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SKIING THE SKIWELT - James Cove, Skiwelt, Austria
Wednesday March 27, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

It's one of the largest linked ski areas in Austria & we're here in its closing week. And guess what?...

 

 

 

The PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, has never skied it before.

Until now.

See lower down this article for his full post as he discovered its delights.

He skied Ellmau, Going, Soll, Itter, Hopfgarten and Brixen im Thale.

But only looked across the valley to the final resort of Westendorf, as time ran out.

He promised he'd be back as you can see from the post lower down this article, but even James didn't now it would be quite so soon..........

UPDATE.

Thursday 28th March:

You know what it is like when you leave somewhere with unfinished business?

A sort of gnawing regret that won't go away.

"Westendorf was the first resort I ever skied in as a teenager back in the 1980s. I wonder what it is like now, you should definitely go and cancel all your plans," were the words ringing in my ears as I packed up my car and left Ellmau.

The regret was beginning to gnaw.

The words came from the PlanetSKI chief reporter, Jane Peel.

An hour or so earlier as we had our usual breakfast conference call to discuss what we're going to put on PlanetSKI that day.

We rarely see each other as we criss-cross the mountains, but are in constant contact.

Jane was back in London for a day or two after her recent road trip in the Spanish Pyrenees and she's off to Laax in Switzerland this weekend.

And as I left the Skiwelt and came to a road junction the sign to the right quite categorically pointed towards Innsbuck (my home for the winter).

To the left was a smaller one for Westendorf.

I didn't actually think about changing my mind.

My hands just turned the steering wheel to the left without any instructions from my brain.

Perhaps I was on auto-pilot with Jane at the controls.

10-minutes later I was pulling up at the base gondola station.

A couple of phone calls on as I headed up the mountain I (mostly) postponed my Innsbruck meetings for 24-hours.

Westendorf was an utter revelation.

The other resorts in the Skiwelt were a treat, but Westendorf....

It was steep.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views were stunning.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tirolean alpine charm was everywhere.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there was barely a soul around.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had the place to myself and my skis were simply itching to go.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The resort even provided me with a chair.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now no PlanetSKI report is complete without a bit of, er, 'feedback' to the authorites (yes, they do read my ramblings).

This feedback is not just about Westendorf but the Skiwelt overall.

This was a social media observation from one of our readers.

Reader reactionReader reaction <

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I got endlessly lost in Westendorf (and the previous days in other resorts in the Skiwelt) I could only agree with Adrian.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I would like to point out that getting lost was part of the charm.

People that ski with me will know I rarely look at maps and just like to wing it.

I really don't care if I get lost.

I took a couple of wrong turns, and on more than one occasion ended up heading down to the valley floor rather than staying high.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First world problems in my view.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And all to soon it was 2.30pm -  time to head back to Innsbruck.

One of my meetings had to be late afternoon today and couldn't be postponed.

Oh, well I'd be in ski gear (people are used to that) but I did find some time in Westendorf for some pre-meeting preparation.

Westendorf, Skiwelt, AustriaWestendorf, Skiwelt, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th March

I have never skied in the Skiwelt before.

Quite why I have no idea as I have skied pretty much all the other major ski areas in Austria - The Arlberg, the Ski Circus, Ski Amade, the Ski Jewel and others.

But never the Skiwelt.

Or to the give the area its full name Skiwelt Wilder Kaiser Brixental.

Why does Austria have such absurdly long names for its ski areas?

It starts at a modest 700m and goes up to 1,900m.

There are 90 lifts and 280kms of pistes - most of which are gentle and flattering intermediate runs.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria




























I love visiting ski areas I have never skied before, though usually they are small and little-known.

Not so today.

Heading up the main lift from Ellmau there is evidence of the huge amounts of snow that fell earlier in the winter.

Heavy snow brought these trees crashing down.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helicopters were used to try to blow the snow off the branches so the lifts could operate without the threat of trees falling onto them.

Up to 3m fell across the month.

And these machines have not been switched on since the beginning of January - artificial snow has not been needed this winter.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ski area is closing this week and shuts with huge amounts of snow still on the slopes.

Why?

Easter falls at the end of April this season so a decision was taken to shut at the end of March.

If Easter had been in the first couple of weeks of April then it would have remained open.

Shame with all the snow.

And the current snow conditions and forecast for the next few days as the winter draws to a close, check it out below:

And one place I can thoroughly recommend is this place, Alpeniglu.

It may not look much on the outside, but inside it's a bit like the Tardis.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a place to rest and enjoy a hot chocolate.

And the experiences inside are somewhat colourful.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a series of ice caverns and caves with some fabulous sculptures.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can even stay the night if you wish.

Out on the slopes the area doesn't disappoint, even though the weather was somewhat grey and overcast on my visit.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like many resorts and ski areas in Austria the lift system is superb with high speed chairlifts and gondolas criss-crossing its slopes.

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skiwelt, Tirol, AustriaSkiwelt, Tirol, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The skiing reminded me of the Dolomites in Italy or the Portes du Soleil in France.

As mentioned in the video above, the main resorts for the British especially, are Soll, Westendorf and Ellmau.

There are also Going, Scheffau, Itter, Hopfgarten and Brixen im Thale.

Its popularity has perhaps waned in recent years and it is a shame.

There may not be the steep and challenging slopes of the Arlberg or the altitude of the glacier resorts in the Tirol.

But, it has an old-fashioned charm and oozes Tirolean traditions and hospitality.

It is around an hour from Innsbruck airport and has prices that won't burn a hole in your wallet.

Quite why I have never visited before I don't know.

But one thing is certain - I will be back.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

 

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