Ski resort features
Good time skiing in Kössen
Skiers and snowboarders are drawn to the slopes of the Hochkössen/Unterberg skiing region in picturesque Kaiserwinkel on the German-Austrian border. With 22 kilometres of pistes, there is room for all abilities: there are 10 kilometres of blue slopes, 9 kilometres of red slopes and 3 kilometres of black runs. A short freeride route also guarantees thrills and spills in the deep snow. The Austrian skiing area extends from 600 to 1,750 metres in altitude, indicating a good length of piste. The area can be accessed from Germany via the A93 motorway; from the Oberaudorf exit, follow signs to Kössen.
The skiing region of Kössen is ideal for families. At its heart is the gondola system that transports skiers up the mountain quickly and conveniently. Ski and snowboard enthusiasts also make use of various fast and safe chair lifts and tow lifts. With snow cannons deployed as necessary, good conditions are guaranteed throughout the season. Children will be in the best of hands at the Sunny Kids Park, where they get their first enjoyable taste of skiing. With special practice lifts and childcare provided by the local ski school, kids soon find their feet, performing their first turns and curves in no time.
Once everyone has mastered the basics, the whole family is ready for family descent number 3. Starting from the Bärenhütte, this seven-kilometre route is also the longest downhill run in the area. This gives beginners in particular plenty of scope to practise and hone their new skills while developing the necessary stamina. Hornabfahrt number 1, which starts from the summit station, is also a suitable run for novices. Those who are more confident on skis or a board are ready to tackle the red slopes: route number 2 (the Almabfahrt from the summit station) and route 4 (the Brandlabfahrt from the Bärenhütte) are recommended. As well as the slopes, visitors love the stunningly panoramic mountain views. Kössen also offers a slalom slope and a giant slalom slope. The average gradient of the training site is 35%, so perfect practice conditions are assured. Experienced and expert skiers and snowboarders head for descent number 5, the black run beginning at the Scheibenwaldhütte and spanning an altitude differential of 400 metres over its two kilometre length. Another black piste is the Almabfahrt (2a), which starts at the Gipfelhaus. For lovers of deep snow, Hochkössen has a signposted freeride route through an unprepared zone
In Kössen there is no shortage of places to stop and eat while skiing; after all, no day of skiing is complete without a break for some hearty sustenance. The Bärenhütte at 1,500 metres is attractively rustic; the Canadian-style log cabin exudes a homely atmosphere and serves such Tyrolean specialities as Kaspressknödel (cheese dumplings). There is also a play room for children. From the sun terrace, the views of the surrounding peaks and the mighty Kaiser Mountains are sensational. The Scheibenwaldhütte is another cosy cabin attracting the skiers with house specialities including delicious cheese spaetzle and home-made apple strudel – and the milk and meat products are sourced from its own organic farm. The cabin is located on the family downhill route number 3. Located right by the summit station, the highest place to eat is the Gipfelhaus, which offers drinks and snacks to keep skiers going. Down at the base station, the Sportklause welcomes guests for quick breaks while skiing as well as for après-ski fare later in the day. The same goes for the outdoor bar next to the Bärenhütte, where visitors round off a good day’s skiing over drinks in convivial surroundings.
Sometimes the sun declines to shine – but even then, there is plenty to experience in and around Kössen. The region has several indoor swimming pools where guests can ease their weary muscles. The Schwimmstadl at Reit im Winkl offers various pools, a massage pool and a children’s paddling pool. For those who like it hot, the Finnish sauna is ideal. The Panorama-Badewelt St. Johann in Tyrol also has a number of pools as well as slides and a large sauna complex for rest and relaxation. Wrapped up warm on a snowy day, visitors can embark on a horse-drawn carriage ride, trotting through the wintry landscape at a leisurely pace. Families with children might head for the Fohlenhof Ebbs stud farm, where they can look around the stud and admire the horses and other livestock.
Generally, the Kössen skiing region at Unterberg is open to skiers and snowboarders from early December to the end of March. Situated in a particularly snowy region, Kössen is never short of snow. During the season, the snow depth on the mountain is around one metre, with 60 to 70 centimetres falling in the valley. Most snow tends to fall in January, which is also the sunniest month. Nights in Unterberg are very cold, with temperatures often dropping to minus 10 degrees between December and February. By day, temperatures hover around freezing – ideal conditions for skiing.
Away from the slopes, there is much to explore in Kaiserwinkel. For cross-country skiers, there is an excellent network of groomed tracks: with 125 kilometres of classic cross-country routes and 125.5 kilometres of skate tracks, the Kaiserwinkel region is a paradise for cross-country enthusiasts. It is also possible to explore the landscape on foot via numerous hiking trails: depending on the weather, visitors can access 80 kilometres of cleared hiking paths. Ice skaters head for Walchsee and Kössen, where Bavarian curling as well as skating is available. Tobogganing is another possibility on the Lippenalm and the Aschinger Alm. Those wishing to swap the sledge for an inflatable snowtubing ring will enjoy the Staffnerhof in Kössen, where they can speed into the valley at up to 50 kilometres per hour. Thanks to the floodlights, fun is also guaranteed in the evenings. There are two ways to see Kaiserwinkel from the air: thrill seekers can book a tandem paragliding session, while balloon rides offer a more soothing experience. Either way, winter is the ideal time of year thanks to the cold, clear air. For a good evening meal, reservations are recommended at the Alt Tyrol restaurant of the Hotel Alpina, where the head chef prepares different gourmet creations every day.