Although Niederau is the best known of the four Wildschönau villages in the UK ski market, the resort of Auffach has better terrain. Having said that, the Wildschönau offers 27 lifts, top quality pistes with 64 snow cannons, 7500 visitor beds and has been a favourite with the British enthusiasts for many years. The ski school celebrates its diamond jubilee this winter with lots of special events.
Located just 45 minutes from Innsbruck and only 90 minutes from both Salzburg and Munich airports, this “hidden” corner of the Tirol could easily be missed. There are four villages, Niederau, Oberau, Thierbach and Auffach in the Kitzbuhel range of mountains and is a mere 6km from the Inn Valley motorway.
The appeal of the Wildschonau with its 70km of low-altitude pistes, seems to be the benign slopes (56 per cent of them are classified as “easy”) with a FREE ski bus linking each of the villages. The bottom of the valley is 830m offering doorstep skiing for beginners, whilst Niederau’s Markbachjoch skiing area lies at 1500m and the top of the skiing range is 1,903m (6,243ft).
The main lift access from Niederau is by gondola to the top station at Markbachjoch (1500m) with various dark reds leading back to the bottom station and the world class Race ‘n’ Boarder Arena with a permanent GS race track and top training facilities used regularly by the Austrian and other national ski teams. Niederau has ten lifts, eight of which are drags with the one gondola and one chairlift. The nearby village of Oberau (3km) has a further 5 short drags best suited for beginners whilst Auffach has a gondola, 2 chairs and 5 drags serving slopes up to 1,903m to allow 1000 vertical metres of enjoyable “cruising”.
It would be fair to say the Wildschonau valley is best suited for families and beginners although the Markbachjoch and Schatzberg Mountains have a good range of pistes including some challenging slopes nearer the top for intermediates and more experienced skiers, (the Hochberg run to the village was voted best black run by the anonymous skier). Snow-making facilities on the lower nursery slopes ensure there is good snow throughout the season for kids and beginners whilst the more experienced can find themselves a guide and seek out the powder ski routes. If you are really fit and keen, the lower slopes are floodlit for late afternoon-early evening skiing.
Niederau has a good range of après-ski bars, live music, discos and late night clubs with ice snow show walking, paragliding, tobogganing and cross country skiing also available.
Many of the hotels are full of character with open log fires so with a glass of gluhwein from the bar, you can sit back and relax the evening away before retiring to bed and preparing for another enjoyable day.
The Wildschonau ski pass offers 70km of prepared pistes, 2 gondolas, 3 chairlifts, and 22 drag lifts and where queuing is rarely a problem. The ski school is well known for catering for children whilst the kindergarten takes kids from the age of 2 years. If you want to be more adventurous, the Kitzbuhel Alps ski pass gives access to 668kms of pistes.
If you are driving to Niederau and the Wildschonau Valley in the Tirol the distance is approximately 700 miles so an 11-hour, one-day trip from Calais. If you are flying the nearest airports are Innsbruck (43 miles), Salzburg (81 miles) and Munich 102 miles.
The Niederau/Wildschonau website can be viewed at: www.wildschoenau.com