Pass Thurn – the other side of Kitzbühel
Although Pass Thurn is part of the extensive inter-linked resort of Kitzbühel, it feels a world away from the wallet-emptying boutiques and sometimes kitschy glitz (or is that glitzy kitsch?) of the main resort. Above Kitzbühel, the slopes of the Hahnenkamm are where legends are born during the annual FIS Alpine World Cup Downhill, but for the average punter these are the slopes that are most likely to get crowded. Especially when the sun shines and the beautiful people come out to see and be seen. But there is another way to experience the Kitzbüheler Alps…Head up the valley and you’ll reach the little village of Jochberg. A nice base if you enjoy the quiet life, but access to the slopes requires riding the antiquated Wagstätt double-chair. Another ten minutes onwards by car and you reach Pass Thurn, another small settlement, scattered with hotels and pensions that sits on the border of the Tirol and Salzburg provinces. From here, modern lifts carry skiers towards the Resterhöhe area, and some of the finest skiing in the region. Ripping down the Breitmoos piste early in the morning, while the corduroy is freshest, all 3798m of the Grossglockner (Austria’s highest peak) are visible, with the expansive Hohe Tauern National Park stretching out on the far side of the valley.
On the other side of the 1894m Resterhöhe are more northerly-facing slopes, where wide and rolling pistes offer perfect terrain for high-speed turns. This area is also home to Kitzbühel’s main snow park. It’s perfectly-sculpted, and perhaps best of all is built with progression in mind. It’s always a shame when resorts invest in building a snow park but neglect to cater to those learning to slide rails or boxes or doing their first spins by builfing suitable features, so it’s great to see the Snowpark Hangalm get the mix right.
The really big news for this corner of the Kitzski area this season was the substantial upgrade to the Zweitausender lift. From agonisingly slow double-chair to express six-seater, this is the place to head if you want to log a lot of vertical. From the highest lift-accessed point in the resort (2004m) there are some genuinely steep pistes, fantastic long bump runs under the chair, and off piste that ranges from gentle and easy through to fun hillocks and rollers, a cluster of steeper couloirs and a wide-open bowl to the far skiers’ left. With a north-facing aspect the snow here is protected from the sun that can affect snow quality on some other pistes.
The Zweitausender also connects the Pass Thurn area with the Bärenbadkogel area (and Kitzbühel via the enormous 3S-Bahn. But when you can finish a day on slopes at the Panoramaalm or Pinzgablick with sun on your face, a weissbier in your hand and a view of the Hohe Tauern and Austria’s highest peaks, you might not want to stray too far away!
Kitzbühel ski area is included in the Tirol Snow Card, which provides access to 4000km of pistes, more than 1000 lifts and 86 ski areas throughout Tirol.
Read more about Kitzbühel on www.skiclub.co.uk