Two families, three small kids, wifes also avid snow sport enthusiasts. A week long ski holiday. Stay insane and try to get some fresh turns here and there… While still going back home not divorced? An impossible equation?
I have friends who never take their families or even wives to ski trip. A perfect strategy if you ask me, but it is just not so easy sometimes. My wife also wants to go riding, actually as much as I do. Who I am to say that the turns only belong to me…
Anyway, I’ve come into the conclusion that bigger, famous resorts are in a way overrated. I mean if I had weeks or months of time I’d go to Chamonix or Verbier (or similar place) for sure. Don’t get me wrong, but those kind of resorts are world class, and have earned their reputation. Even though with limited time and fever to get powder turns as easily as possible, there are other options. You just have to take a bit different strategy and attitude.
Skiing in Flachau
Take a small family-oriented resort in Austria and book a basic package trip. Be sure to deal the “shifts” of skiing well ahead – so you don’t end up arguing on the morning of the powder day who’s turn it is going to be…
We did like this and managed to do pretty well. Traveling with kids requires quite a lot of patience and military like discipline but it isn’t the worst thing to do (any day at the mountains beat the office for sure IMHO). We also managed to get some pretty good, soft turns; generally people just didn’t cared for the powder and/or off-piste at the small resorts of the Ski Amade. Well, Flachau is the home village of Herman Maier himself… No wonder that people were so keen on groomer skiing. Very good for us!
So, Flachau ski resort is famous for its immaculately prepared and diverse slopes. I have to say groomer skiing is often pretty bad in famous off piste / backcountry / mountaineering resorts. So, if you’re into carving on very wide and well prepared blue and red runs, Flachau is for you. I’d say the groomer skiing there is world class.
Another speciality is 200 snow cannons – a thing that guarantees skiing even with the current weird winters. This winter has been very good in Austria in general though, and good amount of natural snow fell also when visited Flachau.
Flachau is located at the center of the gigantic Ski Amade group, only 70 kilometres from Salzburg. Ski Amade consists of 5 different larger ski areas and 25 smaller resorts, ranging from gentle slopes of Flachau to glaciated terrain of Dachstein that offers something for even the most experienced mountaineers (I was so impressed by the Dachstein that I will post another article and photos dedicated to the area… Stay tuned).
We were lucky to have some local knowledge helping us out. We knew the guide of the organizing company and his wife already before. They were also pretty stoked to have some ski/riding company for a week and offered us a possibility to get rides to nearby resorts by their car. So, those guys pretty much took us to many “secret stashes” straight away. That was really nice, considering our limited time at the resort – so everyone got to ski powder and see alot of variety. (btw. not that the stashes were so “secret”: many times there were no tracks at all if you took some 10-20m away from the prepared slope… that was pretty hard to believe couple of times, after experiencing the rush that could be possible in places like Grand Montets (Chamonix) on a good powder day!)
We skied and rode in four different resorst of the Amade group during the week. Here is a short description of each one:
- Flachau: gently and rolling well prepaded slopes. We didn’t ski much slopes there though – but took a few off piste runs down Griessenkareck. Nice rolling terrain on the upper mountain (see the video below), then some good trees, and the run ends up on a very thick forest. Be sure to take the forest road traverse back to the slopes early enough or you end up to do some serious bushwacking. The run down from Griessenkareck offers a vertical change of pretty even 1000m (~3000 feet). The place kind of reminded me from Jasna, Slovakia - small by the Alps standard but more than enough by our Scandinavian standard.
- Zauchensee / Flachauwinkl: I really dug this place,. Located only about 10-15min away from Flachau and easily visitet by ski-bus too. The resort offered some good, well groomed slopes as well few nice faces and chutes on the top of the mountain and excellent tree skiing from around 1/3 from the top. This were the place where I most wondered the habits of the local skiers. You could ski perfect glades straight from the slopes and no tracks around but ours.
- ReiterAlm (which is connnected to larger Schladming area). This one offered probably as much vertical change as Zauchensee but in my opinion the profile and slopes were a bit more boring and not so well prepared (note: this from the few runs we skied to get to the “real” stuff) However, take the 6 seat chair to the top and hike ~15minutes to the top of Gasslhöhe. Nice little face where you can take several line options. Enough terrain features to keep you interested for an afternoon.
- Dachstein Glacier - we only got to visit there for too short time. By car that was just on the border for reasonable half day visit (remember: we had two “shifts” every day, letting the wifes have their fun on the other one…). So, we ended up skiing the slopes of the glacier and some very small off piste runs between the slopes which were not bad, the snow was ok (chalky old very windpacked snow) and the views great. But we didn’t manage to take any of the big (I mean BIG) routes back to the gondola as the time was getting late and the beginnings of the said routes look gnarly! Actually I wasn’t excepting anything like this here and to be honest the mountains looked very humbling in Dachstein. A good reminder for us flatlanders t keep a low profile and take it easy…:)
The Village of Flachau
The Village itself is pretty small, offering all the needed services within walking distance. The village is cosy, typical old Austrian town with old houses, church and plenty of restaurants. The restaurants are said to be ok, and Hoagascht in the main street should be excellent. With the hassle of three small kids we cooked our own meals in our apartment though. Boring but quite practical choice (and preparing your own meals means threre is always enough food…).
Our stay, Phantasia, was very nice and highly recommended, especially those travelling with kids. The building is made in 2006 and everything is very modern. Beats the french offerings any day (sometimes the pünktlichkeit so common in German speaking areas are just fine!)
Afterski is big in Austria and Flachau is no exception. Hofstadtl located in the down station of the lift is the place to go. There are also several night clubs in the town if you need to continue the night later…
Our after ski / partying on the trip was a joke. But that was pretty much expected…we just had to get our powder fix and that didn’t allowed for much partying with the kids and their daily routines around. And I would say we managed pretty well to still get some. The strategy to go the smaller resort and enjoy the overlooked soft snow was very succesful. Flachau was also very family oriented in every way, so the kids enjoyed too. My 3,5 years old daughter also got her first runs on alpine skis!
Flachau cold facts
- Inhabitants: 2800
- Altitude of the village: 925 m
- Altitude of the highest lift station: 2188 m (in Ski Amade Dachstein Glacier is at almost 3000m)
- Slopes: 265 km from which black 34 km, red 145 km, blue 86 km
- Lifts: 87
- Cross Country Skiing: 220 km
- Freestyle Park: www.absolutpark.com
- Halfpipe: yes·
- Lifts open 8.30 – 16.00 (possibility to night skiing with additional fee)
- Number of slope restaurants: 2
- Restaurants: 3
- Bars: 12, Nightclubs: 3, Cafes: 5
Powered by Facebook Comments