Skiing Resort Report: Zell am See

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The most challenging slopes around Zell am See are on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, above Kaprun; Zell itself is better suited to intermediates than advanced skiers. Local links are by bus rather than ski slope, but a single lift pass can be used everywhere. The glacier is best early and late in the season, and this year snow-making facilities should guarantee quality snow-cover.

The drawback of the glacier is that it can make for long queues when skiers are attracted from other, less snowy resorts. Crowds in Zell itself can make it a long job to get onto the slopes, especially at weekends; gondola queues are a particular problem. But either a blue or black run will take you to the cable car; and when you reach the top of the Schmittenhohe, the crowds disperse, and you finally see the resort's real potential.

Zell's attractive pistes and fabulous lakeside setting more than make up for any disadvantages. The little town, almost medieval now that traffic has been diverted into a tunnel underneath, has enough in the way of bars and restaurants for several evenings' entertainment. The Lebzelter Keller is always lively in the evening, and if it gets too crowded, some of the neighbouring bars in Dreifaltigkeitsgasse are worth trying.

All six major operators - Airtours, Crystal, First Choice, Inghams, Neilson and Thomson - offer packages to Zell am See. Among the specialists are Independent Ski Links, Interhome (0181-891 1294) and Made to Measure.