TR - old git trip, Ellmau, Jan-Feb 2017
Started by Dobby in Austria 07-Feb-2017
Dobby posted Feb-2017
Who? Me and mate (intermediate and fairly good skier respectively)
Where? Gasthof Schoenblick, Ellmau, Skiwelt
When? 28/1/17 – 04/02/17
Went with Crystal
In summary, snow, slush, sun, schnitzel and schnapps. Had a great time and would go back. Here's more detail.
Bristol to Salzburg, 0630 with Thomson, return flight at 1830
Flights were OK. Flight out arrived early, flight back we were allowed to use the lift up to the aircraft (G had hurt his leg). Salzburg Airport bit of a hangar – nothing much there, but you can buy something overpriced to eat and/or drink
Bus with Crystal – OK; slightly delayed on account of people getting on the wrong bus…doh.
Rep – did a reasonable enough job – obliged when we harassed him to give us our passes and ski vouchers early so that we could get up the mountain at 3pm on Saturday (the SkiWelt pass allows you to start skiing after 3pm on the day before the 6-day pass starts)
Gasthof Schoenblick - excellent room (bathroom obviously recently done up), but with Austrian twin beds; ski-room newly renovated with new boot driers. Food was typically Tyrolean and I loved it (buffet breakfast, evening meal of soup, followed by main meal and pudding). You had to pick your evening meal in the morning and Google Translate was my friend more than once when deciding what to have. Nowhere to sit/spend time after dinner. So we had to go out. Shame!
Hotel located up a hill. Virtually ski in-ski out, but a bit of a walk to and from the centre of town – uphill ice rink on the way back. If it's icy of an evening, you won't get a taxi to take you up the hill.
Hartkaiser ski hire (I think); I had a pair of Atomic Redster 157; I think it was a slalom ski and it seemed to have quite a short turn radius…..quite fun when put on edge.
Bars and places to eat
Beer was generally about 3-4 Euros a pint/half litre. Several places would only serve the pils/helles in small glasses (300ml), so Weissbier was always a good call.
Food was reasonably priced, even up the mountain.
In town the ones we tried were:
Bar 66 – fairly standard bar/pub playing a variety of music, depending on the night. Good bands on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Memory Bar – good pizzas which are very cheap at certain times of the day.
Wine bar – opposite the Memory Bar. Excellent choice of wines. Not pretentious but a bit posher than some of the other places in Ellmau.
The Mexican – had some beers here, but didn't eat. Seemed to be popular,
Paddy's Shebeen – a little caravan/Irish bar at the bottom of the drag lifts 85/86 in Ellmau. Only open til 10pm, but great little bar run by a half Irish-half Dutch bloke.
Places at the Hartkaiser lift
Fabers – après ski cheese to the max. A Europop version of Let It Be, no less. So wrong. Please stop. Please stop.
The Ellmau Hex – unexceptional nice little après bar.
Little bar between Fabers and Ellmau Hex – nice little bar with the nail game – hitting nails into a piece of wood with the claw end of a hammer. Great fun after a couple of beers.
Places to eat up the mountain
Too many to mention. Seemed to end-up at the one just off the top of run 70 for reasons I cannot fathom.
The Alm on blue 80 on the way back to Ellmau was great. Has a little hobbit door that makes the 5'6" Dobby seem tall.
Weather was warm throughout the week. South facing slopes got slushy quickly. North facing slopes held their snow better, but often ended up slushy or sugar-on-ice. Snow was generally good for the first hour or two of skiing. We had a couple of days of poor vis, with layers of fog/cloud rising up the mountain.
The ski area
General observations of skiwelt - Interlinked area with a great feeling of travel. Based around several villages – Going, Ellmau, Scheffau, Sol, Itter, Hopfgarten, Brixen, Westendorf. Many of the runs are relatively short, but they tend to be varied due to differing terrain and aspects. The runs back to the villages are long and great (but can get chopped-up, especially if weather is warm). I would recommend doing at least one village run early in the morning when the snow is good.
The piste map is bonkers in the area above Scheffau – you cannot possibly tell what's going where BUT sign posting on the slopes is generally good, and you soon get used to where you are supposed to be going.
Piste classification is a little arbitrary. Many of the blue runs have quite steep sections (albeit short steep sections), and many of the red runs have very steep sections (again, relatively short sections). There didn't seem to be many blue runs with a gentle/constant pitch that you get elsewhere.
We found that the black runs were sometimes easier to ski than the reds/blues on account of there being less traffic and less cut-up.
Not many lift queues – a few at certain pinch-points – lift 96 back to Ellmau at the end of the day; the Hochbrixen chair on Sunday morning; the Hartkaiser bubble at ski school time (serve us right for getting too lagered the night before)
We were located between Going and Ellmau, with lifts giving easy access to Going and Ellmau.
The Going area feels a bit different from the rest of the Skiwelt – feels quieter. Maybe because the link to Going is the 2-man-rickety-chair-of-doom followed by a scoot along a flat path/road.
The run back from Going to the hotel (90) and the Ellmau home run (80) got v busy and churned up as the day went on.
It was great to head out to a different village each day – we managed to get out to all of the villages at least once. Don't underestimate the time it takes to get out-and-back to the other villages, especially if you ski to the far end of the Westendorf area.
Some favourite runs – 100b in Going – lovely and quiet; 80 back to Ellmau (three times, first thing in the morning); 11 down to Brixen from Westendorf hill (if only so that you can use the little travelator and the rope tow); 120 to the other end of the skiwelt; blue 40 is one of the better blue road-type runs I've done.
Overall, loved Skiwelt and liked Ellmau, but would have loved it more had the snow been in slightly better nick.