With its exceptional variety and outstanding new features, Mayrhofen is excellently prepared to start the winter season. Once again, this extensive skiing area with its 136 piste kilometres and 57 lifts leaves nothing to be desired. Two fascinating extremes are situated right on the doorstep – Penken and Ahorn.
Penken offers highlights such as the Harakiri – Austria's steepest slope adventure – and the Vans PenkenPark with its cool areas and obstacles. On Ahorn guests can discover numerous insider tips: Café-Bistro Freiraum with its breathtaking location, the family-friendly pistes, the sun-drenched Ahorn Plateau and the White Lounge complete with Ice Bar and Igloo Hotel. This year winter starts off with a particularly spectacular opening of the world's most state-ofthe-art cable car and the legendary sports event RISE&FALL. A superb range of activities and service guarantee unlimited fun in the snow.
Gasser: Seasonaires swear by it. An award-winning butchers that sells sandwiches and burgers starting at €5. Stop in for a breakfast bap and you may well meet your instructor doing likewise.
Ahornhuette/Ahorn: Family-run, family-owned, family-built (by same family who still own and run) and walls are hung with family photos: this place is all about family. Hearty meals will set you back €20 for a couple of courses. Easy for skiers or those coming up from the village – it’s at the top of the Ahorn cable car. Bring the family, maybe.
The Neue Post: For very big pizzas at very reasonable prices you can’t do better than this.
Wirtshaus zum Griena: For some 400 years this charming dining room has been dishing up the dumplings. Tirolean through and through and just a short walk (10 mins) from the village centre. Try the Kaiserschmarrn or the Kasspatzlang, if you can say it. Or just point.
Restaurant Grillkuchl: is a local favourite and great value for money considering the quality.
Alpenhotel Kramerwirt: At 340 years old, this veritable upstart is a good choice for upmarket nosh. Much of the fare comes from the family farm, including butter and some super-creamy ice cream. €25 for two courses.
The Elisabeth Hotel: The Steakhouse at Elisabeth griddles the best flesh in town. Two courses will set you back around €30 depending on the cut. Downstairs the Mamma Mia restaurant serves authentic Italian specialising in the ever-popular pasta and pizza.
The Austrians know a thing or two about Apres and those in Mayrhofen know a thing or two more. Whether you want to shot-slam the night away or enjoy a comfortable dumpling in rustic restaurant the Hof has something for everyone. The White Lounge ice hotel near the Ahorn cable station is not to be missed. Start your evening/afternoon here with a couple of cocktails and watch the sun slide behind the mountains. The Pilzbar at the Penken top station is another great place to start your Apres early. Last lift down is at 5 or 5.30. In town Scotland Yard, popular with seasonnaires and borders, is a rowdy pub selling Brit beers. Also try The Ice Bar next to the Penken gondola.
Mayrhofen and its interlinked neighbours – Lanersbach, Finkenberg and Hippach – have some 55 lifts serving 135km of piste. And a lot more if you splash out on a Superskipass for the whole Zillertal (177 lifts and 489km of piste) too. Reds rule here: 23 of the 45 runs are red and a fair few of the 16 blues would easily pass for reds. Only six blacks but then one of them is the Harakiri, the steepest marked run in Austria.
Beginners: For starters take the Ahorn cable car for the resort’s best nursery slopes. Beginners will find plenty of wide gentle slopes that are likely to have a generous covering. The downside is it’s not so easy meet up with your more experienced friends as they’ll likely be skiing in the separate Penken area. If you can persuade them to join you they will at least avoid the peak-time queues on the Penken cable car and once they’ve limbered up on the flat stuff they’ll find some steeper advanced runs as they head down the mountain. There are also some starter slopes near the Penken cable car drop-off so some quid pro quo and all can find something to suit.
Intermediates: This is where the Hof really comes into its own. The Penken – above the treeline – offers acres of sweeping pistes and, while steepish, are broad enough to practise some speedy carving without fear of thumping a tree or plummeting off the peak. The Tuxer Glacier – while also steep – has similarly sweeping trails that provide a testing but satisfying ride for the not-quite-newbs.
Advanced/experts: Harakiri baby! Knock yourself out – or worse. At 78 per cent this is the steepest marked slope in Austria. To get steeper you’d have to jump out of a plane. Fortunately the Harakiri run is short, so genuflect, close your eyes and think of England or whatever place you come from. Elsewhere you’ll find plenty of piste for seasoned snowmen and women including some blues that would be reds if they were anywhere else in the Alps.
Off-piste: No shortage of OP opportunities but runs get tracked out by mid-morning so go early or go home, as they say. Best to wait for a good dump and then try the north side of the bowl near Penken Park. Obviously with good snow comes good chance of avalanche – not unusual in Mayrhofen – so go with a guide or go prepared. Try the run beneath the Tux 150 lift for a challenge or take a run down to the park from the back of the Schneekar lift.
Snowparks: For many freestylers the Vans Penken Park (2,100m) is up there with the best in the Alps. Six separate areas on the sunny side of the mountain provide for pros, beginners and everything inbetween. Highlights include the rainbow box, a vast wall ride and the Multijib Beastbox.
Know your lifts. Queues for the main Penken area can be tiresome at peak times so it’s often best to branch out a little. Try the Ahorn cable car, especially if you have beginner buddies, for your early runs and head over to Penken when the traffic calms later in the morning. All are connected by prompt and frequent buses.
Do as the locals do and stop by the award-winning butchers, Gasser, to chow down on a sandwich or burger. You’ll not regret it.