PLANETSKI POUNDS THE POWDER
14th January 2019 | Katie Bamber. Ski Amade, Austria
The sun comes out just after we report from one of the snowiest places in the Alps: Ski Amade in Salzburgerland, Austria.
Just as I head home from a white out weekend in Austria in the Salzburg area, the sun comes out.
It’s been low-vis but dreamy powder underfoot as I skied the pistes of Ski Amade with 50cm of fresh pow on top.
But open lifts were harder to find.
For the first time since 1st January 2019, the sun has now come out.
It’s gorgeous blue skies, an amalgamation of all the snow that’s come down this year (3 metres) and the first time you’ll see the insane views:
Hochkonig area of Ski Amade – Wednesday 16th Jan
It looks like heaven.
Here’s where to be, if you’re not on your way already…
Meanwhile in the Arlberg, our editor is reporting from St Anton (finally managing to access the snowy resort after 2 days waiting in Innsbruck).
TUESDAY 15TH JANUARY
The snow has been falling non stop since 2018 here in SalzburgerLand in Austria.
Welsh ski guide, Pedro, in Alpendorf – Sankt Johann told PlanetSKI he hasn’t seen sunlight since the start of the year and that’s it’s been pure powder.
I’ve been skiing in the Ski Amade ski area since Sunday and it’s pretty much the news from there.
There was some snow relief on Saturday for arrival but down it’s come since.
And it’s not a little either.
It’s impossible to see without goggles, even down in the valley on a walk.
Big old flakes are falling down in resort and it’s a white world.
Up top the flakes are small and thick;
50cm of powder fell around us on to ski on top of on the pistes on Monday.
Katie on piste in Ski Amade
Avalanche risk has cranked up to 5 – top level – but the powder on piste is more than enough for pseudo off piste riding – you just don’t need to work to get to it!
But it is to change:
Later today, Tuesday, high pressure will return.
Thicker clouds are expected during the morning where a few last snow flakes may fall.
Later on, it will brighten up and stay dry.
But the past 72 hours have brought a metre of snow.
Take a look at PlanetSKI in the powder:
Snow depths at summits in Ski Amade are over 4 metres.
It’s not even a high ski area, the average skiing is around 1,200m, but it’s location makes for very good quality (and quantities) of snow.
Looking more like Canada in Ski Amade
Katie in the St.Johann area of Ski Amade
I know it’s simple science and geography but it always surprises me how much weather can change in just a few kilometres in the mountains.
Monday saw Maria Alm and much of Hochkonig closed due to serious snow and winds from the incoming storm.
The beauty of a Ski Amade pass is that you can ski in 5 regions, from Salzburgerland to Styria, on just one pass.
Currently there are 2 linked areas, these 2 links currently linked by a little bus (but in the next few years by a new lift – then it really will be the big Austrian ski area!).
Hochkonig torture, Monday morning:
Powder, powder everywhere and not a slope to ski.
So into a taxi, through Saalfelden through the long tunnel (and long way round) through Zell am See and up to Sankt Johann area and Alpendorf where there were the most lifts open and where there was not even a puff of wind thanks to the Hochkonig mountain catching hold of all the storm clouds.
There were, however, snow clouds.
Down it came ALL day giving us a white world but very deep, light, trustable powder (for near to no visibility).
I love this about Europe.
There’s often a different village and ski area with good access that can offer good conditions if your chosen place cannot.
And it was the best powder day of the season.
All on-piste, knee deep powder for a leg work out and my slice of this Austrian 2019 dream.
Good night from Ski Amade
SUNDAY 13TH JANUARY
We arrived at Salzburg airport on Saturday, along with hundreds of others with the great idea.
The small airport was packed, but not so much when we left and headed, eyes filled with snow, to our little resort town of Maria Alm in the Hochkönig zone of Ski Amadé.
The ski area was named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who socially went by the name Amadé (we take from how he signed his marriage certificate) and was born in Salzburg.
It’s a great name for a ski area as well, rolling out and easy for all tongues, unlike many of the local villages and areas that make up the five regions of the whole ski area:
Salzburger Sportwelt, Schladming-Dachstein, Gastein, Hochkönig and Großarltal.
Maria Alm this year has massively benefitted from a spanking new gondola in the centre of the village, connecting it to the rest of the 760km of ski slopes.
It’s everything you’d wish for from a totally sweet, authentic traditional Austrian village.
Hospitalilty was warm and welcoming at lunch in the family run Hotel Eder restaurant in town;
Men in traditional dress were shucking the enormous piles of snow from drives and roofs.
The food had already surpassed excited expectations; Käsknöpfle, Kaiserschmarrn and Grüner Veltliner and we hadn’t even earned it with a few turns yet.
On to the juice.
It’s snowed 3 metres here since 2018.
Even if it stops now it will be the best of seasons.
The mother of all bases to see out the rest of winter.
And it isn’t even promising to stop falling.
If you’re yet to choose on your ski holiday destination, you’d be mad not to choose round here.
A winter walk around the village showed up “the sharpest steeple in Austria” – now there’s a claim.
I wonder if anyone’s tried to ski the roof of this mega church?
On this first day visiting, there’s not much else I feel like reporting apart from MEGA amounts of white stuff.
I can’t notice anything else.
Well, apart from the brand new, ultra cool Hotel Sepp.
A young local guy built it this year and has created something really special.
It has the feel of a lodge in Jackson Hole in America, or something – ‘mountain modern’ let’s call it.
All the wood is reclaimed, there’s an outside heated pool that overlooks the slopes and peaks and a huge sauna on the roof in an new-old camper van.
Let me get up there and report on the snow.
Avalanche warning is 4 today, like most of the country, for most of the year.
30cm of snow fell overnight, light stuff for this zone.
One set back.
The trees were so heavy with snow there was fear of trees falling onto the lift cables.
It had happened already a day ago.
And so the swanky new Maria Alm was closed.
But a bus came and we swooped around to the next access.
Lots of lifts were closed so what should have been quiet slopes we shared with other skiers and boarders.
Still, the powder on piste was incredible.
By the end of the day there was 20cm on top.
Heaven after a long lunch at Sepp’s brothers place, the Tom Alm Hutte.
The altitude isn’t high in this region.
It has its own weather system, coming from the west, and gets high amounts of snow down low – meaning those of you that suffer from altitude should think about visiting here.
Helicopters trying to blade-wind off the snow
The helis attempting to shock off the snow from the trees wasn’t going to work with this stuff.
I was told it was on to chopping them down (but was assured the wood would be used for fire wood and building!)
Heavy trees and tramping boarders