04/05/2007 | by Youri Barneoud
I have heard rumours that a sleepy valley somewhere in Austria has some serious backcountry riding to offer so we headed to the Gasteiner Valley which is 230 kilometres from Munich, close to Flachau and includes the villages of Dorfgastein, Bad Hofgastein, Bad Gastein and Sportgastein. I can already give away the secret: We weren´t disappointed!
On the first day we had to get an overview first as the resort is really huge – combining 5 different areas (and villages). We decided for the “middle” (the resort of Angertal-Stubnerkogel), as this looked the most alluring to us (we discovered some nice couloirs and faces on the way up). With some hiking you could reach really lonesome slopes and enjoy untouched spring slush! But due to the high temperatures on the mountain (way above zero), you really need the right timing so that the former powder isn´t hard as ice but also not soft as a swamp. The resort is also famous for its natural terrain and obstacles – if we would have had more time, we could have built a really nice kicker but with only two days for a huge resorts we just spent our time surfing on walls, lips and jumping small cliffs.
Close to the peak of Stubnerkogel we discovered a huge face that looked perfect. After a 30 minutes walk and some climbing over rock gaps, we found the entrance and… Well, I smiled after a five-minute ride!
Just one mountain in a huge valley that still needs to be discovered…
From the Stubnerkogel you have a perfect view to Sportgastein, which is well known for its huge backcountry (the whole left side of the mountain down to the valley is not groomed) and reaches up to 2700 metres. But as the last snowfall was days ago, we couldn´t see any line next to line – it didn´t make sense to leave our “perfect mountain” with still so many possibilities to ride. But it´s definitively worth a visit if it dumps a lot – I saw some sick lines and I´m sure it´s like heaven if you are there at the right time…
In the evening there wasn´t much to do – Bad Hofgastein is a quiet, really nice old-fashioned village. We asked some locals for advice and visited the Skybar – a huge glass cube over the roofs of the village and just ran into the Rock Party. For the Rock we had some strong cocktails and for the Roll the boys had a good time and something to look at as the local girls dressed like in New York or L.A. (must be the influence of the whole bunch of American tourists who are coming here for skiing vacation…).
The Gasteiner Valley is a really good tip for the late season as it reaches until 2700 metres and still has a lot of snow to offer where other resorts already have to close but I don´t want to tell you everything as you will read a detailed report about this area in one of the issues in next season – so watch out for it…
Live life to the fullest – Mel