LEANING on my ski poles, I am surprised to see four familiar figures silhouetted against the snowy Austrian pistes.
With capes, caps, skinny legs and zany, windmilling arms, they are instantly recognisable as pop icons The Beatles.
Sadly, this John, Paul, George and Ringo – being wrought-metal statues perched above the ski resort of Obertauern – are unable to deliver a greatest hits medley.
But their surreal cameo here celebrates the coolest of après-ski yarns.
The real Lennon, McCartney, and Co. visited Obertauern in 1965 to shoot scenes for their comedy adventure film, Help!
With Ticket to Ride playing as the soundtrack, they fled on skis from a mad professor and a sinister cult leader, both after a sacred ring which was stuck on Ringo’s finger – don’t forget, it was the swinging sixties.
The village was chosen because, at 5,500 ft above sea level, it was one of the few to guarantee snow during the Easter filming slot.
It wasn’t until 50 years later tourist chiefs began to make more of their place in pop history by commissioning the Skiing Beatles statues.
Down below lies a cluster of hotels and apartments, with all essential services.
You arrive via a 90-minute transfer from Salzburg airport, climbing through magnificent scenery to a small section of the Alps called the Radstadt Tauern. Since Help! was filmed, they have increased the amount of skiable slope to 62 miles – 38 miles of blue, 21 of red and three of black.
Because my piste navigation is as average as my skiing, I began by blundering onto black – followed by a backside-first, helter-skelter plunge which seemed to last forever.
Snowfall is so reliable it can turn up in August and is virtually guaranteed through a season lasting from mid-November to sun-kissed May.
You can ski into and out of most hotels without drive or a hike, and hop easily between slopes, courtesy of 18 chairlifts, one gondola and six tows.
There are 19 miles of cross-country trails, and circuits include the 12-mile Tauernrunde, skirting the village, and the Super Seven bowl, joining up the seven highest peaks.
Among the novelties are a snowpark packed with jumps, bumps and obstacles, night skiing and slopes with speed measuring equipment.
Many of the hotels are those which welcomed the 66-strong Beatles’ entourage and the hordes of screaming girl fans.
Try Hotel Edelweiss if you want to sleep in the same rooms as the boys – 502, 503, 504 and 505, to be precise.
Or try the Marietta, where they hung out after filming and played an impromptu set for their film producer’s birthday – their only gig in Austria.
Hotel Das Seekarhaus, a swish, four-star hotel situated on the piste, has probably the best Beatles tale of all in its 73-year-old owner Gerhard Krings.
Gerhard was one of four ski instructors selected as body doubles for the stars to perform the tricky ski manoeuvres.
Incredibly, he had never heard of the band but donned a Beatles outfit to become a dead ringer for George Harrison. “We were with The Beatles for the whole time they made the film,” he said. It was a fun experience. All nice. We were just like them, young people.
I remember once when a bus stopped and the girls came out and said, ‘Please autographs?’ A lot of girls had autographs from us – not from The Beatles.”
He shares his memories with guests through black-and-white photos from the movie set, framed on the restaurant wall.
Nostalgia is also on the drinks menu, with Flower Power special cocktails – like Yellow Submarine and Hey Jude – served in The Beatles Bar. I stayed at Hotel Tauernglöckl, a four-star, traditional mountain hotel consisting of big rooms and self-contained apartments.
Many boast stunning views of the slopes, and there is a handy spa and restaurant pizzeria serving hearty dishes.
If the heavy eating leaves you a little lethargic, try funky cafe-bar Mundwerk for lighter, international cuisine.
It’s not easy deciding where to go for a nightcap as there are so many, but Lurzer Alm does them well.
A landmark bar resembling the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale house, it is the brainchild of Herbert Lurzer, Paul McCartney’s body double from The Beatles movie.
With huge beer mugs and revellers urged to dance on tables or pole dance on the bar, they guarantee you “action until the floorboards creak”.
But if, like me, you actually remember when The Beatles were all the rage, then you may wish to call it a hard day’s night.