The great thing about Mayrhofen is that if you’re into powder and the snow falls outside of a weekend, you can get fresh tracks for days. Over the last 6 years I have explored with numerous clients and worked with local guides to build a mental powder stash map of the local area.
I’ll not be giving out the details of the numerous special spots, as I save those for the riders that come away with me on our winter camps, but here are some of my fun easy routes that you can drop into from the piste and have a laugh, and not end up at the bottom of some valley crapping yourself about getting home alive. As with anything off-piste. If you’re in any doubt about your ability hire a guide and make sure you have the right equipment. Most accidents in the off-piste occur within sight of the piste. Be safe and protect yourself with knowledge, equipment, insurance, the right team of riders with you, and a guide if needs be. This article provides you with an indication of suitable routes. It does not provide you with the experience necessary to access the safety and suitability of the terrain and snowpack at the time you may choose to explore them.
To find out more about avalanche safety, check out some of my previous blog posts. I’ve provided a basic risk and technical ability indicator score out of 5. The higher the number the higher the general risk and the better a rider you’ll need to be. The routes are marked in purple.
1 — Newbies Route, Risk 2 Tech 2, Near piste Blue 29, 800m Section
Location — Head back under the Larchenwald Express and join Blue 29, going past the entrance for Red 31. Head down Blue 29 for around 50m and then drop off the left hand side of the piste before the first bend.
This is a popular route, but if you can get in there early the terrain is great. Not too challenging and really helps build your confidence in powder. The slightly easier route is to head off to the right into the more open terrain. You’ll spot a fence on the right that acts as a natural barrier to keep you on the right path. You will have to negotiate a steeper section to get back onto the piste, but it is generally very easy.
This was one of the first off piste areas I explored in Mayrhofen and although we often look for longer more secluded runs nowadays, it is a brilliant place to get away from the crowds with a low chance of getting lost and some interesting opportunities for natural jumps. Also people often build kickers in this area, so keep an eye out for some poaching opportunities.
2 — Mini mayhem, Risk 2 Tech 3, Near piste Red 47, 100m section
Location — As you head down Red 47 there is a cut off to the left. Sometimes this piste is closed due to lack of snow. If its open you can use it as a short cut down to the lift. As you come around a tight right hand bend and cross over a cat track you’ll see a small section of powder on your left.
Its a tight entry into this area. But once you’re in you can get a few nice turns in. The only issue you might encounter is the 4ft drop at the end of the section onto a cat track. A lot of guys get into a sweet rhythm and then forget about the drop and launch off it, to much amusement.
3 — Lumps and Bumps, Risk 2 Tech 3 , Near Piste Blue 11, 600m section
Location — As Red 10 and Blue 11 merge together after the follow the piste down and you’ll see the piste split again. You’ll want to take the left hand slightly uphill route that becomes Blue 11 again. Travel around 100m beyond the fork in the piste. You will then see a collection of trees on the right and an opening into the powder field. You can drop from there and enjoy the bumps and then meet the bottom of Blue 11 cat track. Do not go beyond the cat track on your left as there is no lift access back. Head back towards the Gerent lift and get another session in.
This area can be combined with the Happy Valley run. This area does get tracked out a bit due to its closeness to Red 10. Expect to eat powder in this area as you need to maintain speed to keep things flowing. It’s basically a minefield of tiny drops and bumps. Its totally awesome as you spend most of your time surviving and airing off everything.
4–150 Tux , Risk 3 Tech 3 , Near Piste Blue 67, 7000m section
Location — Head down Blue 67 past the Wanglespitz lift exit (to your left) until you reach the start of the Blue 63. That should be a sharp left hand turn. You will drop off the right hand side of the piste into the valley, back towards the main Mayrhofen ski area. Depending on the snow pack, watch out for some shark’s teeth (sharp rocks) on the first decent.
This is a popular route. I’ve often seen guys shred down here with no equipment and a total disregard for their own safety. Although regular traffic does break up the snowpack minimising the danger level, there are some areas that are prone to seasonal avalanches. These areas can be easily avoided. In the photo on the left you can see the view from the start of the run. There is the usual avalanche debris area at the bottom (marked in red on map) that commonly slides. You’ll want to head to the island of safety in the middle (the big mound. Purple circle on the map).You can then follow the valley around to the left of the mound following the natural flow of the terrain. Avoid the gully to the right (centre shot) as it is very deep and tough to get out of.
Although there are extra factors to consider in this run, it can be a great. You can see the cat track in the distance. You’ll be joining that and heading along the track towards the Vans Penken Park.
This area is great after a fresh fall of snow. A long run, with no hiking to get to it. But experience, knowledge and equipment is a real priority before exploring this area.
5 — Happy Valley, Risk 1 Tech 1 , Near Piste Blue 11, 700m section
Location — Go just past the iced over lake that is in the middle of Blue 11 and Red 10. Stick to the right hand side of Blue 11. A go around 2 snow cannons past the lake on the right. You should then see a small powder field. on the right of the piste. As indicated you’ll want to keep in sight of the piste and follow the natural river bed that around 50m from the piste. Do not head straight down further than the river bed and into the trees, as you’ll end up meeting some avalanche barriers and some cliffs.
This is a great little section thats right next to a piste which is often overlooked. The fun part is you drop into a filled river bed that forms a mini bowl with a transition joining another river bed that creates a wicked little lip for spinning or airing off. You then get a choose to ride the side of the river and air back into it, or keep your speed up and ride the banks as you try and maintain enough speed to get back on the piste. Its not a super long section, but its great fun using the natural terrain for jumping around.