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Natural area management on Zell’s landmark mountain

Ecological piste and snow management on the Schmitten

In harmony with the Pinzgau region’s nature

77 kilometres of ski runs on the Schmittenhöhe offer plenty of fun and variety in winter. In the warmer months, it is the hiking trails and mountain adventures on Zell’s landmark mountain that attract families and sports enthusiasts. To ensure that they can enjoy their time on the Schmitten to the fullest every season, lots of work is happening in the background.

Piste management from spring to autumn

Lush, colourful meadows full of flowers and native herbs that are not only beautiful to look at but also home to numerous species of insects and animals: At the Schmittenhöhebahn AG, a lot of time is invested in maintaining the biodiversity on the mountain.

Did you know? A study was carried out for this purpose. It investigated whether the use of the meadow areas as ski runs affects the plant world and thus the bee population as well as insects such as butterflies and grasshoppers.

The results of the study show: The summer management of the slopes yields consistently positive results. The late mowing time, in particular, as well as the exclusion of marginal areas, ensure that the number of wild bee species remains very high – in total, there are about 80 bee species.

You can read all the details in the comprehensive study on “Ecological piste management”.

Schmitten tip

Discover mountain meadow hay, larch resin and many wild herbs that bloom on the alpine meadows of the Schmittenhöhe during a wild herb hike!

Regional woody plants and meadow seeds on the Schmitten

The “Wild und kultiviert” (“Wild and cultivated”) project is an initiative for the protection of regional meadows and woody plants. Its aim is to use the resources of Salzburg’s regions to preserve genetic diversity.

Schmittenhöhebahn AG has been an active project participant since 2021. What’s being done in this project? Meadow seeds are harvested from the slope areas and comprehensibly processed in a certification database. After construction activities, these dry seeds, fruits and other parts are used for renaturation. Thus, not only site-appropriate seeds but basically those from the neighbouring meadows are used.

Snow management in winter

Perfectly groomed ski runs wherever you look – that is what winter sports enthusiasts appreciate and look forward to on the Schmitten. To a large extent, the snow is a deciding factor for the excellent quality of the ski runs. To support the production of snow, the Schmittenhöhebahn AG uses state-of-the-art, low-energy-consumption snowmaking equipment. 

To have water ready for use at all times under perfect snowmaking conditions and be as efficient as possible, there are also three reservoir ponds on the mountain. As the snow melts, the water enters a cycle via percolation and evaporation, where it can be reused again and again. The River Salzach and Lake Zell serve as further sources of fresh drinking-quality water.

Efficient snow grooming

The following measures ensure the continuous improvement of the quality of the ski runs and serve to reduce fuel consumption:

  • ongoing training for piste equipment drivers
  • use of snow grooming equipment with snow depth measurement
  • use of a comprehensive fleet management system to manage and optimise the vehicle fleet and routes

Know your limits!

Nature lovers aren’t the only ones who feel at home on the Schmitten. The meadows, rocks and forests form the habitat of many animal and plant species. In order to encourage respectful treatment of nature and the animals of the region, the Schmittenhöhebahn AG supports the “Respektiere deine Grenzen” (“Know your limits”) initiative since 2007.

By erecting boundary fences and signage with instructions on how to treat nature with respect, visitors are made aware of the issue of environmental protection.

At a glance: Other areas in which the Schmittenhöhebahn AG fosters sustainability