Introducing Austria’s biggest ski area
Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, James Cove / Planetski.eu
I first visited Fieberbrunn on a family ski trip when I was just five years old. It was where I saw real mountains for the first time, made my first turns on snow and ate my first Kaiserschmarrn. In fact, it’s where I first fell in love with Tirol. I spent most of the week perfecting my snowplough on the nursery run, but on the final day, my parents took me up the gondola for the first time. I couldn’t believe how high we went and how big the mountains were — the skiing seemed to go on forever.
Now, some 20 years later, Fieberbrunn has got bigger still. Actually, it has exploded, growing from 35km of pistes to 240km. Since the start of the 2015/16 season it has been connected with Saalbach, creating Austria’s biggest ski area and linking the Tirol with neighbouring Salzburgerland. I had to go back and ski it.
James Cove / Planetski.eu
Standing at the top of the TirolS, the two-stage, 10-seater gondola which connects the resorts, I find myself as impressed by the vastness of the ski area as I was aged five. The pistes just go on and on. Ski down the red Vierstadlalm and your back in Tirol, head east and you’re in Salzburgerland with Hinterglemm, Saalbach, Vorderglemm and Leogang just a ski away. If you’re quick, you can even make a circuit of the whole resort, catching the ski bus back to Fieberbrunn from Leogang at the end of the day.
Skiing towards Hinterglemm, I begin to understand the appeal of linking the two resorts. Not only is the Saalbach side bigger, but the runs are also wider and more easy going, with a huge choice of red and blue runs to pick from. The skiing spans two sides of the valley, all served by fast chairlifts and gondolas, making it easy to whizz from peak to peak. Stopping for lunch at Reiteralm and the cultural differences become apparent too; the accents are no longer Tirolean and the menu has a distinct Salzburg feel to it. Kassnockerl, anyone?
The next day I explore the Fieberbrunn side, skiing some of the deepest snow I’ve ever skied after a metre fell in 48 hours. That’s not unusual for the area — it’s situated in the Pillerseetal, the most snow-sure valley in the whole of Tirol, averaging 5.16m a season. That, combined with the terrain (a perfect mix of rolling meadows and rocky peaks) makes it a freerider’s paradise. The pistes are long and varied, and F1c, which brings you down to the valley, might be my favourite ever; it’s long, quiet and winding, offering glimpses of the rolling Kitzbühel Alps between the trees.
So is Fieberbrunn as good as I remember it? Better! There’s still the small resort charm, perfect mix of gentle pistes and powdery meadows, and stunning views. But the connection to Saalbach means you can cross the border and (almost) never ski the same section of mountain twice!
More information: Ski Circus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn