It was our first time to Schladming so we didn’t know what to expect, but after a long and (click if you’d like to read about our) eventful journey, we thankfully arrived in this beautiful, snowy, Austrian town.
Generally though, if you are visiting a town which tends to be lucky enough to have amazing snow in the Winter months, then you’re usually there for one main reason…
To hit the slopes on your skis or boards
… and whether you are skiers or boarders, when visiting a new ski resort your number one hope is; I hope there’s good snow! and then your number one question is; how good are the slopes?
1 & 2. Snow & Pistes
Well we were lucky because the snow was plentiful and the slopes were fabulous, with our ski pass giving us access to the Schladming-Dachstein region of 4 peaks; Hauser Kaibling, (being the highest at 2015 metres), Hochwurzen and Reiteralm. They call it the 4 mountain ski swing and it offers 123 kilometres of non-stop pistes, which if you negotiate it from right to left, you spend less time on lifts 🙂 Apart from this 4 peak playground, the ski pass also gave us access to another 5 mountains and the Glacier, which were a short bus ride away, but well worth a trip because with these included in the ski pass this gave us 760km of pistes to play on in total. We didn’t get chance to cover it all!
There was a combination of easy blue runs, mostly intermediate red runs and some difficult blacks. We spent the majority of our time on the red runs, personally I didn’t touch the blacks as I’m a total chicken and some of the red pistes were challenging enough for me, in fact I have to admit something…although before I do admit this, I apologise to my son’s as they will be very embarrassed at what I’m about to say… at one point we got very confused with the directions on top of the mountain and began going down a black run by accident, but realised when the piste literally disappeared over the edge into what seemed to be a vertical drop down the steepest run I’ve ever seen! We both stopped and sat for a moment, which was my problem, because if we’d have just carried on then I would’ve just gone for it, but because we stopped to think, I lost my nerve, took off my board and moved to the side into the deep snow to take the walk of shame back up the mountain. I have to say that it wasn’t easy to walk back up that steep hill, in knee deep snow, carrying my board, red faced and embarrassed, but I’m still glad I did. I found the correct piste down to meet Jon at the bottom, where he said that it had been just one big scrape down a big hill. We watched a little while others basically fell and scraped down that same practically sheer mountain side and there was one poor young girl who fell on her back near the top and so slid the whole way down where at the bottom she just lay there for a moment, we weren’t the only ones watching her and I felt us all take a deep breath until she slowly sat up, put up two thumbs as if to say she was ok as she realised there were quite a number of people watching. Those two thumbs up were met with a rapturous applause. I’m still glad I chickened out!
3. Great facilities
The snowboarding was great for the whole week, the views were amazing and the toilet facilities were, well unusual!
The first time I walked into this bathroom I just stood not daring to go to the loo, but after reading the sign which said, “you can sit in confidence knowing that people cannot see you, so enjoy the view” I sat and did actually enjoy the view feeling a little strange when a couple came along to check out the piste map – weird!
4. Lovely Architecture
We snowboarded every day, but made sure that we spared just one morning to have a look around the town. Schladming is a busy town, not just with the hustle and bustle of skiers and boarders heading for the lifts to take them up the mountains, but of the community who live there. There are Schools, many shops, churches, a park, a nightclub, many cafes and bars, and I’m sure many other things which we didn’t see, but what struck us were the beautiful, colourful buildings quite typical of Austria.
The towns memorial to the two world wars was beautiful. I stood there quietly for some time taking in the enormity of this memorial. The two stone soldiers guarding it, the left one from the first world war and the one on the right from the second. The stone tiled floor with the heavy stone coffin sitting in the middle, then on the wall behind, carved intricately, were all the names of the towns people who died during those wars, then eyes were drawn up to the beautifully carved wooden ceiling. It seemed such a quiet, calm area to be in, just such a lovely memorial.
5. The History
That evening I decided to do a little research into the history of this quaint town. Apparently the earliest known settlement was dated to be around 1180. During the Middle Ages many miners populated Schladming, mining for Silver, Zinc and other minerals and in 1322 the town received ‘Charter from the Emperor’ (not actually sure what that means) and the town gate and old wall still remain from this time. The railway began running through Schladming by 1865 which saw the beginning of tourism to the town with visitors enjoying the hot Summers. In 1953 the first ski lift was constructed and so the Winters were also bringing tourists as well as various Winter sports competitions, such as the first World Cup Race in 1973 and two World Championships in 1982 and 2003.
6. The Glacier
On our last day we had a few hours to kill so we decided to head up to the Glacier. It was a half hour scenic bus ride winding up the mountain road before arriving at a large building where we took a short journey in a large cable car across the valley to the Glacier, it didn’t take us long before we were enjoying stunning views from this beautiful part of the world.
There was a suspended glass floored walkway which, for the daring, were able to walk out to take in the amazing views of the mountain range.
7. An Ice Palace
Created in 2007 within a cave in the Glacier, the Ice Palace has some very cleverly carved ice structures, although I found it quite difficult to concentrate on them myself, as I made a dramatic entrance by not realising the whole floor was block ice, so on my first step in, I went ‘arse over tit’ landing with a heavy thud on my coccyx. Ouch! Tears in eyes! If there hadn’t been so many people around there would have been many expletives, so I bit my lip, clumsily pulled myself up on the railings, holding my ass hoping it would stop the throbbing pain and watched as a couple of kids slide past me laughing on their skis. I did smile through these photos, but believe me, I was in agony – the ice chair did help!
Schladming has many hotels, but I can only comment on the one we stayed in, Hotel Ferienalm. What a great hotel, friendly and helpful staff, clean and comfortable studio and the food was very good. The only negative (a small one) would be that the situation of the hotel is a little way out from the town and the buses were every hour so we did a lot of walking, which isn’t that easy with all the snowboarding gear, but the hotel itself was great, with views of the mountain opposite.
Ok, so we went in Winter, but we could see that it would be an amazing place to go in those sunny months, imagining the town buzzing with busy shops and cafes, the chair lifts staying open for walkers enjoying the mountain and of course the mountain bikers enjoying the downhill. The photography in the hotel showed stunning Summer views with flowers everywhere. We would certainly think about going back to enjoy an Austrian Summer.
But our snowboarding season isn’t over yet because we are excited to be travelling to Canada next week, in search of snow again 🙂
Have you visited Schladming? We’d love to hear about your visit, especially if you went in the Summer months 🙂
Thanks for stopping by xxx