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The Austrian party town with the steepest ski run in the country

THE smell of Jagermeister fills the air as Abba tunes blare out and the clink of glasses echoes through the room. 

I’m high up in the Tyrolean mountains, near the Ziller valley, and the party is well and truly in town. 

Mayrhofen is well established as one of Austria’s rowdiest ski resorts
Mayrhofen has 142km of runs and 44 lifts across the Ahorn and Penken zones, which straddle the Ziller valley
My home for the duration is the Sport & Spa Hotel Strass, which stands proudly at the base of the Penkenbahn cable car links the town to the main ski zone

Mayrhofen is well established as one of Austria’s rowdiest ski resorts and no more so than in the final weeks of the season, when two festivals entice the revellers, who are willing to gamble with the snow forecast. 

I’m here for the slightly more grown-up of the two events, the week-long Altitude comedy bash.

My home for the duration is the Sport & Spa Hotel Strass, which stands proudly at the base of the Penkenbahn cable car links the town to the main ski zone, some 1,790 metres up the mountain. 

The picture-postcard hotel is vast compared with the simpler chalets most skiers are used to, but the triumph of a professional kitchen over a ski seasonaire has me sold. 

And the food is excellent, with everything from classic Austrian dishes to a buffet of fresh salads and exotic cheeses.

Mayrhofen has 142km of runs and 44 lifts across the Ahorn and Penken zones, which straddle the Ziller valley.

The brave, or foolhardy, can head straight for the resort’s famous Harakiri black run, which, at a 78 per cent gradient, is Austria’s steepest ski run. 

Elsewhere, Unterberg has three timed, giant slalom courses and a brilliant fun run. 



Or, if you’re keen to assess your form, make your way to slope 16 near the Moselbahn, which is known as “the ski movie run”. Cameras positioned all along the slope record your descent and turn it into a mini movie that’s free to download. 

Altitude’s comedy programme starts in early afternoon, with three lively sessions a day, including an after-party in Hotel Strass’s basement club. 

There’s also an annual clown race, with costumed skiers whizzing down the Ahorn’s 5.5km black run and snaking back into town.

Sweaty frenzy

Then there’s the final after-party, which this year was an absolute riot. Every one of the 15 comedians featured that week was squished on to one bill in a chaotic two hours of callbacks and inside jokes. 

Mayrhofen is Austria’s party town, so no trip is complete without a visit to some of its legendary watering holes.

Hotel Strass’s Ice Bar combines European EDM with folk music to whip the post-ski crowd into a sweaty frenzy.

Just across the cobbled street is Hans The Butcher, who serves juicy sausage baps paired with ice-cold beers. 

A must-visit for party-goers is Bruck’n Stadl, a huge barn-style drinking hall where wobbly revellers regularly clamber on top of wooden tables in their ski boots.

Or for a more civilised affair, Brasserie Q on the main high street serves a punchy espresso martini and a delicious Australian wine called Gruner Veltliner at five euros a glass.

When it comes to decent dinners, you won’t be short of choice either. Locals recommend the Italian grub at Pane e Vino for good reason, while Goldkind bistro does a cracking cheeseburger.

 Grillhofalm, a pit stop on the side of the mountain, does cheesy spaghetti carbonara that ticks all the boxes. 

Mayrhofen’s final ace to play is the rapid one-hour transfer to and from Innsbruck airport.

It’s ideal really, especially if you spent more time ploughing through the beers than down a powdery slope. 

The Sun’s Felicity Cross gets ready to hit the slopes – which includes the resort’s famous Harakiri black run, which, at a 78 per cent gradient, is Austria’s steepest ski run
Hotel Strass’s Ice Bar combines European EDM with folk music to whip the post-ski crowd into a sweaty frenzy

Mayrhofen’s final ace to play is the rapid one-hour transfer to and from Innsbruck airport.

It’s ideal really, especially if you spent more time ploughing through the beers than down a powdery slope. 

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