Untouched deep snow slopes, the feeling of boundless freedom and the pure adrenaline kick: more and more winter sports fans are drawn to the open countryside for that special skiing feeling. Would you like to try the off-piste experience for yourself? Then carry on reading: We’ll introduce you to the trend sport of freeriding and reveal the coolest powder spots in Zauchensee!
The ski paradise of Zauchensee-Flachauwinkl has long been considered an insider tip for Off-Piste-Action amongst freeriders. Not least thanks to the altitude, which guarantees excellent snow conditions until Easter. An added bonus, is that you can comfortably use the ski lifts to reach the freeride slopes.
What is freeriding?
Freeriding is essentially backcountry skiing, that is away from the groomed slopes. Basically, freeriding is skiing in its original form, when there were no comfortable ski lifts and secured pistes. The special attraction is to find your own route in the open terrain and to master the slope as it is: right through the deep snow and past trees and rocks.
Tip: If you have never tried freeriding and off-piste skiing before or if you are not familiar with free terrain and off-piste slopes, please do not take unnecessary risks. In Zauchensee and Flachauwinkl you can book your own ski guides who will show you techniques and terrain and take you to the coolest freeride spots.
The right equipment for your freeride adventure
Freeriding takes you out into the open countryside, off the groomed ski slopes. You can expect glistening deep snow, steep slopes and natural obstacles such as rocks, edges, gullies, trees or streams. It is important to adapt your ski equipment to the demands of the backcountry. Above all, you need special freeride skis that are optimised for the special snow conditions.
Freeride models are wider and less defined than normal downhill skis and have a pronounced rocker shape. This means that the skis are already bent up at the end and the tip. This gives you more lift and control over your boards in deep snow – on groomed pistes, however, these skis are more difficult to ski as they can easily start to flutter.
You should also make sure you have a good quality helmet and well-fitting ski goggles. Insulating and water-repellent clothing that offers you enough freedom of movement is perfect for your deep snow adventures. To be safe in case of a fall, you can wear a back protector. It protects your spine from sudden forces and unpleasant back injuries.
Tip: If you don’t have the right freeride equipment yet or if you want to test the latest ski models, you’ll find a great selection of the latest, top-maintained freeride skis plus all the equipment you need at the ski rental shops in Zauchensee and Flachauwinkl.
How to protect yourself from avalanches in open terrain
Avalanches are the greatest risk for winter sports enthusiasts in off-piste alpine terrain. A snow slab can break loose within seconds, carrying you with it and burying you. It is therefore an absolute no-go and potentially life-threatening if you are out in the open without full safety equipment.
Your freeride backpack should contain the following aids for every off-piste excursion:
- Avalanche transceiver: Always carry your avalanche transceiver close to your body. If you are buried by an avalanche, the avalanche transceiver sends a radio signal that allows a search team to find you more quickly.
- Probe and shovel: You need the avalanche probe to determine the exact location of a buried person in case of an avalanche. Without a shovel, it is almost impossible to dig people out of an avalanche. For freeriders and ski tourers, special avalanche shovels made of metal (e.g. aluminium) are available that are light but sturdy and have a telescopic handle to extend. This makes them easier to carry.
- Avalanche airbag: Avalanche airbags are backpacks or waistcoats that allow you to open a balloon/airbag in a bright colour by means of a hand pull. This fills with air within seconds and thus keeps you on the surface of the avalanche.
- First aid kit: In order to be able to help in an emergency, you should definitely have a first aid bag with the most important utensils. This includes a rescue blanket, plasters and bandages, small scissors, disposable gloves, respiratory mask, disinfectant spray, emergency whistle and possibly dextrose or circulation drops.
Tipp: At the valley stations in the Zauchensee World Cup Arena and in the Flachauwinkl Highport, you can test whether your avalanche beeper is working properly at specially built test stations. For beginners to the off-piste adventure, the ski schools in Zauchensee offer guided freerides.
Freeriding requires the necessary background knowledge about the sport and the backcountry. Find out about the local weather, the snow situation and the avalanche danger in good time before your freeride tour. Don’t just pay attention to snowfall, rain, wind and temperature: always check the latest avalanche reports and get an overview of the avalanche slopes in the area where you are going off-piste.
Another basic rule for freeriding is: never go off-piste alone! If you are buried by a snow slab, get lost or have an unfortunate fall, you will be dependent on the help of others off-piste.
Please always follow the local safety instructions. If there are warnings or safety precautions posted, you must comply with them without exception. Designated wildlife protection zones are also off-limits for freeriding.
Last but not least: Before every tour, check your equipment is in order. Make sure that you know how to use your avalanche backpack, avalanche transceiver and other equipment in an emergency.
Know your limits
Don’t overestimate your skills, especially when freeriding. Powdering in the untouched snow landscape often looks easier than it is. Deep snow skiing is strenuous and requires a lot of strength, skill and stamina. As a beginner or if you are unfamiliar with an area, we recommend that you do your first tour with an experienced guide. The same applies to experienced skiers: If you are not completely convinced of a slope, look for an alternative route!
Tip: You can practise your first freeride turns on the marked ski routes in the ski paradise of Zauchensee. These slopes are not groomed, but are secured.
Freeride-Spots in Zauchensee-Flachauwinkl
With mogul slopes, four designated ski routes, numerous tree runs and untouched deep snow slopes, Zauchensee is considered an Eldorado for freeride fans. Especially the “East” run on the Gamskogel and the Schwarzwand guarantee you adrenaline kicks deluxe when there is fresh snow.
Just one click away from the ski paradise: Live pictures from Zauchensee are available 24/7 via our live webcams and here you can find the current weather forecast.
photo credits: Bergbahnen Zauchensee