Anyone who has ventured into the deep snow on skis or snowboard wants more of it. There is hardly a freerider who doesn’t look out of the window full of anticipation and dream of the next adventure in the powder as soon as it starts to snow lightly. Everywhere in SalzburgerLand you will find perfect conditions to live out this passion, to follow the call of the powder snow. Whether you fancy a high alpine ‘Hike&Ride’ tour, don’t stray too far from the lift, or you want to make your tracks on your own local mountain: In this paradise for freeriders, everyone will find their own personal ‘off-piste playground’. But as unique and wonderful as riding in unsecured space may be, there is one thing you must never forget: The issue of safety!
Safety first in open terrain. Full stop! Anyone who moves off secured pistes bears responsibility for themselves and is always exposed to certain risks that need to be carefully assessed. And that requires prudent preparation, knowledge of Alpine safety and common sense. At the same time, you should always keep in mind that your actions can put not only yourself but also other winter sports enthusiasts in danger. With the right preparation, the necessary caution and the willingness to skip a ride once in a while, the risk off the secured slopes can at least be minimised to an acceptable level. Those who realise that they lack the necessary knowledge are in good hands on secured off-piste runs or in the company of a ski guide.
Know about the risks
The most important thing is to know exactly what you are doing. Dangers that you can encounter at any time in the alpine space must always be considered. Assessing the risks requires certain prior knowledge and precise tour planning. What have the temperatures been like in the last few days and weeks? Do the individual layers of snow have different structures, or could they bond well? What is the weather like on the day of the tour? Can we expect a change in the weather, or is the weather situation stable? What is the terrain like underneath the snow cover?
These are questions you absolutely have to have answers to before you set off on your next freeride adventure. The Avalanche Colloquium Salzburg provides a lot of useful information here and also offers courses for freeriders from time to time. The current avalanche situation report is available on the website of the Avalanche Warning Centre of the SalzburgerLand.
Caution and knowledge of the dangers are certainly the best companions in deep snow. But the right safety equipment is indispensable in case of an emergency: a rucksack with shovel and probe, the obligatory avalanche transceiver system (and you also have to be trained in using it!), protectors and helmet are part of the basic equipment. Avalanche airbags increase the chance of not getting caught under the masses of snow, should the worst happen. But no matter how good the equipment is, the most important thing is to use your own head. Dangers must be weighed up sensibly. So that you still have many deep-snow days ahead of you.
Earn your turns
Freeriding is the trend. But wasn’t it the beginnings of alpine skiing, which for our ancestors still took place without exception in deep snow (after an arduous ascent)? Now the silence and solitude of the mountains are being rediscovered. Under the motto “Earn your Turns”, the effort of the ascent – as a ski tourer in open terrain or by a short walk from the top station of a lift to the nearest summit – is gladly accepted for a rewarding descent. For snowboarders, split boards have become popular in recent years. The board can be split into two halves so that the board becomes two broad skis – with climbing aid and skins – for an easy ascent.
Freestyle snowboarding and freeskiing
The modern, up-to-date, well-maintained and superbly groomed snowparks in SalzburgerLand belong to the best the freestyle world has to offer, and are a true paradise for snowboarders and freeskiers. Every winter countless people return to the Salzburg mountains to have the heart-thumping, adrenaline-pumping experience of turning tricks on large kickers, halfpikes, boxes, banked curves and rails in peaceful high-alpine scenery, the only sound around the jubilation of their mates celebrating their achievements. As a lot of the freestylers are youths and young adults, there is a range of special accommodation packages to ensure they can live cheaply whilst having a fantastic time.
TOP 5 SNOW- & FUNPARKS IN SALZBURGERLAND
Snowparks Kitzsteinhorn – Three snowparks and a superpipe can be found in Salzburg’s glacier ski area on the Kitzsteinhorn near Zell am See-Kaprun. Here, a winter in XXL offers top snow quality from October to May and an experienced shape team ensures perfectly maintained obstacles in the Glacier Park on the glacier plateau, Easy Park and Central Park. The imposing superpipe with walls over six metres high is a magnet for top international athletes year after year.
Kings Park at Hochkönig – The 1.8 km long snow park, spread over four park areas with 50 jibs and jumps, makes the Kings Park in Mühlbach am Hochkönig a freestyler’s Mecca. There is something here for every riding level: butter box, jibs and 8 m elephant rail. A cosy chill area invites you to rest and admire the air-time of the shredders.
NITRO Snowpark Leogang Here, in the middle of the Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn ski circus, you can shred and chill! In the Asitzmulde, at approx. 1,800 metres above sea level, you will find the ideal playground for every level of rider in the Easy Park, the Kicker Line, GoPro Bagjump and the Pro Line. In the Natural Freeride Park, the joy of powdering can be combined with the challenge of jumps and obstacles.
Snowpark Gastein – “Ride at Ease” is the motto of the Snowpark Gastein in the Stubnermulde. Here you will find lots of jibs and jumps in three difficulty levels: Beginner, Medium and Advanced. The lines are peppered with kickers, rails, tubes, jibs and boxes.
Absolut Park – In Flachau beginners and pros find everything a freestyler’s heart desires. With a length of 1.5 km and seven sections, the Absolut Park on the Flachauwinkl-Kleinarl shuttle mountain is not only the largest snow park in Austria, but also one of the top addresses for freestyle fans in Austria. The over 100 obstacles are supervised daily by a professional shaper crew.