On our first trip to Austria in 2005, the last day was a 30cm powder day at Axamer Lizum, near Innsbruck. How lucky can we be, I remember thinking then. I never expected it to happen again at Ischgl.
But this time, it was even better.
There was about 20cm of new snow in the village when we woke up. This meant there’d be much more up high. The skies were clear. The winds calm. A two minute wait at the gondola gave us an inkling it wouldn’t be too busy, despite being Easter Saturday. So at the top, we decided to head over to Alp Trida, hoping there’d be some pow to be had before the sun and people trashed that area.
At the top of the Visnitzbahn, I dropped in to a sparsely skied slope between the two red pistes. The snow was incredible. Supremely light. Waist deep in places. Every turn enveloped you in a cloud of powdery white dust. It was the same story on the rolling pitches served by the Grivaleabahn. The only problem was that, for the depth of snow, the terrain in places just wasn’t steep enough.
We hopped on the linking Mullerbahn, planning to seek out steeper slopes. A couple of days earlier, I’d spied some tempting lines from vaguely the top of this lift down to the base of Alp Trida, and hence I was keen to give this a try. A quick look around revealed a couple of tracks, which I followed over the ridge top. Below the ridge, a huge powder field opened up, with virgin lines in all directions. It wasn’t scary or gnarly, but with superb deep snow, great views and a steady even fall line, it was run of the day (pics here).
That is, until the last run. We’d toured all over Ischgl, enjoying great snow everywhere and a late 2pm lunch of wonderfully decadent Germknoedel and Apfelstrudel. But the time was approaching to ski down and get the bus/train to Munich. Jan headed down, and I ripped piste 4, my favorite black run, to the gondola mid-station. On the way up, I scoped out the terrain beneath the gondola, looking at lines between and sometime over avalanche fences. The snow was deep and hardly skied, and its north-ish facing aspect meant it had been spared from the full damage that the intense sun could render (this is the run as viewed from the village).
I’d certainly never hucked avalanche fences before. The drops weren’t big, but skiing over metal fences was still a tad disconcerting. Landings were easy in deep, forgiving snow, and with such good visibility, navigating your way down was pretty easy. It was about 700 vertical meters of pure off-piste pleasure. A perfect end to a virtually perfect week in Ischgl.
Day 47 – 8,400m
Season totals: 47 days, 26 powder days, 370,800m vertical