Alpbach ski resort
Alpbach ski resort in the Austrian Tyrol has proudly held a long-standing reputation as one of the prettiest ski villages in the world.
To protect this idyllic, traditional image, Alpbach had to pay the price of refusing to expand and modernise, and eventually the resort began to suffer. Its 50km (31 miles) of pistes fell short to neighbouring slopes, and while proving sufficient for beginners, failed to test more experience skiers.
But that all changed in the winter of 2012-13 with the creation of the Ski Juwel (Ski Jewel) area, which connects the local slopes to those of the neighbouring (and equally pretty) Wildschonau valley, home to the villages of Auffach, Oberau and Niederau.
The newly combined area rocketed the resort into the Tirolean top 10 by size (and there are nearly 100 Tirolean ski areas), whilst keeping lift ticket prices at a rate that would remain among the famous ski provinces most affordable.
Incredibly, the village of Alpbach itself remains little changed by its expanded ski area dimensions, much to the relief of its many long time fans. Consequently, Activities off the slope are still more of the low-key variety, with numerous facilities for children as well as adults.
Alpbach is located in the Alpbachtal region of the Austrian Tyrol, within the Kitzbüheler Alpen (Kitzbühel Alps) mountain range. The village is located to the northeast of Innsbruck, to the west of Kitzbühel and to the north of Mayrhofen in western Austria.
On the slopes
The skiing available around Alpbach is linked by a modern eight-passenger gondola to the neighbouring Wildschönau Valley, providing 145km (91 miles) of mostly easy to intermediate level pistes in the Ski Juwel area.
Alpbach’s own ski area is quite small by modern standards although ideal for beginners and young families. The new combined area however has a quarter of its terrain suited to advanced skiers, with black runs and off-piste routes. There are long runs near the village too, including off-piste blacks down from the Gmahkopf, while powder skiing can be good between the trees when the snow is fresh.
Alpbach’s core market of beginners and recreational intermediates now has even more options, with 35km (22 miles) of blue runs and 78km (48 miles) of reds available in the Ski Juwel.
There are three nursery slopes right by the village, but the main ski area is a four-minute bus ride away beneath the Wiederbergerhorn. This area is dominated by long red and blue runs, most of them carved down through the woodland, with a small summit area above the treeline.
The season typically lasts from mid-December to mid-April. And with more than two thirds of the ski runs covered by snowmakers, good conditions are guaranteed as long as it’s cold enough.
The resort also participates in the giant Kitzbüheler Alpen ski pass, which covers more than 1,000km (625 miles) of pistes at dozens of resorts in the area – but private transport is required to make full use of its possibilities.