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Dorfgastein, Austria

Burton Snowboards

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I'm no veteran boarder, but I wanted to keep notes on the places I've been so I can remember for the future.  I post them here in case anybody cares what I think:

Dorfgastein, Austria:  This is in the middle of the Kaprun ski area.  They've got a new ski pass that allows entrance to lifts and ski areas all around the Kaprun region.  You can spend a few days going from one side of the 10 or 12 areas to the other.  And that's only if you're good.  It will take longer for anyone else.  As for Dorfgastein in particular, The mountain funnels down to one run, and that run gets chewed up badly . . . quickly.  It's a major annoyance.  Not only that, but the very end of the run is a few hundred meters of a very steep hill.  Even if you are good enough to get down, the run is littered with novices scooting down on their butts.  Another major annoyance.  I guess staying on top of the mountain is a good idea.  That's not such a problem though because there are several good bars and small restaurants scattered throughout the mountain.  It's a pretty good setup over all.

Kitzsteinhorn, Austria:  This is a glacier, and has a great variety of runs.  Near the top of the mountain, there is about a kilometer of horizontal area that has groomed slalom, ungroomed runs, berm hills, jumps, and the start of a pretty brutal set of moguls.  One might say that, as with all glaciers, Kitz is lacking in vertical drop, but I'm not willing to make that assessment.  The last run down the hill is steep, twists, turns, and bounces for about a kilometer.  It's wide enough to have fun, and difficult enough that most riders will take the lift down from the main lodge (which is located at the top of the run).  From the top to the bottom, Kitzsteinhorn has a lot to offer for a Glacier.

Dachstein, Austria:  I'll start off with the highlights.  At the bottom of the glacier there is a great snowboard park.  It has a 200m pipe, and 2 each tabletops and rails.  The t-bar station at the bottom plays music also.  It's a good atmosphere.  The lift going up runs straight to the top of the glacier and all the runs are on the other side.  It's a beautiful ride to the top of a sheer rock face.  The snowboard park is great, but it's barely worth the rest of the park.  There's barely 500m of vertical drop on the standard runs, so it's not much of a freeride park, and there's no off-piste.  Notice that link shows lots of seemingly good runs, but Dachstein is the really small one in the bottom right corner.  The restaurant is dirty and set up in a very small, crowded circle with a small selection of food.  Also, the restaurant/lift station is at the top of the glacier.  In order to get from the top of the last t-bar from the bottom to the restaurant, you have to walk up 200 m of snow.  No steps, no lifts, no nothing.  And it SUCKS when you've put all your effort into your snowboarding and have to wear yourself out hoofing it up the last of the mountain.  I wouldn't recommend Dachstein overall, but if you're all about freestyle and are planning to stay in the park the whole day, it's not a bad choice. 

Garmisch, Germany:  Hausberg and Alpspitz Runs.  This mountain has a lot of cross country and can be a nightmare for snowboarders.  Runs 19 and 14 are impossible to roll through without skating.  The upper part of 1 is also pretty tough. Unfortunately, 19 is a connecting run between Alpspitz and Hausberg and very difficult to avoid.  To avoid 14, go high and take 13 or 12.  From Alpspitz, there is a good off-piste run.  Instead of going right down 15-18, go straight under the Hochalmbahn and down through the mountains.  It's guaranteed powder and leads sraight to the bottom of the lift.  It's easy to get stuck, but pretty hard to get lost.

Interlaken, Austria:  Mannlichen run.  This run is 3-wide and pretty tame.  however, towards the left side, there are no regular runs, and there is good powder to be had, but certainly nothing to take a special trip for.  One interesting thing is that the run has a small natural pipe down the center (first rise between mannlichen chairlift and the gondola).  It's great for anyone trying to learn.  Overall though, I pretty much stuck with the same run and was only there for the day.  There is a pipe available, and a lot more to see than what I've written, so this is a placeholder for the next time I go.
**  Balmer's Hostel:  This is where I stayed in Interlaken, and this is where I will stay every time I go.  The staff is mostly native english speaking (US, Canada, Australia).  There is a good store with food, etc.  There is also a company in the building providing lift tickets and other vacation assistance.  This hostel is well-run, with a great staff, and good support.  Balmer's also operates its own bar in the basement.  It's a great hotel in disguise.