For those who can wait to get back on the slopes, November and the beginning of December offer some great skiing and often at reduced prices. Find out where to go for the best early snow in Tyrol, Austria.
First of all, there are glaciers, where skiing is possible almost all-year round. The five Tyrolean Glaciers offer ski enthusiasts perfect conditions and snow guarantee from October till June. Skiing on a glacier means more snow, more sun, more views and more fun on the slopes. The majestic alpine scenery at 3,000 meters above sea level is unforgettable with 360° views of the surrounding mountains. There are 638 of these magic mountains in Tyrol and five glacier ski resorts: Kaunertal, Pitztal, Sölden, Stubai and Hintertux.
Hintertux is the only Tyrolean glacier that is open for skiing all year round. This year the winter season started at Hintertux started on October 10 and there was more than 110 cm of snow available to enjoy in early November (Ski passes cost €50 a day for the full day). I skied at the glacier a couple of times and generally like it. However, I get tired fast of many T-bar lifts in operation at the glacier. To avoid being pulled by a T-bar all day long, head to my favorite Stubai glacier.
Stubai glacier is great to ski anytime during the season. This is the biggest of the five Tyrolean glaciers and the most family-friendly one. For the low-down on skiing with kids on Stubai glacier see this post. The winter season on Stubail glacier started this year on September 25 and the snow level was about 80 cm in early November. Ski passes cost €44 a day and include free bus transportation to the lifts from nearby villages.
Some reviewers call Sölden the “Wild Wild West” or the “Las Vegas” of skiing. In addition to the glacier area, Sölden offers many kilometers of regular “lower” slopes, a total of 150 km, to be exact. While the skiing surpasses or at least rivals the posh resorts of St. Anton and Kitzbühel, the vacationers won’t find a quiet idyllic Alpine Village at the bottom of the lifts. The lively atmosphere of a party town invites skiers and snowboarders alike to one of the best après skiing in the Alps. For those looking to enjoy world-class skiing Sölden has to offer but skip the partying, the village of Hochsölden, half way up the mountain, offers ski-in ski-out access to the slopes and a bunch of upscale 4-star hotels.
Sölden’s glacier is also the place, where the season opening of the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup takes place every year in the last weekend of October. Moreover, it is an Official European Training Home Base of the U.S. Ski Team. Recently, Sölden also got an approval nod from the Hollywood. The recent James Bond installment, “Spectre”, was filmed in Sölden with about 20 minutes of the action flick devoted to the alpine scenery of the resort. The filming took place around the turn of the year 2014/15 and the movie features the most thrilling action scenes and the wildest chases on the ultra-modern mountain gondola, on Sölden‘s ski slopes and the panoramic Glacier Road with Europe‘s highest road tunnel. One of the reason’s Sölden was chosen as a filming location is rumored to be its Ice Q restaurant. Perched on the altitude of 3,048-meters, the distinctive cuboid-shaped Ice Q Restaurant features the walls of sheer glass offering unobstructed view of the surrounding mountain landscape. You can read more about where the Spectre was filmed here.
One more non-glacier location suitable for early season skiing is worth mentioning. Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, located just a few kilometers from Sölden, is Europe’s highest traditional village, opens its lifts to skiers on November 12 in 2015. Not only this resort is one of the first to open each year, but it also offers a snow guarantee and is one of your best bets for a white Christmas. Ski passes cost €45 a day for the full day and can be combined with Sölden for an additional fee.