The Chiemgau Alps and Bad Moods For The First Time

Big wide open terrain is closer than you think…

Feb 2022 – When one thinks of the Bavarian Alps and imagines a large ski slope, I’d imagine the Garmisch-Classic or the Zugspitze comes to mind. After all, that’s where Germany’s larger slopes are, right? Difficult to imagine big terrain anywhere outside of that region within Germany’s borders…

Welp, since, yet again, Germany’s restrictions (basically on children, at the time of this trip) continued to make overnight stays in Austria difficult, we made the choice to go to Germany’s southeastern corner to mix things up a bit and experience a new part of the Bavarian Alps.

Here endeth the intro, and begins our travel into the Chiemgau Alps to the little village of Reit im Winkl: a wonderfully small and quaint village with an enormous amount of space and natural snowfall to enjoy winter.

A slope area that stretches from Germany into Austria was a new experience

An immediate difference I noticed upon arriving into the village was that its size was so much smaller and compact than its Western Bavarian friends over in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GaPa). I’m unsure if the town has received “resort town” labels in its tenure, but it had an extraordinarily small-town authentic feel to it. Another cool, albeit self-hating, perk of the town was that I heard zero other Americans around. Sometimes you just want to be away from your own for a small time 😰.

Another nice little perk (specific to us anyway) is that the driving distance was practically the same as it was to GaPa. So for the same driving time, we got to experience another beautiful part of Bayern and a new slope area we hadn’t yet seen. After reading this, I highly suggest you all give it a shot.

Sidenote: we found the absolute finest German food we have come across since our lives in Europe began. If you’re around, do yourself a favor and visit Zirbelstube. “Oh my god” was spoken after most bites of our food…but in a good way.

Woke up to lots of fresh snowfall

Reit im Winkl is an absolute winter wonderland. There are enormous spaces for cross-country skiers and plenty of hills directly next to the village for ski and snowboard touring types to enjoy. If I could live in Bavaria, the open space and snowfall of this village would beat out GaPa by miles. The village’s size makes it almost entirely walkable which is an amazing perk.

A less awesome perk is that arrival in the village by train is not really possible.

Child 1 was nice all day (note nice wide open fields in the rear)

Fun fact: Reit im Winkl’s total possible ski area is bigger than the GaPa Classic by 4kms.

Again, per my last post, DO NOT WAIT TO BUY YOUR LIFT TICKETS. You WILL regret this once you show up to the Lift Kasse and see the line, if you’re there on a weekend. Do what we did and get your tickets in-person at the village Tourism office. Otherwise you are going to hate your life if you show up at what you think is “on time”.

Child 2 was not

The village has several ski schools but we ended up landing on Skischule Hausberg mostly because the office and meeting point were only a two minute walk away from where we were staying. The cost of the course for 2 x days (full days) and 2 x kids was right around 230 Euros. Not the most expensive school but not the cheapest, either. Hausberg thankfully offered up Mittagsbetreuung (Lunch with Instructors) so we didn’t have to come back to any meeting point for the noon break.

TIP: ask your ski school (if booking one) what they recommend regarding which lift ticket to buy (there are a few types…discussed below). Our school recommended the kids only access Winklmoos so we saved some Euro and only bought their passes for the German side.

The line to buy tickets. Heed my advice Damen und Herren

The slopes near Reit im Winkl are about 10 minutes east of the village and is easily accessible by car but also serviced by a Ski Bus service. The parking lot at the lift is huge but there is only one…so per my post on the Garmisch-Classic, plan accordingly and either take the bus (which is what we did) or get there super early. The bus schedule (as of this post’s publication) can be found here.

First morning summarized: it ended up being pretty seamless. We walked straight up to the ski school, waited alongside the instructors at the meeting point/ski bus stop, and got dropped right off at the front of the lift area after a short ride. My spouse and I initially freaked the hell out when we saw the line (referenced above)…until we realized we got to walk straight up to the Gondola because we ALREADY BOUGHT OUR TICKETS.

The kids also got to skip the line with their instructors since they were with ski school. It was pretty amazing getting the jump on basically everyone. After hopping off the ski bus, our kids as well as my spouse and I were on a gondola heading up the mountain within 5 minutes.

Very very wide open space to explore

About the ski area: it actually straddles the border of Germany and Austria…but the entire ski area is connected with a great network of super modern lifts, some with seat warmers! The German side is called Winklmoos and the Austrian side is called Steinplatte. Reference the map near the top of the page to see where each side begins and ends!

“The ski area of Winklmoos is boring” (thanks German dad in the Gondola for the quote!). Only about half of it has a reasonable decline with a few runs and the rest is just not steep enough to really enjoy. Our kids spent their ski school time there but we chose not to. We spent our time at Steinplatte.

Steinplatte has very wide open terrain and has a ton off side-country/off-piste fun to enjoy. There aren’t a lot of places to stop for a bite or beer, but I was really blown away at how enjoyable the entire region was. Even in the early afternoon I was finding places to make fresh tracks.

Kids tip: if your kids are not in ski school, take a careful look at the lift network. There are a few lifts that will dump you off at points where very steep slopes are your only option.

I think American kids are generally wired to just act ridiculous whenever possible.

After enjoying our entire first day, we made the sometimes depressing run back to the ski school’s meeting area at Winklmoos to get ready to pick up our kids. This ended up being the first time one of our kids (the boy) was all but telling his instructor to go to hell and refusing to do anything but the baby tow-rope learning slope. I was completely dumbfounded. Not even 3 weeks prior, he was destroying French slopes in Sainte-Foy…and here he had me questioning every decision I had made that day regarding spending a single penny on his experience.

His Hausberg instructors informed me that they had tried their absolute hardest to keep him on the larger portion of Winklmoos, but they could not keep stopping the group lesson. My daughter, naturally, was a happy goose the entire day. I basically had disappointed dad syndrome for the rest of the day until I gulped down a beer at our apartment. I *may* have hit the glass of the gondola in frustration as we went down to which my wife kindly reminded me to “stop acting like an idiot.”

He’s not wanting to do anything.

-A very frustrated instructor to a very annoyed father

Our next day leads me to summarize two things about both Reit im Winkl and Skischule Hausberg: flexibility and alternative activities than slope time.

Our second day, when dropping the kids at ski school, we were informed that high winds had closed down the entire Winklmoos/Steineplatte ski area. Confused on what the heck we were supposed to do, the instructors at the school immediately told us that there was a smaller ski lift that could be used called Skilift Benzeck. My lovely lady hopped onto the ski bus with the kids and headed that way while I ran to the closest ATM for cash since that’s all the little area accepted for payment.

The fact that Skischool Hausberg was able to adjust so quickly and still provide a reasonable day of instruction for our kids on such short notice was really really cool and I had huge respect for the very young instructors in charge of the kids.

Relocated to the trainer hill due to weather.

The second point regarding alternatives came in handy since our kids were now engaged in lessons but my lady and I had nothing to do. Well, lucky for us, Reit im Winkl is a natural snowfall magnet and has a lot of wonderful open space with cross country tracks everywhere…so I did the unthinkable: I rented some cross-country skis with my wife and got to enjoy the incredibly awkward new sensation of both my legs not being strapped onto a size 168cm plank.

It was the weirdest thing I’ve felt in a decade.

Hi there! I don’t know what I’m doing!

I heavily praise Skischool Hausberg and it’s young staff for their patience and ability to adjust quickly. The ski area, as a whole, completely stands superior over that of the Garmisch-Classic, I thought. The town of Reit im Winkl feels a bit more authentic regarding a small village nestled in between a part of the Bavarian Alps…I’m amazed I’ve never, in my time here, heard anyone talk about it…and one of the best parts is that it doesn’t attract the crowds that Garmisch does on a weekend. Do yourself a favor next time you’re the next time you’re thinking of the Garmisch-Classic or Zugspitze…consider a visit to Reit im Winkl instead.

If you make the trip to Reit im Winkl, don’t just settle for the Winklmoos area. Not only do you get to enjoy two countries in one day, but you also get to cross a border stop (lift ticket check) to Steinplatte on skis or a snowboard!

That was pretty cool.

As always, if you think I may have missed something or you think of some info that you’d like to know, drop me a line, below!

Bis zum näschtes mal!

the snowboard dad in europe

Author: TheSnowBoardDadInEurope

Through a series of life choices (occasionally involving alcohol), I ended up with a great wife (Kate), two great kids (Karaline and Noah), and the good fortunes to live in the beautiful country of Germany. We love the Alpine landscape of Europe. After seeing so much of it with my family, I decided to share , in blunt honesty, our successes and total failures in hopes of helping some of you, fine folks. I have no six pack. I drink too much beer, and I swear too much; however, I love seeing the Alps with my family.

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