At the best snow sure ski resorts in Austria you can be skiing from now through till May.
Or even year round at a couple of them! Who knows, international travel may be back on the menu for us before the 20-21 season ends. Whenever you can go, put these on your list as 5 great resorts to visit with super reliable snow conditions over the longest seasons.
Stubai Glacier the ‘Kingdom of Snow’
The Stubai Glacier, aka The Kingdom of Snow, is only 45 minutes outside Innsbruck and could easily run all summer long. It’s the the largest glacier ski area in Austria reaching 3,200m – but they close for a few weeks lift maintenance in September.
From October to June snow is guaranteed, and you are pretty much guaranteed a great snow experience.
Stubaigletscher has won many awards for best glacier skiing.
The access is incredibly easy thanks to gorgeous new Eisgrat cable car lift. This is the longest tri-cable gondola to be built in the Alps, and the largest single investment made by an Austrian ski resort.
Stubai is great for families too, and children under 10 years ski for free.
The freeriding is spectacular, and among the best organised anywhere thanks to the hardworking Powder Department crew. They have free GPS tracks to download and use with your GPS app. They recommend downloading the free Stubai Region app to use with it.
There’s an Ortovox Training Park at the Gamsgarten base with free equipment for training and introductory courses run on demand.
With a 60cm snowfall already last week conditions were excellent for re-opening day on October 2. Already they have 583m of vertical on offer, which is more than everywhere except Thredbo in Australia in peak winter!
As their season gets into gear that grows to over 1500m vertical, and you won’t find anywhere more snow sure in Austria, Europe or most of the World for that matter.
Getting to Stubai is only 45 minutes from Innsbruck
More info here
Hintertux Glacier – 365 days skiing a year!
Hintertux Glacier has a simple but effective way of staying open year round: duplicate parallel lifts on the upper glacier, so maintenance can be done while keeping things open.
That reliability makes it popular with international ski and snowboard teams too, as well as casual enthusiasts. They get clients from well over 50 countries a year normally.
Access via the 3 stage Gletscherbus (Glacier Bus – you knew that!) is worth it for the views alone. The top stage is the highest dual cable car in the World, reaching 3,250m.
The reality of climate change is being dealt with in innovative ways across the alps. At Hintertux ‘Glacier fleece’ is used as a protective measure against melting. On average, 5 people work for four whole months to lay the fleece mat covering. 80,000m² of protective fleece is laid. That keeps an average of 2 to 5 metres of snow and ice intact underneath the protective sheet. A single roll of glacier fleece is 5m wide, 70 m long and is used for 2 summers.
Extensive snowmaking even on the glacier is another sign of the times. According to conditions anywhere between 40 and 120 snow guns can operate simultaneously.
So Hintertux maintains it’s year-round opening record.
Summer snow is a novelty to be enjoyed if you are in Tirol that time of year, and as they point out a golfer pays up to € 75.00 for the use of an 18-hole course, while a one-day ski pass on the Hintertux glacier is € 52.00, which = no-brainer to us!
For mainstream snow enthusiasts the bottom line at Hinterux is snow sure conditions from autumn through to the end of spring, from 1500m – 3250m for most of that.
There’s a handful of nice hotels at the Hintertux base, but not much else, or you can stay further down the valley all the way to pimping Mayrhofen, with lots of accommodation options. The free Green Bus connects you to the resort.
The wider Zillertal 300 region, of which Hintertux is just the pinnacle, offers plenty more for all tastes.
Getting to Hintertux Access is super easy via Innsbruck for international visitors.
More info here
Pitztal the Roof of Tirol
Pitztal is called the roof of Tirol, but it’s literally the roof of Austrian skiing. The state-of-the-art Wildspitzbahn lift zaps you up to the top of 3,440m Hinterer Brunnenkogel, the highest lift in the country. The aptly named Café 3440 is the highest mountain restaurant in Austria too, with fabulous views from the suspended terrace.
That’s even 200m higher than Hintertux, at the head of the long Pitztal valley, with a feeling of remoteness. So no surprises it has very reliable snow conditions from September to May. Snow is guaranteed here too – 90% of the pistes are above 2,000m.
Ptiztal is harder to get to, and not a huge ski area, so it’s quieter than many Austrian ski destinations. We rate it one of the best for powder and freeriding, and a great place to get your powder skill set together too. Of course if it socks in it’s not so pleasant, and at this altitude it can get cold, but bluebird days are common.
The glacier area has easy runs for family cruising. Together with the inter-connected Rifflsee Ski Area they provide 40km of immaculately groomed pistes.
Rifflesee also boasts what is claimed as the World’s first child-safe chair lift, the Sunna Alm Bahn. The chairs are extremely low in the access area, so that children can sit down easily, and there is even a special Pitzi Seat for each kid. The safety bar closes and opens automatically while heated seats ensure a comfortable and safe lift ride.It’s safe for mum and dad’s wallets too, children under 10 years ski for free if with at least one parent.
The Hochzeiger area from 1450 – 2450m further down the valley offers another 40km of runs, mostly easy and intermediate.
To stay there are a series of hamlets heading down the valley, with just a couple of options at the Rifflsee base. The Pitztal local website makes booking them easy.
Getting to Pitztal is simplest via Innsbruck, it’s 60km from the airport. By train accommodation bookings can provide vouchers for free bus transfers from Imst-Pitztal station to your accommodation, the public bus runs hourly. The Pitztal Leisure Pass for €5.00 allows you to use the shuttle service throughout the valley for the duration of your stay.
More info check their site here
Another Austrian summer snow star, Mölltaler Gletscher near Flattach is the only glacier in Carinthia, southern Austria. They closed this year on August 16, and are re-opening on October 2nd. It sure does help topping out at 3122m!
That also means it’s a snow sure star, another Austrian glacier that guarantees top-quality snow conditions for more than 330 days per year.
But they also have back up: more than 90% of the 210ha of piste is covered by artificial snow.
Not surprisingly, Mölltaler is another favourite with ski and snowboard teams, including the Austria Ski Team.
Being tucked away means it’s quieter to stay. There’s a youth hostel high on the mountain. Closest hotel to the base, just 600m from the funicular, is the charming Alpen Hotel Badmeister. Otherwise Flattach has some 1200 guest beds, 9km below the base.
Getting to Mölltaler Glacier is easy via Lienz, the closest city; or you could come down from Salzburg also – or indeed up from the Dolomites in Italy over the Brenner Pass.
More info here
Sölden, epitomy of a Super Resort
Last but definitely not least, Sölden is the epitomy of a super resort. It’s also one of the best known around the World thanks to the spectacular Ice Q Restaurant and Gaislachkogelbahn Top Station featuring in the 007 classic Spectre in 2015.
It easily makes the grade as one of Europe’s most snow sure resorts, the only one in Austria to offer 3 peaks over 3000m altitude – Gaislachkogl (3,048 m), Tiefenbachkogl (3,250 m) and Schwarze Schneide (3,340 m). Collectively they are known as the BIG 3 Vista Points, and you must at least do the first two, which are lift accessed, featuring the Ice Q as noted with a viewing platform connected to roof terrace, and a vertigo inspiring suspended “Pyramid’ walkway at Tiefenbachkogl. The highest, a natural platform at Schwarze Schneide, involves a 90m vertical hike above the gondola station. It takes about 20 minutes, and is well worth it for the spectacular 360 degree panorama spanning over 100km from the Dolomites in the South to the Zugspitze peak in the North.
Sölden’s Rettenbach Glacier more often than not hosts the first World Cup events of the season. These normally draw a huge crowd of enthusiasts to watch, cheer and party. This year is a little different, with no spectators allowed. But it will once again emphasise the quality of the early season skiing here as the The 2020-2021 FIS World Cup Season kicks off in Sölden in October with a women’s and men’s giant slalom on October 16 and 17.
Altitudes like this guarantee long descents, over 2000m lift accessed vertical at Sölden. Plus a super long season, from October to May and reliable snow conditions.
The ‘Autumn Season’ from late September offers 10 lifts, 34.5 km of runs and up to 575m vertical on the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach Glaciers, which are linked by a scenic 1.7 km long ski tunnel at 3,240m above sea level that guarantees a quick and easy change from one glacier to the other, so you can ski both on the same day. It’s a 14 km drive or bus ride up from Sölden to the glacier ski area.
In the main season the terrain choice explodes to 145km of runs, hooked up by high tech lifts.
Around 76% of Sölden’s groomed pistes have snowmaking, while the extensive off-piste provide the true alpine terrain experience that is the primary lure for expert skiers looking for a challenge.
To stretch the legs the longest run is 15km, dropping 1880m vertical.
When it’s time to relax and refuel 33 mountain huts and restaurants are scattered around the area, plus plenty more dining options in the villages.
Getting to Sölden Fly to Innsbruck, 85km to Solden, or Munich 210km 2 – 3 hours. Rail to Ötztal Bahnhof with bus/taxi to the resorts. The Ötztal areas are linked by a bus network that’s free for skiers.
More info here
Austrian Tourism info (including latest updates on COVID-19 etc) here
For more information about the safety measures for the upcoming winter season in Austria check here