Skiing in Mayrhofen

Skiing in Mayrhofen

Getting around the various ski resorts in the valley is straightforward with the free trains and buses linking the areas including the glacier. Mayrhofen is a great place for confident intermediates and excellent kids’ facilities, although the lack of length of the main pistes does disappoint some skiers, while the queues on the Penken gondola can also be a problem.

Penken-Horberg, the bigger of Mayrhofen’s two ski areas, is accessed via the main gondola on the edge of the village and by two smaller gondolas a bus-ride away at Finkenberg and Hippach. The one disadvantage is that skiers cannot return to Mayrhofen village on snow, needing to catch the main gondola at the end of the day. The cable car from the centre of the village runs to the Rastkogel slopes, linked to Eggalm above Lanersbach, with snowmaking equipment installed here ensuring the trails stay open.

Ahorn mountain, smaller and gentler, is great for beginners, accessed by the huge 160-person cable car with the following eight-seat chairlift lift at altitude a newish installation. For intermediates, there’s a long red run with an over 1,300m vertical right down to the valley. Most of the lifts here are fast, but given the huge number of skiers and snowboarders involved, there is still room for more.

The plus is the resort’s terrific terrain park, set underneath Penken’s Sun-Jet chair, but crowds here are a problem as well. The park holds a beginners’ zone, a line for intermediates, and one for professionals including three tabletops and big jump at the end. Every year more obstructions are added, mostly curved, kinked and flat boxes and rails, with the beer terrace a great place for watching the action. The half-pipe here is good for learners, but experts will adore the 360m super-pipe at Hintertux.

Austria’s steepest piste, set under the Knorren chair, isn’t called Harakiri for nothing as it has a 78 per cent gradient and is often deserted and rock hard, a thrilling run for experts and advanced skiers. Under the Schneekar chair is another black run, a good fast cruise after grooming, but that’s about it for steep pistes, apart from an un-pisted and quite long low-altitude trail leading to Hippach which rarely has decent snow. Off-piste is another matter, fortunately, with good skiing from the Horbergjoch, often in fresh powder, down and under the Lanersbach cable car.

Mayrhofen is great for competent intermediates, giving avid piste-bashers an interesting choice of long runs on Rastkogel and peaceful, un-crowded trails on Eggalm. Sadly, most of Penken’s main are runs are short and, apart from on Ahorn, there are few gentle blues, giving restricted options for nervous intermediates with the added complication of overcrowding. However, the instruction here has a very good reputation and the Ahorn nursery slopes are excellent and usually crowd-free.