Heavy rain on snow often leads to disastrous damages in torrent watersheds. In January 1998 a project was started to investigate “runoff and infiltration characteristics of different alpine soil/vegetation units under snow cover”. One aim was to determine the runoff rates from snow-covered, differently cultivated soil/vegetation units (pastures, dwarf-shrub stands, forests), especially under conditions of sparse snow cover and frozen soil. Differences in runoff formation between artificially snowed skiing areas and plots with natural snow cover were also of interest. Heavy rain (intensity 100 mm h–1) was simulated on four plots by using a transportable spray irrigation installation. The investigations showed runoff coefficients of 0.4–0.7. The lowest runoff values were found where the soil under snow cover was not frozen, but even on these stands the runoff coefficient exceeded 0.4. Snow depth and runoff delay are strongly correlated (R2 = 0.8). An increment in snow of 10 cm is followed by a runoff delay of 3.6 min. Divergences from this coherence are due to the composition of the snowpack, especially in case of artificial snow. This result is encouraged by runoff simulations performed for the irrigated plots by use of a hydrological model.