News from the snow
Mallnitz is a popular Carinthian resort with three ski areas to choose from at varying distances from the village, getting progressively larger the further out you go - so is not unlike Banff in Canada with Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise. Another similarity is that the resort is at the heart of a National Park, in Mallnitz's case the 200 square kilometres of the Hohe Tauern national park. The village itself has lots of character and is normally peaceful through the day, although facilities are rather above average for a resort of its size and there's a good choice of lively après ski venues. There are several ski areas available in the area. The closest is the small and comparatively low area on the Hausler Alm (1872m) reached by a double chair lift departing from a carpark a short ski bus ride from the village. On the other side of the village is the higher and larger Ankogelbahn area. However the area's crowning glory is the Molltal Glacier, accessed by the world's longest underground funicular and open from October through to Spring with lifts rising to the top of the glacier at 3107m. It is a bit of a hike to get there from Mallnitz however, as there are several large mountains in the way. So it's down the valley to Obervellach, along the next valley to Flattach where the funicular lifts you up to the ski area and the base of the glacier. All three areas, plus the more distant ski lifts above the villages of Matrei and Silian beyond Flattach, are included on a regional lift pass and there's a ski bus service linking all together.
Popular Carinthian resort town with local ski area (bus transfers included) and a regional pass which more than doubles the available terrain and takes in the nearby Molltal Glacier.
The second option is the slightly more distant Ankogelbahn a few kilometres up the road from the village. Here giant gondola cabins lift skiers up more than 1350 vertical metres on a to stage ascent, to a huge snowbowl and a snowsure top lift height of 2630m with a glacier beneath the snow. Almost all (Ninety percent to be exact) of the 30km (19 miles) of trails are graded red (Intermediate) and include runs of up to seven kilometres (Four and a half miles) back down to the valley. There's one surface lift at the top of the mountain, but the normal practice is to traverse the top of the bowl and just take one of the pistes, or cut your own tracks, back down. There is a family run and night skiing is also available.
However the main attraction of the area is the Molltal Glacier, which since the turn of the century has transformed itself with a huge investment in some spectacular lifts. The first and most remarkable of these in the Glacier Express. This takes just eight minutes to cover the 4.8km (three miles) to ascend to 2.200 meters above sea level and the base of the ski area. The new lift cuts out a tortuous road ascend on winding mountain roads making access to the Molltal glacier from the valley floor one of the fastest and easiest there is.
Beginners won't want to go much further from there as there's an excellent beginners' area right at the base of the lifts blue runs gently progressing to easy red.
Intermediates on the other hand can go all the way to the top by a six seater gondola to 2800m, then there are high speed detachable six-seater chairs and a few rope tows right up to 3107m. The runs are varied and long with wide open pistes and great snow - all high above the tree line.
There's a high altitude cross country circuit up here too, one of many kilometres of trails in the region.
The icing on the cake is the spectacular Restaurant Eissee with its vast glass walls reflecting the snow and helping it blend in to the white world around it.
There are Bobo the Penguin children's ski kindergartens for kids aged three and older at both Ankogel and on the Mölltal Glacier. Here learning means fun and games and excitement. During the lunch break there's a Bobo-Menu that's full of variety and children get their own stuffed Bobo to take home with them from the sports shop.
There are three places for pizza in the village, of which Brücken-Stüberl is probably the best.
For gorgeous cakes, pastries and a coffee visit the café at the bakers Cafe-Konditorei Kniesek.
The PerDu Musik and Dance Pub in the Hotel Kärntnerhof is open from 8pm with Karaoke every Monday and daily two hour long 'Happy Hour' from opening to 10pm.
From 9pm the Disco Tanzstadl Ankogel is the place to be with music provided by DJ Toni. Monday night is oldies, Tuesdays Karaoke. The cult drink here is the Kloazn-Seppl. There are several other discos. The Hexenkessel, is located beneath the Hotel Bichlhof and is open from 9pm to 4am and there's also the Ankogel-Disco.
Snowboarders will particularly enjoy the fun park on the Molltal glacier with bumps and jumps off-piste. It's a good safe area for all abilities.