5 Top Picks for Early Season Skiing in Austria
“Early Season Skiing” was first published in 2017. It was such a popular blog, we decided to make a few updates and share it once again. So here we go, back by popular demand!
Every November, society divides itself into two distinct groups. There are those who ski and those who should ski. Despite grey skies, and darkness by 5:00 pm, the upcoming ski season fills the skier's heart and soul with pulsing anticipation. We check snow reports more frequently than a teenager checks her Instagram account. And despite dodgy pre-season snowfall in recent years, the prepared skier will find the best snow and slope combination.
The team at SkiGala selected 5 great Austrian resorts for your early skiing getaway. It is by no means the definitive guide (there is fierce competition throughout the Alps!) however it is the first step in trading in your bikini for a ski suit.
We have the rental skiwear ready by the way. Just let us know your size and the destination where to send it! Here are some fantastic possibilities:
# 1 Hintertux Glacier: 1500 - 3250 m
Hintertux is largely considered Europe's best and definitely Europe's steepest glacier. It is open year-round and at the time of writing, 16 of 21 lifts are operating on 37 km of slopes. The nickname Wintertux is well-deserved.
Photo credit: www.hintertux.com
The “Gletscherbus 3” is the highest-lying continuous gondola lift in the world.
When everything is operational, they have 60 km of slopes to enjoy and during the winter, it connects with the ski resorts of the Zillertal with 196 km of runs. Talk about spoiled for choice.
# 2 Ischgl Paznaun: 1400 - 2870 m
The Silvretta Arena offers a large expanse of skiing above the tree line yet without a glacier. They have invested heavily in a high capacity lift system and can transport 95,000 skiers per hour, so no need to worry about lift line-ups. The ski portal SnowPlaza voted Ischgl the best ski resort in 2020. The mountain offers something for every type of skier, from mogul enthusiasts to free-riders, from beginners to off-piste enthusiasts.
Photo credit: www.ischgl.com
And don’t be fooled by the sleepy appearance of the village. Ischgl has been described as “the absolute aprés ski epicentre of the world”.
Dancing on the bar is almost mandatory. https://www.ischgl.com/en
Sölden: 1380 - 3250 m
The Alpine Ski World Cup racing season starts in Soelden every year in late October and the lifts open to lesser skiing mortals in late November. Soelden in Oetztal has some impressive statistics: 144 kilometres of slopes, 3 peaks higher than 3000 metres accessible by lift and the 007 ELEMENTS James Bond Adventure World.
Photo credit: www.soelden.at
The two glaciers, Rettenbach and Tiefenbach, are used as training locations for ski teams from around the world.
Soelden recently started a Glacier Test Center, which offers 600+ pairs of the newest models of skis from all of the best ski producers including Atomic, Fischer, Stoeckl, Voelkl, Head and Rossignol to name just a few. What are you waiting for?
Kitzsteinhorn Kaprun: 2000 - 3000 m
Kitzsteinhorn is best known for its extremely long ski season from October to well into spring and even early summer. The opening of the 3K K-onnection with a new lift network that connects Kaprun, Maiskogel and Kitzsteinhorn made the resort bigger and better. Events with ski legends like the legendary Wolfgang Ambros (if you don’t know him and still call yourself a skier, then shame on you) kick off the season with concerts and light shows.
Photo credit: www.kitzsteinhorn.at
It’s more than a ski resort too. Non-skiing tourists (poor dears) from around the world come to enjoy the sensational panorama views of the Hohe Tauern National Park and enjoy a good meal at the Gipfel Restaurant, Salzburg’s highest restaurant at 3,029 metres above sea level.
Obergurgl & Hochgurgl: 1930 - 3080 m
Their snow-making abilities cover 99% of the slopes. The high altitude promises colder temperatures. The combination is a November to May long ski season that can move 40,000 skiers per hour. (And if all else fails, there is also a link to the Soelden glacier!) There is an outdoor party every Friday afternoon in the Funzone am Giggijoch.
Photo credit: www.obergurgl.com
Was this an article about early skiing or great parties? In the end, it seems to be both. Having a great time in the mountains never gets old. In the epic words of Wolfgang Ambros, „Schifoan is des leiwaundste, wos ma sich nur vurstelln kann“.
Do you have a favourite? If you think we missed anything, let us know. Happy skiing!