Continuing our theme of the most difficult skiing runs in the Alps, we move on to Austria for a look at the most challenging pistes and powder – with an emphasis on runs which are fun to ski, too! Here’s a few of our favourites for you to get your boards and blades into.
The Harakiri, Mayrhofen
Well, what better way to start than with Austria’s steepest piste, at a gradient of 78%? Welcome to the Harakiri in Austria’s Mayrhofen resort, cheerfully named after the rather singular ritualised suicide process of Japan. But don’t let that, or the skull and crossbones sign at the top, put you off! The Harakiri is indeed horribly steep, but it’s fairly wide, so as long as you’re a decent skier and can take it slow, you should be able to manage this wall of death. The problems that arise with the Harakiri are the snow conditions and the control. The run is in the shade for much of the day, and the snow can be icy or hard. And if you fall, it’s hard to stop, and it’s a long way to the bottom. The key is to watch out for other people and to keep an eye on routes down the slope that people are taking while you’re going up the cable car. For an idea of how slow some people take it, and also for a good look at the run itself, check this out:
Summer in the Alps is just as exciting as winter – there’s outdoor activities galore, from hiking to mountain biking to lake swimming to BASE jumping for the truly adventurous/crazy. And just as the winter seasons have their lift passes, summer mountain resorts often have resort cards which give you access to cable cars, baths, spas, museums, trails, and includes buses and even mountain bike rental.
Europe Mountains currently has a promotion reaching over several of its Austrian resorts – Otztal, Saalbach, Zell Am See-Kaprun and Schladming – which gives you a free resort card, and therefore free access to everything that entails, when you book a hotel with them.
New in Livigno this year!
Livigno summer season kicks off properly at the beginning of June, and 2012 has seen the revamping of Livigno Bike Park, a vast network of mountain trails that have been dug out of the snow and beautiful scenery for adventurous mountain bikers. Open until October when the ski season starts, the Bike Park is good for both beginners and highly experienced riders, and the frenzied maintenance that has been going on through May has made sure everything’s in great shape .
As of December 2010, skiing off-piste alone in Livigno is completely banned die to avalanche risk, and if caught you may be fined. So, stick to the pisted terrain, get a legal off-piste guide, or don’t get caught.
It’s a mountaineering and skiing heaven, a scarily vast and imposing summit, the jewel in the crown of the Alps. Yup, it’s Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest peak, measuring up to a hefty and impressive 4,810m. The first recorded ascent of the mountain took place in 1786; since then, about 20,000 people a year make their determined way to the summit.
Summer Skiing in the Alps – Your Options
So you either missed the winter ski season, or had such an awesome time that you’re just not ready to accept that it’s over for another summer (we’ve all been there). Fear not! You don’t have to trawl to the other side of the world to find snow in the summer. There are more options available to you than you think – plenty of resorts in the Alps have glaciers, snow all year round at altitude or snow parks that keep the snow topped up for your pleasure. Below is a list of summer skiing options for you to explore.