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Saalbach - Hinterglemm - Leogang - Fieberbrunn 2021/22 Official Unofficial Thread

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Time I think to open this year’s new Ski Circus thread.

Last season was a bit “different” - fantastic for those of us who were fortunate enough to enjoy the empty pistes and perfect conditions. Not so good for those who were forced to forgo their annual skiing holiday(s), or for fans of moguls (conspicuously absent throughout the season), or après-ski (which was a somewhat DIY thing - on the positive side, cheaper beer, better music, quite relaxing, and occasionally in excellent company).

Unsurprisingly the scheduled lift upgrades (Limberg Lift, new Schönleiten gondola from Viehhofen) have seemingly been put on hold, although work has continued on new/extended reservoirs, and it’s been notable how much construction work has been going on this year - extensions and refurbishments to hotels, new apartment blocks, etc.

The summer tourist season has been exceptionally busy - at times it seemed as busy as the winter season, with the streets of Saalbach and Hinterglemm thronged with mountain bikers and walkers. Obviously very few tourists from the U.K. - possibly only those with holiday homes in Austria. This weekend the resort is as usual hosting the annual “World Games of Mountain Biking”.

The mid-summer has been variable, with a high preponderance of thunderstorms. Early September (and ongoing) has been gloriously hot, sunny weather.

There is an expectation that the winter season will be back to “business as usual”, with an emphasis on predictable pandemic measures: vaccination certificates, masks in enclosed public spaces, low-key après-ski (although local Saalbach-based entertainer, Spacey, has been allowed during the summer to do indoor gigs).

Sadly one of our favourite Saalbach venues, the Hungry Deer restaurant and its basement Crazy Deer bar, has closed - and is being advertised for new ownership. There are also rumours about the Hinterhag possibly not reopening, since the untimely death earlier this year of the owner’s son, Seppi Fersterer.

However other places are going strong, and the new kid on the block is the Bar/Pizzeria Napoli (formerly the Bar Alibi), which has recently generated a good atmosphere, with Spacey playing live, and some of the best pizzas you will find in Saalbach.

Recent good news on flights: British Airways will be offering budget flights at weekends from Southampton and London City Express airports.

Anyone who wants to delve into the wealth of information about the Ski Circus, Austria’s biggest interlinked (and arguably its best) ski area, will find plenty of reading in the previous editions of this annual thread. Just search for some of the key words and the year that you’re interested in.
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Currently well pee-d off!

After over a decade of running an annual college ski trip so Saalbach, our usual youth hotel has gone up-market (and absolutely good for them - can't wait to visit as a civilian!), and I can't source an alternative.

Gonna miss the best ski resort in Europe!
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Are there *any* flights from up North to Salzburg? Looked at google flights from Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle without any luck!
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@kitenski, there is a saturday LPL-SZG Easyjet flight from december to march which may have been added since you looked.
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@tatmanstours, Thanks for keeping this thread alive year after year - it marks the start of the ski season! I have everything in place to start off my season with a trip on the 11th December, this way whilst I will have lost a season I will still be able to say I have visited every year since 2006 Very Happy

Looking forwards to reading all things Ski Circus related.
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That's really bad news on the Deer closure - and surprising, as they seemed to be doing everything right when we visited last. And while I've never been a fan of the Hinterhag, I'm sorry to hear of their loss.

@kitenski, try Skyscanner - this link should work, and shows flights from several places - https://www.skyscanner.net/transport/flights/uk/szg/220108/220115/?adults=1&adultsv2=1&cabinclass=economy&children=0&childrenv2=&destinationentityid=27547109&inboundaltsenabled=false&infants=0&originentityid=29475375&outboundaltsenabled=false&preferdirects=true&preferflexible=false&ref=home&rtn=1
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@toyah807, @ousekjarr - thanks, was looking Thurs or Fri for a long weekend, looks like only Saturday flights available Sad
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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!
@kitenski, that's become the pattern since Covid - much fewer flights, and really only the top 20% of profitable flights remain on the schedule. For a long weekend of Thu-Mon or similar, your only real hope is to fly to somewhere more in demand for business flights, e.g. Munich, or to change in Frankfurt or possibly Amsterdam.
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@ousekjarr, yeah but 3 hours drive from Munich isn't great for a weekend!!
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@kitenski, I didn't say it was easy... If I was looking for a short break in this coming season, I'd be flying into Munich and driving to the Skiwelt, or into Geneva, or Milan and trying to find somewhere within an hour from the airport. Or trying an overnight train each way. If demand picks up there could be more flights added to the schedules, but I doubt it.
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Quote:

@tatmanstours, Thanks for keeping this thread alive year after year - it marks the start of the ski season!

Well, the start of the “looking forward to the ski season” season, at least.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

That's really bad news on the Deer closure - and surprising, as they seemed to be doing everything right when we visited last.

Yes, the Crazy Deer had become one of Saalbach’s best bars, and possibly the most popular amongst many locals and Brits. Then Covid hit...
The Dutch owners, Derko and Gita say they have no regrets about giving it up - a weight off their minds and a much easier life. Derko is now working at the Hotel Auwirt.
It remains to be seen whether some entrepreneur will take it on; there are posters in the window advertising both the restaurant and bar.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Was so sorry to hear that Seppi Fersterer, from the Hinterhag passed away in May from an illness Sad . I do hope both the Hinterhag Alm and the hotel can get back on their feet, and I feel for Evi, his mother.


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Sun 19-09-21 20:07; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
tatmanstours wrote:



There is an expectation that the winter season will be back to “business as usual”, with an emphasis on predictable pandemic measures: vaccination certificates, masks in enclosed public spaces, low-key après-ski (although local Saalbach-based entertainer, Spacey, has been allowed during the summer to do indoor gigs).
.


Define low key apres-ski
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

Define low key apres-ski

Well, I’m guessing, but not a ceilidh with sporrans flying, or the Hinterhag, or perhaps any indoor musical entertainment. Who knows?
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Just figuring out whether we can go ahead and book for January
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
kb36 wrote:
Just figuring out whether we can go ahead and book for January


What are the parameters? We have booked for Jan and it's looking good so far.
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@kb36, and @Klamm Franzer, yes, the booking season is pretty active. Better not leave it too late, unless you’re very flexible over dates and accommodation.
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Reservation for accommodation in place, just looking at flights, both fully vaccinated so hopefully allow us in and out
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Covid rules for the winter season in Austria now announced:

https://www.thelocal.at/20210920/explained-what-are-austrias-new-covid-rules-for-winter-sports-and-christmas-markets/
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tatmanstours wrote:
Covid rules for the winter season in Austria now announced:

https://www.thelocal.at/20210920/explained-what-are-austrias-new-covid-rules-for-winter-sports-and-christmas-markets/



Hmm, nothing about 'social distancing, or reduced capacity on lifts/gondolas/cablecars, so not much of a plan....
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@Bob, If people have to be vaxxed, tested or recovering to be allowed on the lifts, they presumably don't require much more than spacing in queues.
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tatmanstours wrote:
@Bob, If people have to be vaxxed, tested or recovering to be allowed on the lifts, they presumably don't require much more than spacing in queues.



good point.
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Great to see this thread open up again for another year. Looking to head out to Saalbach in February after last years enforced break so thanks for the updates. I had some great nights in Bar Alibi so hopefully Bar Napoli can recreate the atmosphere. Not quite sure how the Covid protocols will work in bars such as Schwips which get rammed but hopefully it doesnt suck the life out of the place.

Its not been mentioned yet but I'm really interested to try the new Ski connection from Bernkogel (slope 146) to A1+A2 Schattberg X-press, which along with the super-short 12er Express Gondola, is another great example of Saalbach's continuous modernisation as well as an attitude of "Well we could make you walk 200m but lets instead throw a lot of money and austrian engineering at the problem!". Very Happy It may push more people up the Schattberg side of the mountain in the afternoons too.
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@snorks, there’s another thread on travelling to Austria and the Covid19 restrictions.

I would anticipate that the Napoli is likely to be better than the Alibi. I know the guy who runs it and have every confidence.

That new connection from the Bernkogel to the Schattberg Xpress was new for last season and has not of course yet been used, except by a few, isolated ski tourers, as the Bernkogelbahn remained closed. We have yet to enjoy the spectacle of large numbers of semi-competent skiers and boarders negotiating its relatively tight confines (and piling up at the bottom wink )
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snorks wrote:


Its not been mentioned yet but I'm really interested to try the new Ski connection from Bernkogel (slope 146) to A1+A2 Schattberg X-press, which along with the super-short 12er Express Gondola, is another great example of Saalbach's continuous modernisation as well as an attitude of "Well we could make you walk 200m but lets instead throw a lot of money and austrian engineering at the problem!". Very Happy It may push more people up the Schattberg side of the mountain in the afternoons too.


Spot-on. The Bernkogel gets so mushy after lunch, that I'm often tempted to make my way down the street to the Schattberg — but I'm mainly too lazy to do it. So this new link will be a real help for sure. The Schattberg piste is wonderful, as it is north facing, so always remains pretty firm.
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Quote:

The Bernkogel gets so mushy after lunch, that I'm often tempted to make my way down the street to the Schattberg

It’s very rare for me to be coming down the Bernkogel until late afternoon, and I’ve discovered that, if you wait until around 5.15pm, it’s at its best (freshly groomed wink )
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tatmanstours wrote:
There are also rumours about the Hinterhag possibly not reopening, since the untimely death earlier this year of the owner’s son, Seppi Fersterer.


Quite apart from the upsetting news for the family, that is a bit of a tragedy. It is such an awesome establishment. Probably not geared to CV times, but a legendary early apres venue. I hope someone finds a way to keep it going.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Cacciatore, rumours of its possible demise may be premature. I’ve recently heard conflicting rumours. It may be that Covid restrictions may force the outside space to be utilised - and of course other leading après venues in the area are primarily outside (e.g. the Spitzbub, the Soul House, the Goassstall, the Schwarzacher).
At least the Hinterhag has a large terrace, and the party has moved outside in previous seasons - in late season - so it could be done. They would no doubt have to invest in a few heaters though.
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Woohoo, have my hotel reservations fixed and flights bought - coming back to Skicircus after more than 10 years when I had my first ever ski trip to Alps. Big expectation! Smile I have very good memories about this resort, probably mainly because it was my first time and also winter was great that year with lots of snow. But, anyway, really looking forward to the trip and pistes!

Still will need to sort out ski rental - for my recent trips I was booking through Skiset, any suggestions on better deals for ski rental in Skicircus (or nearby, since I will come on car) welcomed wink
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@maartinsh, you will notice a few changes!
For ski equipment rental go to Hansi (Hansi’s Best-Price, next door but one to Bobby’s Pub, at the bottom of the main village street). Hansi’s prices are good, and he will beat any other quote. Also you will get a friendly welcome and advice, and his equipment is renewed every year. Mention that I recommended him to you for the additional “Tatman discount”.
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tatmanstours wrote:
@maartinsh, you will notice a few changes!
For ski equipment rental go to Hansi (Hansi’s Best-Price, next door but one to Bobby’s Pub, at the bottom of the main village street). Hansi’s prices are good, and he will beat any other quote. Also you will get a friendly welcome and advice, and his equipment is renewed every year. Mention that I recommended him to you for the additional “Tatman discount”.


Not to mention the offer of a schnapps or two… Toofy Grin
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Visited S/H in Jan 20 and returning in Jan 22 with SZG flights. But hoping for a short trip -somewhere- in December and my eyes keep getting drawn back to Saalbach though with few SZG flights midweek just then (Sat 11th arrival is fine, Wed 15th departure not so) it's looking like Munich might be the only option. Do most people consider this too far/busy/ impractical for a 4 night 3 ski days trip? Or doable? Would be grateful to hear experience of MUC for a shorter trip with a hire car.
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I've done it and while there are easier options from Munich(eg. Soll, Kitzbuhel) it's not unreasonable as it's a fair bit of easy motorway driving. I think the important thing is to look at your flight times and decide if that would have you arriving in time to make it somewhere for afternoon skiing or just missing it. Arriving at 8PM is not really much different from arriving at 6PM in terms of what you get to do. Same for the return journey.
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@toyah807, I’m travelling to S/H on the 11th December. had BA flight via Gatwick due to arrive Salzburg at 12:30. BA have just cancelled this flight and transferred me to one via Heathrow that does not arrive until around 18:00. I think I’m going to get a Lufthansa flight direct to Munich and get the train/bus to S/H. Probably arrive late afternoon. I’m not sure if the night skiing will have started in Hinterglemm, but if it has it’s always good for a warm up.
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@toyah807, we do short and week long trips via MUC to the Skiwelt, normally staying in Soll (for apres and village atmosphere) or Brixen (for easier access to ski the Kitzbuhel area if we want to). We hire a car and drive, with a 90 minute transfer time being pretty normal, compared to 3 hours to Saalbach. However, as the A99 can sometimes be a car park and the A8 section from the south of Munich to Rosenheim can be slow, it's best to allow another hour just in case, and to strike out across country at the first sign of trouble.

For a December trip there's clearly a risk no matter where you go, but we've had good experiences in Soll on pre-Christmas trips and are returning this year for their opening week from 11-18 December. Snowmaking is reasonably good, but not as comprehensive as in Saalbach-Hinterglemm. However, the key slopes in the SkiWelt are mainly north facing, and much of the skiing is from 1500m upwards, so it's pretty good most of the time.

The villages tend to be pretty quiet before Christmas, and we've previously felt like there are only 10 people in the whole resort - some of the restaurants won't open that early in the season, and the bars won't have a lot of apres action (which is fine by us) or indeed live music, but this year in particular that's going to be pretty much the norm anyway I think. Last time out in December 2019 was a memorable trip for all the wrong reasons for me, while a solo trip the year before turned into an epic experience where on a 5 day trip I was only on my own for one day as I met up with others via this forum, Facebook, and randomly on the hill on one day where I was adopted by a larger group of British people around 10am.

MUC has the huge advantage of being a major hub for business flights, so there are (or were, pre-Covid...) scheduled flights on most days. The times might not always be ideal for a short skiing trip, but if business travel is beginning to recover then it may work out for you. Hire car pickup is a fairly long walk from the budget terminal, but pickup and return are both under the main terminal building and usually a painless experience unless you arrive at a very busy time. It's an easy drive if the traffic is behaving, with Soll being motorway until the last 5 miles or so, though Saalbach is a long cross country drive on single carriageway roads with a few speed cameras. You can also get a train from the airport, either to Worgl for Soll with an easy transfer by taxi or shuttle bus, or to Maishofen or Zell for Saalbach.
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@andybomb1, @Yorksboy, @ousekjarr, thanks all, useful info and food for thought.
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Also, the added complication this year is of course entry and return requirements, where flying into Germany to travel to Austria adds a layer of potential hassle in each direction. I’m hoping it will all be just about back to normal, but if there are hoops then I’ll gladly jump through them
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@toyah807, over the years I have done a fair number of both day and weekend trips to S-H, even easier since Fieberbrunn is part of the area (not sure how early the link opens). It is a pretty straight forward drive though not as convenient as from Salzburg.

I would be cautious about December, some years great skiing on empty pistes but others (perhaps more common) what skiing there is are strips of artificial snow on otherwise green mountainsides. If you cant wait until the last minute to book then maybe look elsewhere. The Zillertal is a bit of a easier drive and has the glacier at the end of the valley (I know there is Kaprun for S-H but that is beginning to get a bit far from Munich for a short trip). If you want more snow security then either Ischgl or Obergurgl would be the best options (done regular weekend early season trips to Ischgl though not Obergurgl, it is a fair drive along the valley from the Autobahn and limited compared to Ischgl).

Train from Munich airport is not ideal unfortunately, you have to get an S-bahn into town to one of the train stations for onward travel, likely to be too time consuming for a short trip. As with many things car hire seems more expensive than we were used too. Hired a car over the summer for a holiday trip (prefer a bigger car than normal to go on holiday with) and it was around 25% - 30% more than summer 2019 and that was after spending a good deal of time looking at the consolidators etc. The airport is slowly getting busier again with more flights though still much less than before.

With regard to entry requirements etc, if you are fully vaccinated and dont have teenaged kids then there are unlikely to be any issues at all beyond a small amount of form filling. There is a check in Munich airport (pretty much a wave of your certificate or Green Pass) but no others. You will need one of the varieties of "Green Pass" apps to check into your hotel, visit a bar and (almost certainly) buy ski passes.
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@munich_irish, thanks, really helpful. I think i will look elsewhere for december knowing I will be returning to S/H in january , fingers crossed.
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