Stubai might be best known for its glacier but the valley is also home to epic tree skiing and Dolomite-esque couloirs, courtesy of Schlick 2000
The Stubai valley gets a lot of attention in the ski world. Racers, freestylers and snow-hungry skiers flock here
every autumn to enjoy the glacier that sits at the very end of the valley. It’s the biggest (and many reckon the best) in Austria, with a monstrous park, easy access from Innsbruck and 40km of pistes to its name. But it’s not the last word in skiing in the Stubai valley. Far from it.
Right near the entrance to the valley, before the mountains close in and the ice takes over, lie three more ski areas: Elfer, Serles and Schlick 2000. OK, so Elfer and Serles are one-gondola resorts, better known for their tobogganing
and snowshoeing than their downhill offerings. But Schlick is something really special, offering a tree-covered alternative to the glacier’s rather more exposed and often wind-blown pistes.
Schlick 2000 has the funkiest layout of any ski resort I’ve visited. You take a 1099m-long gondola all the way from the valley, up the side of the mountain, to 2113m. From the top, pretty much everything you can see, you can ski. In the background are the Kalkkögel, weathered limestone peaks that hold epic touring routes between Dolomite-like couloirs. But the big story is the mega-bowl that they shroud.
The mountains act like a giant baseball mitt, catching snow and shading it from the sun. It means that the base here is usually better than anywhere nearby in the early season, and those pre-Christmas dumps actually last. It also means that the lower slopes are protected from wind and during a fierce blizzard it’s a much better choice than the exposed, gonad-freezing glacier. Still, the lack of sun in the depths of winter makes it a wise idea to carry a hipflask full of schnapps…
The mountain is dominated by a blue run that courses through the bowl and meanders down the forest all the way to the valley floor 1000m below. It’s long but not exactly testing, filled with snowploughing five-year-olds. Ignore them and start exploring the wealth of narrow, twisting, jump-filled runs carved out between the trees either side. The pitch is gentle, though the endless network of airs and twists requires quick wits as well as thighs of steel.
Next, take the Sennjoch chair all the way to the top of the bowl and work your way around the 10 or so exposed pistes that course their way down the bowl. They may be marked as red, black and blue, but each of these pistes will test your edge grip to the very last. On the far right of the bowl there’s also a park. It might not compare to the Stubai glacier’s behemoth pro lines, but for us mere mortals it’s perfect. In good snow conditions the steep-pitched sections outside
of the piste poles come into play as well, offering up hero shots aplenty.
But my favourite spot for off-piste action is the long ski route off the drag lift, which scrapes its way through narrow chutes and over tree roots before spitting you out at the Schlickeralm.It’s just as lappable with a few inches of hardpacked crud as it is in knee-deep powder. But have your wits about you. The lower part of the route lies under a chair. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve endured taunts from above after taking a poorly-timed tumble.
It was my first powderday of the season. And it was good?? #powder #deep #fresh #trees #gopro #schlick2000 #dumping #timetoplay #salomon #freeride #stubai #tirol #visittirol #snow #skiing #loveit #lovelife #friendsonpowderdays #winter #potd #viscabarca #wedidit #awesome ?@mani141184
Lunchtime in Schlick can be just as tantalising as the skiing. But only if you know where to look. Schuss past the self-service restaurant at Schlickeralm and down towards the middle station. Just before the run starts to steepen again there’s a path on the right with a sign labelled “Galtalm Express”. Wait there. A snowcat comes by every half an hour
to tow hungry skiers up to the Galtalm, a traditional wooden ski hut with an awesome view over the Stubai valley, unaccessible by piste.
Spending 15 minutes being dragged behind a piste basher is an experience in itself, but the food is the real treat. Think homemade Currywurst, huge platters of dumplings and Kaiserschmarrn piled high with plum sauce. And for dessert an almost untouched run back down to the mid-station. From there, you can follow a tree-lined blue run all the way down to the valley, or head back up the gondola for more of the Stubaital’s best skiing.
In Stubai you can either stay in Fulpmes, an old farming village at the bottom of the hill, or trek further towards the glacier in Neustift. The latter offers a better selection of accommodation, including the valley’s only five-star hotel, the magnificent Jagdhof (hotel-jagdhof.at), with a mega 3000sq m spa. Plus, it’s halfway up the valley, making it a great base for exploring everything Stubai has to offer. And there’s a lot to explore. Trust me.