My wife and I were married in Zell am See and enjoyed our honeymoon in Saalbach, so most years – around the time of our anniversary – we travel to Saalbach and then walk across the mountains (from the top of the Schattberg X-press to Schmittenhöhe) back to Zell am See, where we have dinner in Crazy Daisy before taking the train home.
The first way to get to Saalbach (from our home in St Johann in Tirol) is to take the train to Zell am See, and then a local bus up the valley to Saalbach. That really is the long way round as there is no road exit at the north end of the Saalbach – Hinterglemm valley.
The second way to reach Saalbach is to drive to Leogang (the far end of the Saalbach – Hinterglemm – Leogang SkiCircus), about half an hour from St Johann, and then ski up the valley until you drop down into the bowl above Saalbach. You reach Saalbach itself quite quickly, and after two or three hours skiing you can look across the valley to the far end of the Fieberbrunn ski area. I always found this rather ironic. I often travel to Leogang with a friend who lives in Fieberbrunn, and after the half hour drive and two-hour ski we’d almost be back at whichever car we had left in the Fieberbrunn car park.
My wife and I extended our anniversary walk this year, trying a third way to reach Saalbach. We took the train to a small station on the far side of Fieberbrunn and walked along a cycle path that takes you through a mountain pass leading to Saalbach.
It was an easy four hour walk (with the obligatory drinks stop at a charming mountain restaurant along the way), and gave us some time to enjoy Saalbach, where we stayed overnight before completing our walk to Zell am See the next day. Some of the signposts above Saalbach weren’t particularly helpful!
I tried the fourth – and newest route – to Saalbach last week, on the first day of the Fieberbrunn ski season. The new 10 seat TirolS gondola links the bottom of the Reckmoos Süd gondola in Fieberbrunn to the Reiterkogel peak directly above Hinterglemm. A short piste and one chair lift takes you to the Bernkogel peak, from where you can ski down blue piste 46 (one of my favourites in the area) under the Bernkogelbahn gondola to the centre of Saalbach. From the first lift in Fieberbrunn to arriving in the centre of Saalbach was exactly one hour.
There is also a new six seater chair lift from the top of the Bernkogelbahn to the Bernkogel summit (replacing a long, slow, almost flat drag lift), so getting home to Fieberbrunn is as easy as getting to Saalbach in the first place.
The area has rebranded itself Saalbach (with Hinterglemm, Leogang and Fieberbrunn being offered in a smaller font), and it is impressive how widespread the rebranding is (almost every sign, chair lift and gondola), and the signs directing you back to Fieberbrunn are very welcome – especially when I got lost.
Although I have often skied in the Ski Circus, my route has usually been from Leogang to Saalbach, up the sunny side of the valley, across to the shady side of the valley beyond Hinterglemm, and back as fast as possible, hopefully before the last lift closes. That didn’t give me much chance to explore the wide variety of runs and mountain restaurants in the Saalbach-Hinterglemm valley. Something I plan to put right this ski season.