Berni Bernegger

On a majestic tour through the mountains

Join me on a culinary and adventurous journey through the majestic mountains of the Hochkönig. Today I'm exploring the unique combination of first-class food and breathtaking skiing on the Culinary Königstour. So let's get going!

Today I climbed the numerous bends and hairpin bends over the Dienter saddle in my white Alfa to embark on the Culinary Königstour on the Hochkönig. It combines two things that I love - food and skiing.

I got the vouchers for the different huts from the tourist office in advance, so I could enjoy one dish in each of the participating huts. I was faced with a choice of three different tours and the Gipfelgenuss Tour was the one I wanted to do, but today I wanted to try the vegetarian alternatives.

I'm travelling alone on this sunny winter's day, which I don't mind. I'm having fun, because then I can ski at exactly my own pace on the slopes - namely fast! With my KeyCard in my pocket and my skis strapped on, I take the first gondola up in Dienten and enjoy the valley runs almost all by myself. Only a few early risers have got lost on the slopes with me on this glorious day, and I beat them too - off to my first destination in Maria Alm. I'm at one end of the ski area, so to speak, but my motivation is high and the pistes are great.

As I've skipped breakfast, my stomach is soon rumbling and when I finally take the Naturnbahn cable car up, the TOM-Almhütte comes into view. My first destination of the day.

In joyful anticipation, I pass what is probably the most impressive bouncer on the Hochkönig - Choupette, the dog of the owner Tom Schwaiger. She lets me past without comment, at least her wooden carved likeness. This time I don't want to sit on the terrace of the architecturally unique hut, but inside, on the gallery, even higher up than I already am.

Soon after, warm beetroot falafel with tzatziki is on the table, accompanied by a glass of soda and lemonade. The falafel is really crispy on the outside, nice and fluffy on the inside and really "g'schmackig". The perfect start to the ski resort menu. Without feeling hungry and petting the real Choupette on her head, I say goodbye to the TOM-Almhütte and make my way down to the valley on the perfectly groomed pistes.

My journey continues to Dienten, which lies halfway between Maria Alm and Mühlbach. A few great black and red runs await me there, which I enjoy to the fullest before deciding to stop off at the Dientnerin at 01.00 p.m. - a hut that seems to be embedded in the piste and is located on the right-hand edge of the piste.

I would describe the hut and mountain restaurant as having the charm of a mountain hut with attention to detail and a modern ambience. You are greeted with warmth when you enter the room and the atmosphere is more than positively charged. I find a seat close to the large windows that offer a great view of the mountains. With a magnificent panorama as my cinema, I order the curry and look forward to a taste of Asia.

For dessert and to relax my stomach, I treat myself to another espresso and don't really want to get up, but I still have one more stop to make. But before I do that, I want to give it my all again and ski a few more pistes towards Mühlbach before turning back and heading to the Steinbockalm at 03.00 p.m..

It's so well located that I only have to take one more descent to get to the car - ideal as a last stop. And my absolute weakness awaits me here... sweets. This hut also impresses me with its combination of old and new. You can feel everywhere that tradition and heritage are important and can be well integrated into the new and modern without appearing old-fashioned. The mountain restaurants and huts here on the Hochkönig have flair and I'm already motivated to go skiing in the sun when the temperatures start to climb and the sun has enough power to keep me warm on the terrace for hours.

But it's still winter, so I find a cosy corner near the fireplace, get rid of my ski jacket and order the last course with a large brown beer. In the meantime, a few nice locals join me at the table. Now it's time to savour the not-so-small sweet sin bite by bite and reflect on the day.

I could almost doze off, warmed up and sitting close to the fire. But before that happens, I hand over my last voucher and set off. The fresh, cold mountain air clears my tired eyes again and, exhilarated and with one last view of the Hochkönig towering over the entire ski area and watching over the valley's guests, I turn off and relax as I make my last turns towards home.

Berni Bernegger

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