You probably already know one of my biggest passions is snowboarding, but because of my winter holiday to Obertauern in Austria I got in touch with more than just snowboarding. I got in touch with snowkiting and snowbiking and felt in love in an instant.
Hard to tell you the best ski resorts in Austria, but I can tell you all about Saalbach Hinterglemm, Solden, Kaltenbach, Ischgl, Mayrhofen or Hintertux. My road trip to Austria in winter was an epic one. Not only did I get to snowboard and enjoy the mountains, I also loved driving to some tourist hotspots like Hallstatt. IF you are looking for Europe itineraries for winter, have a look here.
Snowbiking in Obertauern
Snow biking has been around for many ages, but no one ever really saw the potential of snow biking and even until today it is not a popular thing to do. This will slowly change though as more and more people will see how much fun it is and I am going to tell you all about it.
10 Things to know about snowbiking in Obertauern
- Snowbiking is for all ages. You will mostly see adults trying this, but there are also courses for kids and there is no reasons why kids could not go snow biking.
- Renting a snow bike cannot be done without a license. When you randomly want to rent a snowbike a ski school should ask you for a snow bike license. They should actually do this for skiers and snowboarders too! LOL ;)
- Learning how to snowbike is not too difficult. Especially if you have ski and snowboard experience you will easily learn how to snowbike.
- Decent level of fitness is preferred. Although snowbiking looks pretty damn chilled, don’t take it too light, it is still hard work. Especially when you are learning how to snowbike.
- Snowbiking is perfect for people with weak knees. On a snowbike there is hardly any pressure on the knees and perfect for those that getting a little older.
- Even for snowboarders it is pretty easy to learn how to snowbike. Although walking on little skis at the lift stations might be challenging. At least for me it was.
- Snowbikes can also be used in an area with chairlifts. They will have to be carried into the chairlift, there is no other option! Gondolas are an easier option, but not always available. Snowbikes can easily be taken into a T-bar lift as well.
- People with snowbikes will always have to sit on the outer seats of a chair lift, as they have to clamp the snowbike half way into the chair.
- A snowbike has no breaks; therefore the most important aspect of snowbiking is to learn how to break.
- Safety is paramount! Snowbike within your limits and remember to have fun. Snowbiking will put a smile on your face for sure. After a while you will simply sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
My experience snowbiking in Obertauern
First of all I had no clue what I was going to do when I walked into Ski School Koch Obertauern. I assumed I was getting a fat bike and go around the more flat areas. No clue what I was thinking as there are hardly any flat areas in Obertauern, that lies on more than 1,600 meters above sea level and is one of Austria’s most snow secure ski resort.
I could have guessed what was going on when I looked on the wall of the tiny office. Here multiple Guinness Book of Records awards are hanging on the wall. Mr. Koch himself the owner of the ski school holds many snowbike world records registered in the famous Guiness Book of Records. I assume I was at the right place how to learn snowbiking in Obertauern.
George, one of Hermann Koch’s best friends was going to be my teacher today and he was just as excited to teach me how to snowbike as I was trying it for the first time. I got strapped on two little skies and as a die-hard snowboarder I did not know how to feel about these tiny little things under my feet. Luckily I got taught that the little skis under your feet are not really used that much during snowbiking. Lucky me cause skiing is not my thing! ;)
Breaking and steering with a snowbike
After a short introduction we slowly moved towards the T-bar lift and once we were on the top I finally got to make my first meters on this little bike. As soon as I sat down and the snowbike started sliding down hill, most of the movements felt natural. George thought me how to steer by basically looking over your shoulder in the direction you want to go. This way your body slowly moves in the same direction and the snowbike simply follows you. Breaking was a performed by putting more pressure on your ass and therefore putting your back ski into the mountain! Breaking was easy, breaking smooth was a little harder! ;)
My first run down went pretty smooth and after I got shown how to bring your snowbike up the mountain in a chairlift we were pretty much cruising through the Obertauern ski area. Of course I am not a pro yet and George was constantly giving me tips, but I do hold an official snowbiking license now and I am able to rent a snowbike everywhere around the world!
I told you learning how to snowbike is not too difficult. It is very unlikely you will fall down, as you have 4 skis you can control at the same time: one with your ass, the one on the steer wheel and the two under your feet. I only struggled when we stood still as having skis under my feet is just not my thing. Snowboarder for life! ;)
Give it a try! I am sure you are going to love it!
Snowkiten in Obertauern
If you know how to kite surf then this is going to be good fun for you. I have tried kite surfing once in the Philippines, but that was not really a big success, plus it was 8 years ago. So when I was about to try snowkiting in Obertauern I was a bit skeptical at first. I had snowkite lessons for about 3 hours and the weather was far from optimal. Of course there need to be sufficient wind, but it was snowing heavily all morning and I actually thought my snowkite lesson would get cancelled. But nope around midday I was pulled in my harness and launched my kite a couple minutes later.
Unexpectedly snowkiting in Obertauern did go very smooth. Controlling the kite in the stormy and snowy conditions was a challenge itself already and I constantly had to be focused on the kite to not lose control. But I also wanted to get a hold of some people to take a couple photos of me. At that same moment the wind took control of my kite. I was dragged through the deep snow, head first, showing me that kiting was going well but I still needed some practice.
After some take off practice runs I strapped on my board and when the wind then gets you and you get launched off that is a damn good feeling! Snowkiting in Obertauern was another amazing experience to try in this winter wonderland. If only the weather would have been a little better I would have had some decent pictures to show you how I did snowkiting.
Snowboarding in Obertauern
With two amazing experience under my belt I went snowboarding on the last day in Obertauern. The base is already located on 1,600 meter and the highest peak in the mountain resort is only 2,300 meter high. Pistes are not that challenging and are not the longest.
For experienced snowboarders I think Obertauern is not the best mountain resort. On top of some lifts and at the base there are a couple flat areas, which are not ideal for snowboarders either. Apart from these minor issues I had an amazing time snowboarding in Obertauern.
It was my second time here and with such perfect weather and snow conditions this late in the season there was nothing to complain about. Scattered on the mountain there are many modern huts to chill, some with music, some with good food, some with extraordinary views.
Snowboarding in Obertauern is an overall fantastic experience.
Although there is only a total of 4 kilometers of black runs in Obertauern, the mountain resort does house the second steepest piste of Europe. Gamsleiten 2 has an average incline of more than 100%. When I stood on top I was like ok, this is steep! It is impossible to prepare this run so it looked like a hilly countryside. You know me, no fear so I had to do this! It actually worked out pretty well, really loved it. Great challenge and I wanted to go again!
Treasure hunt on Gamsleiten 2: Criterion
Because Obertauern is the highest mountain resort in Austria the snow conditions are still optimal in April and the resort only closes on May 1st. On April 14th there is the biggest treasure hunt exactly on Gamsleiten 2, the steepest piste in Europe. In total there are 30 chests buried in the snow and people with a valid entrance ticket (€50) to the event can dig their way to a brand new BMW and other amazing prizes. Tickets to the event are limited, see obertauern.com, but for the readers of Traveltomtom there is a free entrance ticket (worth €50 and may be win a BMW) for the grab, just contact me through email: email@example.com.
Here are some more photos of skigebiet Obertauern in Austria.
For more ski resort recommendations in Austria click on the link or have a look at my article: 25 things about (Apres) Ski in Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm and 37 things to know about (Apres) Ski in Sölden.
If you have any specific questions please get in touch with me and I am happy to help answering your questions.