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Saalbach - Hinterglemm - Leogang - Fieberbrunn 2017/18 Official Unofficial Thread

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
A bit early, but I'll kick off this year's Ski Circus thread with a few news items:

1. Down in Viehhofen, there is an air of excitement over next year's new gondola from the village up to the Schmittenhoehe. Presumably this will be accompanied by a fanfare over the extension of the Ski Circus to include Zell am See/Kaprun, making it again the largest ski area in Austria. There is a lot of work going on in Viehhofen, the apparent intention being to divert the road to run alongside the river, and to create a car park (and presumably a site for the lift station) in the centre of the village.

2. Word on the street is that a new reservoir is being constructed above Viehhofen, on the Saalbach side, to feed snow-making on piste 68, in preparation for it becoming the main route from Saalbach/Leogang to Zell am See.

3. Much work is being done on the Kohlmais, in preparation for next summer's replacement of the cable-car (the "coke cans" as some call them) by a modern, 10-seater fast gondola. Next summer the bottom lift station is to be demolished completely and replaced with a new one (opposite our front door incidentally Madeye-Smiley ) , similar to the new Schoenleitenbahn lift station. Although I haven't been up there this summer, apparently the new mid-station has already been under construction.

4. There is a rumour that the only eye-sore in Saalbach, the multi-storey car park on the left as you enter the village on the main road, is to be demolished. No idea what, if anything is to replace it - or indeed whether there is any truth to the rumour. Watch this space.

5. Apparently we're getting early snow this winter and December conditions are going to be even better than last year wink
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@Tatman's Tours, Thanks for getting the new season excitement underway, given the rain today down south it felt like winter!

Is piste 68 changing this season or will this year be the last chance to go down (when conditions allow) in relative peace and quiet?
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@ribblevalleyblue, I don't see anything changing with piste 68 before the season after next (at the earliest). There will of course be some compensation for the loss of its special "off the beaten track" feel, in that at least it will be open much more of the time, and of course there will still be times when it will be possible to catch it in pristine condition.
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Tatman's Tours wrote:


3. Much work is being done on the Kohlmais, in preparation for next summer's replacement of the cable-car (the "coke cans" as some call them) by a modern, 10-seater fast gondola. Next summer the bottom lift station is to be demolished completely and replaced with a new one (opposite our front door incidentally Madeye-Smiley ) , similar to the new Schoenleitenbahn lift station. Although I haven't been up there this summer, apparently the new mid-station has already been under construction.


They were making lots of progress with the middle station when I was over your way a few weeks ago. What I assume was the base station was also making good progress although it was hot work for the builders - they were asking me to spray them with the jet wash when I was cleaning my bike!
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Tatman's Tours do you frequent the Spielberghaus? I stopped for a drink and a strudel mid ride and was impressed with the chef picking a load of his herbs from the garden.
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@hammerite,
Quote:

What I assume was the base station was also making good progress

I don't think it can be the base station, as the old one hasn't been demolished yet (in fact it will still be in use next season), and the new one is supposed to be built on the same site.

Quote:

do you frequent the Spielberghaus? I stopped for a drink and a strudel mid ride and was impressed with the chef picking a load of his herbs from the garden.

We should get up there but we haven't yet this summer (there's still time, as we're still here). I'm not surprised by what you say. I remember a few summers ago the owner of the Sportalm at Hinterglemm (that's the one at the top of the Reiterkogelbahn) proudly showing Mrs TT and me his herb garden (which was where the ski racks are normally to be found in winter) - before (incidentally) serenading Mrs TT on his accordion, then his zither, and then on his 10 foot long Alpine horn. Then he took us inside and showed us his prized collection of edelweiss, which he kept in a glass cabinet in his restaurant.

I think that one of the attractions that they offer to tourists in Hinterglemm is a guided "herb trail". Herbs and edible fungi are taken very seriously here in summer, and I've no doubt that any self-respecting mountain restaurant owner offers them freshly-picked from the mountains and forests.
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We've also been serenaded at the Sportalm, but didn't get the herb tour!

As for the Kohlmais, there's something sizeable being built to the left (if you are looking up the hill) of the current lift station. The end of the Milka Line (downhill MTB trail) has been diverted slightly because of the works going on. I assumed it was the new base station, but it could be something else. I'm not sure if I took any photos of the work, I'll have a look through them when I get chance. We got talking to some people staying in Hotel Kohlmais, they were saying that the hotel won't be open next summer while they finish off the new lift station.

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@hammerite,
Quote:

there's something sizeable being built to the left (if you are looking up the hill) of the current lift station.

No idea what it could be.
Quote:

We got talking to some people staying in Hotel Kohlmais, they were saying that the hotel won't be open next summer while they finish off the new lift station.

Been debating whether to accept summer bookings next year. Apparently the front of our building is to be draped in plastic to protect us from the dust - not quite what holiday-makers expect! On the other hand, our apartments face the other way, i.e. are on the other side of the building, so may not be entirely out of the question to be there whilst building work is in progress.
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I have not been following the Saalbach/Zell plans.

Do you have a lift connection plan/link?
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@Tatman's Tours
Great to see this thread getting kicked off nice and early, I'll be milking it for every piece of advice I can find!!

Got my first trip to Saalbach booked at the end of January (in Chalet Tatman no less!!) and with Summer fading away, it's time to start getting excited about Winter!!
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@letsgetpiste, I hope you're bringing "letsnotgettoopiste" with you, as a moderating influence! wink Smile
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@stanton, Not yet, but you may find this topic helpful: http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3091638&highlight=saalbach#3091638
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Tatman's Tours wrote:
@stanton, Not yet, but you may find this topic helpful: http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3091638&highlight=saalbach#3091638


Unless they had the expansion plans submitted ore than 10 years ago & constantly renewed them I doubt it will happen.

No new lifts are allowed to built in Austria. Only Replacements & realignmenets of old lifts/trajectory's or they have to remove one lift to replace with another & if cutting trees is involved extensive consultation (years).
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@stanton, It seems to be a "done deal". Read this: http://www.salzburg.com/nachrichten/salzburg/wirtschaft/sn/artikel/skilift-verbindet-zell-am-see-und-das-glemmtal-189204/
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Can i start to get excited now...?

First trip 18-21st Jan, then back again in Feb with the family to get married Smile
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@ribblevalleyred, Congratulations! Will that be in Saalbach church? If so, my step-daughter was married there (to an Australian, who was conveniently RC) in December 2009, with the reception afterwards at the Maisalm (great choice - great food and we all toboggganed down at midnight, still in our wedding gear). For some reason, the happy couple then chose to stay at the Hotel Hinterhag, rather than at our apartments Puzzled
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Tatman's Tours wrote:
@stanton, It seems to be a "done deal". Read this: http://www.salzburg.com/nachrichten/salzburg/wirtschaft/sn/artikel/skilift-verbindet-zell-am-see-und-das-glemmtal-189204/


Then its been in planning for years before the moratorium on lifts was made law.

Thanks for the info
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Tatman's Tours, We are using the Heimathaus for the ceremony and have XandlStadl booked for the 'do'. Ceremony booked for 1600 so we can spend the morning on the slopes and i can spend the afternoon 'lubricating' the nerves away Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
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@ribblevalleyred, Yes, my step-daughter had her official "signing on the dotted line" ceremony at the Heimathaus, followed by the usual white wedding at the church. Timing it so as to enable you to ski and drink for most of the day beforehand shows a highly appropriate sense of priorities though. They had theirs in the morning, so we lost a day's skiing.
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@ribblevalleyred, you are in Saalbach at the same time as @ribblevalleyblue, could be colourful!!!
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Spent a lovely hour or so at the Heimathaus and museum a few weeks ago. There are some great exhibits.
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@ Tatman's Tours, The wedding evolved from a pre planned Ski trip, therefore we had to maintain the priorities..Wink

@ribblevalleyblue, Haha, purple??
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after much deliberation the wife and I have decided to return to Saalbach as we absolutely loved it. We stayed in Jan 2016 at the AlpinResort Sport & Spa. Great hotel but as we were travelling with friends we went all inclusive, now that it will just be the two of us we have decided on the Unterschwarzacherhof Hotel in Hinteglemm instead.

Has anyone stayed at the Unterschwarzacherhof and what did you think?

We tried the Chicken man of course and cannot wait to go back. Any other mountain huts for lunch that are a must try? Really hoping the conditions are better than they were in Jan 16!
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@rrd3718, If you PM me your email address, I'll send you my guide to Saalbach, which includes a list of recommended restaurants.
Can't help you with the Unterschwarzacher.
January this year gave us fantastic conditions, so hoping for more of the same.
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@rrd3718, have not stayed there but spent a lot of time at the Schwarzacherhof Jan 16 and Jan 17 for apres ski. If the Unterschwarzacherhof is as good as the Schwarzacherhof then you should be in for a treat. From memory they are close to one another and therefore close to the slopes. Enjoy
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thanks Tatman I have your guide from last time, thanks for reminding me!

Boabski, yes it is right next door, really looking forward to it!
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Thanks for the update and kicking off the thread. Already booked our trip for March 2018. Just hope its not so warm this time!!
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Couples New Years Trip - What have I done???

Im heading to Saalbach for New Years. Although Im a bit anxious as never been on a ski trip over Christmas before.
My mom passed away last year and dont think i can do Christmas and New Years at home, we've no kids... its depressing looking out at the rain n eating cadbury roses, watching crap tv and dreaming of the slopes, jagers, tirola grostl etc.

Any reassurrance or advice would be great. Ive been to Saalbach last two years with group of mad lads for long weekends and have had a blast. This time ive talked my wife into going for a week (Dec 30th-Jan6th) so a different approach is required.
Shes struggling with fitness a bit and is a nervous early intermediate. im hoping nice gentle blues, christmas atmosphere, lovely mountsin huts etc will prevent previous experiences of meltdown, 'i hate you' 'this is a NOT a blue' 'my legs are sore' etc...
anyway...
1. Will New Years be crowded on possibly limited slopes? Seems most hotels are all full already, we are booked into a pension (haus eder steiner)
2.Are most huts open such as chicken man. (never made it there on our lads trips)
3. Are resident band in hinterhag for new years week (some recollection they start later in season)
4. Can i get a hot looking ski guide for my wife who has serious trust issues with my blue orientated ski touring ( ive seriously messed up here in the past)
5. i hear new years eve is a great party in saalbach, are there romantic things i should look at throughout the week ??
was thinking one of those horse carriage things, evening meal somewhere special, maybe up the mountain ??? we will have a car and think there is a nice spa in nearby town?
6. Finally if we end up fighting can I head off with a snowhead on tour of circus and some therapy ??

sorry bout meandering questions,
excited but nervous

Landers
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@landers, Like you, I decided that, following parental bereavement and kids having left home, there was little to keep me and Mrs TT in the UK for Christmas/New Year. That was in 2006, and now we 're about to celebrate our 12th consecutive Christmas in Saalbach. As you know the place, I'm sure that you don't need me to explain why it's immensely better to be there than in the UK, slumped in front of the TV, eating too much and playing charades. I can't now imagine spending the "festive period" anywhere else.

To deal with your specific queries:

1. The amount of skiing available is unlikely to be too restricted. Apart from the fact that we're overdue for a good, snowy December ( Confused Puzzled wink rolling eyes ), last season was, as I'm sure you know, notable for the unusually late arrival of the snow right across Europe. Nonetheless Saalbach opened on time at the beginning of December, and, when we arrived on 10th December, we were pleasantly surprised to find that at least 150km of piste was open, including all the links between the various villages and all the main pistes down to the village from the Kohlmais, Schattberg and the Bernkogel. The natural snow started to dump down halfway through New Year week, but before that we had had plenty of good piste skiing, mainly on artificial snow. Apart from the visual appearance of the valley during December, and the fact that the pistes generally tended to be narrower than usual, I can't say that it bothered us too much, and we still managed to get around and to all our favourite haunts. In fact I made a solemn promise to myself that I would get to Saalbach as early as possible in December this year, so as to take full advantage of the nicely-groomed, unspoiled pistes, with virtually no one on them. Obviously this comes with the usual caveat that the weather, and hence the quantity of decent skiing, is totally unpredictable - all we can talk about is probabilities, based on previous experience.
You can look at historical snow depths on www.skiclub.co.uk and https://www.sno.co.uk/ski/austria/saalbach/snow-history/ ; you can also find out a wealth of objective, unbiased information from the previous years' Saalbach threads on this forum. In particular you will find plenty of feedback, and reports about conditions as we found them, in the "Official Unofficial Threads" for the last few years.
As for the possibility of crowds, New Year week does of course have the reputation of being the busiest and most popular week of the season, so it certainly won't be quiet! However Saalbach is better able to cope (i.e. absorb the pressure without congestion and queues getting ridiculous) than most resorts, and any bottle-necks tend to be few and far between. Obviously it pays to avoid peak times, like 10.00am at the bottom lifts, when all the ski schools kick off. The Ski Circus has the highest number of gondola cable cars of any resort in the world, so this tends to disperse the crowds somewhat.
2. By New Year week, all the huts, restaurants and apres-ski venues are in full swing.
3. The Hinterhag Alm invariably opens, with the resident band, on Boxing Day.
4. We can possibly help - there will be loads of us (i.e. not only us and various extended family members from the UK, Australia and Estonia), but a fair smattering of Brits who have apartments in Saalbach. Not sure how many would want to guide a "nervous, early intermediate" and qualify as "hot-looking", but generally we find the more the merrier!
5. Apparently one of the most romantic things you can do (I've never tried it Embarassed ) is the horse-drawn sleigh evening. It takes you to the Lindlingalm, which is up at the end of the valley beyond Hinterglemm, where I assume you can have a romantic meal. There is also the famous toboggan evening at the Spielberghaus, although that is probably more just fun than "romantic". The Chicken Man (Mama Thresl's Hendl Fischerei) does evenings with live music, chicken (or other menu options) and champagne. As you will have a car, you could drive over to Leogang for this. It may involve a "romantic" ski down afterwards, but I don't know about that. It might be worth your while to invest in a couple of good, rechargeable head torches, if you're likely to consider any romantic after-dark skiing. Mrs TT and I (and most of our friends) find it quite romantic enough to ski down the Kohlmais from the Bergeralm after the lifts have closed and most people have cleared from the slopes, especially when it's snowing (gently). This is made all the nicer, not only by the beverages we sip during the Bergeralm's famous/infamous happy hour (3.30-4.30pm), but by the fact that the piste bashers usually come up and groom the downhill run for us at about 5.15pm.
Other fairly romantic village restaurants include the Kohlmaisstub'n, Del Rossi, Hotel Peter, the Eva Alm, Seppi's, Il Desco, and the Baeckstaettstall. The Schattberg Stub'n is also possibly capable of serving up a romantic meal, given the right evening, table and waitress. If you fancy using your car to go farther afield, you have the Heurigenstube and the Goassstall at Hinterglemm (possibly also the Knappenstube), and the Tiroler Baum at Vorderglemm/Jausern.
What am I thinking of?! What could be more romantic than an evening at the superb Hecherhuette at Viehhofen, if it can be accomplished. This would depend on the snow conditions (the easy, "off the beaten track" blue run down to it is only open when there is plenty of snow), and whether your wife could manage it. I would recommend staying the night, or a leisurely, torchlit ski down afterwards (but only if the run is open and if your wife's skiing is up to it), or taking a taxi down, rather than driving up (with snow chains!). You could leave your car at the Schoenleitenbahn lift station.
Some people might find a night time toboggan evening at Hinterglemm romantic (stretching it here a bit, I know) - the designated toboggan track down from the top of the Reiterkogelbahn is lit at intervals, and the ancient, candle-lit Pfefferalm, with its roaring, open log fire and mugs of steaming gluehwein and jagertee, is conveniently located near the top.
The "nice spa" is the Tauernspa at Kaprun.
6. Be my guest Smile

Sorry for the meandering reply!
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Tatman, superb suggestions and advice. I'm going to consciously plan a few of the suggestions for couples as outlined thread or else I will end up trying to do a lads ski holiday with bergeralm, panormaalm, maiseralm, hinterhag etc everyday leading to marital madness....

Balance is the key and with your suggestions for evening mountain meals, spa time and horse drawn carriages I'll ve early favourite for hubby of the year 2018 Very Happy

You should add couples counselling to the list of services provided by Tatman Tours Laughing
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@landers, to back up Tatman's advice, I can confirm that as long as it is cold enough (likely) then the man made stuff will be spot on. We were out for Christmas week last year and skied miles and miles every day. The pistes tend to be pretty firm (not icey), but this makes the skiing relatively easy and fast. Great to get around and great for anyone who might be less fit. Obviously it was a bit quieter for us, but should still be fine.

All the above said, after 3 dry Christmases this one should be a bumper snowHead Puzzled
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hammerite wrote:
All the above said, after 3 dry Christmases this one should be a bumper snowHead Puzzled


What are the locals saying?

I've always thought there must be a wizened old man in the corner of a bar somewhere who knocks once for a big winter and knocks twice for a dry winter... Everytime he knocks, they just give him more schnapps to shut him up and go back to their computer generated forecasting models...
He doesn't complain. He gets free schnapps! snowHead
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We're staying at the Sonnblik in hinterglemm. Has any been or got any reviews about it?
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@letsgetpiste, I am that wizened old man, and I'm knocking once (but I might be wrong). More schnapps please Toofy Grin
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@landers, TT gave me very useful advice on easy blues from Hinterglemm when I went there 3 yrs ago: "Spent the morning with the beginners on the hausner/Rosswaldbahn/hochalm/Speileck Blues and thanks to you guys, no tears or strops!"

The top half of blue 46 up Bernkogel is the very gentlest slope and has now got a massive super fast chair to service it. 47 over to Reiterkogel is v short then its a easy gradient track (32) to get into Hinterglemm's south facing slopes. If any signs of tiredness, a few laps of the short quiet Rosswaldbahn will help, but it's entirely optional in this direction. Helpful getting back though! Take Spieleck rather than Hochalm chair at the far end for easier runs. You can turn back to Saalbach with blues all the way at any point.

There are really only 2 danger areas I remember:

1) Off Hochalm there is a (n easy) black (26). The marker signs look indistinguishable from blue with certain tints Embarassed

2) The upper section of the blue off Unterschwartzbahn (Northfacing, night ski area in Hinterglemm) is the red Westgipfel piste with blue markers. Your wife will do strop here Shocked
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We were thinking of Hinterglemm this year staying near the Reiterkogel gondola , would someone advice me on ski hire nearby and would there be lockers available at the gondola area please Blush
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Can't remember seeing lockers at the Reiterkogel. There is a hire shop, I think it's Ski n Soul (at least the shop in the summer is called Bike n Soul!) I'd imagine they'll store your skis.

There are a load of shops on the main street too which is only a minute or two away.
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First visit to Saalbach for me on 13th Jan, looking forward to skiing at Fieberbrunn too and I will probably get the bus to Zell for a ski as well as I have not been there either.
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@VolklAttivaS5, I might offend a few Zellites here but personally I donít think much to be gained by skiing Zell if youíre in Saalbach. The skiing is so good there. Iíve been to Zell once in winter and a few times in summer and certainly is a great place. Not that youíd be disappointed but given youíll have so much great skiing in your doorstep Iím not convinced the bus journey would be a massive benefit other than to ski another area. Donít get me wrong Zell is lovely and skiing good
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@boabski, ...and of course in the season after next it looks as though it will be possible to get there by ski lift!
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