PlanetSKI Goes Summer Skiing on a Glacier + Exploring 30m Deep Inside It
23rd June 2023 | James Cove, Hintertux, The Tirol
Last modified on July 3rd, 2023
We’re making a few turns on the Hintertux glacier that’s open year round if conditions allow. We’re also going 30m inside the glacier exploring its caves & tunnels. It’s all part of our summer tour in the Tirol.
PlanetSKI in Hintertux: Part One
Our message at PlanetSKI is a simple one.
If you want to go glacier skiing in the summer then hurry up.
Climate change is taking its toll and last summer even Hintertux was forced to close for a period.
We are in the Tirol visiting several ski resorts to sample summer in the mountains as we reported in this earlier preview article.
First up its skiing.
We are PlanetSKI after all.
We picked up our equipment from Sport Nenner at the bottom station that has an excellent selection of rentals with prices starting at €40 for skis/boots for a day.
It is open across the whole summer, as long as the slopes are.
I am always a bit reticent about renting boots and prefer to travel with my own, but for a day or so on the slopes it didn’t seem worth lugging them from the UK.
And paying the exorbitant charges airlines now levy for extra weight.
These rented ones proved to be perfect, and if you come to the Alps for a couple of days of skiing in between other activities then I’d recommend hiring.
The skis are good too and the shop has a branch up on the glacier so you can exchange them or test others if you wish.
The summer ski area at Hintertux starts at 2,660m and goes up to 3,250m.
The are 10 lifts in operation, plus the two to access the ski area.
It looked more than a bit murky as we headed up.
No matter, I was just brimming with enthusiasm and anticipation at the prospect of skiing in the last week of June.
As we ascended the clouds lifted a bit with the grass a fabulous deep green after the recent snow and rain.
Once on the slopes there was decent covering even down to the bottom of the open ski area.
It was a shame it was so cloudy, but so be it.
Now the first thing to remember about skiing in the summer is, do not compare it to winter.
It is a completely different experience, and that’s what makes it special.
First there is only a fraction of the ski area open.
Then there is the snow.
It is usually icy first thing and then it softens up as the temperatures rise.
In Hintertux at the moment it is +1C at the top of the resort first thing in the morning, so the snow is slushy even as the first lifts turn.
It is therefore best to use wider skis so you sit on top of the slightly wet and heavy snow.
It is impossible to avoid the impact of climate change, though currently the conditions this year are good after the heavy spring snow in this part of the Alps.
There is snow management taking place all over the glacier area in anticipation of deteriorating conditions later in the summer.
Coverings protect certain areas.
Hintertux is going all out to keep summer skiing as best it can for as long as possible.
It is being done on an industrial scale.
In places snow has been piled up from winter, covered and then the snow will then be moved to fill in bare patches as necessary.
The melting glacier is cascading down many parts of the slopes.
But make no mistake the glacier in Hintertux is still large enough and deep enough for summer skiing for a while to come.
After skiing it was time for a spot of afternoon alpine hiking – as promised in the earlier video from the slopes.
We headed to the area just above our hotel in Lanersbach – the glacier slopes at Hintertux are still in the clouds in the distance.
The vegetation was lush as we strolled up.
It was classic Tirol mountain scenery, with views to the ski area of nearby Mayrehofen.
The Zillertal Valley has 1,483kms of hiking trails with summit tours to 78 peaks over 3,000m.
We were heading to the Rosenkranz chapel that was built in 2012.
It is a treat inside.
And the views from the bench outside…
“Summer in the mountains is an expanding market for us with more people coming to Hintertux and other areas in the Zillertal Valley,” said Marcos Disaro from Zillertal Tourism to me over a sundowner beer.
“The visitor split used to be 70% in winter and 30% in summer, but now it’s about 60% to 40%.
“More people realise the wellness and mental health benefits of being in the mountains in the summer, whether it is doing some of the action activities on offer or just gentle walking in our beautiful scenery.”
I could hardly agree with him more.
Watching this water wheel on our afternoon hike after skiing, and considering how many centuries it has been turning puts things into perspective.
Do check back as our summer tour in the Tirol continues…
- PlanetSKI visits the Tirol in the summer
- Tirol in the summer
- Go cycling in the Tirol this summer
- September summer action in the Tirol
PlanetSKI in Hintertux: Part Two
It doesn’t look much from the outside.
But have you ever been deep inside a glacier?
No neither had I, until now.
Nature’s Ice Palace is at the top of Hintertux at 3,250m where the glacier is 60m deep.
It was discovered in 2007 when a local ski tourer, Roman Erler, saw a 20cm hole in the ice.
He came back alone shortly after with caving gear and went in.
He discovered a series of natural passageways and cracks in the ice.
There was a lake inside.
It has now been developed and made safe for visitors.
The temperature is at a constant zero degrees during both summer and winter so you need to wrap up warm, but don’t overdo it.
There is exercise to be done inside.
“It is a natural gem, unique worldwide,” says the local tourist office in its brochure.
“Step inside a wonderful world beneath the ski slopes to discover a glacial cave system with ice stalactites, giant ice crystals, frozen waterfalls and even a glacial lake 30m beneath the ski slope.”
In our experiences at PlanetSKI the blurb from ski tourists offices is perhaps not always as accurate as it could be.
It is in this case.
The ice has varying textures – sometime it is smooth as marble and other times it is soft and has a sponge-like quality.
And what about the glacial lake?
It is more of a small river than a lake, but a unique experience nonetheless.
And whatever happened to the man who discovered it, Roman Erler?
Just ask this man if he is on the ticket desk on your visit.
And after the excitement of delving deep into a glacier there are only two other Austrian treats to enjoy in the Tirol:
A dip in the roof-top jaccuzzi of the Hotel Jager where PlanetSKI is staying.
And some traditional Tirolean entertainment.
There’s more to come as we headed to St Johann for some E-mountain biking:
And we’re putting on our hiking boots again.
And after St Johann it’s over to Kitzbuhel.
Do check back…
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