SKI AREA IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ELLMAU “HOLLYWOOD OF THE ALPS”
This week Snowplanner Annika is putting Ellmau in the spotlight!
In 2001 at the age of 19 I went to Ellmau, Austria for my Anwärter course not fully aware of what to expect except for a lot of snow covered mountains and people with a passion for winter sports. Little did I know I would soon find myself in a tiny village sitting at the foot of a beautiful mountain ridge “Der Wilder Kaiser” and what from then on would be called my forever second hometown.
Before I go all out on you let me first give you some basic information!
Ellmau is a village that finds itself located at the southern foot of “Der Wilder Kaiser” at a height of 820 meters and has a population of a little over 2.500 villagers. Geographically it’s located in the western part of Austria in the state Tyrol between the bigger cities Innsbrück and Salzburg and therefore easy accessible by airplane. It’s even possible to fly to Munnich which is just two hours away by car. If you want travel all the way by car it is best done by driving through Germany and cross the border to Kufstein which is northwest of Ellmau.
Austria and the Alps are known among winter sport lovers for their outstanding crispy groomed and daily maintained slopes, nature, their hospitality, culture and love for food and drinks. If you want to visit Austria you will be flooded by the abundance of Hotels and possibilities of cute picturesque villages. So why Ellmau? Ellmau has been constantly developing itself adjusting to the needs of its many visitors over the passed years. Its legendary train that brought tourists high up the mountain got replaced in 2016 for a hi-tech 10-seater gondola.
While maintaining its charming allure it aims to compete with the more commercial driven places. It is immensely child and family friendly and is a favorite area for tiny beginners taking their first slopes down. Lessons can be followed at one of the two ski schools and range from beginner to expert, from group lessons to private. Children will find it especially attractive because of the story of Ellmi, a little wizard student whom has been turned into a little frog by the gnomes and will take your child in an entertaining way through its magical world “Ellmi’s Zauberwelt”.
Next to being attractive to kids I can tell you from my own experience it is even so attractive to intermediate and expert skiers. Ellmau is part of the greater ski area “Skiwelt” and the surrounding villages are connected by slopes and chairlifts which makes it an awesome place to enjoy a day of touring the area.
The 284 kilometers of slopes varying from easy beginner slopes to harder black slopes will make up for an incredible day where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery from different sides of the mountain. Talking about scenery… Ellmau’s astonishing scenery hasn’t gone unnoticed with some television creatives and serves as the backdrop of the succesfull series “Der Bergdoktor” (Mountain MD) and often movies and other film related projects so don’t be surprised if you find yourself suddenly on set or between some famous stars!
So what about the après ski?
Ellmau is famous for its “Ellmau Ski Night” on Mondays and features a winter party on the slopes. Once back down in the valley you can treat yourself on a typical Dutch themed party at “Fabels” or when you’re more in the mood for some authentic Austrian night out there are multiple bars and Skihütte throughout town to satisfy your typical après ski needs. Rübezahl Alm is the place to go if you want to spend your time in a hut build in 1778 and is known for its 1.50 meter low entrance. So mind your step and be sure not to bump your head!
My ideal Kaiser day:
Let me take you up the mountain and back down passing some of my favourite spots!
When I’m free or have some otherwise spare time I love to tour to the Hohe Salve. I start my day by taking the gondola up the Hartkaiser. There I put my face towards the early sunbeams enjoying a cup of coffee and the amazing view. Afterwards I start my tour first to Scheffau and via the Eiberg down to Brixen where I take a short break at the Alpeniglu Dorf. As if blown to life from the pages of a fairytale book it is breathtaking and a must go to while visiting the area. You can enjoy a fondue at an ice table, spend the night or even, if you feel romantic enough, marry your significant other.
From Brixen I go up the Hohe Salve the mountain known for its incredible panoramic scenery and listed as the mountain with the most beautiful view of Tyrol. The word “Salve” is a greeting in Latin and can be translated to “Hail”. From the top of the Hohe Salve you can take the “Black Eagle” slope down which is so steep it feels like you got catapulted away! For an expert skier a lovely challenge that gives an adrenaline rush through your veins but highly discouraged for beginners and intermediates!
The Südhang towards Brixen is also steep and challenging but at the sunside more doable since the conditions are more stable and the surface provides more grip. A true gem for the expert skier, thrillseeker and those who love to challenge themselves!
Back a top the Hartkaiser I’ll take the slope down to Rübezahl where I meet up with my friends and colleagues to evaluate our adventures and end the day with a drink. Söll can be another great option to end your day and enjoy some classic après ski.