Mayrhofen, Austria Jun 28, 2008
Mayrhofen is relatively large for an Alpine ski town. The town offers a wide variety of skiing as it sits between two peaks, Penken and Ahorn. Other ski areas are also close by. Penken is the higher of the two mountains and offers much more in terms of runs with many blue, red and black runs for all levels of skiers. The Penkenbahn Gondola is thus swamped each morning but queues move steadily, however it is best to arrive either early or late each morning. Ahorn is a much quieter mountain with blue and red runs but it is enjoyable in that ski slopes are much quieter and lifts and restaurants are also much easier to access. Mayrhofen offers good snow, facilities, acommodation, scenery and lots of sunshine making it an excellent ski destination.
The town is fairly big so there is plenty of apres ski. Lots of bars, cafés and some decent restaurants too. There are also some nice shops. All in all it seems to be slightly upmarket. Most hotels are really quite nice but aren't cheap and the town does seem to be dominated by the larger hotels. The Penken-lift is pretty much smack dab in the centre of town and so as you rise to the top of Penken mountain there are really nice views of the town below. The Ahorn-lift is just a little outside the main area of the town and the walk is a little uphill so if you are carrying your ski gear it's a good idea just to take the ski bus. I don't like taking ski buses because they are always full of somewhat immobile people carrying ski equipment but in this case it is preferable. The trip is nice and short. The Ahorn-lift is much quieter than Penken so at least you don't have to hustle through the queues to grab a gondola. The way up to Ahorn is by cable car and you usually have enough room in the car.
Penken offers some really great runs and best of all most are adequately long runs with varying terrain. It's great when a slope has variety. I love constantly challenging runs but I also really love slopes that are high octane and then easy off and become more relaxing only for the gradient to then increase again. The Penken area has that. It also has a number of runs to chose from. You have the runs that take you into isolated areas so that you have to get a lift back to the top and you also have shorter runs that all culminate in one big area of criss-crossing skiers and an array of lifts to choose from. At first such an array that you don't quite know which lift leads to that run that you've spotted from the other side of the mountain. Skiers will know what I mean. Sometimes there are two many lifts in one place and it should be an easy matter to get to the very top of that slope but somehow you always seem to only make it to the second stage.
This frenetic area is on the other side of Penken mountain. It's like one giant bowl with everything flowing down to the bottom. From the top you can see hundreds if not thousands of skiers flying or sometimes barely moving down about a dozen or fifteen slopes. In this 'bowl' there is also a cable car lift at one end of the trench and the trench will take you to a peak, not just to top of the slope. It's a very big cable car and it carries about 80-100 people each time it goes up. Even as a skier who has skied in lots of resorts it was kind of weird being on a lift with almost a hundred people. Despite the numbers that go up it isn't actually one of those runs where you feel like you're joined at the hip to about ten other skiers. People take their time and so it isn't one of those horribly crowded runs. It can be frustrating when a really good slope is ruined by its own popularity. The run also feels like a naturally cut route to the bottom, not a flattened piece of hill. It's winding and has some really good turns and lots of steep parts.
Over on Ahorn mountain the pace is quite different I must say that despite the lack of variety in terms of runs I still enjoyed Ahorn as much as Penken because it's the most relaxing skiing I've ever done. Even the toughest black slope which is thrilling and envigorating can also be relaxing at the same time. Ahorn has no black runs but it has plenty of relaxing skiing. As I said it is much quieter and the runs are quite wide so despite the less than thrilling gradients you really have the space to generate as much speed as you like. Black runs are great but you often have to be careful or vigilant of the other skiers and so can't ski quite as fast as you like (although sometimes you just say 'to hell with it' and expect people to get out of your way!). Like I said Ahorn is a relaxing and quiet place to ski and it just makes the snow that bit whiter and the sky that bit bluer. It's not hustle bustle and lunchtimes in the restaurants. There are no queues for the lifts. It's very peaceful on this mountain, you can really take you time and you can take a break whenever. There will always be a deck-chair free too which is great. I have a great memory of sitting with my aunt and uncle in a deck-chair. We were sunbathing and watching some of my uncles and cousins ski by. The air was so fresh, it was perfectly warm and I had a nice bottle of coke cooling in a little hole in the snow beside me. That was bliss. You can just lie back and listen the the sounds of skiers swoosh by and the sound of the snow crunching beneath their skis.
That is another thing that makes Ahorn good. If you are in a relatively large group with people of mixed abilities it really is great for everyone. The runs aren't massively exciting (although the red run from the welt down to the village is pretty damn good) but experienced skiers will have the space to really generate some speed and can carve out some decent paths on the runs. So you can all ski together, stop as you please at the restaurants and relax as well as have some really good skiing.
Another great memory I have from Mayrhofen was when I went down from the mountain relatively early one afternoon to avoid the heavy queues at Penken. We were staying in the Feldwebel hotel which had a lovely leisure centre, it has a pool, jacuzzi and steam room and the poolside area functions as a solarium as this annex of the hotel is built like a greenhouse. It was really special to be swimming around in the poor and relaxing in the warm jacuzzi (I had the whole centre to myself for a while) whilst staring out the window at the sun setting behind snowy mountains. Another moment of bliss in Mayrhofen.
It's an excellent ski town which is really peaceful and quaintly lit at night. Unless you are up around the Penkenbahn where all the bars are, then it's pretty lively and not that peaceful, which is good too. Really the only drawbacks are that it is a little expensive compared to other places I've skied (not that I'm the one doing the paying) and also the queues at Penkenbahn can be very long but all in all it's definitely worth it. It's a nice town with some great skiing on offer.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Related Travel Blogs About Mayrhofen
Snowbombing in Mayr - April '10|
An amazing week for snowbombing, sunshine galore & lots of schnee! Bombing down the autoban in a mini van with work colleagues wasnt the best start to the week - not a jolly bunch, but… An amazing week for snowbombing, sunshine galore & lots of schnee! Bombing down the autoban in a mini van…