To me Bad Hofgastein is synonymous with winter fun. My parents first came here with four of my uncles and aunts and one of my grandmothers in the late 1960s. From the time my sister and I were born in the mid-1970s my parents took us to the same B&B for a week every winter. The owners’ son, who now runs the hotel with his wife and oldest kid, and I engaged in snowball fights and built snowmen 40 years ago.
This year round, my parents met up with Ms B & me for just an extended weekend (4 days and 4 nights). While my parents brought all of their own gear, we borrowed ours at Ski-Verleih Service Irausek (pre-ordered via Alpinresorts.com, both of which I’d recommend, even though if you can get a decent deal for ski rental at Angertal valley station then go for that, as much more convenient a location).
The so-called ski swing/Skischaukel (as in swinging back and forth between two mountains via a valley inbetween) is accessed through the valley station at Angertal. From there various lifts and gondolas go up the mountains on both sides.
Stubnerkogel on the left, Schlossalm on the right. Stubnerkogel recently broke the gram with Europe’s highest, 140m-long suspension bridge and a spectacularly designed viewing platform with views of the country’s highest mountain: nearby Grossglockner at just under 4,000m. We had initially planned to cross the bridge and take in the views, but ended up being too busy having fun on the slopes.
The Skischaukel connects directly via lifts, gondolas, slopes, and, in some instances, indirectly via short, so-called “ski-bus” rides to other ski resorts, making it one of the biggest ski resorts in the country (if you’re willing to count indirect connections, something that is not normally done).
Usually, over 95% of the time over the years, my family and I stayed on the Skischaukel, only rarely venturing further abroad. The local pistes are among the best-maintained in the Alps with some stretches where there are snow cannons every 50 metres, working around the clock where needed to make sure that the slopes remain white (I realise this is bad for the environment, everyone has to make their own decisions).
The most legendary run in the area is the Hohe Scharte run on Schlossalm, which starts at an altitude of 2,300m, way above the vegetation zone limit, and descends into the valley station at Angertal, 1,440m below. Officially the run is 10.4km long, which makes it the longest in the Eastern Alps. In my humble opinion, the run might very well be 10.4km long for complete beginners, choosing to go down the slowest, meandering snow-covered mountain-roads. For experienced skiiers choosing the fastest, technically slightly more demanding routes, we’re rather looking at 6.5km or so. That doesn’t make Hohe Scharte less attractive, of course, but more so, because everyone can find a route that’s tailored for them.
In terms of technical difficulty and skills required, this run is relatively easy, with mainly red (medium) and blue (easy) slopes. The few black (difficult) bits are easier than many difficult red ones in other areas. As a matter of fact, the majority of pistes in the resort are red, with less than 3% black. No need for sad faces, though, if you like a challenge: there are plenty of opportunities to test your skills on safe but non-official connecting slopes and runs between bits of the official runs. Even if you stick to the official slopes you’ll gain proper speed and have some serious fun.
The three video clips here have all been taken on the Hohe Scharte. The photos include Stubnerkogel and views from hotel and restaurants.
Looking for more fun things to do? Check out our posts about mountain-biking, kayaking, rock-climbing, hiking, quad-biking, punting (on the river Cam), and horse-back riding. For travel inspiration, feel welcome to read our articles about the mask ball in Venice, a medieval pageant in Landshut, our trip to the Jurassic Coast, or our Norfolk seal safari.