Lies, damned lies, and statistics! I offer the following graphs and tables as a skiing summary of our Austria Adventure. I do not mean that this summary in any way represents the quality of our experience. There is no way to represent the discovery, the food, the hüttes, the service or the friendliness we witnessed with mere numbers.
At this point, we’ve skied 51 days (out of a possible 70) and visited 21 different areas (or, if you are counting by “town name convention, then 28). Barely put a dent in the Tirol Snow Card.
As one might expect, we favored the local hills … of the 11 areas within 30 minutes of our apartment, we only missed skiing at Mieders … only because it closed down before we could squeeze it in.
Our easternmost conquest, Kitzbühel is our last stop on the tour. Our westernmost visit was with the Kanaars and Sam and Heiner in Ischgl.
Our playground stretched 95 km east, 98 km west, 10 km north and 40 km south … an area of about 10,000 square kilometers. Shockingly, that’s about half of the area of New Hampshire (big difference being the sheer steepness of the mountains and their incredible density!)
Everything is within an easy half an hour’s highway jaunt with a valley finish of between 10 and 45 minutes. If there’s no snow on the road, getting there is a piece of cake.
We visited all manner of ski area … from the mega resorts – Zillertal (52 lifts) and Kitzbühel (50) to Oberperfus (4, if you count the magic carpet ) and Glungezer (5). Vertical drop went from a measly 500 M at Kühtai to a staggering 1990 M (6529 ft) at Sölden. Average base area was 1064 M with the average peak at 2365 M … that means that on average these area have between 1.5 and 2 times the vertical that we experience back home!
It’s hard to get a handle on the sheer volume of skiable terrain. The resorts do not publish “acreage” like US resorts (I recall 4400 acres out west and 866 at our home hill); there is no equivalent here. Also, number of runs is unsatisfying … Axamer Lizum reports 17 runs vs 132 at The River, both with 10 lifts!
Try comparing ‘length of runs’? Nope, that doesn’t work – 42 km (26 miles) at Axams, vs. 54 miles of trails at Sunday River. In my estimation, the resorts are about the same size, but at Axams, almost every square inch is skiable and there are ‘skiroutes’ you can take and end up a 30 minute bus ride from where you started the day (6 + hour bus ride at the big resorts)!
Over the course of 2+ months of skiing, we had a couple of big surprises: 1) almost every area was wonderful in some unique way and 2) we actually favor the smaller areas.
We get asked, “what is your favorite” …. well it depends! The ability to wake up in the morning and evaluate the prospects (east vs. west, south vs. north facing, low vs high, trees vs. above – tree, close to tourists vs. locals’ secret) makes for many tremendous experiences. Some places are better for snow, some better for sun, some better for vertical, some for food. Tell me what you are looking for and I’ll tell you where to head.
On the size topic, we loved Sölden, Zillertal, Mayrhofen and Ischgl, but actually preferred Patscherkofel, Schlick, Kappl, Axams and Seefeld in terms of pure skiing fun.
The graphic above kind of sums it up: if you want to lap 20,000 vertical feet before 10:30 am, Patscherkofel is your target! You have steep runs, a fast gondola with no lift lines and just pure skiing fun (and don’t forget Andi’s for a Williams Bierner at the end of the day)!
Phrase of the day
Gute Zeiten, tolle Freunde und fantastisches Skifahren ….. besuchen Sie Tirol!
Good Times, Great Friends and Fantastic Skiing … visit Tirol!