After the incredibly dry and sunny period that has existed across the Alps for the last month the snow clouds are developing and set to arrive possibly mid-week but certainly at the end of the week across western Austria. France is also scheduled to get snow, the first real snow there for many of the ski areas. Temperatures haven’t been as cold as seasonally expected but they haven’t been that far off in many areas – the issue has been the dryness and persistence of the weather system that has sat over the Alps. A number of big name ski holiday resorts have had to delay their openings including huge names such as Davos-Klosters due to a complete lack of snow. Hopefully with a bed of man-made snow and the natural stuff arriving later on the week we can start to see a good number of resort opening for the winter in addition to the glacier skiing areas – who have probably have had one of the best autumns in a long time!
With the winter kicking into gear in both Austria and Switzerland, with new snow and the glacier car parks full to bursting point – the 2 destinations are offering very similar quality but different cost implications for corporate ski trips this coming winter. Switzerland with resorts such as Zermatt still offer incredible options for corporate ski trips. The scenery, setting of the Zermatt, the skiing on offer as well as the quality of the place make it a truly standout corporate ski destination with few rivals anywhere in the world. Airport access to the Swiss ski holiday resorts is excellent with Geneva, Bern and Zurich offering access to the destinations south of them. One area that will be of concern to corporate ski trip planners is the strength of the Swiss Franc. Whilst it has slipped back slightly recently it is still painfully high for visitors – especially when considering that not only the cost of the trip will be affected but also everything on the ground during the trip – bar bills could go from steep to eye watering this winter in Swiss resorts. Yet Switzerland still offers quality and it is rare that price isn’t at least partly reflected in value or worth (something that can very much be absent in 1850 and similar resorts). And for those used to the Swiss way of skiing then the adverse currency fluctuations are unlikely to act as too much of a deterrent – painful maybe but not a barrier. Here you can see a full range of corporate ski trips in both Austria and Switzerland. For Austria then the conditions last winter as well as tightened belts should have a positive impact. Austria had an OK to poor winter for snow last winter but at times when we were moving between France and Austria – when Austria was looking a 4/10, France was hovering around 2/10. Maybe the myth that France is more high altitude and snow-sure compared to Austria is now being put to bed finally. Austria gets more snow and has as many high altitude lifts and resorts as France or Switzerland. Where Austria is increasingly benefiting from the current economic climate is the discovery that Austria offers possibly the best mix of quality and value in the Alps. No matter what the budget a corporate group has for a ski trip, we as a company have led enough corporate trips over recent winters to hear time and again client’s objection to paying French mountain and resort prices. That is sure to hurt the French corporate ski product which has a great deal going for it admittedly, but it is only good news for the Austrian market – where value for money and quality and pretty universal.
Mid-June and before the protective blankets are dragged across the Stubai Glacier, south of Innsbruck, the ski area is still offering 14km of skiing in mid-June before the summer season starts and the skiers and snowboarders are replaced by hikers and mountaineers. The autumn ski season will begin anywhere from mid-September and for the months of October and November the Stubai Glacier will offer ski conditions anywhere from good to great. You find a lot of people taking later season holidays around Easter time but far fewer getting on the snow before the main season begins. Sun is one thing there is less of in autumn compared to winter but for those looking for the best snow conditions then Autumn trumps Spring for me with frequent powder days from mid-September onwards. See a snow report from June on the Stubai Glacier:
The misery continues for the Austrian men’s downhill racers as Swiss star Didier Cuche took the win at the 71st Hochkrimml men’s downhill race today. What might sooth the local’s was the weather with cold conditions, sun and plenty of fresh snow across the region. You can see the latest snow report from the slopes of the Kitzbuhel Hahnenkamm today:
Saalbach-Hinterglemm rescue a stranded David Hasselhoff with a private jet – the Hoff repays with an epic performance
The stars of the 80’s weekend in Saalbach-Hinterglemm last weekend had some last minute drama when the Hoff got stranded by snow. The irony being despite the huge dumps of snow Saalbach-Hinterglemm had over the previous weeks, it was London where his performance was jeopardised. I was in the media centre in Saalbach-Hinterglemm when news came through that the Hoff was stranded – the resort team mobilised and a jet was sent to rescue the Hoff. Not only did the Hoff brave the -25c elements, he hit the stage with passion and sent the crowd wild. After the concert the Hoff gave a late night audience to his fan base – the general impression was that the Hoff possesses something between legend and god-like status. And the skiing in Saalbach-Hinterglemm didn’t disappoint either, there was a whole weekend of clear skies, cold air and great fresh powder. Some weekends are tough to beta – this being one of them:)
The video of the Hoff preaching to his worshippers:
So overnight snow on the Pitztal Glacier combined with sunny weather and a cold wind to give superb ski and snowboard conditions. I wasn’t the only one to head to the Pitztal Glacier but there were far fewer skiers than on the weekends and the wide slopes allowed you to feel pretty. Take a look at the video snow report and some ski action from today:
No lifts running meant that the half a metre plus of powder snow was devoured by the local tourers – not a moving lift in sight and also a national holiday in Austria meant this was a great day to be a touring skier. The car park at Axamer Lizum above Innsbruck was half full and there ski tourers were streaming up the mountain – the prize on offer was a drink and snack at the peak followed by some seriously deep powder snow. Yep they had a good day alright. Short video from the skiing today:
The weekend saw the opening of the Stubai Glacier Park, the Stubai Zoo. The Stubai Zoo opening featured a huge Park display and competition as well as a snowboard village with all the leading players in the ski and snowboard freestyle market. For those looking for air then the great powder snow conditions were of little consequence – but for the record the snow conditions were outstanding with several days of snow prior to the weekend. You can see a video of the Stubai Zoo opening here:
What a weekend at the Hintertux Glacier with fresh snow last week and then the Betterpark opening festival on the Hintertux Glacier under the mighty Olperer peak. Locals and many from outside the region flocked to the opening weekend jam and festival on the Hintertux Glacier. Conditions on the Hintertux Glacier were great for those on the snow but less good for those over it toward the end of last week (it was snowing) but today the skies were clear offering excellent conditions. All the big names in snowboarding were at the festival including Burton. The Hintertux Glacier offers year-round skiing and snowboarding – check it out some time.
The sensational start to the winter 10/11 continues with fresh snow on the glaciers. Luckily for me I was up at the Hintertux Glacier today and whilst visibility wasn’t great it was for a reason – more snow was falling. The 1st October 2010 and there are 42km of ski pistes open at the Hintertux Glacier, indicative of the amazing start to the winter over here, surely the best in the last decade? I am gong to try for another couple of glacier visits next week, before they start getting seriously busy. Check out the latest snow report for the Hintertux Glacier today:
This September just gets better and better. I waded through over half a metre of new snow to get to the Stubai Glacier viewing platform to film the latest video snow report. The amount of snow that has fallen over the last few days was huge – I estimate that there was 50-70cm of new snow on the peak. Conditions on the slopes of the Stubai Glacier were as good as any time of the year and it is still September! More snow is forecast for the coming days – I am guessing October might start with pretty special conditions as well
I have a great deal of time for Canadians, their country and their skiing. I spent a year over in British Columbia in the late 1990’s and had the best time you could imagine. I never got over to Fernie but it is certainly on the list. The last weekend they had a fresh dump and a few lucky locals got a powder day. September powder in British Columbia – bring it on! Not sure what the base was like and not sure the grins on the pictures I saw were quite as broad when they looked at the p-tex. I guess the ski shops will have had some early custom. No such worry on the Austrian glaciers over here, you hit when the snow cover is done for. Snow over here in Austria over the weekend and then glacier skiing for me on Monday
Just a few km’s down the road the Stubai Glacier opened yesterday without me – I am deep into an Msc thesis that needs submitting next week and despite the opening and the ‘moderate’ snow fall that the glacier is getting right now I have to remain focused and remember that the skiing here is going on until June next year. Focus, focus, focus…it isn’t working for me
Lots for not very much – the Tirol Snow Card is valid in 2 weeks time with access to 81 ski areas, over 960 lifts and 3100km of ski pistes. It runs from the 1st October until the 15th May. So lots of skiing for not much money (mine was 439 Euros last winter) and for many months – all good. The Tirol Snow Card is valid in some of the big name resorts in the Tirol including Kitzbuhel, Kuhtai, Mayrhofen, Obergurgl, Alpbach, Soll, Serfaus, Brixen, Ehrwald, Ellmau, Fieberbrunn, Finkenberg, Fiss, Galtur, Gerlos, Glungezer, Hintertux, Hochfugen, Hochgurgl, Hochkrimml, Hochzillertal, Kappl, Kaunertal, Konigsleiten, Ladis, Mutters, Nauders, Neustift, Nordpark, Patscherkofel, Pitztal, Rifflsee, Scheffau, Schlick, See, snow card, St Johann, Stubai, Westendorf, Zell am Ziller.
2nd September 2010 – after 50cm of snow in the last days of August there was no choice but to head for the Hintertux Glacier – the only open glacier skiing area in Austria at the moment. I didn’t get the powder prize – that went yesterday with cooler temperatures and higher clouds. I could see the tracks though:( I did get fantastic weather today though with freezing temperatures at the peak and really impressive snow on the ski pistes. The open ski areas was really impressive – really a quite area with many lifts running. The weather is set to be seasonal so now more dumps over the coming days but with half a metre up there conditions should remain excellent.