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Elderly non-skier in Austria in April

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Yes, yet another non-skier one!

So here's the background: my mother, now approaching 80, started skiing in the late 1950s with my dad when it took 3 days on the train each way. They always went to Austria. They skied in Japan in the 60s and then she took me skiing in Austria in the 70s and early 80s.

Once we stopped going together, neither of us skied again. Until out of the blue 32 years later she announced that she'd pay for my family of four to go skiing because she wanted her grandchildren to experience the same thrills while they were better at learning and better at bouncing. Since then my cousin, her nephew, and his son have also started skiing and the 6 of us had a great holiday in Folgarida at half term last year.

And Folgarida was an eye opener because it opened up the possibility of my mother joining us as a non skier. Up on the gondola to mid mountain height, then easy, flattish walk to a hut with a balcony in the sun, watch her family swish past every now and again before joining her for lunch. All good except that there would be literally nothing else to do all week and conditions underfoot in the village were treacherous.
But first week in April, my son and I went to Kirchberg. No snow and ice in the valley to slip over on, stuff to see and do, buses and trains to take her to interesting places. However, I didn't really spot an ideal venue to base herself where it was a pedestrian served, mid mountain sun trap where she could watch her grandchildren ski laps past her. (I wasn't really looking tbh and weather was variable so might not have come across the right venue on the right day.)

So is there a combination of these two? I'd like to return her generosity. In Austria for old times sake - open first week in April.
Gondola/cable car/bus service to mid-mountain then easy walk to hut in sun trap, not blaring out europop and overlooking the piste.
Village interesting enough to mooch about in and with good transport links to other interesting places

Ideas?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Lots of Austria springs to mind re gondola serviced mid mtn restaurants (mainly from my summer hiking)- not sure they all have the space to have kids easily visible zooming by as they tend to be located on plateaus or shelves. I could offer Rendl from St Anton for starters.


St Anton of course has regular direct trains to Innsbruck or Feldkirch if she is independent enough for days out.


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 15-05-19 16:47; edited 1 time in total
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Riccardo, you're already familiar with Kirchberg, Kitzbuhel of course is very close and might make a better base for your Mum as it's a bigger town and the central pedestrian part is nice. Alternatively Zell am See (nice town by the lake and direct rail connections for days out) or alternatively in the Ski Amade region Schladming (also nice town with direct rail connection to Salzburg).
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The ideal place to sit and watch would be up the horn at the Alpenhaus on the Kitbuheler Horn. But the last planned day for opening next winter is the 29th March so if you can bring it forward a tadge youd be fine.
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Zell am See (CityXpress or Arietbahn), Hinterglemm (Reiterkogel or Zwolferkogel), Soll, Ellmau (Hartkaiser), Mayrhofen (Penken) and many other places will give you a flat town and easy pedestrian access on a gondola to the base of the skiing area or all the way to the top where she can then meet up with the skiers and watch them passing. Almost all have a decent alm next to the gondola, and the rest have one close by which is easily reached on foot. Another option would be Saalbach (Kohlmaisbahn or Bernkogel), though the town is not flat. For access without a lift, Zauchensee might be worth a go - all in one bowl, and all of the lifts come down to the central group of hotels and alms, but it's not party central in the evening and can be relatively expensive.

Zell wins on ease of bus and rail transport for day trips, local facilities, and ease of access to the lifts, but all of the others are possible albeit sometimes with a bus ride to get to the lift.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Fri 17-05-19 12:30; edited 1 time in total
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Early April narrows things down a bit. As mentioned Kitzbühel is in many ways ideal but it is not so easy to find a suitable (hopefully) sunny spot near the Hahenkammbahn. If you have the budget Lech would be ideal, Oberlech has lots of sunny terraces and is easily reached from the centre of the village by a short cable car. Of course you can stay in Oberlech itself but budget could well be an issue. Lech is certainly a nice place to stay even for non skiers. Not sure St Anton is ideal not really many easily accessible nice piste side spots though as mentioned above Rendl Beach can be nice but might restrict the skiing. Perhaps Obergurgl would work but I am not sure there is a suitable restaurant, small place too not so good for non skiers. Ischgl could potentially work as it is easy to get to Idalp which has many pistes going past and various sitting out spots, I would not be sure that the atmosphere would suit but perhaps if you stay in a quieter spot it might be OK from a family point of view. Ischgl certainly has enough skiing to keep you all amused and is open until 1st May. Another place might be Serfaus / Fiss they are relatively high, family friendly and pretty much car free. I am not sure about the restaurant thing (not been enough) but I guess there must be somewhere suitable.
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We went to Mayrhofen for Easter this year. This would be ideal, from the top of the Penkenbahn you can walk to Kombibahn which is a combi gondola and chair lift, which also lets non-skier go up to the top of that lift and walk to another restaurant, also several restaurants at top of Penkenbahn.

Town is not at altitude so got quiet hot at town level with plenty of snow still even at mid-April.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=142966&highlight=
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@Riccardo, Great idea, but I suspect your mother would be eligible for a free lift pass. So why doesn't she go skiing? Afterall she is not too old. Many skiers in our ski club are in their 80s and still enjoy a ski holiday. Go for it.

Sorry I'm not an expert on Austria so cannot reccomend a destination.
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Many thanks for the replies...

@johnE, sweet idea but she hasn't skied for almost 40 years, her knees and hips are shot, she finds uneven ground difficult . But despite that, she's incredibly fit and active, put her on a flat, smooth pavement and she's difficult to keep pace with.

@NickyJ, Mayrhofen is one of the places we went to a few times when l was a kid, so l had in mind a bit when starting the thread, what with the Penkenbahn and the railway line. If we did go, we'd beat your 31 years between visits by 6 or 7 years! So I can't remember the lay of the land at all.

@munich_irish, yes, my feeling was that Kitz didn't have what I'm looking for up the mountain although the town itself would be ideal. Lech/Oberlech probably out of budget for this trip but there were loads of bargains to be had for the same week this year in St Anton which as @Dave of the Marmottes mentioned, has good transport links but maybe again lacks the ideal mountain restaurant but the piste map is so baffling, it's impossible for me to work out. I think my mum first went to Obergurgl in around 1960, then again with me around 1980, so might be nostalgic to return but it is a long way from anywhere. Ischgl sounds interesting but l get the impression you're not that keen, would the atmosphere still be an issue in early April? I've wanted to visit Serfaus ever since I spotted this massive ski area on a map that I'd never heard of, but maybe a step too far into the unknown for this trip.

@jafa, school hols dictate I'm afraid.

@ousekjarr, lots of suggestions, we went to Saalbach a couple of years ago and loved it. I dont know how easy it is to get around, presumably a bus to Zell and then a train? SkiWelt will be closed l think. Zauchensee looks interesting, how would you get about? Zell as also suggested by @Alastair Pink is looking a good option especially with the new link to Saalbach for those of us that would like to roam further afield. It's not entirely clear how you get between them though.

@Alastair Pink also mentioned Schladming which was the last resort we skied together all those years ago.

Lots of stuff to look into further, thanks again, keep the ideas coming. snowHead
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@Riccardo, one of the key requirements is simple = she must have some kind of crampons to wear, without fail, on her outdoor shoes anywhere it's snowy or icy - there are lots available, and not expensive. And she should use two walking poles - quite long ones - whenever she is anywhere slippery. Which means having a backpack for the essentials. She will feel so much safer, and more competent and independent. Absolutely hopeless hanging on to somebody's arm!
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@Riccardo, this photo I took from the restaurant at the top of the Kombibahn.



Also the spot where hubby jumped of the mountain was also top of that lift.
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@Riccardo, do bear in mind that spring this year has been non typical (if there is such a thing). It has been snowing down to valley level in the past few days and as you discovered there was lots of snow in early April. More likely at that time is warm sunny days and melting snow. If getting decent skiing in is a priority (as opposed to sitting around in the sun) then going high is likely to be a good idea.

St Anton could be a good option if your mum is happy to get about on her own. Both Galzig and Gampen have restaurants very easily accessible on foot though perhaps not ideal for watching you ski past. It is perfectly possible and easy to get to Lech on the bus and this opens up sitting on the pleasant terraces at Oberlech. It is also easy to get to Innsbruck and Bregenz on the train both of which would make nice day trips.

You are right I am not a fan of the "village" at Ischgl though the skiing is great. It is also, like most resorts, not great for access to elsewhere without a car.
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@pam w, Yes indeed. I think she's got all the kit because she went to see the northern lights in Tromso last winter, however remembering to put it on is the key. She forgot when coming out of a restaurant and went flying the second her foot met the ice on the pavement outside.

@NickyJ, Looks lovely. Can you ski past or see the piste? Watching your grandkids get off a lift probably has limited entertainment value.

@munich_irish, Yes, we'll have to leave it late and have a range of potential options to suit, paying close attention to the relevant threads.

The other thing to add is that if the extended family all go, they'll all be in early intermediate groups in ski school, while my son and I will be freer to meet up - it seems too difficult to plan that bit so best to let events unfold once we're there. But as it's just the two of us who would appreciate 'decent skiing', it's maybe a secondary consideration in terms of resort choice. Unless the Arlberg was a no-brainer for this trip, my instinct is to leave it until the wider family are more confident and able to get more out of it.
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@Riccardo, yes you can but it is a bit of a flat point.

I have circled that restaurant on Piste map to give an idea.



It the knife and fork on the right Lirch... something or other.

In terms of easily being able get right up into the listed on foot, coupled with much more of a town that some places is why I think it would suit so well.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@NickyJ, Lärchwaldhütte - https://www.zillertal.at/en/gastronomie/gastro/detail/430006442/laerchwaldhuette-1999m.html

Mayrhofen also has the train link to Innsbruck (90 minutes) and Salzburg (2-3 hours) for days out
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@ousekjarr, thanks struggling to read in map I found and recall it Happy
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
If you base yourself in Mayrhofen then Zell am Ziller is a good option for a ski away day. One of the gondolas goes to the bottom of the main beginner/intermediate area. There’s a hut close to the gondola (50m across snow, pretty flat) that’d be ideal for sitting taking in the view and watching the young ones. I prefer the skiing there to the Penken.
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@Riccardo, If you're liking the idea of Mayrhofen, check when Snowbombing is. It's always the beginning of April, but I'm not sure exactly when. Mayrhofen is not a pleasant place to hang around during Snowbombing if you don't want to be involved in the festival.
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Thanks @NickyJ, Mayrhofen definitely on the shortlist. I don't expect Snowbombing to be a factor that week @SaraJ, it's normally the week after but you never know. This year on our way home we encountered a group of Snowbombing crew in Salzburg airport trying to work out which planes their guests were due in on - didn't inspire much confidence tbh.

@Valkyrie, Any reason you'd use Zell am Ziller as the day out from Mayrhofen rather than the other way round? Just curious, total kms are similar size.
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@Riccardo, Zell has got cafes, a few shops and some nice riverside walks but it's a much smaller town than Mayrhofen so could be less interesting to a non-skier. Other downside is that the gondolas are a bit out of the town, about 5 minutes on a ski bus so less convenient for your mother if she was planning on going up the gondola later in the morning that you. For skiing I prefer Zell - it's usually quieter than the Penken and there's a good variety of different pistes, above and below the tree line.

Kaltenbach is also excellent for skiing, but the downside there is that the village is tiny and the gondola top station isn't a great place to watch the skiing. It's a big self-service restaurant looking at the top of some very gentle beginner's runs.
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@Riccardo, If you're thinking of Saalbach, drop me a PM (apartment directly opposite the Kohlmaisbahn gondola - with restaurants at the mid-station and top station, the Asteralm and the new Montana Royal Alpin Club). Also, if you need any information about the link to Zell am See, just ask.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Riccardo, If you're thinking of Saalbach, drop me a PM (apartment directly opposite the Kohlmaisbahn gondola - with restaurants at the mid-station and top station, the Asteralm and the new Montana Royal Alpin Club). Also, if you need any information about the link to Zell am See, just ask.
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@Riccardo, If you're thinking of Saalbach, drop me a PM (apartment directly opposite the Kohlmaisbahn gondola - with restaurants at the mid-station and top station, the Asteralm and the new Montana Royal Alpin Club). Also, if you need any information about the link to Zell am See, just ask.
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Thanks @tatmanstours, in many ways Saalbach would be perfect. There's the Bernkogelbahn too as @ousekjarr mentioned upthread. The only drawback would be how difficult it is to get out of the valley 1st wk in April. I'll send you a PM snowHead .
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@Valkyrie, Ah yes, I remember now, it is a long way between lift and village. Shame as the skiing looks great. Easy enough to get to if we hire a car I suppose.
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