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Travels & Tales From the Tirol

PlanetSKI is currently based in the Tirol, Austria.  Skiing as many resorts as we can – from the big international ones, to others you have probably never heard of. There are adventures a plenty along the way as we reflect why we rate this part of the Alps so highly.

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We’re on the road.

Meandering around the resorts in the Tirol at will, doing and posting whatever we fancy.

We are  not be posting everyday – just when something grabs our attention and illustrates the beauty and offerings of the Tirol.

The Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Read on…

Updated:

Skiing the Ski Welt

It is one of the largest ski areas in Austria, and perhaps the one with the most credible claim to be the most sustainable.

It had the first solar powered ski lift back in 2008 and has won multiple awards.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be examining its green credentials in an extended feature looking at how ski resorts can raise their environmental game.

We will be posting next week, so do keep an eye open for that one.

Bur first the skiing.

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

The Ski Welt comprises the resort of Soll, Scheffau, Ellmau and Going in the Wilder Kaiser area, plus the resorts of Brixen in Thale, Westendorf, Hopfgarten and Itter.

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

It is linked to the Kitzbuhel ski area and is one of the largest ski areas in Austria.

It has 288kms of slopes, 80 mountain huts and 90 lifts.

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

There are:

  • 13kms of night skiing,
  • 148kms of cross-country trails,
  • 250kms of winter hiking paths,
  • 3 floodlit toboggan runs,
  • 22 ski schools,
  • 3 fun parks,.

Check out these images from our recent visit.

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski Welt, Tirol, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Lets not forget the witches in Soll.

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Sad to say their potion did not make James’s hair grow back (see below).

And on a more serious matter.

“Much is talked about environmental initiatives, sustainability and reducing emissions. But is it even possible in ski resorts that, by definition, are in pristine mountain environments, use large of resources and that’s not even mentioning international travel,” said PlanetSKI’s James Cove.

He’ll be reporting back shortly…

Wednesday 16th March:

Some apres ski is better than others, but all Austrian Apres is good.

See more here: PlanetSKI postcard from St Johann

Sunday 13th March

I have never met a witch before.

Now I have met two.

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

They greeted me on the slopes of the Ski Welt in Soll as I paused to catch my breath.

Witches are part of the local folklore in this part of the Tirol.

I was offered a potion and it would have been, er, rude to refuse.

Despite its ingredients

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

As I took my helmet off Witch Number One said “I have just the potion for you, something to make your hair grow.”

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witch Number One added the secret ingredient.

Witch Number Two poured the potion.

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

“I will also cast a spell to make it happen,” said Witch Number One.

“You will soon have a full head of hair.”

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Witches of the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Her selection of potions included milk from a unicorn, ground dragons’ teeth and a few unmentionable additions.

We shall see if my hair grows again.

Do check back…

Thursday 10th March

A few people have asked us where we are staying in the Tirol for our extended stay.

One of the main ski resorts probably?

Perhaps St Anton or Ischgl.

If it’s a city then surely it must be Innsbruck?

Well, it’s neither.

We’re in the tiny village of Nassereith near the German border, population 2,119.

Now 2,121 with PlanetSKI in residence.

This is Nassereith:

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And this is home:

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Do meet the neighbours:

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

These fellas wake us up every morning with their quacking when the sun rises.

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

It is utter bliss, especially with the dreadful world events unfolding in a not so far away part of Europe.

Settlement began in the village in 300BC and was first mentioned in documents in 1150.

It’s located 11 km north of the town of Imst on the upper course of the Gurgl stream.

It sits at an altitude of 843m and is surrounded by the stunning Tirolean scenery.

It has even has a ski lift, though it looks like it hasn’t run in a while.

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The village has a handful of guesthouses, two hotels, three restaurants, a couple of bars (one of which is always closed), one tobacconists and a hair dressers that has never been open during our stay.

There isn’t a bakery or even a local/general shop.

But there is plenty of religious imagery.

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The local buildings reflect deep Tirolean and village traditions.

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

It’s setting is little short of perfect and time goes slowly in this part of the world.

Within an hour or so are the ski resorts featured in this rolling blog.

It is the perfect base.

So, what brings us to Nassereith, and how did we find it in the first place.

In the ski season of 2018/19 we lived in Innsbruck and stumbled across this event in Nassereith:

Schellerlaufen dates back to 1740 & is recognised by UNESCO.

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

In 2019 as we took part in the event we vowed we would return, and we have.

Maybe we’ll stay.

Can’t say we want to be anywhere else at the moment.

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nassereith, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Tuesday 8th March

Today was a day of catching up.

Catching up with those in the UK snowsports industry at the SIGB Snow Tests in Kuhtai.

Many of us hadn’t seen each other on snow for two years.

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

SIGB Snow Tests, Kuhtai, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Elena Protopopow, Tirol Tourist Board. Image © PlanetSKI

Elena Protopopow, Tirol Tourist Board. Image © PlanetSKI

See more here in The PlanetSKI Snow Report

Sunday 6th March

Another fabulous day in the Tirol.

Another fabulous ski resort in the Tirol.

Today it’s Kappl in the Paznaun Valley.

I’ve driven past it dozens on time on my way to its more famous neighbour of Ishgl, but never stopped off.

It’s set to be the first time I’ve skied in Kappl.

Today we set off early to get there ahead of the weekend crowds and wanted to take the lift at 9 O’clock.

There are worse ways to start a Sunday.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Now I’m asked many times how I write and sum up a ski resort I have never been to.

How do I judge it?

What research do I do?

Where do I get my information?

Who do I speak to?

The answer is that I never do any research, but rather simply approach it with my eyes and ears open.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Doing research means reading the opinion of others and digesting their selected facts and judgements.

I prefer to turn up and just see it for what it is.

If I have a local trusted source with me then so much the better.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I can report that Kappl is well worth a visit.

The piste map shows 40k of pistes with the usual variety of blues, reds and blacks.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

What it doesn’t show you in the variety of terrain, both on and off piste.

It is a fabulous and challenging ski area.

And lets not forget the mountain views.

Though for the record the peaks I mention where the junior FWT takes place are just under 3,000m, not just over.

Kappl is a local ski area, and I didn’t hear a single English voice all day long.

If locals frequent a resort, with some much choice in the Tirol, then that is a big tick in my book.

It has one of the longest runs in Austria, the Lattejoch.

It starts with a motorway sign and then sets off on a 1,600m+ descent.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

There are a wide selection of mountain restaurants.

This was worth pulling into for a mid-morning hot chocolate while ticking off the Lattejoch.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The top of the resort is just a valley away from St Anton – the Rendl area is over the ridge line.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

There has been talk for years of linking the two areas, but it has remained just that.

Talk.

For me a resort is not about all the statistics of runs, lifts, restaurants and piste kilometres – though they are all very important.

That can all be found on other web sites or from the UK ski operators and the resorts themselves.

For PlanetSKI, and me, it is more about the feel of a resort and its atmosphere – things that are difficult to define.

It is the little detail that matters and the overall impression.

Kappl is a revelation, and what I call ‘a proper ski area’.

It ouses authenticity and surprises with its offerings.

As I said in the video, if you are on holiday in Ischgl then I do recommend that you make the effort to come here (it is on the lift ticket).

If you are staying in Kappl or nearby to access Ischgl then do not overlook it.

It is a Tirolean treat.

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Kappl, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

All we need is some fresh powder snow and I would be back at the drop of a hat – over some other resorts in the area.

And the next stop on PlanetSKI’s Travels & Tales in the Tirol?

No idea.

We’ll just see what happens…

Saturday 5th March

We’re shunning the razamatazz of an alpine ski resort on this busy Saturday and going for something more traditional.

Nordic, or Cross country skiing, at Leutasch near Seefeld.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

As we collected our gear from Norz Sport, the owner Doris, showed me an article about the sport in a magazine on the shop counter and read out its opening remarks to me.

“It’s a beautiful sport.

You move in natural surroundings, in a leisurely or athletic manner but you are always relaxed.

You soak up the environment and free your mind while you are constantly moving.

Cross-country skiing is a sport where everyone finds their own speed.

And their own road to recuperation.”

The first thing I noticed was the equipment – a comfortable ski boot.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

You then clip the toe of the shoe into the ski with the heel remaining free so you can glide along the prepared tracks.

Longer poles help the process.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Easy, eh?

Well, actually no.

Not if you are used to stability of downhill skis.

To begin with I felt like I was walking an icy tight-rope with matchsticks on my feet – such is the lack of grip and balance compared to downhill skis.

Before you could say ‘hit the deck’ I had.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Getting up was not so easy.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And then my first downhill.

I saw the person in front lift her foot out of the track to act as a break so I did the same.

Now you may think I look about as elegant as an over-weight elephant after a few beers, but I was just pleased not to have fallen over (again).

I can ski pretty much anything and my mantra is that to ski downhill you need some decent technique, and then just let gravity take care of the rest as you apply pressure and edge control to steer yourself round the mountain.

Simple.

On cross-country skis I had no technique and gravity was most definitely my enemy, not my friend.

There are no edges on cross-country skis and pressure is probably the worst thing you can do.

Lets just say I had to practice getting up again.

My wife, Kisia, though seemed to have taken it in her stride.

“Common old man, you’re a ski instructor for goodness sake, show some ability and relax,” Kisia laughed as I struggled on.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Then I had an idea.

Lunch.

Everything works better after a good lunch.

A picnic sandwich roll in the stunning beauty of Leutasch is my idea of a good lunch, and it seemed partly to do the trick.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I looked at how others did it as they sped by.

Commitment and confidence seemed to be at least two of the requirements.

And to relax – to work with the ski rather than fighting it.

It seemed to work.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I was off.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Not quite at the level of some, but gone were the Bambi legs and some of the utter inelegance.

As I headed into the woods the smell of pine was deep and strong.

I was in nature.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And as I exited the views simply stunning.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I may not get to the level of this lycra clad speed merchant soon, but no matter.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

I stopped to contemplate things.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The words Doris Norz read to me earlier played back to me in my head as I simply soaked in the stunning natural environment I was in on my cross-country skis.

“It’s a beautiful sport.

You move in natural surroundings, in a leisurely or athletic manner but you are always relaxed.

You soak up the environment and free your mind while you are constantly moving.

Cross-country skiing is a sport where everyone finds their own speed.

And their own road to recuperation.”

Cross-country skiing?

Count me in.

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Nordic skiing at Leutasch, Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

On Friday we slipped into the resort of Lermoos in the Zugspitz Arena as time faded away.

Friday 4th March

It is the main ski area of the Zugspitz Arena that lies on the German border and near the biggest resort in Germany,  Garmish Partenkerchen.

The Zugspitz Arena is home to a number of ski areas including Ehrwalder, Marienberg and  Lermoos/Biberweir.

On their own there are nothing to write home about.

Put them together in this stunning natural setting then it is a different matter altogether.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Watching over proceedings at all times is the mighty Zugspitz mountain.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Lermoos used to be hugely popular with the British, but those days are long since gone as the Brits headed to France and other resorts with bigger ski areas and faster lifts.

And that is the current attraction of Lermoos – it remains as it was, though the lifts are certainly better.

It is now hugely popular with the Dutch, Belgians and Germans.

We didn’t hear a single British voice on our visit, though we did get to speak some English as two elderly German women started chatting to us in the gondola.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

“We come here a lot on day trips from Munich as it so close and have been doing so for years. It is such a treasure.

“There used to be many English but you are the first ones we have seen in a while. It is strange you do not come anymore.

“Keep your eyes open for the views and don’t just stare at the slopes ahead as you will then be missing something,” were their parting words.

They were right.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

The slopes were packed with children skiing.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

It is a joy to see the next generations coming through, and I thought how it stood in contrast to so many other areas in Austria that have many middle-aged people staying in 4* hotels.

Lermoos is altogether more genuine.

There are few designer ski suits worn on the slopes, but plenty of cheaper and practical attire.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

And the skiing?

It starts at 1,000m and goes up to  2,060m so there is a decent vertical descent.

Many of the runs are red and blue pistes through the trees, with views of that mountain.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

There are a few people out snowshoeing too.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Lermoos is well worth a visit if you are in the area just to sample a more simple ski area, where time slips slowly by.

And all in the most fabulous mountain setting.

Our elderly German ladies in the gondola were right.

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Zugspitz Arena, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

Yesterday it was perhaps the exact opposite experience at one of the most famous ski resorts in the world, St Anton.

Thursday 3rd March

St ANTON am ARLBERG

PlanetSKI has now moved round to St Anton as we tour some of the finest resorts in the Tirol.

The weather has not changed much as our editor, James Cove, ponders which is the best linked ski area in the Alps.

The most important photograph we took today was this one in Warth-Shrocken as we skied the whole of the mighty Arlberg ski area.

The Arlberg, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

The Arlberg, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Here are a few other images of our Arlberg experience today.

Whether it is, or is not, your favourite linked ski area in the Alps, it is perhaps the most stunning.

The Arlberg awaits. Image © PlanetSKI

The Arlberg awaits. Image © PlanetSKI

Stuben, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

Stuben, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

Zurs, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

Zurs, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

The off piste was not so tempting – all skied out.

We stuck to the pistes.

The Arlberg, Austria. Zug, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

The Arlberg, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Which was good as we had a route to stick to with the clock ticking, so no powder temptation was probably for the best.

Zug, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Zug, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Zug, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Lech, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Warth-Schroeken, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

Warth-Schroeken, Arlberg. Image © PlanetSKI

Then we did it all again in reverse and shorty after 4pm we were back in St Anton.

St Anton, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

St Anton, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

Time for a beer in PlanetSKI’s favourite bar in St Anton – The Underground.

Cheers!

St Anton, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

St Anton, Austria. Image © PlanetSKI

We arrived in the Tirol at the end of February, the 26th to be precise, for a pre-arranged interview with the GB slalom skier, Dave Ryding, in Obergurgl.

James Cove & Dave Ryding. Image © PlanetSKI

James Cove & Dave Ryding. Image © PlanetSKI

We were also offered a private tour of the Top of the Mountain Motorcylce museum that has just been rebuilt after a fire with co-founder Attila Schieber.

We grabbed it with both hands.

James and Attila. Obergurgl, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

James and Attila. Obergurgl, the Tirol. Image © PlanetSKI

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