Rising up from the icy blue waters of Lake Hallstätter, Krippenstein, Austria, serves up one groomed slope, which, at seven miles long, is one of the longest runs in Austria; 5,000-vertical-foot-descents; and hundreds of miles of off-piste options, including multi-day tours across the lunar landscape of the Dachstein Plateau. The mountain is also riddled with cliffs, sink holes, and crevasses, and has few trail signs, so it’s best to hire a guide. Hook up with legendary mountain guide Heli Putz, who grew up skiing Krippenstein and who now owns the guiding operation, Outdoor Leadership. Take one of his freeride camps, go on an overnight ski tour to the Simony Hut, or ski classic off-piste lines like Anger Alm, Schönberg, or Imsl. Krippenstein hosts several amateur ski events a year. Sign up for the Atomic Waymaker in April, a new ski touring event in which three-person teams will race from Bad Mitterndorf across the Dachstein Plateau to Krippenstein, and on to Gosausee.
Krippenstein is just one big mountain; there’s no base village. Stay 10 minutes away in Hallstatt, a village that’s been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site, and sits on the shores of Lake Hallstätter. The Heritage Hotel offers posh lakeside digs and a central location, making for easy exploration of the 4,500-year-old village. Or kick back on top of the ski resort at the Krippenstein Lodge, a glorified mountain hut and restaurant, where $50 a night will get you a bed, two meals, and fresh tracks. Don’t forget to try the apple strudel.