The ski area at Rifflsee on the Pitztal glacier boasts a new lift
system, taking skiers from the valley station up to the top at 2350m in only 4
minutes. From the top skiers can experience a new ski run, whcih has been
specially designed for slalom training for race teams. The run has been graded a
red to black but for those less experienced there is also an easier blue to
follow. For more information visit www.pitztaler-gletscher.at
If you want to ski in the knowledge there will be guaranteed snow throughout the winter and enjoy an early winter break in November or December or alternatively to ski in spring sunshine in late April or May, then look no further than this region of the Tirol.
For the British skier, Pitztal is still largely "un-chartered territory" but once discovered you will want to return time and time again. There is a lot of skiing throughout the Pitztal Valley such as the area of Hochzeiger above the village of Jerzens where pisted runs start from 2560m.There is a new 6-seater chairl;ift and improvements have been made to the restaurant in the Hockzeiger ski region.
An efficient gondola system takes skiers from just above the village and joins with lifts to either Sechzeiger (2392m) or to Tanzalm (2000m). Further up the Valley above Mandarfen (1640m) is the skiing area of Rifflsee where a series of lifts ascend to Grubenkopf (2806m). The Bergstation is 2300m and having reached this by a new and rapid gondola there are black and red runs especially from the Grubenkopf lift at 2806m. There are also some comfortable blue pistes for the not so experienced enthusiasts.
However, the main skiing area is The Pitztal Gletscher, which is reached by the Pitztal Express underground funicular. It rises from the base station at 1740m to 2840m from where you have a choice of modern chairlifts or a cable car up to Hinterer Brunnenkogel at 3440m. The skiing here is extensive and challenging but mostly no more than difficult red pistes. Most British skiers should find the runs challenging but manageable!
The Pitztal Valley is vast with lots of choice of accommodation. Most of the hotels are small, family-run businesses offering typical and very good Tirol hospitality. Obviously the further up the Valley you go the more popular the accommodation but there are White Weeks to select from, especially before Christmas, in January and also in springtime when the schools have gone back.
The journey from Calais is one of about 10/11 hours and the Valley leads off the Arlberg to Innsbruck motorway at Arzl. A recommended route is Calais, Dunkirk, Lille, Namur, Luxembourg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart and towards Ulm. Then turn right and head south but follow the directions Fussen (Fern Pass). This brings you out at Imst and then follows the signpost for Arzl and the Pitztal Valley. Snow chains should definitely be carried, as these are sometimes required for the Fern Pass and certainly at the top end of the Pitztal Valley. You can fly into Innsbruck Airport with Austrian Airlines from Gatwick with a coach transfer of less than an hour.
The 2009-10season is due to open at the end of November and last until the third week of April, 2010.