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A Guide To Skiing in the Austrian Alps

A Guide To Skiing in the Austrian Alps

Planning a ski journey overseas? To Japan? France? Switzerland? Contemplate taking one other take a look at Austria, which by some means, someway, nonetheless flies beneath the radar regardless of its world-class resorts and ski areas. 

The far western a part of the nation, referred to as Tyrol, is simply two hours south of Munich and is comprised of steep mountains and tight valleys. Locals say that the huge, rolling terrain is so jagged that solely 12 % of it may be constructed upon. Wanting on the panorama, it’s straightforward to consider. From the city-side slopes above the streets of Innsbruck to the huge, majestic peaks of the Arlberg, chasing powder in Austria is straightforward – simply hop the practice and cruise down the valley. 

The Arlberg 

The Arlberg refers back to the collective, related ski space in Tyrol that covers about 20 sq. miles of terrain – greater than double the dimensions of Vail. What’s much more spectacular is how related that huge space is; not solely does the Arlberg have an in depth community of 88 lifts, it additionally has a community of almost ten villages that unite the area. Critically, wanting on the map will make you drool. A number of the villages are an image postcard, simply large enough for a restaurant and small inn. Others are extra established, providing the robust social vibes of the European après scene. 

In all probability probably the most unbelievable facet for us North People, who stay in a ski world the place overlap is extraordinarily unusual, is that each one the lifts and villages within the Arlberg are related and operated underneath one raise ticket that prices simply $64 a day, lower than half of what you’d anticipate to pay at a single big-name resort within the States and Canada. You’ll want a minimum of every week within the Arlberg to do it justice – any much less, and also you’re simply scratching the floor of what it presents. Dip into the totally different villages for meals and beers, chat up locals on the raise to seek out the most effective off-piste runs, and don’t miss out on an space referred to as Valluga. Its entrance aspect is open to all, however its bottom is open solely to these with a licensed information and avy gear. Hiring a information will set you again a pair hundred bucks, however take a look at it as a once-in-a-lifetime probability to entry this in any other case off-limits terrain. 

St. Anton is taken into account the primary hub and crown jewel of the Arlberg, and it’s the place you’ll need to relaxation your head. It has a fame for being a rambunctious après ski city, particularly at locations just like the Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh, the place individuals dancing on tables in ski boots isn’t unusual. But when partying is just not your factor, don’t fret. The city is well-rounded sufficient to seek out no matter vibe you search, with a variety of motels, eating places, bars, outlets and saunas. St. Anton is wealthy in ski historical past, most notably because the birthplace of alpine snowboarding, headlined by the efforts of its most well-known native, Hannes Schneider. 

Otztal Valley

In case you’re a James Bond fan, you’ve seen the Otztal Valley earlier than – it was the setting for an epic chase scene within the 2015 movie, Spectre. Situated about midway between St. Anton and Innsbruck, Otztal is house to 6 ski resorts that straddle its slender valley. Three of them stand out from the remaining because of their measurement and proximity to at least one one other. 


Soeldon is the identify of the ski space and the city that sits under it. It’s the primary winter sports activities’ hub of the Otztal Valley, and although it isn’t as related because the Arlberg, the standard of its slopes and the vary of its terrain rivals any single portion of it. The city of Soeldon is roughly the identical measurement as St. Anton by the attention check, with a full vary of lodging, eating and leisure choices (although Soeldon as a area is technically a lot greater). 

On the slopes, Soeldon has about 90 miles of trails and three towering peaks that eclipse 10,000 ft, the highlights for intermediates and superior skiers being the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glacier areas. One other enjoyable aspect of Soeldon is a collection of problem programs that embrace a slalom monitor and mini ski bounce, amongst others, which might be unfold throughout the slopes and free to attempt as you peruse the mountain. James Bond followers ought to go to the 007 Parts museum at mid-mountain, whose interactive reveals pay homage to the collection and to Soeldon’s position in Spectre. For lunch, attempt conventional dishes on the Tiroler Stube. 

Obergurgl – Hochgurgl

Attempt saying these two names 5 occasions quick. Simply fifteen minutes down valley from Soeldon, Obergurgl and Hochgurgl are technically two totally different ski areas, but they function underneath the identical move and a horizontal-moving gondola connects them at mid-mountain. A lot much less crowded and extra sparsely developed than Soeldon, it’s a real skiers’ mountain with expansive valley views and wide-open, treeless terrain that spans throughout the 2 resorts. Head straight as much as the Prime Mountain Star on Hochgurgl for unbeatable views of the valley, and over to the Hohe Mut Alm on Obergurgl for beers on the patio, surrounded by peaks. 


Innsbruck Valley

Metropolitan areas like Denver and Salt Lake Metropolis are interesting to skiers due to the entry they supply to the mountains, combining the town and outside life. Whereas a lot smaller than these two aforementioned cities, Innsbruck serves this objective in Austria. Scrunched in between the towering peaks on both aspect of the slender valley, the small metropolis of not even 150,000 residents is Western Tyrol’s gateway to journey. 

Day journeys to St Anton and Soeldon are potential, however the actual attraction are the smaller native mountains close by, lots of which may be seen from the town streets. When you see individuals standing on the road nook with ski boots – and you’ll – they’re ready for the free metropolis ski bus that providers the encompassing resorts. 9 of Innsbruck’s resorts might be skied with on a single move (Olympiaworld Skipass) that prices simply $160 for 3 days.

Listed here are a number of of the notable resorts to take a look at: 

Stubai Glacier 

They name Stubai Glacier the “Kingdom of Snow,” and although it does cater to households, it’s the place critical riders will discover the most important assortment of open and difficult terrain, together with bowls and chutes. You can too burn your legs on size – Stubai’s longest run is simply over six miles from prime to backside, rivaling the longest trails right here in North America. 


The drive to Kuhtai will get you filter out of Innsbruck. The winding street passes by means of small villages and delightful forests, making you are feeling such as you’re touring far out within the nation. But, the drive is a simple 45 minutes. Kuhtai’s eliminated, scenic environment, dependable snow cowl, vary of slopes, and abundance of amenities (pubs and eating places) make it a well-liked choice for native households who want a bit of little bit of every part. There are many mellow slopes and conveyor-belt lifts for teenagers, a terrain park for tricksters, and intermediate off-piste choices for superior skiers. Ski tourers additionally like this space for the routes on two close by mountains, Sulzkogel and Pirchkogel. 

Stubai Glacier

Axamer Lizum 

Take a experience on one of many lifts at Axamer Lizum and also you’re more likely to end up sitting subsequent to a school scholar. The go-to resort for younger individuals dwelling or learning in Innsbruck, Axamer presents the sort of terrain freeriders are in search of – vast slopes, accessible chutes and a variety of pink (North America’s equal of blue/black) and black trails (consists of each black and double black scores of North America). The resort has a particular historical past twist as nicely: The Olympic funicular ski raise from 1976 – an enormous, purple block-shaped tram automotive – nonetheless brings individuals to the highest of the mountain, and it’s definitely a website to see because it crawls up its tracks and other people ski down beside it. 


In all probability probably the most native hill surrounding Innsbruck, Patscherkofel’s location can barely be thought-about outdoors of the town – it’s only a 15-minute drive from the town middle. With solely a handful of runs, it’s the sort of place one may hit for a half-day after or earlier than work. For guests, the attraction is getting off the resort monitor and getting a style for a no-frills, really native mountain. Patscherkofel is a superb choice for those who solely have a half day to ski and need quick entry to the slopes.  


Talking of fast entry, Nordkette sits virtually immediately throughout the valley from Patscherkofel, wanting down on Innsbruck from the opposite aspect. Whereas Patscherkofel attracts households and mellow skiers, the youth of Innsbruck flock to Nordkette. Accessible from the town middle by way of the Hungerburg funicular and a cable automotive, it provides a powerful freestyle and park scene in addition to steep slopes that, if you realize the place you’re going, may be skied right down to the sting of the town (discover a native to assist!). Don’t anticipate a full day of no repeats – there’s lower than six miles of ski routes – however it’s one other good half-day choice to discover the native scene. In case your timing is true, ski a Friday afternoon and parlay it into the weekly Cloud 9 Igloo social gathering from 6 -11 p.m. 

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