We have been talking about it for a long time, but now is the time to get serious: our first ski tour is just around the corner. We have decided on a tour in Heutal in the Salzburger Saalachtal which seems to have been made especially for us beginners. From the valley station of the Heutal lift, next to the piste, nearly 600 metres uphill to the top station of the Wildalmlift III have to be overcome. The time for the tour up to 1,540 metres is about 1 ½ hours. We should be able to manage that, particularly because the Wildalm enroute is an enticing place for a break. So we pack our things and off we go! Heutal in the Salzburger Saalachtal is a real eldorado for ski tourers. There are seven different routes here for all tastes and abilities. Touring times from 1 ½ hours (such as our beginners' route) up to three hours open up a variety of possibilities. All of the tours have a few things in common: heavenly views, a glorious panorama and the priceless feeling of freedom.
Uphill in the direction of Dürrnbachhorn
The starting point for our tour is the Heutal lift car park. The ascent is near the normal ski piste. We check our bindings again and set off, putting metre by metre behind us. We cross a meadow and come to open terrain a short while later and make tracks past an alm hut just below the wild bird reserve. After around half an hour we start to feel the pull in our thighs – that will be a fine muscle strain later but we don't give up, we march on. The route is very well suited to beginners apart from a couple of steeper sections such as the last stretch just before the Wildam lift which we tackle in zigzags. Arriving at our “summit destination“ – the mountain station of the drag lift – we sit down in the snow and enjoy a short break. From here you can continue further in the direction of Dürrnbachhorn at 1,776 metres. This trail is more demanding however, so we will leave it to the more advanced ski tourers. Perhaps we will take on this challenge another time. For the time being we are happy and content that we have made it this far.
Why the exertion is worth it
Yes, it was at times really exhausting and we have to admit we sometimes asked ourselves why we took on this challenge. But honestly, we are convinced that with a little practice and routine we will be able to ascend the mountain much easier and if we needed more answers to the why question, they are provided promptly. Namely in the form of a deer which observes us from the edge of the forest and then disappears shortly afterwards with elegant leaps into the thicket or in the form of fresh tracks belonging to a hare in the otherwise untouched snow. Last but not least, the mountains themselves are the answer as they tower around us in majestic style.
We have good visibility and let our gaze wander from Heutal to Chiemgau to the Loferer Steinberge. Glorious! After a few minutes relaxation, hunger finally forces us to stand up and tackle the first metres of the descent. Alongside the “summit destination“ we have planned a culinary destination: the wonderful Wildalm.
At the Wildalm: refreshments and a picture postcard view
We have definitely earned a refreshment stop at the Wildalm. Situated right next to the piste at 1,260 metres above sea level, the Wildalm is perfect for a culinary rest. We unfasten our skis, stretch out luxuriously and let ourselves sink into the deckchairs on the sun terrace from where we have a glorious panoramic view. The mountain air definitely makes you hungry and the strenuous ascent, for us beginners at least, has done its best to make our stomachs rumble. It isn't really surprising either as the friendly Wildalm team continuously carry delicious meals past us. We have been reliably informed that the Wildalm burger is particularly famous but the snack plate also makes the mouth water, let alone the home-made cakes. Fantastic! We order a crazy mixture of everything because we simply cannot decide. Actually everything served at the Wildalm in front of the magnificent mountain backdrop is highly recommended and worth the sin! By the way the Wildalm is also a real gem inside. In the winter the oven in the lounge blazes merrily and its crackling creates a real homely atmosphere.
The journey is the reward
And then it lies in front of us, glistening and sparkling in the afternoon sun: the descent back to Heutal, directly on the ski piste. We grin over our skis, breathe the mountain air deeply into our lungs and push off with our poles. The wind whistles in our ears as we glide down the perfectly prepared piste with more or less elegant turns and the cold wind tickles our teeth as we smile.
Ready for your first ski tour?
On the ski-touring page, you can find all important informations about ski-touring in the Salzburger Saalachtal.