Tucked into the Ziller Vally in Austria, Mayrhofen is a perennial favourite for British snow fiends. Maybe it’s because the resort offers just about everything you could ask for, whilst somehow feeling simultaneously like a sleepy alpine village and a vibrant party town. Vans UK’s snowboard team manager Chris Chatt explains why he rates the Hof.
[part title="Piste Bashing"]
At first glance many of the pistes here can appear quite steep, with the famous Hara Kiri run being one of the steepest in Europe. Fortunately, though, this is not the case for the whole area. There are a ton of mellow runs with tree lines and plenty of side hits! There are two runs that I spent most of my piste-shredding time on: the first is the ‘Baby Tour’ which takes you through the trees from the top of Penken to the Horberg gondola. This is usually jammed with side hits all the way down, and on a powder day you can drop into the trees and find some freshness! The other is just under the Schneekar chairlift directly outside the Horbergbahn gondy, a wide-open piste that allows you to open up and go fast. If you take a right and turn off you can take a narrow cat track round the side of the mountain that brings you to a massive wide open piste, right above the park! Taking the 150-man gondola over towards Egalm again is pretty good. This area is certainly a lot more quiet than the rest of Mayrhofen and has some good long runs.
Ah, the almighty Vans Penken Park… Where to begin? I have watched it progress since my first winter in Mayrhofen over 6 years ago, and it’s certainly among the best parks in Europe, if not the best! With a dedicated shaping team that work into the night to maintain it, this place rarely has a bad day. The pro kicker line is one of its most famous features; the three perfectly-shaped big jumps that have their landings in the sun and their take-offs in the shade. This is like a magnet for the pros that pass through, and on a good day you’ll see the likes of Peetu Piiroinen, Ethan Morgan and Tom West distributing the thunder right here. There’s also a medium and a beginner line of kickers running the whole length of the park, in case you aren’t feeling it on the big kickers. The halfpipe (or ‘stunt ditch’ as it has been named) is now pretty small but good fun when it’s been shaped, and is the perfect size for learning pipe manoeuvres. There are plans to make it more of a jib pipe with rails and things place on the coping, which will be perfect. The rail lines range from beginner to advanced, featuring every kind of setup you could think of. They also have a stair set feature without stairs, just a smooth plastic surface. It’s something a little gnarlier without the fear of a stair massage. Another great feature over all of this is the Sun Jet chairlift, which is a short ride taking you directly over the park – perfect for watching the carnage unfold underneath you.
I’m not much of a freerider but I am well aware that Mayrhofen has some of the best off-piste lines and chutes accessible by gondola! The 150-man cable car goes directly above a face known as the ‘Wangle’. This has several lines down it that will keep even the best freeriders on their toes. However, this area is very dangerous, so be sure you know what you’re doing and have the right safety equipment to ride here. There are also more areas behind this face too that are not as gnarly, and accessible from the same gondola.
[part title="Where To Eat"]
It’s easy to do breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Gasser family butcher’s shop, directly opposite the bottom of the main Penken gondola in town. Not suitable for vegetarians, this place serves up a variety of top grade animals straight into a freshly baked semmel for incredible value! It’s quick, cheap and easy. On the mountain the Grillhoff restaurant is a big hit. This has a massive outdoor seating area, which looks directly over the park! Their menu is pretty big and is far better priced than anywhere you go in France, that’s for sure. They have a full bar as well. One other place we some times venture to (especially on powder days) is the Vogel Nest for the ribs! You’ll find it over towards Eggalm. Of an evening there’s a huge number of restaurants in town. For real traditional Tyrolean grub I recommend the Tiroler Stuben just on the corner by the Banhof. It’s owned by the family of Thomas ‘Beckna’ Eberharter, a pro snowboarder from Mayrhofen and somewhat of a legend in the game. However we would normally save this place for special occasions, as it’s a bit pricey. The Sidan has got to be the most used and favourite restaurant among all my friends in Mayrhofen. It’s located at the bottom of the Horbergbahn gondola so it’s about 5 minutes out of town. The food is always excellent and the price is even better! The dishes of choice here are the Calzone Alverde and the Sidan Platz, better known as “a farm yard on a plate".
[part title="Where To Drink"]
The Scotland Yard Pub! Good buddies, good tunes, good brew… what more can you say, it’s one of the best pubs on earth! The dartboard area is the best corner of the pub for sure. Be warned though, this place gets so rammed that you can fall asleep standing up and be held in place by the squashed masses! Amazingly, even during these rammed spells they still provide table service! There is another bar at the bottom of the main street called Apres Po – I think that’s how you spell it anyways. This is a real dingy haunt but they do happy hour, usually play loads of Metallica, and they got a pool table too! Gasthof Zillertal has an array of nights on through the week including beer pong tournaments, mustache parties, jam nights and of course karaoke. This is the hostel/hotel just over the river on the corner of town, basically behind the train station, where most of the seasonnaires and traveling Dutchies live. It usually goes pretty wild in there. There’s a new grade of 'drunk' developed among friends over the years courtesy of this place called ‘Gasthof hammered’ – worth going for sure!
[part title="Events & Festivals"]
There seems to be a different event every couple of weeks here. The standouts include Snowbombing, of course, and the Vans Hi Standard series. The park is perfect for shred comps and events. It will never be completely closed off because of an event, as it’s so big; you can shred the other lines, and watch all the action from the lift. The Grillhoff restaurant I mentioned before turns into a daytime nightclub during Snowbombing, and has an amazing atmosphere!