News from the snow
Traditions are strong, history long and the people friendly in Rauris, a traditional, unspoilt resort in a protected national park area of great natural beauty. The entire valley promotes itself as the Raurisertal, although Rauris remains the main centre. Downhill skiing has a long history in the valley. Wilhelm Ritter von Arlt brought the ski-sport to Rauris. Together with goldmine-owner Ignanz Rojacher he brought the first skis from a study trip to Scandinavia back to Rauris. Soon a group formed around Ritter von Arlt who loved to go skiing. The equipment then was simple wooden planks with no edges, bended up at the tip. The used different wax to go up or down the hills. In March 1902 the first ski-lessons took place in Rauris and marked the beginning of now more than a century of ski-lessons in Rauris. Today skiing still takes place on the Hochalm and adjacent areas above the village. Although an unintimidating area for beginners, the 1250m vertical is big enough to keep more advanced skiers entertained and then there are long established off-piste touring routes that experts can be guided to and a 600m vertical black right above the village. Some years ago Rauris had to decide whether to opt for mass tourism, or a gentler, more traditional way of life. They decided to preserve the local precious countryside, plants, animals and mountains. The resort is located within the picturesque and protected Hohe Tauern National Park. Traditional animal species extinct in the area have been reintroduced into the National Park and have since made it their home, along with smaller animals which have lived in the Hohe Tauern for centuries. Look out for imposing Bearded Vultures or once the snow melts, free-roaming marmots Apart from its enviable natural heritage, The Raurisertal is also one of the few Tauern valleys to be a site of continuous settlement. A variety of finds attest to the fact that the paths across the Rauriser Tauern (Hochtor) were used in very early times. These include six silver coins found in the market square, three of which bear the head of King Philip of Macedonia, who ruled in the Balkans from 360 to 336 BC. Other finds include a small Hercules statue from the Roman era and a bronze sword from about 1300 B.C., as well as a scarab from the time of Ramses ll (2000 BC). Today's town of Rauris was formerly named after the Gaisbach, on whose alluvial cone it was built. Its existence was first documented in 1120.
A medium sized ski area for a small, traditional and pretty village in the Höhe Tauern. The local district includes skiing at Wörth and Bucheben, and has been improved in the past few years with new gondola and chair lifts, and an illuminated sledge track.
Beginners can take the gondola up to a snowsure1800m for their first turns, all next to a good mountain restaurant with spectacular views for recovery sessions. The easy slopes continue down to a gondola station 300 vertical meters below, so that technique can be mastered over longer than usual runs without the need to master a possibly more difficult surface lift back up every few hundred metres as is so often the case.
Intermediates can go further, taking the new Rauris Summit Lift right up to 2,200m with long blues all the way back down.
Before hitting the slopes you can go online or switch on the local TV channels to check out weather and slope conditions on the live panorama camera.
Advanced skiers have limited on piste terrain, although it does include a little-known 3.3km black run down from Heimalm below the lower gondola section.
Ski touring with a guide is also popular, particular in the Spring. The Rauris Valley offers countless ski tours through open countryside. Embarking from the valley head or ascending the slopes to the left and right above Bucheben, a popular target is the Hoher Sonnblick, the highest peak in the valley.
There are several other small ski areas along the valley, linked by a free ski bus.
There are number of especially child friendly accommodations. These carry the family-friendly logo in the resort's brochure and offer childcare - contact the tourist office for a copy.
The local Karl Maier ski school is particularly good for children, here the Kids-Club-Express special fun train runs through the winter-wonderland. The special children's Kids-Snow-World learning area has a magic-carpet lift, right beside the big native American tent. Other fun facilities include a pony pulled coach and a weekly big treasure-hunt on the slope for the the old pirate-treasure.
The valley's inns and restaurants are renowned far outside the valley for the loving, creative way in which they cater to our younger guests. That's why most restaurants have special kids' menus and often features including a petting zoo, children's play area, or even a playground in front of the restaurant.
There are about 20 restaurants too choose from, amongst them the Alpina which is typical in the traditional cuisine it serves - including weekly cheese and farmer's buffets and always with a vegetarian option. The Gusto restaurant is a treat for gourmets, having received no less than a lucky 13 Gault Millau points.
Twice a week there's floodlit sledding from the Kreuzboden with access via the double chair lift up to the start of the two kilometre long descent. The regular ski pass is not valid for this, toboggans can be rented locally.
Other options include a romantic evening in a sleigh ride, bowling, ice skating and curling or a visit to the local 600 year old schnapps distillery. Beer is also brewed locally at the traditional Weixen-Beer brewery in the nearby valley of Seidlwinkl.