Waiting for the sunrise | © Daniel Roos Photography
  • The laid-back 3

3 Early bird ski routes

The early bird finds the best slopes

These three routes are guaranteed to reward early risers with spectacular sunrises and completely empty slopes.

Waking up early during the holidays? This might actually pay off if you’re first on the slope! When the skies above the mountains are coloured brightly rose and orange by the sun, when the air is still clear and quiet, then the day simply can’t help becoming a great one. Get ready for skiing untouched slopes. Travel blogger and #MunichMountainGirl Gesa has prepared three sunrise tours for you. The Kohlmaisbahn, Zwölferkogelbahn, Reiterkogelbahn, Hochalmbahn, Unterschwarzachbahn, 12er Express, Asitzbahn, Steinbergbahn and the Streubödenbahn are operating as of 08:00 h! 


6:45 – the alarm rings. I pull my blanket over my head and turn one more time! It’s still dark outside and I’m on holidays, after all. Getting up now, at this time? Couldn’t even imagine it! But something tells me that it would be a good idea, that it will turn out to be a great day! So I get a grip on myself and drag myself into the bathroom. My face looks like I’m about to face the worst day of the holidays, although the exact opposite is actually the case! Today’s plan is to be first on the mountain: enjoying the sunrise and then cruising across completely untouched slopes. So we make sure to be at the gondola early in order to go up with the very first carriage at 8:00. This is also known as the early bird ride. The early bird catches the worm, after all – or in this case, the sun.

Up on the summit, everything is about THE moment. The moment when the sun finally hits the stage. It really feels as if we’re there for a famous band that is still killing time behind the stage in order to generate more excitement. And we’ve got a spot in the first row and call their names, whilst the fresh snow glitters before us and crunches underneath our feet. A perfect blend of anticipation and excitement. When the sun finally makes its way above the mountain peaks, everyone lets out a big “Oooh” and “Ahhhhh”. We’ve already forgotten how tired we were and as soon as the sun starts tickling the tip of my nose I realise that it was worth it, getting up so early in the morning!. But it’s only going to get better.


With the first sun rays on our backs, we put on our skis and take off. The slopes are perfectly groomed and completely empty! Completely! Our turns get bigger and faster until we start yelling out “woohoo!” to one another. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun skiing. We could all see the joy in each others’ faces. I try to get as much ease and joy as possible on this sunny morning. At around 10:00, the slopes are starting to get significantly more crowded. We’re no longer the first ones to hit the slopes with our skis, so we decide to head out for a (second) breakfast. After our meals, we make our way into the regular Skicircus.


My conclusion:
Being first on the slopes? It’s so worth it! The slopes are still untouched, the air is clear and everything is quiet. To see the most beautiful sunrise possible, make sure to check the weather report the day before and only head out with sunshine or with just a few clouds.  


Also in the mood for early bird skiing? We’ve got three routes for you:

1. For romantics:

Start the day with the Zwölferkogelbahn in Hinterglemm, which will take you 1,984 metres high. From the Zwölfer summit, you’ve got an amazing view across Glemmtal valley and you can admire the sunrise directly next to the summit cross. Your morning turns will take you down the blue slope 11 down to the Westgipfelbahn. Those with a more athletic disposition can use the great slope conditions and try the WM route or even the World Cup route!

Then you can take the Westgipfelbahn up to the Schattberg, where the second greatest view of the day will await you. At the picture spot “Sky Rest”, at an altitude of 2,020 metres, the mountain landscape seems truly limitless and you shouldn’t miss the chance to take a picture here. From there, you can cruise down the blue valley route as you end up in Vorderglemm.

After this wonderful start into the day, you can take the Schönleitenbahn around 11:30 for a hot chocolate at the Wildenkarhütte and enjoy the 360° view around the Alps. Use slope 66 to go toward Saalbach while getting to enjoy another wide view of the valley. The viewing platform at the Kohlmaiskopf and a visit to the Panoramaalm will make for a perfect conclusion to your day at around 2 pm.

2. For those in a rush:

You’ve already got plans in the valley around noon, but still want to spend the morning on the slopes? Sounds like an ideal blend for the Skicircus! You can enjoy the sunrise and still save time by taking the Kohlmaisgipfelbahn from Saalbach to the Kohlmaiskopf. At an altitude of 1,744 metres, you will find a viewing platform located directly at the summit station. From here you’ve got a gorgeous 360° view around the mountain world and can enjoy a relaxed ride back into the valley.


3. For summiteers:

Summiteers can launch their day east of the Schattberg at an altitude of 2,020 metres, the highest spot in the Skicircus. From Saalbach, take the Schattberg X-Press to go up the mountain. There isn’t much time left to take in the sunrise though, because the summiteers have a lot on their plate today: the task is to make it around the entire ski area in just a day. Naturally, the first swings around 8:30 will still take place before the first warming sun rays. There might be enough time left for lunch, but don’t linger around too long. That’s why I’d recommend a hut with SB service, such as Wildenkarhütte, when you cross from Leogang to Saalbach.

You should study the slope map closely prior to departing. On the backside, you will find the entire Skicircus Challenge drawn up with its 68 slope kilometres and 12,000 metres in altitude difference.

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