Schmitten’s trees to the rescue on a wintery day in Zell-Kaprun

1st March 2015, by Chris Gill

Zell's Sonnenalm area lacking der Sonne on Sunday

Zell's Sonnenalm area lacking der Sonne on Sunday

We moved from the Italian Dolomites to Austria on Saturday morning, via the Felbertauern tunnel between Lienz and Mittersill. A fabulous scenic drive north from Cortina, then east along the Pustertal, dotted with unfamiliar resorts.

Plan A for Sunday was to ski both Zell’s Schmitten and Kaprun’s high, glacial Kitzsteinhorn. But low cloud and light snowfall made the latter look inhospitable, so we spent the day on Schmitten, parking at Schüttdorf, at the south end of the mountain.

We skied pretty much the whole piste network, making a deliberate exception of the lower half of sunny Sonnenalm, which looked to be in poor shape. Most other runs were in reasonable condition, although the lower slopes at Schüttdorf were sugary by the end of the day.

Highlights were the short red run 23 at the top of Sonnenalm – in perfect nick thanks to its easterly orientation; the short, shady black 6 on the north side of the hill; and the long groomed blacks 13 and 14 down to Schmittental, in the centre of the horseshoe-shaped mountain.

Towards the end of the day I thought we should check out the blue run 12b to Zell, and I’m glad we did. It turned out to be miserable – narrow, busy and bumpy – and before long we bailed out and took to the black alternative, which was less stressful. Early intermediates beware.

Then it was time to hit Flannigan’s bar to watch Ireland- England. Another miserable experience.

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