The Kitsteinhorn Glacier in Kaprun receives a mixed bag of reviews. The Mellow Park in the summer is world renowned for producing a world class snow park year on year and hosts big international events. However, there are rumours of a difficult lift system and long queues. We decided to head out and see what Kaprun’s Kitsteinhorn really had to offer this winter during a short tour of the Austrian Alps.
We booked a cheap flight to Munich from Edinburgh, arranged van hire from the airport and booked our ‘budget friendly’ accommodation in the centre of nearby Zell am See. After a short flight and a 2 1/2 hour drive to Zell am See we arrived in the early evening and picked up the keys to our apartment.
We took a chair lift from the outskirts of Kaprun on our first day and realised that in our haste we had actually taken a lift that wasn’t even remotely connected to the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier! Suffice to say this turned out to be a prosperous mistake as we had taken a lift to the smaller, quieter ski area of Maiskogel with a fantastic little snow park, and a few long, wide and cruizy red and blue runs. This is a great spot to take children away from the crowds that are learning to ski and a hidden gem for teenagers looking to try their hand at a little freestyle without the stress of lots of traffic. Don’t go to Kaprun without coming here for at least a half day, we thought it was fantastic!
Skiing past the Strangerbauer restaurant in Maiskogel
A few runs in Maiskogel and it was time to make for the Kitzteinhorn Glacier. The haze covering the glacier quickly burnt off on our ascent up the Gletscherjet gondola 1 and 2, and we were welcomed by crisp, squeaky snow and bright blue skies and unlike many Glaciers in Europe, a fast network of lift and better snow than any of the other nearby resorts. The Kitzsteinhorn offers a good variety of runs with the main slopes spreading across a big bowl above the Alpincenter and the main slopes. With wide open blues at the top of the Schmiedingerlifte and the Gipfelbahn, fast and interesting reds at the Kitz and Keeslifte to suit confident intermediates and more challenging black runs on the right at the top of the Maurergletscherlifte, there is much, much more on offer here than most Glaciers.
The piste map of Kaprun and the Kitsteinhorn Glacier
We did find however that even in the winter, its strength still rests in the Mellow Park that fuels the freestyle skiing and snowboarding scene for miles around. The combination of great pistes and a comprehensive snow park makes this a great option for families with teenagers looking progress their freestyle skiing and snowboarding skills. The enormous Mellow Park offers a huge variety of features with 4 separate areas, the Easy Park, the Glacier Park, the Rail Garden Lechnerberg, and the Central Park offering everything from small jumps, flat boxes, rails and wall rides to more technical, innovative and really exciting jib features, half pipes and kickers.
The Easy Park at Kaprun's Kitzsteinhorn Glacier
So what did we think? Kaprun is definitely a worthwhile destination in itself, offering something for everyone with a varied and fairly well connected ski area spread across the glacier. And, with the smaller and quieter area of Maiskogel this is a great option for families with teenage children. The lift queues have always been bit of a problem here and if you are looking to stay for longer than a few days it’s definitely worth buying the Salzburgerland Super Ski pass so you can make day trips to nearby resorts like Saalbach Hinterglemm, Bad Gastein and Hochkönig. The snow conditions on the Kitzsteinhorn surpassed all the surrounding resorts and if you are even slightly interested in freestyle skiing or snowboarding you’ll have a great time in the Mellow Park.
Here is a quick video of some of the resorts we visited on our trip to Austia that included a day in Kaprun on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier.
Posted by Adam Wagner on Thursday 17 Mar 2011