A day of snow in the SkiWelt

31st January 2016, by Chris Gill

Editor Gill and SkiWelt marketing supremo Anita

Editor Gill and SkiWelt marketing supremo Anita

Since we left the UK three days ago for our tour of Kitzbühel and neighbours, co-editor Watts had been droning on about the miserable weather lined up for today, Sunday, when we were due to ski the SkiWelt (Brixen, Söll, Ellmau etc). Rain, rain and more rain, he said.

So when I went out to throw the first bags in the car this morning, my joy was unconfined. “Snow,” I bellowed at Watts, “not rain: snow!”

You can slice this cake either way. If you’re going to ski the low-altitude SkiWelt, a snowstorm is a pretty good time to pick. Or, if you want an area to ski in a snowstorm, the wooded SkiWelt is a pretty good area to pick.

It’s not quite perfect – the trees stand mainly in widely spaced clumps, so you don’t get the consistent help with visibility that you get in some resorts. But it ain’t bad. So we were in high spirits as we rode the gondola from Brixen to Hochbrixen with our guide for the day, the dynamic Anita, who runs SkiWelt marketing.

Not surprisingly, given the Watts weather forecast, the snow falling was pretty wet stuff, so it stuck to our goggles and our goretex in equal measure, and underfoot you couldn’t call it champagne powder. But it was fresh and increasingly deep snow, and in the morning it was great fun.

Our morning duties involved inspection of the SkiWelt’s impressive trio of new lifts – the Schernthann eight-seat chairlift above Hopfgarten, the Jochbahn eight-seater to Zinsberg and the 10-seat Hartkaiser gondola out of Ellmau, replacing the venerable funicular railway.

We weren’t able to verify the SkiWelt’s confident claim that the Jochbahn is the fastest chairlift in the world (it wasn’t running at full speed today) but the Hartkaiser is the first gondola we have ridden with wifi in the cabins. For working journalists like us, a godsend.

At the top of the Hartkaiser the lift company has created an attractive new table-service restaurant, called KaiserLounge – woody but cool, with an innovative menu that is only slightly more pricey than the norm.

After an excellent lunch there, we tested the piste signposting by pushing Anita to the back of the group. Despite the heavy falling snow, editor Watts was able to lead us back to Brixen via four intervening lifts with only a few points of hesitation.

On the final long descent to Brixen the snow was getting heavy and seriously bumped, and it was a relief for some of us when the lift station hove into view.

The snowfall continued in the early evening, doubling our planned journey time to tonight’s lodgings in Hinterglemm. As I write at 9pm the threatened rain has arrived, but tomorrow is forecast to be largely sunny.

That suits us for our exploration of the new link between Saalbach-Hinterglemm and Fieberbrunn to the north. More news anon.

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