted the slalom events. You can either rent gear at the mountain, or via your hotel in downtown Innsbruck. Innsbruck is a major town with lots of things going on at night and good restaraunts so you will have a good time there as well.

If there is snow, that's what I would do.
post #9 of 19
I didn't realize that Schladming was that close to Vienna. It is a pretty significant ski area in the traditional lift served on-piste sense. Should be good in Feb and lower elevations not such a negative at that time. Although, I don't think it is known as an expert's choice for extreme challenge. Here's more:
post #10 of 19
I did some checking, the ski train is still running from the Vienna Westbahnhof at 22:20, it will get you in to Innsbruck at 4:53 or St. Anton at 6:10. An Austrian rail 1st class flex pass will cost you $ 174 for three days out of fifteen travel, couldn't find direct info on the sleeper supplement, but usually these run about 20-25 euros. If you want to leave earlier in the day, there are also some express trains that will get you there more quickly. You can find a route planner at:
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

St. Anton vs. Innsbruck

So if I have a choice, what are the main differences between the two? St. Anton appears to get more snow and have more advanced skiing. Innsbruck is a shorter distance from Vienna, but is more of a city than an alpine village.

I'm thinking that I will like St. Anton better, but my wife has spoken to a travel agent who suggests Innsbruck instead.:

post #12 of 19
How much time do you have for the ski portion of your trip? If 3 days or less I would say go to St. Anton. If a week, maybe Innsbruck. The latter will require commuting to one of several local ski areas within about an hour of the city, sort of like staying in SLC and skiing at PC and the Cottonwoods. St. Anton would be more like staying slopeside at a destination resort/town like Vail, Breck, or S. Lake Tahoe, only add all three together for equal terrain.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
We will have at most 3 days to ski. St. Anton appears to be an hour further on the train, but looks worth it. I'd prefer not to spend too much time transferring to the lifts each day.
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by mannsj View Post
We will have at most 3 days to ski. St. Anton appears to be an hour further on the train, but looks worth it. I'd prefer not to spend too much time transferring to the lifts each day.
St. Anton is a town from which you can access several areas that are somewhat interconnected. Basically once you go up the lift and get into a particular area, it is not easy to get to the next one unless you go down the hill again. There is an awful lot of terrain to be covered if you want to try to do all the areas, almost too much for three days. St. Anton will be closer to the ski in/ski out experience if you get the right pension, but if you want to try multiple areas you will probably have to get on the bus anyway.

Innsbruck is a base city where you would take the ski bus to get the resorts, a little like staying in downtown SLC and using UTA to get around. You get a combined bus and ski pass to get to the areas. Each of the areas is somewhat distinctive having different types of terrain. The two more expert areas are Igls and Axamer Lizzum, as I recall Igls is a little closer but both are within a hour of downtown.

In St. Anton, you will want to book a pension in advance, especially if you are going to be there during a busy period like school holidays. If your plans change you may loose your deposit. In Innsbruck it's usually easier to find hotel rooms on short notice, so if your days are subject to some uncertainty you may want to consider this. Innsbruck is also a bigger city, so there will be a wider range of services in general.

Hope this is helpful, either way you go you can't go wrong.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Any good books/guides so I can learn more about the terrain and find trailmaps.
post #16 of 19
Originally Posted by mannsj View Post
Any good books/guides so I can learn more about the terrain and find trailmaps.
Give these people a call and see what they can send you:

Austrian National Tourist Office
Travel Information Center
P.O. Box 1142
New York, NY 10018-1142
Phone: +1 (212) 944-6880
Fax: +1 (212) 730-4568
Web site

Otherwise you can contact the Fremdenverkehrsamt (Tourist Office) in Innsbruck and St. Anton directly, I sure that they will mail you all kinds of things. With the bad snow this year, they probably have lots of extra info lying around. This is cheaper than any guidebook, and the information will be more current.
post #17 of 19

Opt for St. Anton, don't even mess with Innsbruck if choice is between these two. Stay either at the resort or one of the neighbouring villages like St. Jakob (own gondola access to the gampen ski area), Pettneu, Schnann, Fliersch.
Or: stay at Landeck and commute each day (30-45 min. by bus/car) into St. Anton, optionally into the Paznaun Valley (Ischgl, Kappl). Either way good, well-maintained roads even during heavy snow storms. Snow level is usually comparable between any of those, you can't go wrong with any in February.
post #18 of 19
Originally Posted by mannsj View Post
Any good books/guides so I can learn more about the terrain and find trailmaps.
There are two books by Andy Thurner that you can find in the ski shops there. One is called "Off Piste All Around the Arlberg" and it stays in my pack when I am over there.
post #19 of 19
Most other resorts in Austria are smaller than St Anton. St Anton is the ski resort in Austria, I'd only advise you not to go if

1) You can't handle anything above a red run or
2) The snow levels are better elsewhere.
3) You are skiing for less than 2 days and the travelling time would be too much.

There's a direct train link from here in Vienna via Westbahnhof to St Anton. Beware that Feb is school holiday time so you may need to book on the train. It's approx 6 hrs during the day with scenic sections while travelling overnight takes ca 8 hours. Probably better to travel overnight at this time to avoid the kids.

The snow has been a little late coming but I hear it's dumping in St Anton today.

There's no inbounds as such and you ski off piste at your own risk. St Anton has fantastic terrain but I wouldn't advise anybody to take a book and try to explore unfamiliar back country routes that way. Better to take a guide (ca 90 ÔéČuro a day).

In every top ten international expert ski resort lists I have seen St Anton has been in the top 5 (normally top 3). You will see why when/if you get there.
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