Lovely piste skiing in Obergurgl

16th December 2016, by Dave Watts

Editor Watts with his guide Marie-Louise Riml

Editor Watts with his guide Marie-Louise Riml

I’m writing this in Innsbruck airport on the way back from two glorious sunny but thankfully cold days skiing Obergurgl and its linked and higher neighbour Hochgurgl, both in in Austria’s Tirol region. I was staying in Hotel Riml in Hochgurgl, which is featured by Crystal Ski.

Day One, I skied on my own after a 30 minute transfer from three days in Hochsölden. I started at 10.30am and by 1.30pm I had skied pretty much all the lifts and pistes on offer. A few pistes and lifts were closed due to lack of snow (it hadn’t snowed for several weeks and away from the pistes the ground was rocky or bare). But the vast majority of pistes were open and in great condition thanks to the excellent snowmaking.

Hochgurgl was short on natural snow but the pistes were in great condition

There was a noticeable absence of the icy patches and stones on the surface that I’d found in Sölden away from the glacier areas. The snowmakers and groomers had done a great job and the snow was in excellent condition. What’s more the pistes were deserted, allowing my to ski at high speed.

The pistes were excellent and delightfully deserted

Day Two, I skied with ski instructor and mountain guide Marie-Louise Riml, who has lived in the valley all her life. As well as skiing at high speed, showing me all types of terrain and pointing out the best off-piste when conditions allow, she was great fun and introduced me to Zirbenschnapps (a local schnapps flavoured with pine cones from local Zirbe trees that has a delicious – really! – woody taste).

She also knew where the snow machines were churning out most snow, allowing us to ski through lovely ‘fresh powder’.

The snowmaking machines were blowing snow all day and night

Before lunch, we visited the new motorcycle museum at the foot of the new Kirchenkar gondola at the far end of the Hochgurgl ski area. This has over 230 motorcycles from all eras, including one of the first to be manufactured in 1894, all displayed in pristine condition in a smart new building; it also has classic cars and there was a special exhibition of off-road vehicles including military ones.

If you think it is a bit bizarre to have a museum like this high up in a ski area, its because one of the leading Obergurgl families has a tradition of loving and collecting motorcycles and the museum was built by twins Attila and Alban Scheiber in memory of their father.

The restaurant next to the motorcycle museum echoes the motorcycle theme and serves good food

Lunch was in the new Top Mountain Crosspoint restaurant next to the museum. This too is decked out with motorcycles and associated gear and the food is excellent – Tirolean and Italian cuisine including pizzas from a wood-fired oven. A definite Editors’ Choice.

After more skiing and another Zirbenschnapps outside at the mountaintop Hohe Mut Alm (with splendid views to the Dolomites), we caught the gondola back from the Obergurgl area to Hochgurgl with three minutes to spare before its ridiculously early 4pm closing time.

The day was rounded of by a couple of hours in the splendid hotel Riml spa, which has lots of different types of saunas and steam rooms as well as a lovely pool.

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