Top Lift: 3250m
Ski area: 227km of piste
Adult lift pass: 224€ for six days
In a Nutshell
Hintertux is the best of the Alpine glaciers – thanks largely to the steep pitch of its slopes. For much of the summer and autumn, it’s a training ground for professional ski racers: but when winter comes skiers of all abilities in the Zillertal are glad of the snow insurance it provides.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
Tux im Zillertal is an association of five ski villages at far end of the Zillertal – a long, flat-bottomed valley, walled with peaks. which burrows into the mountains east of Innsbruck. The area shares its lift system with neighbouring Mayrhofen, and together, they offer wide range of ski terrain both above and below the treeline.
What’s made this place famous, however, is the Hintertux glacier.
The perfect pitch for off-season training
Set beneath the pyramid peak of the 3476m Olperer, the Hintertuxer Gletscher offers the widest variety of groomed, and lift-serviced glacier skiing in the Alps, as well as the steepest pistes. As a result, it’s a permanent fixture on the training schedules of many national ski teams: and if you ski there during the summer and autumn, you’ll find lane upon lane of gates set up on its steepest pitches to serve them. The spectacle provided by so many lycra-clad speed-merchants, blasting through GS gates at Mach2, is not something you’ll easily forget.
It’s not just the pros who use the Hintertux glacier in the off-season. Anyone who’s looking to get a head start on winter can ski there, and there are technique clinics aplenty for those looking to sharpen their skills. A couple of days up here with the right instructor can get your season off to a flying start.
In the winter, the glacier’s best used for day trips
Once the “proper” ski season gets underway, the scene changes dramatically. For Czechs, Poles and Russians, glacier skiing has a powerful allure, and they flood up here in their thousands in early December and late April, as well as the peak weeks. You’ll find plenty of other nations up there too. During winter, Hintertux’s greatest virtue is the snow-insurance it provides for all the other resorts in the Zillertal, and whenever conditions are iffy lower down, this is where canny skiers congregate.
Should you join them? Well, yes and no. The Hintertux is perfect for a few days of single-minded devotion to your ski technique – before winter starts, and provided you book a course with a ski school, such as the ATC, which has its own training lane (without gates to ski through you won’t get the full benefit). And it’s certainly worth day-tripping up here if you’re in the Zillertal in winter and the other, lower-elevation ski resorts are suffering from a thaw. If you can’t find cold, squeaky, reliable snow in the Hintertux, you’re not going to find it anywhere.
But we wouldn’t advise staying there for a proper holiday. At the base of the glacier lifts there’s a scattering of hotels and – although several of them offer good accommodation and a warm welcome, there’s not much atmosphere when the lifts shut. In common with glaciers everywhere, the pistes are a bit one-dimensional too – despite their varying pitch.
But families should consider Vorderlanersbach for a whole week
Another option is to stay a little lower down the valley, at Vorderlanersbach (where the children’s brilliant Playarena is based). Here, you get access up to the Eggalm and Rastkogel, part of the interconnected ski area shared with Mayrhofen. Provided you don’t stay by the main road – which gets heavy traffic most days, this is a viable budget option. Anyone looking for nightlife will prefer to stay down at Mayrhofen, which has much more apres-ski buzz.