Wildschonau, Austria, despite its rather misleading nickname, this 24km-long valley is not really that wild. This is the place where much of post-war Britain learned to ski, and to them it remains to be good old Niederau: nice, undemanding (except for a couple of underrated black runs), unassuming, friendly, peaceful (during the day) and, unlike major Austrian resorts, reasonably cheap. You can expect smooth skiing at neighboring Oberau, but high up at Auffach, around 7km away, the slopes are somewhat extensive.
When in Niederau, hard skiers ought to head out for Marchenwiesen, a fast, steep cruiser that gets down from thetop of the eight-person gondola at Markbachjoch (1,500m), and Tennladen, a steep black run that starts out as a red at the top of the Mittermoosjochlift prior to diving down to join Marchenwiesen. There are also 2 challenging, ungroomed ski routes (Stock and Sixtwiese) on the front face. Farther in Oberau, you will not find much tolet you stay, aside from the black Riedl run, and the same is true for the two small, charming spots of Roggenboden and Thierbach. But Auffach, the last resort in the valley, has a multitude of good, sweeping, above-the-treeline red runs on the Schatzberg, and some delightful skiing in wide gladed trails that goes back down to the gondola base.
The majority of the great restaurants in the valley can be found in Niderau. At the base of the Arena lift, the Tennladen Stuberldraws in the largest crowds, while the Panorama Hotel restaurant is a reliable self-service option. The Anton-Graf-Hutte on the Lanerkopfl is an adorable old place with a fine terrace that dishes out great dumplings and Kaiserschmarrn (chopped-up pancake with raisins, icing sugar and plum jam). The Markbachjochutte, aka Rudi's, is likewise a must, if only to try its specialty dish, Germknodel (yeast dumplings made using brown butter, poppyseed or vanilla sugar and warm milk). At Oberau, the Riedelhof dishes succulent wiener schnitzel.
Auffach has a terrain park along the Thalerkogel lift, having jumps, rail, corners and a half-pipe. The snow park, above the Baby Lift at Hornboden, also has a half-pipe. At Niederau's Race 'n' Boarder Arena that you can get to using the Arena lift, you will find a boardercross course and the Speed Track & Coin Up time trial.
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
Your ideas are valuable. Share what you know and get paid in return. Submit them here on Expertscolumn and earn by writing articles.