We can all feel it coming now, can’t we? Winter is fast approaching: and with it, the chance to ski once more. We can’t wait.
But what are the people who actually live in the mountains looking forward to, once the season gets underway? We asked seven locals in the Austrian Tirol for their thoughts.
Matt Clarke, Innsbruck
I can’t wait for those beautiful bluebird mornings the day after a good snowfall – breath steaming in the cold, clear air, mountains blanketed in a fresh white coat, and that buzz of anticipation as everyone rushes to their favourite stashes for a few powder laps before work. Just as I was in this video at Axamer Lizum, high above Innsbruck – with the city spread out in the valley below.
For anyone who wants to follow in my tracks, check out the avalanche controlled ski routes at Axamer Lizum. Number 19 is particularly cool as it runs all the way down to Axams, so it’s a really long run on a power day. But you do have get the bus back. Even better: hire a guide and let him or her take you to wherever the snow is good.
Marie-Sophie Münch, Zillertal
Kaiserschmarrn in a mountain hut: when I’m out in the Zillertal, that’s my great weakness. I always tell myself I’m going to stop after the main course. But then a waiter will walk past the table carrying Kaiserschmarrn for someone else. It’s always home-made, always fresh, and I’ll smell the apples, and the pancakes, and that earthy undertone of nuts – and my resolve dissolves completely. Skiing can wait, I tell myself. This is my day off. I deserve a proper lunch.”
Zoe Symington, St Anton
Here at the Piste to Powder, one of our favourite off-piste descents is Maroikopf to Langen, and we’ll be heading there with clients as soon as the powder base has built up. It’s accessible from the Albona hut, west of St Anton, via a short hike to Maroikopf – where you are rewarded with spectacular views from the summit. There are many options from here. So even on busy days our guides can chose a safe, untracked line that’s away from other groups.
The run starts in the wide-open powder fields you can see in the video above, but it ends with some awesome powder tree skiing. From Langen we take a taxi to Stuben for lunch at the Hotel Mondschein or Apres Post Stuben. Then we often do the run again. We call it Langen looping – and it’s addictive.
Astrid Zauner, Kühtai
I love the quietness of the mountains in winter. So when I’m not guiding clients for my company Mountains and Sea in Kühtai, I really look forward to ski touring with my friends. When the moon is full we tour to the peak while it’s still dark, so we can enjoy the sunrise from the top. On mornings like this the world is a very wonderful place.
The picture above is of me at the top of the 2337m Grubenkopf in the Stubai Alps on January 4 this year. It’s a very easy but beautiful tour and almost the whole ascent and descent faces north or northeast.
Gloria Schultes, Ötztal
One of my favourite activities in winter is cross country skiing. And what’s perfect for me is that Längenfeld in the Ötztal offers a night-skiing track with romantic lightning. It’s 15 minutes down the valley from Sölden, and after a long day at work, I love ski-skating there to clear my head.
Give yourself plenty of time if you want to follow in my tracks. That way, you can finish the evening relaxing in the one of the spectacular outdoor pools of the thermal spa Aqua Dome. I’d thoroughly recommend it.
Theresa Hager, St Johann in Tirol
I can’t wait for my first toboggan run at the Bacheralm. You’ll find it in a little pocket of peace and quiet in the hills above St Johann in Tirol – backed by the saw-toothed peaks of the Wilderkaiser mountains. The Hotel Gut Kramerhof runs the toboggan track and hires out sledges at €8 for adults and €7 for children. You ride on a tractor or jeep (included in the rental price) to the gorgeous little Bacheralm hut, and then – on a snowy meadow, surrounded by white, frosted fir trees – you can let rip: 2km downhill (under floodlights if it’s dark). It’s such a simple and refreshing pleasure at the end of the day. Everybody’s smiling.
Michael Zangerl, Ischgl
It’s simple. I cannot wait to get back to teaching people how to ski. Skiing by yourself is fine. We did a lot of it last year. But I’ve been an instructor with the Ischgl Ski School for 25 years. I miss being with people from all over the world, and helping them progress: seeing their confidence grow and their smiles broaden as they learn new things. And when you’re with a group of experienced skiers, and you can ski fresh powder, off-piste: well, that’s best of all. On days like that, you can feel a little bit guilty that you’re getting paid.
The British are, by the way, really easy to teach: because they never complain about the weather! Even if it’s snowing hard they are just pleased to be out, having fun.
For more information on current Covid-safety protocols in the Tirol check out Welcome.Tirol.