Off Piste in Austria

First Class Freeriding in the Austrian Alps.

St Anton

Huge Arlberg area, Awesome après ski, Extensive powd...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Non skiers
  • Off-piste

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Intermediate

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Snowboard

Fieberbrunn

Fantastic friendly atmosphere., Picturesque skiing a...

Great for:

  • Freeriding
  • Families
  • Self Drive trips

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Ischgl

Some of Austria highest slopes , Awesome après , Fam...

Great for:

  • Snow sure
  • Groups

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Kaprun

Austria’s oldest skiable glacier, Austria’s bigges...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Late Season
  • Non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Lech

Some of the best snow in Austria , Traditional charm...

Great for:

  • Luxury
  • High Altitudes
  • Powder snow

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Mayrhofen

Freestyling heaven, Tyrolean charm, Altitude & Snowbo...

Great for:

  • Families
  • groups
  • après ski

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Obergurgl

Long ski season, Chic and cheerful, Ski in / ski out

Great for:

  • Families
  • Tyrolean charm
  • Snow Sure

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Kitzbuhel

World's most difficult run, Romantic Austrian charm, ...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • après ski

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

Solden

Lively après ski, Free Wifi in ski area, 1 of Austri...

Great for:

  • Groups
  • Après Ski
  • Events

Beginner

Intermediate

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Snowboard

St Christoph

Off-piste bowls and chutes galore , Quaint Austrian ...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Quiet getaway
  • Advanced skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Top 10 Most Popular

Home to such an expanse of insanely tasty powder, it’s quite frankly a crime that Austria doesn’t share some with the rest of the planet. With some resorts dubbed ‘The Snow Hole’ and claiming ‘The Best Powder in the World’, this is a nation of towering peaks, soft fluffy bowls and gob-smackingly epic drop-offs.

It’s a pretty tough choice when searching for the most pristine but we’ve managed to whittle it down to our favourite 10. Clue up on avalanche safety and bring along a guide who’s made these mountains their home – soon you’ll find yourself floating down stashes of light white like nowhere else on earth.

Austria: Top 10 Ski Resorts for Backcountry

Ask any ski nut where to find the planet’s best pow, and we’ll eat our helmets if they don’t mention St Anton: Snow lovers come from all four corners of the world for its 1,500m+ verticals, steeps, forest trails and big drop-offs. The epic backcountry from the Valluga (where you’re not even allowed on the lift without a guide) is the stuff of legend for the tenuous, nerve-racking drop off the north face into the mammoth snow bowl beneath, or the equally thrilling Valluga bridge couloir. Take the line down the back side of Kapall for great natural hits, and a challengingly steep top section or go for the drop off the Schindler Spitze, which has mightily steep narrow chutes. We’ll let you in on a secret – the Stuben area isn’t as well known as the others, but tends to get a shed-load more snow – just what you want when it comes to tackling the longest lift-reached off-piste descent on the continent (1000 vertical meters from Albonagrat to Stuben) as an end of week triumph.

The locals have dubbed Fieberbrunn the “Schneeloch” (the snow hole), and rave that it gets the most powder in the whole of the Tyrol – which is probably why it’s a regular host of the ‘Open Faces’ category of the Freeride World Tour, alongside the likes of Chamonix and Verbier. The legendary run down the north face of the Wildseeloder could well be the crowning glory of Austria’s off-piste scene - from 2118m to 1500m, with a demanding 50° gradient. The cherry on top of the powder here: for some reason it’s still off most radars, meaning you’ll quite possibly find yourself tearing it up on untouched snow, days after it’s fallen. Any fellow cruisers you do spot will most likely live locally, be wearing touring bindings or following a guide, which speaks volumes to the quality here. With more terrain than you could ski in a whole season, there’s no question of having to do the same run - unless it’s absolutely irresistible (rather likely as the north-facing slopes keep the white stuff deep, light and pretty much perfect).

Ischgl has endless powder bowls far as the eye can see, and many visitors would happily go the day without seeing a piste marker. Lift access stretches all the way to Samnaun in Switzerland, so some super soft rolling powder’s easily found whichever point on the compass you follow. If we had to pick, we’d head out to the Palinkoph and Hollenspitz – the area’s two westernmost peaks. Here you’ll find a couple of patrolled but un-groomed routes towards Gampenalp to warm up on, before choosing a line outside of black runs 20 and 21 for some spine-tingling steeps. Bring along a guide who can show you some awesome terrain down the back of the Palinkoph. Down the other side and just beyond the resort’s boundaries, you can ride the snowcat up the Piz Val Gronda summit for a thrilling afternoon skiing wild and free.

Conditions are so good on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier that it’s often still skiable in the summer, which is why the organisers of the Freeride World Tour host their late season ‘X Over-ride’ category here. There’s a massive expanse of snow between the lifts and pistes, so you don’t have to hike an inch for heavenly gullies and velvety mounds. Of all the awesome routes, the most difficult by far is ‘Westside Story’ from the top of Kristallbahn: 2.8km long, with 700 vertical meters, it’s a definite thigh-burner (but if it leaves you crying like viewers of its musical namesake, it’s with joy). Other favourites, ‘Jump run’ (which splits near the end of Kristallbahn) and ‘Pipeline’ (from the top of Langwiedbahn) have pretty self-explanatory names - full of natural hits to bounce off. Take your pick of local freeride guides and try out a Freeride Camp or the incredible ‘safari week’ with Hartweger, who refine your technique and save you having to work out the best spots by trial and error, taking you straight to the area’s finest backcountry.

Another regular host of the Freeride World Tour, the terrain over here gets a lot of hype – and not unjustly. The Arlberg area has 180km of unpisted splendour, teaming natural kickers with jumps, hits, bowls and oodles of the deep stuff. With an average of 8m of snow each season in Lech and a whopping 10m in Zürs (the height of a 4 story building) both areas are particularly well endowed in the precipitation department. From the top of Kriegerhorn you’ve got 3 pretty nice routes to float down, but the main event starts from the top of Steinmahder: there are some good lines straight from the chair, but you won’t regret the extra hike up to the peak of Zuger Hochlicht, where you can drop off in more or less any direction you fancy for untracked bowls just waiting to be torn up. For those wanting to cram in some serious mileage, the White Ring challenge isn’t to be missed – the ungroomed 4.2km between Madloch-Joch and Zug ends the circuit on a deliciously powdery high.

Home to the steepest piste in Austria, Mayrhofen’s constantly upping its game in the advanced skiing department, pulling in waves of powder hungry punters and first-class guides. There’s a whole host of easily accessible off-piste between Penken’s slopes and lifts, just a slice of an unpisted 300km of terrain in the area. 80% of this can be reached easily from lifts, while the other 20% is just a short hike away. Above the tree-line, the Penken’s north face has some sweet deeps, well worth hiring a guide to tuck into. To get knee deep and far from the madding crowd, head out towards Horberg: first stop’s the 150er Tux for a small hike out to two super smooth bowls. When you’re up on the Horberg, drop off the back side down to Unterbergalm. We can’t talk about Mayrhofen without a nod to the formidable Harakiri piste, 3.2km set at a pitch of 78%, it’s not exactly what we’d call short and sweet but take an outside line between the piste and avalanche barriers and you’re in for a treat.

A snow-sure season, quiet mountains and endless freeride terrain's a winning formula for anyone with a penchant for powder, and Obergurgl has it down pat. The often deserted ‘Hohe Mut’ peak translates as ‘courageous spirit' - which you'll need double measures of to tackle the steeps from. The gondola drops you at the top where there’s only one groomer and a ski route – the rest is yours with endless routes to carve back down (we love the drop underneath the gondola). The top of Festkogl also frees up no end of sweet lines running all the way from top to bottom. Up at Hochgurgl, the Wurmkoglift and Sektion T-bars lead the way to some steep, seemingly bottomless snow down into the Königstal (‘Valley of Kings’) – some say the best around without a hike. Last but not least, the wide open gulley directly under the top of the Hochgurglbahn II gondola is a final piece of powder paradise.

As you begin to delve beyond the lines of the piste map, it isn’t hard to see why Kitz is one of the kings of the mountains. For starters, you’ll find eleven ski routes (marked but not groomed). # 50, 51 and 52 from Bichalm to Aurach scream validating verticals, exclusively for those who book the shuttle up there. For a trickier but easier-to-reach option, set course for the Hahnenkamm, and hurtle through the trees at 30°, down the knee-knockingly exhilarating #21. On top of these, we’re talking of an off piste area twice the size of Bristol - enough to get any off-piste junkie drooling. You can’t miss the powder fields at Blaue Lacke; drop off the Trattenbach chair, between the summit of the (not so klein) Rettenstein, and you’ll find just a ridge between you and the deep white. Ending up in the familiar village of Aurach is the wild Blaufeld trail, an 11km steep descent that’s particularly popular with the locals and packs an adrenaline-fuelled punch. For a real corker of a week, Kitz is now the proud, exuberant parent of annual ‘Freeride weeks’, where hard-core veterans and newbies arrive en masse to test equipment, take workshops and ride with pros.

The only ski area in Austria with 3 mountains over 3,000m - AKA ‘the Big 3’ - Solden has a trick (or three) up its sleeve for those who like good snow, and lots of it. Crowning the area with two socking great glaciers, Mother Nature clearly has a soft spot for the powder-seekers here, conveniently placing the best of the stuff in the massive bowl of the Wasserkar - right underneath the Gaislachkogl lift - so you can shred to your heart's content without having to hike. On the Rotkogl, start on red 18 but stay high and follow the line underneath the chair for a sweet natural halfpipe. There’s also some glorious terrain on the Rettenbach from the top of the gondola down to Tiefenbach. Once there, take a left at the top of the T-bar, follow the ridge and you’ll end up on top of a bowl that's knitted with deep powder pockets and steep sections – heaven on earth.

St Christoph is in the perfect position for accessing the vast expanses of the Tyrol Mountain range – it has all the terrain of St Anton on top of its own (largely unpisted) mountains in the Albona ski area. Here you’re faced with whole skiable mountains only tainted by one, maybe two slopes – the rest is yours to roam. Over towards Stuben, experts will love the 1200m north face of the Albona, then the Langen Forest run, and the Milchboden down to Ferwall. The St Christoph side of Galzig only has one piste running back down into the town, but the whole face is rideable so just pick a line and gobble it up. If that’s not enough adventure, the heli-skiing in Tyrol’s second to none: Ski Arlberg will take you up onto the Mehlsack (2,652m) or the Schneet?ku (2,450m) for a seriously adrenaline-packed journey up and all the way down to Zug.


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