Obertauern ski resort
Many people of a certain age will have seen Obertauern’s ski slopes before, even if they don’t know it, as the ski scenes in The Beatles’ movie Help! were filmed here in 1965 when the ski area was only a few decades old.
Obertauern also stands out in other respects, in that its base is far higher than most of Austria’s traditional village centres and most of the building here is quite modern and purpose-built for skiers – whilst most of the neighbouring ski destinations in Austria are essentially old farming villages that have evolved into ski resorts over the past century.
Obertauern’s success comes down to a number of distinct factors. Firstly, its high altitude slopes make it a much more guaranteed bet for snow cover, allowing the resort to stay open from late November until the start of May (the season in many Austrian resorts runs from mid-December to early April). A second attraction is the resort’s abundance of largely slopeside accommodation (again, unusual for Austrian ski areas). Finally, the quality is high throughout, with numerous good hotels and a comfortable and efficient chairlift-based network.
Obertauern ski resort is located on the Tauern Pass through the Alps, within the northwestern Austrian province of Salzburgerland. The resort is around 90km (56 miles) from Salzburg.
On the slopes
Thanks to its high altitude and extensive snowmaking facilities covering 80% of the ski slopes, the ski season here is one of the longest in Austria, lasting from late November to May.
Obertauern is best known as a destination for beginner and intermediate skiers, although there are also challenges for the more accomplished.
Novices will find wonderful, wide and convenient nursery slopes close to their accommodation and, once they have grown in confidence, well laid-out routes they can follow.
Intermediate skiers have more than 100km (62 miles) of easy to intermediate, beautifully groomed cruising runs to enjoy on each side of the valley. One particularly popular route is the ‘Super Seven’ tour, which comprises seven of the highest reachable points in the region by lift.
One feature Obertauern does lack, however, is the kilometre or more vertical that’s present at most resorts of its status – the maximum here being just over half of that at 570m (1,870ft). There is also limited expert-level skiing, with only four black runs, including the challenging Gamsleiten 2 piste.
Freeriding is very popular here, with 16km (10 miles) of ungroomed routes, while freestylers will enjoy the Longplaypark, which is accessed via the Kehrkopf quad chairlift, and has lines suitable for all ability levels. Obertauern also provides 31km (19 miles) of tracks for cross-country skiers, as well as night-time skiing.