Ellmau ski resort
Ellmau is a very attractive and traditional ski village set against the splendour of the Wilder Kaiser (Wild Emperor) Mountains.
While the resort itself may not boast a huge selection of runs, its connection to the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental, Austria’s largest interconnected ski area, means that almost 280km (174 miles) of ski runs are just around the mountain, offering more variety than most resorts in the Alps. The area is further connected to nearby Kitzbühel by the Ki-West gondola, creating one of the largest ski areas in the world.
Unfortunately, as a consequence of both climate change and the resorts low altitude (one of the lowest ski areas in the Alps), snow cover issues have plagued the resort in recent years. Fortunately, thanks to a heavy investment in snowmaking facilities (now covering around 90% of the slopes), snow cover throughout the season is far more reliable.
The base of the ski area, served by a state of the art gondola, installed ahead of the 2015-16 ski season, is on the edge of town, so a ski bus is usually needed each morning – unless you opt to stay out of the resort centre, in one of the slopeside hotels.
Ellmau is located in Austria’s northwestern Tyrol province, very close to the German border. It is part of the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental ski area and is 15km (9 miles) northwest of the large ski town of Kitzbühel.
On the slopes
Ellmau is located at one end of the giant SkiWelt area that encompasses nine resorts in total – each of them well linked by high-speed lifts.
Ellmau’s own skiing has a particularly strong reputation for beginners, with a separate nursery slope in the village centre (snow cover permitting), served by a covered state-of-the-art magic carpet conveyor lift. The resort’s three ski schools are highly regarded and can provide expert tuition for everyone from complete novices to those looking to brush up on their technique.
Intermediates will enjoy the ski area the most, with numerous ambling blue runs to refresh their technique and more challenging reds on which they can hone their skills. The day begins on the fast new gondola up to the local Hartkaiser Mountain and skiers could end up as far away as Kitzbühel later in the day if they are prepared to take the bus back to Ellmau. Those who purchase the Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStarCard regional lift pass (and have their own transport) can also ski in the nearby Schneewinkel area and other neighbouring resorts, offering over 1,080km (671 miles) of pistes in total.
Experts have more limited terrain, but the extent of the ski area provides plenty of opportunities for challenging days on the slopes – the Eiberg lift serves Ellmau’s most testing terrain and the Silleralm run on the neighbouring Hohe Salve Mountain is also highly recommended
The ski season in Ellmau generally runs from mid-December to early-April.