Untracked powder, cheap hot chocolates and Tirolean charm in Alpbach


Sponsored post: Matt Clark discovers an unexpectedly extensive and diverse ski area in the beautiful Austrian Tirol

Driving east from Innsbruck to Alpbachtal the first sunny day after a big powder dump, I’m not really sure what to expect. Never having skied here before I have to wonder if it’s really a good idea to make my first visit on a powder day: wouldn’t it be better to hit one of my local resorts where I know all the powder stashes? Pulling into the car park at the Wiedersberghornbahn gondola my worries melt away – there’s barely anyone here, and with no fat skis in view there’s no powder stress either.

In fact I needn’t have worried at all. It turns out the Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau is a bit of a powder paradise: not only is it a snow magnet, but everywhere you look the meadows, trees and bowls are covered in enticingly deep and untracked snow – even straight off the lifts! In some resorts lines this good – and this accessible –- would be tracked out within half an hour of first chair, but here it seems the only competition for fresh tracks is our own shadows. From the Verbindungsbahn top station we climb up a further 30 metres to the top of the Schatzberg, before dropping down 900 vertical metres of blissfully cold powder right the valley floor, face shots all the way. Magic.

Powder perfection in Alpbach | Ski Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau

The pisted area is equally impressive. There may only be 109km of it, but the way it’s spread out over several mountains and valleys means you get a real sense of travel and distance covered. We’re not talking groomed motorways either: the pistes may be generally wide, but they twist and turn and undulate delightfully. The skiing feels playful, and snow conditions are absolutely perfect, with some sections steep enough to get the blood pumping and legs burning. Generally though, the area just feels welcoming and friendly. The mountains and views are typical of this part of Tirol. Think gorgeous rolling meadows and alms set against a backdrop of spikier peaks.

Another welcome surprise comes as we walk into the Dauerstoa Alm to refuel. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time in the Ski Juwel’s larger neighbours but it’s been a while since I’ve eaten food this good at prices so wallet friendly. When a hulking hot chocolate with its own mountain of whipped cream costs just a couple of euros, it’s hard to say no to a second.

Weaving my way down through the still untracked snow right under the gondola at the end of the day and reflecting on the ski area, I think I might genuinely have found a new favourite. I’ll be back to make sure.

Find out more at skijuwel.com

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