Austrian Resorts News

The Wonders of Austrian Glacier Skiing

The article topic Austrian Resorts News

14 May 2019

With the 2018/2019 ski season nearly over in most places, you thought you would have to wait till next year to hit the slopes again. Well, it doesn't have to be the case. Did you know that on some glaciers in Austria you could be carving the pistes 365 days per year? So check out our piece about the seven Austrian glacier ski resorts and prepare yourself for another snow adventure soon. There is nothing like skiing in a T-shirt in the morning and suntanning in bikinis in the afternoon!

Hintertux Glacier ("Hintertuxer Gletscher") 

  • Open: Year-round
  • Altitude: Resort at 1,590m, lifts up to 3,250m
  • Ski terrain: 60km (c. 200km with off-glacier) 
  • Lifts: 21
  • Airports: Innsbruck 1h30, Salzburg 2h20, Munich 2h30  

The Hintertux Glacier lies in the Tyrolean Ziller Valley and offers a truly high-altitude experience with perfect natural snow and varied and perfectly groomed slopes between 1,600 and 3,250m. The ski area is extensive on its own with 60km of slopes, but in winter the Hintertux glacier becomes part of the broader Zillertal 3000 area boasting in total 199km of ski runs. Access is quick and easy - the three stretches of the Gletscherbahn take you all the way to the top of the glacier; higher up you will find some good modern chairlifts or, as is usual on glaciers, some drag-lifts. Diversity of terrains is the keyword here and everyone should leave satisfied - freeriders will love the Lärmstange skiruns and the Betterpark Hintertux. Families with kids can train and have fun with the "Luis" mascot at the Gletscherflohpark or at the funslope where a variety of fun-features is awaiting. At the top of the mountain opens a panorama terrace, accessible to wheelchairs and buggies, with breathtaking views extending to the Zugspitze, the Großglockner and even the Dolomites. The valley town of Hintertux is situated about 1km from the valley station plus there are a few accommodation options directly at the base. For those looking for some après-ski fun, the Hohenhaus Tenne at the lift base has several bars, a pizzeria and live music. 

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Stubai Glacier ("Stubaier Gletscher") 

  • Open: October to June
  • Altitude: Resort at 1,695m and lifts up to 3,200m
  • Ski terrain: 64km 
  • Lifts: 21
  • Airports: Innsbruck 45min, Salzburg 2h10, Munich 2h10 

Another Tyrolean ski resort glacier, the Stubai Glacier, is situated at the end of the Stubai Valley, easily accessible from Innsbruck in less than an hour. Whilst it does not offer year-round skiing, the season is still very long thanks to the high altitude above 3,000m. The resort offers some impressive infrastructure, especially with the latest addition of the 3S Eisgratbah, the longest lift of its kind in the Alps with 48 24-seaters cabins that whisk skiers and snowboarders to the top of the mountain in less than 12 minutes. Skiing is superb with mostly treeless gentle slopes. For freestylers there is the DC Stubai ZOO park; families with kids will appreciate the BIG Family area with nursery slopes, childcare options and a kids restaurant. Away from the pistes, there is a good choice of other activities from ice-climbing, climbing on the Fernau Via Ferrata, geocaching or ice-caves. Most accommodation options are in Neustift im Stubaital, a friendly town about 25min drive from the glacier. Conveniently, there is a regular and reliable direct bus from Innsbruck main station - a return ticket costs only €7.20!

Mölltal Glacier ("Mölltaler Gletscher")

  • Open: mid-June to May
  • Altitude: Lifts up to 3,120m
  • Ski Terrain: 17km slopes, 7km ski routes
  • Lifts: 9
  • Airports: Klagenfurt 1h20, Ljubljana 2h10, Salzburg 2h15, Innsbruck 3h20, Munich 3h40

The only glacier ski resort in the southern Austrian region of Carinthia, The Mölltal Glacier is open nearly year-round with a short break in May/June. It has got a good proportion of difficult ski runs, so it is no surprise it is used as a training area by several national ski teams. The higher amount of sunshine is another draw of this small resort. There is 17km of slopes, but the area is covered by the same skipass as nearby resorts of Ankogel and Heiligenblut, offering together an impressive 154km of pistes. There are 9 lifts including the underground Gletscherexpress that will take you directly from the parking up to the altitude of 2,200m. A special highlight is the stunning uninterrupted 5km downhill ride from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the lifts. Most accommodation options are concentrated in the nearby villages of Flattach, Mallnitz and Obervellach. Alternatively, if you like to be the first on the piste, you could stay at the Eisee hostel at 2,800m - there is also a renovated state-of-the-art restaurant tempting visitors with local Carinthian specialties.

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Sölden with twin glaciers Rettenbach & Tiefenbach

  • Open: October to June
  • Altitude: Resort at 1,370m, lifts up to 3,250m
  • Ski Terrain: 34,5km on glacier (144km with off-glacier slopes)
  • Lifts: 8 on glacier (34 with off-glacier lifts)
  • Airports: Innsbruck 1h10, Salzburg 2h50 , Munich 3h 

The powerhouse of après-ski scene, amazing high-altitude skiing and snowboarding, vast ski area  with additional terrains in nearby Obergurgl - Sölden has a great proposition for its visitors. It is also the only resort in Austria that combines a glacier area with a large "conventional" (i.e. non-glacier) winter ski area. The glacier area consists of the relatively challenging red and black slopes on the Rettenbach (this is  also where you will find the steep World Cup slope) and the more gentle flatter terrains of the Tiefenbach Glacier. Both glaciers are linked and accessible on both sides. There is a high panoramic road that leads from Sölden to the Rettenbach Glacier and then through the Rosi-Mittermeier tunnel further on to Tiefenbach Glacier. Interestingly, this winding road also served as a film shooting location for the James Bond Spectre movie. You can get more of the Bond action at the thrilling cinematic Elements Installation housed inside the summit of the Gaislachkogl Mountain in Sölden. If you don't feel like taking the 13km long route, then the glacier skibus is free for skiers. Après-ski is legendary in Sölden - up on the slopes, there is a number of lively stylish venues and you can continue the action down in the town where the main street is lined with bars and pubs that stay open until the early hours. 

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Kitzsteinhorn Glacier

  • Open: October to May
  • Altitude: Resort at 900m, lifts up to 3,030m
  • Ski Terrain: 40km (138km with Schmitenhöhe & Maiskogel)
  • Lifts: 17 (47 with Schmittenhöhe & Maiskogel) 
  • Airports: Salzburg 1h40, Innsbruck 2h20, Munich 2h55 

The only ski resort glacier in the Salzburgerland, the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier features about 40km of mostly treeless slopes. It is part of the wider Zell am See & Kaprun area. The glacier offers a fairly sized area - though only the highest part of the ski terrain sits actually on the glacier, the area is situated high enough to guarantee very good snow conditions even in shoulder seasons. The eagerly anticipated K-ONNECTION lift will connect the glacier with the Maiskogel Mountain in Kaprun which means that the glacier will be directly accessible from Kaprun. At the top of the glacier, the Gipfelwelt 3,000 viewing platform offers marvellous panorama of the Hohe Tauern National Park with its countless peaks. The Icecamp in main season is the best place for a cool drink, otherwise there are other inviting pitstop options scattered on the slopes. You have two great accommodation options in either Kaprun or Zell am See. Zell am See benefits from its scenic position on the lake and has become a mecca of different adrenaline activities and sports. The Tauern Spa in Kaprun is widely known around Austria - a huge aquatic pool with many saunas, pools and other attractions - the ideal place to relax after a day on the slopes.

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Pitztal Glacier ("Pitztaler Gletscher")

  • Open: Mid-September to May 
  • Altitude: Resort at 1,740m, lifts up to 3,340m
  • Ski Terrain: 40km
  • Lifts: 6
  • Airports: Innsbruck 1h20, Salzburg 3h10, Munich 3h 

Also called the "roof of Tyrol", The Pitztal ski area with the Rifflsee Glacier thanks to its high altitude offers arguably the best snow conditions in all of Austria. If you are lucky, you will come across some ski professionals who train here ahead of the season. Located at the end of the Pitztal valley, the glacier is accessible from the town of Madarfen, a pretty alpine town with all amenities and a few restaurants and bars. The resort has some great challenging ski runs and there is more in the pipeline, including a possible connection with Sölden. A breakfast at the Café 3.440, Austria's highest coffee house, is a special experience, not just because of its hearty platters and delicious cakes, but in equal measure thanks to the enchanting vista of the alpine peaks. Since 2017, there is another off-piste attraction in the form of daily raft rides on the Rifflsee - at 2,232m this is Europe's highest raft ride! there is also a secured ski touring park on the glacier with different mountaineering routes for all levels. 

Kaunertal Glacier ("Kaunertaler Gletscher") 

  • Open: October to June 
  • Altitude: Lifts up to 3,160m
  • Ski Terrain: 32.5km slopes, 30km ski routes
  • Lifts: 8
  • Airports: Innsbruck 1h50, Salzburg 3h40, Munich 3h40 

Yet another glacier in the Tyrol, the Kaunertal Glacier is located at the end of the valley and close to the small ski area of the Fendels Winterberg. It boasts a solid 32.5km of prepared slopes and 30km of natural ski routes, so the area is ideal for anyone who loves freestyle skiing and snowboarding. The backdrop is stunning thanks to the high altitude allowing infinite views of the mountains and the omnipresent peak of the Weißseespitze. Arriving at the Kaunertal is an experience of its own with a winding road leading up from the tranquil village of Feichten at 1,273m to a whopping 2,750m! The highest postbus stop in Austria is located here at 2,750m. Along the scenic 26km road you will find viewing stops with unforgettable views of the alpine scenery. No wonder the Kaunertal Glacier is a sought-after place for film location scouts - several films and series have been shot here, including scenes from the Bond Spectre movie, Triple X or the Bergdoctor. As the glacier is slightly off the beaten track, a great draw here is the lack of crowds. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the resort - currently under construction is the new snowpark "The Naturerun" that will literally merge with the surrounding nature and feature several theme-specific sections. Another special attraction is the "Pitbully Ride" where you can get in the cockpit of a real snow groomer and discover what this job is really like! The closest accommodation options are located in the town of Feichten. 

Dachstein Glacier ("Dachstein Gletscher") 

  • Open: Late October to December, January to June
  • Altitude: Lifts up to 2,700m
  • Ski Terrain: 5km 
  • Lifts: 9
  • Airports: Salzburg 1h20, Munich 2h50, Innsbruck 3h 

The Dachstein Glacier, the only glacier ski resort in the Austrian state of Styria, encompasses a relatively small ski area of just 5km, but it more than makes up for its modest size with breathtaking views and extra experiences it offers to visitors such as the the Dachstein Sky Walk, the Dachstein Suspension Bridge, the Ice Palace and the Staircase to nowhere. Especially freestyle enthusiasts can completely let off steam on the thrilling descents of the glacier. The 1,000m ascent with the state-of-the-art gondola is a chilling ride passing steep cliffs and rocks. The lovely town of Ramsau am Dachstein has a good choice of accommodation and at less than 10km away from the glacier provides the best access point. 

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