Just to try something new, I rent a snow bike. It looks like a bike, but it has two skis instead of wheels! The bike is already waiting for me at the ski school from Hermann Koch in Obertauern and ski guide Georg Säckl hands me two tiny skis. “Put the skis on your ski boots,” he aks me. “So that your feet do not brake while you are driving.” Funny guy. Then I take a seat. The saddle is comfortable, but I search for a break at the handlebar – there is none! After a short introduction I head in a kind of skating style to the ski lift. Georg follows me.
Driving a snowbike
I was three years old when I stood for the first time on very small skis, and cycling is no problem – of course. Once at the top of the hill, it become more difficult. At the beginners slope Georg explains how to ride a snowbike: “We steer by weight, motorcyclists or riders are now at an advantage!” Great, becaus luckily I am both, so more or less. Slowly Georg slides down the gentle hill, looks to the left and makes a left turn without moving the handlebars. “We do not need the small skis on the feet, simply sit down on the saddle and pull the snow away with your bike.” Should it be so simple?
Sort of, because I control the snow bike comfortably by shifting my weight. But the bike quickly goes quicker and quicker and I’m glad to come to a stopp. After two more curves I drive straight away to the ski lift.
Snow garantuee in Obertauern
The bicycle saddle is well sprung, for some stretches even a little too good. Especially while crossing large snow hills it seems that the bike will throw me off like a horse. So the snow bike and me are bounding down the slope on four skis. It snowed all night and nearly half a meter of fresh snow makes it not so easy to drive the snow bike in the snow bowl of Obertauern .
There is a deep winter in Obertauern between November and May. The ski area is located 1630 to 2313 meters above sea level in the Radtstädter Tauern a one hour’s drive south of Salzburg. Around the small village the ski mountains extend up steep, 100 kilometers of slopes and 26 lifts await the skiers. No matter from where the wind blows, it always ensures fresh white snow in the Obertauern snow bowl.
Who wants to take a ski break and try a fringe sport, books an introductory course in snow biking at the ski school. Owner Hermann Koch has long been a pro-snowbiker and even holds two world records!
Nice stop at the hut
At the nex sunny slope I steer too much with my feet, so I need to take the next swings with legs drawn up. George stops and wraps himself in a cloud of snow. “Your ride will be much more relaxed with a Gamsmilch” he says in the deepest Austrian dialect and slides over to the valley station of the so called Zehnerkarbahn. With our snow bike in the gondola we drive up to 2,196 meters. The old station is now the pub “Gamsmilchbar” and serves also the Gamsmilch – that meens literally a milk of a chamois, but it is something with a lot of alcohol.
The ski lodge is totally crowded, but ski guide Franz Rapoldi waves happily and slips a little on. “The Gamsmilch gots his name, because someone has to walk on the top of the mountains to milk the chamois.” He laughs loudly. “I was joking, but it has more to do with a good shot of rum.”
After a relaxing retreat we go out into the icy wind. It’s snowing again and the visibility is poor. So I follow the purple suit of Georg Säckl the long slope down to the valley. Tonight he will go the same route again, because every Monday and Wednesday he offers a snow biking trip in the dark. “Take care of the snow hills, the wind has the snow pushed together quite up here,” warns George Säckl and draws a new trail through the fresh white.
Get more information at Tourism Obertauern
Ski school Koch. offers Snowbiking www.skikoch.at.
Note: This trip was supported by the tourism office of Obertauern. The report is intended solely as our own opinions.