The ski season starts…

8,000 people were skiing in the Austrian resort of Stubai last weekend in the best October conditions in recent memory. But where are the Brits? PlanetSKI reports from the Austrian Tirol.


The car park at the bottom of the main lift at Solden in the Austrian Tirol at the weekend was overflowing.

People were frantically pulling their ski gear out of their cars and hurrying to the lift to get to the slopes before the masses turned up.

There was more than a touch of expectation and excitement in the air.

It was just before 9.00am but it was too late – the queues had already formed.

Popular spot

Popular spot. Image © PlanetSKI

Winter awaits

Winter awaits. Image © PlanetSKI

Jostling for position

Jostling for position. Image © PlanetSKI

“This is the best start to a season that many can remember in the Tirol we open ahead of schedule in September and we now have about 50kms of skiing available for our customers. It is certainly unusual to have so much snow at this time of year, but it is very, very welcome,” said the marketing manager of Stubai, Micheal Gstrein, to PlanetSKI.

Michael Gstrein, one happy man

Michael Gstrein; one happy man. Image © PlanetSKI

Over 70cm of snow fell a week ago and word has spread.

By sheer chance we bumped into a Greek reader/reporter of PlanetSKI, Kostas Valtadoros.

He had seen we were in the resort over on Facebook.

He lives in Stuttgart in Germany and had driven with his wife, Viktoria, for 3 hours to be in resort for the lift opening. They set of at 05.30am.

“The snow is wonderful, the sun is out, we have pre-paid Tirol season lift passes so why would we not want to be here?” said Kostas. The early start did not seem to bother him and his wife.

They were just keen to get on snow as soon as they could.

Its all Greek

The winter begins. Image © PlanetSKI

Up on the slopes of the Solden glacier resort it was packed.

Solden offers ski and snowboard testing at this time of year in an effort to bring in business along with music, outdoor food and a party atmosphere.  Most people would have come anyway as the conditions are so good.

On the glacier there is little sign of the ice underfoot – it is all covered by snow.

It is a similar picture across all the open glacier resorts in this part of the Alps – see here for an earlier PlanetsKI report from Solden.

We also visited Pitztal that has the highest glacier skiing in the Tirol with the slopes going up to 3,440m.

The drive in to the resort was full of expectation.

Pitztal awaits

Pitztal awaits. Image © PlanetSKI

While the views from the top were simply stunning.

The Austrian Tirol

The Austrian Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

October views

October views. Image © PlanetSKI

There is always skiing and snowboarding at this time of year, but often it is simply race teams, ski instructors, ski clubs and the ultra-keen.

They battle with limited snow and poor visibility.

What is different about this autumn is the number of recreational skiers out enjoying their first turns of the season.

In the car park of Stubai were vehicles from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. Up on the slopes we chatted to people from across Europe.

Wonder where he comes from?

Wonder where he comes from? Image © PlanetSKI

The only British person we came across was a man who worked in nearby Innsbruck and a young snowboard instructor who works on the glacier year-round.

“sadly most British peopleare just not in the mindset for skiing at this time of year and many think there isn’t snow until December when the main tour oeprators start and they beleive there is not snow which is not the case,” said Becky Horton from the Tirol Tourist Office.

“Of course it is easy to get to the resorts if you live a couple of hours drive from them but it is fairly straightforward to organise an autumn ski break.”

There details at the bottom of this article for a short break trip or perhaps the October half-term.

The option is going independently or finding a British tour operator.

The vast majority of the British operators are putting the finishing touches to their winter programme rather than getting people out to the Alps now.

Once exception is Zenith Holidays.

“We already take quite a few guests to the glaciers in Stubai and Pitztal in October and November each year, but since the recent snowfall in Austria we’ve had even more calls from families wanting to go and take advantage of the fresh snow,” said the co-founder of the company, Katie Waddington.

“It’s a great way to spend October half term either for a whole week or for a short break and this new snow is helping,” she added.

For those people in shock at the prices of a family holiday in the February half-term then this coming season then you might want to look at a different half term – the October one.

Now don’t for a moment expect all the terrain in the resorts to be open, it is just the high altitude areas available, but at time of writing there is plenty of snow covering over what is on offer.


Solden. Image © PlanetSKI


Pitztal. Image © PlanetSKI


Stubai. Image © PlanetSKI

This may of course change as the weather can be fickle but most predict the best autumn half-term conditions for many years.

It is certainly the best October skiing that we can remember here at PlanetSKI.


If any of this is tempting you then it is very simple to get out to the Tirol at the moment. Accommodation offers for the glacier regions can be found here http://www.tirolergletscher.com/en/offers.

They include:

Stubai – 3 nights on half board at the 4* Stubaierhof Neustift starts from €339 pp

Solden – 3 nights on half board at the 3* Hotel Gasthof Neue Post starts from €249 pp

Pitztal – 4 nights in half board at the Pension Dorfplatzl starts from €302 pp

There flights to Innsbruck with easyJet on Saturdays and Wednesdays .  See here for  a good transfer company. www.transfer.tirol.at.

The airline has also has daily flights into Munich from London Gatwick and up to 4 times a week from Manchester to Munich.

The same transfer company operates.

In addition the British Tour company, Zenith Holidays offers holidaysto the region at this time of year if you want to take the hassle out of it all; see here for further details.

For the spirit of the mountains

Hautes Pyrenees