It's worth getting up early in Mühlbach am Hochkönig
Author: Florian Nussbaumer
Whoever would have thought I would become an early riser? No, I’m not one of those skiing fanatics who simply have to catch the first lift and are willing to rush through breakfast to do so. I’m not one of those who are absolutely desperate not to miss anything. I like taking my time. But to be the first one on the slopes, that’s an experience not to be missed: the knowledge that I have the entire ski region to myself, the view, the feeling - and the smell too.
I swear, there’s nothing like the smell of crisp, fresh air shortly after daybreak. All around me everything is deserted. Nothing but the mountains and the piste. When the alarm clock woke me at dawn I couldn’t imagine what awaited me. And now that I’m here, I know I wouldn’t have been able to imagine it anyway.
A lift all to myself - almost.
We met just after seven by the cable car. That was an experience in itself - not having to queue for the lift, but being able to get on straight away with no stress, no crowds and just a small, friendly group for company. And the view during the ascent! There wasn’t a single track in the snow, just the occasional rabbit’s paw print. It’s so romantic and idyllic it’s almost kitschy. Really, we shouldn’t have spent so much time talking and should have listened to the quietness of nature instead. But that’s hard to do when you’re as excited as we were.
- Sunrise over Hochkönig © Hochkönig Bergbahnen
Arrive, get out, breathe in
Most members of the group have probably been looking forward to today for ages, made a note of the insider tip in their diary months ago or set an alarm on their mobile phone. But I have to admit, it’s well worth it. Because when you step out of the lift at the top of the mountain, the view leaves you speechless: there are simply no words to describe the untouched slopes, the rising sun, the glittering snow. And suddenly the thoughts that usually whir around in my mind have gone.
Leave marks that leave marks
Never before have I enjoyed skiing so much. There are many ways to leave a mark on the mountain as you slice downhill, but up here, where it’s quiet, it’s even more fun. Everyone in our little group was delighted about something different. There were the experienced skiers who immediately began to inspect the quality of the snow and the pristine slopes. The others were simply pleased there were finally fewer people on the piste. And as for me, I was merely astonished. All at once, I felt completely at one with nature!
I didn’t even notice the muscle cramps in my calves - and I’m not usually much of a sports enthusiast. But for once I forgot everything else. And that in itself is unforgettable.
The first on the slopes
- Celkom sám na zjazdovke © Österreich Werbung / Peter Podpera
Now I’ve caught the bug, I never want to stop
After two hours of skiing against a magnificent mountain backdrop and on splendidly groomed slopes, I reminded myself that I’d hardly eaten anything. It’s a good thing the early morning ski package includes a bite to eat at the picturesque Karbachalm mountain hut. And the view from here was equally stunning! And then this fabulous breakfast! Was it because of the exercise, the icy air, or was it really so delicious? At any rate, I thought the food was fantastic!
- Karbachalm, Hochkönig © Hochkönig Bergbahnen
A mighty head start
I gazed out of the window at the mountains for a long time, but then I simply had to get up and go out again. Back to the slope, where by now those skiers had also arrived who prefer a rather lazier start to the day. As I always did - at least until today.
Early-Morning-Skiing in Mühlbach am Hochkönig
Die Region Hochkönig: Hier muss man einfach Skifahren © Hochkönig Tourismus GmbH
Lyžiarske zjazdovky, Hochkönig © Hochkönig Bergbahnen
Early Morning Skiing © Hochkönig Bergbahnen
Early Morning Skiing © Hochkönig Tourismus GmbH
Sebastian (Basti) Nadeje is 28 years old and the head of marketing at the Hochkönig Bergbahnen. He is always delighted when he can accompany an early morning group into the Hochkönig ski region.
Austria Info: Basti, you are one of the experts who accompany early bird skiers as they make fresh tracks in the snow. How did the idea come about?
Sebastian Nadeje: Everyone who works on the cable cars has a little early morning skiing when we go to our workplace. The best slopes, perfectly groomed, a spectacular sunrise and to top it all, the mountain is still deserted. We wanted to share this with our guests.
Austria Info: 120km of groomed slopes! Can you ski on them all so early in the morning?
Sebastian Nadeje: Basically yes, but we didn’t want to lose sight of the guests. We thoroughly tested which pistes and lifts can be done in what time. And then we chose the best 4-5 downhill runs.
“Making the first tracks in freshly fallen snow is an amazing feeling.”Sebastian Nadeje, ski guide
Austria Info: What’s it like to be out on skis so early in the morning?
Sebastian Nadeje: It’s an amazing feeling. You get out of the lift and the first thing you do is look about and admire the surrounding mountains and the glittering slopes that stretch out before you. The sun peeps out from behind the first mountain summits and then after a few photos, it’s time to go.
Austria Info: And what do you personally enjoy most?
Sebastian Nadeje: The tranquillity and the knowledge that I’ve got the next few hours on my own to carve the best and most beautiful curves of the season.
Austria Info: Aren’t the slopes still very hard at that time of the morning?
Sebastian Nadeje: No harder than at 9.00am when the lifts open for normal business. And freshly groomed pistes are easy and fantastic to ride no matter how hard they are.
Austria Info: How old was your youngest participant, and how old the eldest?
Sebastian Nadeje: Hard to say. But we always have a very good mix. From families with children and grandparents, to snowboarders and highly athletic experienced skiers, we have them all. We divide the guests into three groups based on speed, then everyone is well taken care of.
Austria Info: How does your own day continue?
Sebastian Nadeje: As usual in the office. But we do get jealous looks from our colleagues. There’s not one of us who wouldn’t love to be up on the mountains.
More early-morning skiing opportunities
Serfaus-Fiss-LadisSerfaus-Fiss-Ladis - Snowboarder © Josef Mallaun
ZillertalDer Skiwinter im Zillertal © Zillertal Tourismus GmbH / Andre Schönherr
GroßarltalSunrise in Großarl valley © Tourismusverband Grossarltal
TauplitzTauplitz © Steiermark Tourismus / ikarus.cc
Silvretta MontafonSilvretta © Silvretta Montafon / Daniel Zangerl
Bad KleinkirchheimSki area Bad Kleinkirchheim © Kärnten Werbung / Franz Gerdl