Schladming Dachstein a jewel in Austria's crown!
A detailed description of a major world ski resort little known to us in the U.K but top of the list for many ski loving nations including Austrians!
Schladming-Dachstein is a sizeable ski area which comprises 175km of piste over 4 interlinked mountains plus Ramsau and the Dachstein Glacier. This is all part of the massive Ski Amade ski area which comprises 760 km of slopes, 360 slopes and 270 lifts all covered by 1 lift pass! You can find out more about the Ski Amade region in our article. LINK
Schladming is roughly in the middle of the 4 mountains with 2 base stations, all 4 have ultra modern lift systems. There's a large number of 8 man heated chair lifts & very few drag lifts to be found. It boasts the most modern ski lift system in Europe and has had a huge amount of investment in the last 10 years partly because Schladming hosted the Ski World Championships in Feb 2012. The resort is constructing a brand new 10 man, heated gondola on the Hochwurzen, replacing an older lift. The construction is truly amazing, true Austrian efficiency at work, you can see the project in progress on the Pension Hoffelner Facebook Page along with many other local images.
Skiing Schladming is very civilized with over 40 spotlessly clean mountain restaurants, mostly in traditional style and very few that are self service (a terrible idea when you are wearing ski boots), serving high quality food, at very reasonable prices. The ski schools are excellent with many English speaking instructors and lessons for all abilities. They also teach children from 4 years either for half or full days with lunchtime supervision if required. Children of 2 years and up are also catered for with ski creches.
Lift prices are surprisingly reasonable for such a huge and modern area with good offers for families & groups: Families of 2 adults and more than 2 children, only buy lift passes for the first 2 children. From the 15.03.2014 until the end of the season, all children up to 15 years get free lift passes if at least 1 parent buys a pass. Groups of 20 or more receive 1 free lift pass.
Little things visitors will appreciate are that all the base station car parks are free with a lift pass and terribly well orginased, so parking within easy walking distance of the gondolas is not an issue.
Joanna White lives in Ramsau-am-Dachstein a village just above Schladming & runs Pension Hoffelner a popular Austrian Chalet-Hotel. She tells us "I have never experienced a "white-out" in 6 seasons. We ski from 745 meters up to 2015 meters on the 4 mountains (2700 meters on the glacier) We often start skiing in early November and continue until mid-April with fantastic conditions. The glacier is of course skiable almost all year. Many of the slopes are north facing so they hold the snow very well for the whole season. They really do have piste management and maintenance down to a fine art around here."
Most of the weather does not come from the Atlantic as with France, so it is a completely different weather system meaning that Schladming as with many other resorts have very snow sure conditions at lower altitudes when compared with many French & Swiss alpine resorts. With 88% snow making coverage, the resort enjoys incredibly reliable snow conditions.
Schladming itself is a pretty and unspoilt Austrian town not a purpose built resort in any sense. It has character, atmosphere, many shops & boutiques and great facilities. Schladming has many restaurants, bars and apres ski life, but remains civilised at night with few antisocial characters & a general air of class & comfort. The prices are very reasonable with little room for a rip off merchant in a resort as popular with Austrians as it is with most European ski loving nations.
On the Hochwurzen is also a 7km long night sledging track (fully lit with mountains restaurants along the way!) - not for the faint heated but a great night out for the adrenaline junkie. Every year they host the "Schladming Night Race" in the last week of January, which is a fantastic World Championship Men's Slalom event and fantastic fun to watch : http://www.thenightrace.at/nightrace-tickets/nightrace-2014-tickets.html
Most visitors will find more than enough skiing over the 4 mountains plus maybe a trip top to glacier one day of the week, however for those who really want to get some major km under their skis there are of course the other 22 resorts covered by the lift pass, many of which are within a 20km drive with more of the Ski Amade to exlore further afield.
The Pension Hoffelner offers catered ski accommodation for groups small & large in the beautiful ski village above Schladming, Ramau-am Dachstein. To find out more visit http://www.pension-hoffelner.at/en
Their Facebook page is a great way to see the sights!
And check out this video!