Ski resort features
Complete package with guaranteed snow
The Obertauern skiing region comprises 100-plus kilometres of pistes at altitudes of 1,639 to 2,526 metres – and given this location, the winter season in the skiing area generally lasts from November to May. Obertauern is the perfect winter sports region for beginners, with more than 60 kilometres of blue pistes; in addition there are 35 kilometres of red slopes for advanced skiers and four kilometres of demanding black runs. The 50-plus kilometres of trails for cross-country enthusiasts (some of which are groomed) are suitable for skiers of all abilities. Advanced skiers can even tackle a World Cup trail, complete with steep descents and climbs.
The peaks of the Gamsleitenspitz, Seekarspitz and Gamskarlspitz are the three most popular starting points for a long day of skiing. While most of the slopes heading into the valley from the Gamskarlspitz summit are classified blue, the majority of slopes heading down the Seekarspitz are red. The Gamsleiten 2 black run on the Gamsleitenspitz is a notoriously steep mogul piste that is frequently iced over, demanding technical skill and a degree of nerve from skiers. One major advantage of the skiing area is the fact that nearly all hotels offer direct access to the slopes, while others are close to the 26 lift systems.
The first skiers arrived in Obertauern over a century ago. Later on, the Beatles filmed scenes for Help! in the popular winter sports resort. The reason for Obertauern’s popularity – and its guarantee of snow as late as May – is its unique location in a valley basin affectionately referred to as a ‘snow bowl’. Obertauern is ringed by ski slopes of all difficulty levels. The red and green versions of the Tauernrunde are perennially attractive. The red Tauernrunde starts at the Angerbahn and leads clockwise around the valley via the descent of piste 4a; those who tackle this route cover 12 kilometres across an altitude differential of 4,110 metres. The green Tauernrunde, meanwhile, starts at the Hundskogel lift with descent 12a; skiers travel anticlockwise for 12 kilometres, covering an altitude differential of 4,614 metres. To ensure a challenging ski experience, just follow the Super Seven logo: the seven highest mountain stations are also the longest and most demanding runs in the region.
Obertauern has earned a global reputation as an après-ski hub, with 25 cabins, outdoor bars and party venues keeping spirits high. There are also many events taking place in town and across the skiing region throughout the winter season. Located near the Seekarspitzbahn and Kringsalmbahn stations, one of the most popular destinations in the area is the SennBar, where DJs pump out a house and indie dance soundtrack. The Weltcup Schirm, near the bridge, is another popular après-ski venue. After a day’s skiing, the party goes on until late – and various special events are held throughout the season. Reservations are recommended at the Freiwild restaurant, where culinary delights include traditional Austrian dishes like Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) and Pongauer Kasnocken. Choosing a dessert can be difficult, with diners deciding between regional specialities like Kaiserschmarrn raisin pancakes and Topfennockerl. The Freiwild is situated close to the Gamsleiten base station. Lovers of superior cuisine are advised to book ahead for the Vinothek restaurant at Das Seekarhaus hotel, where four and six-course meals are served on request – and the wine cellar holds a wide selection of fine vintages.
For sporting activity when the weather is poor, the Obertauern sports centre is worth a visit. Along with fitness equipment, the centre has a bowling alley and billiard tables; during opening hours, usage is subject to an entry fee plus advance reservation. Another option is the Untertauern wildlife and leisure park, where 40 wild animals roam an 11-hectare site. Although the park only opens in summer, visitors can follow a winter trail around the enclosures: take the Taurach trail towards Radstadt, which also offers impressive views of the Taurach gorge. To warm up, call in at the Wildparkstüberl. It is also possible to try Bavarian curling and tobogganing.
Obertauern is sure of snow, with a winter season that generally lasts from November to May. On sunny days towards the end of the season, it almost feels warm enough to ski in a t-shirt; overall, though, the climate in Obertauern is cold and temperate. Average winter temperatures fluctuate between -11°C and 5°C, while summer readings are between 8°C and 24°C. There is relatively high precipitation year-round; June and July usually get 18 days of summer rain, with January seeing 16 days of precipitation. The average snow depth in the valley is between 60 and 120 centimetres, with 150 to 200 centimetres falling on the mountain (in 2017, the snow depth reached two metres, with 250 centimetres measured on the mountain).
A snowshoe trek through the wintry landscape of Obertauern is a pleasure, even if the first few steps in the new footwear may feel somewhat unfamiliar. On a guided snowshoe trek, hikers are accompanied by experienced mountain guides; snowshoes can be rented for a fee. For a less strenuous alternative, take a segway or e-fatbike tour over snow and ice. Segways are controlled by shifting the weight, while e-fatbikes are electrically powered bicycles with oversized balloon tyres. After a short induction from an experienced instructor and a few practice rounds, visitors are ready to embark on their accompanied tour of Obertauern. Alternatively, biathlon – one of the most popular winter sports of all – calls for concentration and a steady hand. Visitors can also attend the firing range at the Obertauern biathlon track; reservations are required.