A lakeside resort with access to piste and backcountry challenges
Stretching from the guaranteed snow atop of the 3,000m Kitzsteinhorn glacier to the shores of the frozen lake, Zell am See-Kaprun offers skiing and snowboarding in three different areas - Schmittenhöhe and Maiskogel, as well as “the Kitz” - on the edge of the Hohe Tauern National Park, the largest protected environment in the Alps. Zell am See is a beautiful mediaeval town with a tunnel to keep out through-traffic, while Kaprun is a charming village. Both are very lively in the evening, but have quiet quarters. The area is just 85km from Salzburg Airport.
With perfect conditions for winter sports and miles of well-groomed pistes, this is a place that is bursting with opportunities for active adventures and family fun. On piste there are 66 slopes providing 138km of downhill action, from low-gradient family areas and easy blue-runs to ultra-black runs like Trass Slope, which will test even the most experienced skiers with gradients of up to 70%. And if you fancy taking things off piste, you can learn how at one of the resort’s cross-country ski schools, before you hit miles of backcountry that are packed with some of Austria’s best deep powder.
Nikolaus Faistauer Photography
The heights of fun
The Kitzsteinhorn summit station Gipfelwelt 3000 is no ordinary lift station. Explore galleries dug through the rock or head out to the viewing platform to look out over thirty 3,000m-plus peaks. If you prefer nightscapes, the sight of Zell am See from the night skiing slope on Schmittenhöhe is very romantic; and if you like epic views with a soundtrack, ride the Jukeboxx cabins on the zellamseeXpress gondola. There are so many ways to enjoy this all-round winter resort, including feeding deer and mouflon, or balloon riding during February’s aerostatic festival.
Maiskogel’s 20km of beginner and children’s slopes are a great place to start. The Eagle and Easy lines on Kitzsteinhorn (with banks, jumps and boxes) are great introductions to freestyle, as is the 1.3km-long Funslope XXL on Schmittenhöhe. There are five incredible snow parks, offering adrenaline junkies the chance to get a high-octane piece of the action – and experienced riders can even test their skills on Austria’s biggest superpipe.
Freestylers will enjoy the Kitz’s superpipe and Schmitten Snowpark. Piste experts can take on steep black slopes such as Trass (try to beat Hermann Maier’s 3mins 47!) or Black Mamba. And the off-piste is immense, be it Kitzsteinhorn’s Freeride XXL area or the Ronachkopf - a mountain entirely dedicated to ski touring.
All of this and yet a visit to Zell am See-Kaprun is about way more than fun in the snow alone. Authentic Austrian culture is reflected in the region’s many events, which range from markets and traditional music concerts to the WOW Glacier Love festival, which sees a whole raft of DJs and athletes take to the side of the Kitzsteinhorn glacier for freestyle competitions, pumping tunes and huge after-parties.
Why this winter?
Refurbishment of Zell am See’s Areitbahn ropeway has begun, which will bring skiers to the Schmittenhöhe even faster thanks to a 50% increase in passenger capacity. With added legroom and seat comfort, ground level boarding plus free WiFi, you are in for a smooth ride. The perfect opportunity to test the new areitXpress is the Schmittenhöhe’s opening weekend, from the 8th – 10th December 2017. And with British Airways doubling the number of flights to four per week from London Heathrow to Salzburg, getting to Zell am See-Kaprun is easier than ever.