Zugspitz Arena: The brilliant Tirolean ski area you’ve (probably) never heard of

Sponsored post: Soulful slopes, a whole range of quirky ski areas and gob-smacking views. Mary Creighton discovers the wonders of the Zugspitz Arena

If you ever need proof that Tirol is a special place, look no further than the Zugspitz Arena. Named after the colossal, glacier-topped mountain that dominates the region (as well as marking the border between Austria and Germany), it’s sat in the Außerfern, an area separated from the rest of Tirol by the nerve-testing Fernpass. Like so much of the Tirol, that geographical isolation means it’s an area that has developed its own customs, cultures and dialects.

But better still, for us skiers at least, it keeps the crowds away. In fact, my first memory of skiing here, on a school trip aged 16, is its empty but soulful slopes. It somehow had that perfect balance between being wonderfully atmospheric yet quiet enough to relax and enjoy the skiing – even more impressive when you bear in mind that this was during the peak of the school holidays.

12 years and umpteen ski resorts later I returned and discovered another reason to visit this under-the-radar spot: the huge variety of skiing here. While none of the resorts themselves are quite big enough to spend the whole week exploring, the sheer number of them makes up for it.

The view from Ehrwalder Alm | Tiroler Zugspitz Arena/U. Wiesmeier

There are seven ski areas in the Zugspitz Arena, each with its own quirks and charms, from the gentle tree-lined runs of Wetterstein to gob-smackingly beautiful Zugspitzplatt, which sits high on the shoulders of the eponymous mountain. That’s a total of 139km of pistes, all served by fast, modern lifts and connected by free, regular buses. Plus, if you buy the Top Snow Card (€221.5 for six days) you can hop over the border to ski the German resorts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald and Grainau too.

Being a bit off the beaten track, prices are at a Brexit-friendly level (think €10 lunches and €4 beers). It’s also one of those places that’s so family orientated you don’t have to gung-ho it to the first lift, even for the freeride lines above Ehrwalder Alm and Lermoos. But, should you be desperate to beat the not-so maddening crowds, there’s the opportunity to grab First Tracks at 7.15am every Thursday. And if carving tight turns down the pitch-perfect runs of Lermoos while the first light of day illuminates the jagged peaks of the Zugspitz doesn’t convert you to this beautiful place, I don’t know what will.

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