Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang
Taking the Asitzbahn gondola up from Leongang we surveryed the varied pistes below us, winding through trees and between the rolling surface of the mountainside. A day exploring the Astiz ski area's uncrowded pistes took me through forest trails, ice banked gullies and steep crispy speed bowls. There were piste-side powder runs, a boarder's best friend as an alternative to mogul covered sections of piste. The lifts were excellent, heated seats and a snow shield are a game changer on a bitter day though we only used the shield to defend us from local boys throwing snowballs from the viewing gallery of the Astiz Brau.
That was the end of day 1, we came back in to the Krallerhof early, the weather being fairly harsh.
On the second day the sun was breaking through the misty layer above us, conditions were to be a lot better and we were to take advantage of that. We further explored the slopes Asitz (Leogang side) finding even more variety with some particularly good red runs around Grosser Asitz. We stopped for lunch at the Asitz Brau before making our way over the top and down into Saalbach. This was the scene of the snowball pelting the day before and sure enough they were out again snowballing skiers on the lift.
I nearly devoted a story just to the Asitz Brau, I've kept it down to a paragraph and the image mosaic in the slideshow.
The work of Gerhard Altenberger of the Krallerhof below, Asitz Brau is a place of pure comfort. I found it full of rustic charm but noticed quality and luxury in everything I touched. A walk around will take you over several floors, passing innumerable fires & nooks and a plethora of authentic historical items to discover. We enjoyed it enormously and stayed for food, we enjoyed it so much that we realised the time and headed out with haste. We didn't forget to give the kids a cold taste of revenge before we left.
Over the top
With the day getting on, we made as much haste as we could after a good lunch. We soon woke up following a long blue trail gently though trees, we emerged above the Ski Circus' central town, Saalbach. Descending into Saalbach I noticed it was a compact town with accomodation, mostly hotels circling a compact town centre. The streets were broad but bustling, it's a smart and pleasant town, plenty of bars & restaurants. Sadly we moved on, we were there for the Circus. With that in mind we headed out of the other side of the town up Schattberg Ost to make the loop back through Vorderglemm and back up to Asitz from there. Our time at Astiz Brau had meant we'd not seen the largest part of the Circus the Hinterglemm area. We found the trail direct to the back of our hotel having resolved to do the 'big loop' tomorrow.
A big day
Following one of many 'big loop' routes we averted our eyes as we passed the Asitz Brau and plunged into Saalbach. This time we headed up Bernkogel passed the extensive snowpark, we were going to cross into Hinterglemm. Cross graining the valley with Hinterglemm below us, we started to appreciate the size of the area, it was hard knowing that it was the last day & I'd seen but a fraction.
What we saw was piste after quiet piste, modern & queue-less lifts & blazing sunshine. To ensure we made it round, we pushed it a little doing the circuit with time to spare. We got a beer in and headed back over Asitz, home again.
The size & quality of the Ski Circus mean it's a rival to any of the Eurpoean ski areas. There's something more to be said about it, I struggled to identify it at first but finally cracked it when I looked at the numbers. I couldn't find a major French resort with anything like as many lifts per piste as in the Ski Circus, that explains the lack of queues, when you consider that alongside the value for money and the fantastic, sizeable & varied slopes, you've got a unique mix. For example, 3 Valleys is much larger, but you'll queue more and it's certainly more expensive.
Austria's largest ski area, it's got to be considered one of the very best large areas in Europe.
An hour and a half from Salzburg, it's convenient too.
Places to Stay