OK, so the off-piste is limited and it tops out at 2275m, but who cares when you can enjoy epic black runs, tree-lined tracks – and keep the family happy too
Kronplatz: I’m loath to write about this place for entirely selfish reasons. It remains relatively undiscovered by Brits simply because we generally insist on being packaged. Break free of the cosseting and there are some excellent venues to try. Like many Fall-Line readers, we want to get our children confident on skis, and the conventional mega-resorts can be intimidating and unnecessarily expansive. Kronplatz is neither, but it’s easily big enough to keep us and dozens of other families we’ve skied with over the years entertained.
Any skier who comes for a week should be able to lap every run a couple of times or more, but here’s a taster for a lift that ticks both the going up and skiing down buttons (though at nearly four miles long we’re eternally grateful that it’s not actually a button lift).
To put it in context, the base is at a railway station, which brings the concept of ‘integrated transport’ to a level similar to Switzerland. The reason many of you won’t ever consider Kronplatz is because Percha-Reid-Gipfelbahn, and the other base stations are below 1000m, and it tops out at a mere 2275m. To be honest, the final couple of hundred metres can get a tad soupy come Easter, though over many years and several trips with true spring-like 20°+ temperatures we’ve never run out of snow. There is a reason for the cannons whirring and the early dumps being thoroughly packed and stacked; it does guarantee season-long activity.
And it is worth skiing down to the bottom because all these lower kilometres are where you get the real payback. But let’s not miss out on the rest, as it sets the scene rather nicely.
Reid is the longest run-in resort at 7km, and has pretty well every sort of skiing. To start, pick through the beginner slopes, taking every left turn available to get to the main course. Passing the kids’ fun parks, the tree-line kicks in and there’s a klick or so of super-wide cruisey blue, which needs a bit of pace at the end to schuss the flat transition.
Take another sweeping blue on a path that is so wide as to be a full piste by most standards, and cut between the trees, with fantastic forward visibility for stringing together sweepers. The piste steepens and then drops over a roller to deliver a series of wide sweepers that can be taken at full chat. Don’t press the pedal every run, though: Reid is a piste that rewards both fast and slow skiing to enjoy the vista – you’re dropping towards the junction of two valleys with a view north to the Alps.
As you lose altitude the piste sets you level with the hilltop farms. Old buildings are set in impossibly small clearings by British standards. This is a different way of managing livestock; they live in huge barns in the winters and then forage in the forests. As you get lower there are farms to the right and left, and tracks cutting through the dense trees.
The final kilometre or so is steeper; good skiers will be nicely warmed up, and those working harder for their turns will find it a tad taxing. The final sting is the steepest pitch on the run, frequently chopped up and soft as you like if skied after lunch in springtime. Happily, as with so much of Kronplatz, there is a forgiving escape route mapped out to the left to spit your tired legs onto the lift station.
Back up the lift
To keep you on your toes, the lift starts off going backwards, towards the train station at Percha. After crossing the river it reverses and sets off on a 20-minute journey up. Keep an eye out to your left for the huskies, and look back down the hill to see Brunico, Percha and Riscone. Five minutes before the top is the somewhat-above-mid station. This feeds onto the epic black run down to Riscone, right next to the extremely sunny Hertz restaurant.
The next stage sees the slightly disconcerting heated seats kick in, with a warm, apparently damp sensation spreading along your thighs for that ‘just lost control’ sensation.
Once you’re back at the top it’s rude not to aim yourself down Sylvester – a black with all the corkscrews, blind rollers, tree-lined tracks, wide open faces and late afternoon moguls of a certain size anyone could wish for.
Unusually for a lift featured in Fall-Line, the off-piste is limited to just a small patch. There’s a cliff band at the top which allows you to work up to a 50-footer if you’re feeling bold. Or you can skirt it, watching for the fence line, and get a mid-pitch meadow past a shepherd’s hut into trees to drop out at the aforementioned Hertz restaurant. Head into the trees much lower and they’ll be sending search parties out – dense doesn’t begin to describe it.