Pacific Northwest Ski blog (and a few other places!)

Lots or reports from skiing around the Pacific Northwest, with some East Coast excursions thrown in for good measure

Hochzillertal – the best place I’ve never heard of?

A bus and a train, all perfectly on time and free with our lift ticket, had us at the base of Hochzillertal around 9.30. A thin ribbon of snow cut through the green slopes represented a wonder of snow making, giving top-to-bottom skiing. There certainly wasn’t any natural snow down at the 500m-ish level of Kaltenbach.

Ten minutes later we were at the top of the gondola about 1200m higher. The weather looked mostly clear. Sun, high cloud, and plenty of fresh snow everywhere. A good day was beckoning. On the ride up the gondola, a vague plan had been hatched to head straight towards the link to Hochfuegen, explore over there, and head back to Hochzillertal for the afternoon and ski down.

It all looked good on paper, but when the lift that went up to the link between resorts had no chairs on it, like many plans, this one didn’t survive it’s first encounter with reality. Never fear, the fast Kroessbichlbahn had us up to a somewhat windy ridge line, and skiing fresh snow in no time.

The snow was wind affected in places, but when you found a sheltered slope, the 6 or so inches of powder were a pleasure. Also, the terrain had no real nasty cliffy bits, much like some of the ‘if you can see it, you can ski it’ stuff I’m used to in North America. For three runs, we had a ball, shooting around everywhere. Then the crowds arrived.

A quick replan, and over to the the Neuhuettenbahn lift. The wait was only a couple of minutes, so we were happy. After some exploration, I headed out skiers left in the vague direction of ski route 2 marked on the trail map. I never found any evidence of the ski route, but did discover a huge rolling off-piste area with untracked snow everywhere. It was slabby in some areas, but light dusty boot deep wind blown snow wasn’t hard to track down. Four laps of completely untracked, heavenly peaceful skiing, and lunch seemed a good idea.

The crowds dissipated in the afternoon, and the weather stayed clear and cold. Following tracks, I explored many lines between the avalanche fences and in the trees around the Schnee-Express lift. Steep narrow shots were abundant, and although the snow was pretty cruddy and skied out, it was still excellent skiing (pics here).

I’d love to return here one day when the whole area is open for exploration. In reality though, there was much more skiing in the areas we explored than could be enjoyed in a couple of days. In mid-winter, fully open, I suspect you could spend a lot of time here. This place might just be a hidden gem.

Day 38 – 8000m

38 days, 20 powder days, 289,300m vertical

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