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Skiing & Snowboarding Abroad


Serfaus, Austria

Serfaus

Serfaus is a small, charming, and until recently, relatively unknown village in the Tirol region of Austria, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Innsbruck. With 1,100 residents, it is situated on the Oberes Gericht at an elevation of 1,427 meters (4,680 ft). Prior to its development as a ski area, Serfaus had been a farming village, with the earliest evidence dating back 4,000 years. The region was settled by German speaking Bavarians beginning in the 6th century. The village has gradually become one of the best known winter tourism areas in the Tirol, along with names like Sölden, Ischgl, Lech, and St. Anton. It currently boasts a lodging capacity of 6,400 beds.

Because of its location at the end of the road, and the layout of the village itself, traffic became an increasing problem as the popularity of skiing in Austria, and particularly Serfaus, grew. In 1983 the village council decided to have an air cushioned, underground, cable driven railroad built, to ease the traffic flow. The so called Dorfbahn, the smallest subway system in the world, began operating in 1985, moving visitors from the municipal parking area at one end of the village to the valley lift station providing access to the ski area at the other. At the same time a ban on driving within the village was instituted, except for arriving guests with reservations. Driving excursions outside the village are permitted, but driving in the village for any other reason during the stay is strictly prohibited.

Town of Serfaus

The combination of Serfaus with the villages of Fiss and Ladis results in one of the largest resorts for skiing and snowboarding abroad in Austria, with over 212 kilometers (131 miles) of groomed trails. With most of the skiing area above the tree line, off-piste (off trail) possibilities for powder hounds and shredders are virtually limitless. Although a small village, it has all of the benefits, from a skiing perspective, of big name Austrian ski resorts like those mentioned above.

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis features infrastructure rivaling the best in the world, due to a $250M investment from 2005-2015. Heated chairlifts with Plexiglas bubbles positioned in front of you on the ride up can make a cold, windy, snowy, and otherwise miserable day, a pleasant skiing experience. Eleven modern gondolas, sixteen high speed detachable chairs with moving belt boarding and automatic “ski pass scanning”, and a number of smaller chairs and surface lifts, produce a carrying capacity of 90,000 skiers/hour resulting in less time standing in lift lines. In addition, nearly 75% of the marked trail system can be covered by the automated snow-making system. All of that coupled with the quantity of terrain, and the daily maintenance/grooming efforts by the fleet of 30 groomers who work through the night to groom every trail, every day, ensures an unparalleled experience while you're snowboarding or skiing in Austria.

Serfaus Mountain

The Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis resort is extensive, approximately 10 miles from end to end, with well-connected trails and enough strategically placed lifts to make it easy to get from one end to the other in either direction. The highest skiable terrain is at 2,820 meters (9,252 ft). Based on our experience, we estimate it would take at least 3 days of non-stop skiing for an individual to cover the entire expanse of the area.

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis has plenty of terrain for every skiing ability. Intermediate trails constitute the majority, or 57% of the groomed terrain. Beginner and Expert are 22% and 21% of the resort respectively. You will not see any double diamonds, but extremely steep slopes are marked with a % grade. There are five 70% trails in the resort. There are also a handful of Routes which are marked trails that are not groomed. Visit the official website at Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis for more information.



Kitzbühel

Kitzbühel is a quaint village in the Tirol region of Austria, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) East of Innsbruck. Situated at an elevation of 760 meters (2,493’), between the Hahnenkamm at 1,712 meters (5,616’) and the Kitzbühler Horn at 1,996 meters (6,548’) it is considered one of the premier destinations for skiing in Austria, and was named “best ski resort in the world” in 2013, 2014, 2015, and again in 2016 by Skiresort.de, the world's largest test portal for ski resorts. It has over 170 kilometers (105 miles) of groomed trails and endless acres of free-ride possibilities. While in the village proper there are numerous upscale shopping opportunities and many eating establishments.

Kitzbühel Resort

According to historic records, Kitzbühel was originally a mining town, with the earliest settlers mining copper in the surrounding hills. In the 16th century silver was discovered in the vicinity, resulting in an increased level of wealth. That combined with the construction of the railroad in 1875 established Kitzbühel as a summer destination for tourists.

Kitzbuhel Skiing

The first Alpine ski run in Austria occurred at Kitzbühel in March, 1893 when Franz Reisch skied down the Kitzbühler Horn. Two years later the first recorded ski race in the world, won by Josef Herold, took place at Kitzbühel. Thus began the long and successful association between Kitzbühel and skiing. No other resort in the Alps can make that claim. Today Kitzbühel is probably best known as the home of the Hahnenkammrennen (Hahnenkamm Race), the toughest, most demanding and fearsome downhill race on the World Cup circuit. Every serious skier dreams of skiing the “Streif”, possibly the most famous ski-run in the world, and the trail that the Hahnenkamm is raced on every January. When no World-Cup event is taking place, and depending on conditions, the Streif, with its many highly technical features, is open to local skiers and those on vacation in the Alps looking to test their skiing prowess.


The short drive from Munich to Kitzbühel enables our ski tours to be at the destination early enough on arrival day to have lunch, and get in some shopping, sightseeing, and exploring in order to familiarize ourselves with the village before we have to collect our rental equipment. Kitzbühel is conveniently located directly on a main rail line between Innsbruck (95 km) and Salzburg (80 km), making it easy to arrange day excursions to either of these cities for anybody who wants to take a break from the slopes during the week. Kitzbühel Resort

As far as the experience of skiing or snowboarding abroad in Kitzbühel, it has plenty of terrain for every skiing ability, with infrastructure rivaling any area in the world, due to a $247M investment over the last 16 years. The highest skiable point is at 2,000m (6,561') and the longest run is 8.3Km (5.1mi). Beginner and Intermediate trails comprise 43% and 40% of the resort respectively. Expert trails constitute 17% of the terrain. With a considerable portion of the skiing area above the tree line, off-piste (off trail) possibilities for powder hounds and shredders are virtually endless. Nine modern gondolas, including the 30-person 3S, twenty high speed detachable chairs, some with moving belt boarding, some heated, most with Plexiglas bubbles, all with automatic “ski pass scanning”, and a number of smaller chairs and surface lifts, produce a carrying capacity of 76,000 skiers/hour, resulting in less time standing in lift lines. In addition, nearly 70% of the marked trail system can be covered by the extensive snow-making system. All of that coupled with the daily maintenance efforts of the massive fleet of groomers, ensures an unmatched skiing experience. For more information, visit the official Kitzbüehel site.



Sölden 

The village of Sölden  is located in the Ötztal Valley of Tyrol, Austria. Although a small community with only 4,252 permanent residents, as of 2012, it is the largest municipality in Austria covering 467 km2 (180mi2). It is a sizeable, well-known, and very popular destination for skiing in Austria. In any ranking system, it will usually appear in the top ten of the 425 ski resorts in the country. The resort encompasses two villages, the main village of Sölden at an elevation of 1,368 meters (4,488 ft), and the upper village of Hochsölden at 2,090 m (6,857 ft). It includes the second highest mountain in Austria, the Wildspitze, at 3,768 m (12,362 ft).

Solden Village

As long as 9000 years ago, the high Alpine regions of the Ötztal were being visited by hunters and gatherers. This is evidenced by the discovery of tools thousands of years old in the area. Originally the region was used as a high-altitude grazing pasture. The first Rhaetian settlers came from the Inn Valley to the lower part of the Ötztal. During the sixth century the valley was settled from the north by the Germanic tribe of the Bavarii. The Ötztal was first mentioned in official documents during the 12th century. According to historical records there were 20 buildings in the area of present day Sölden in the 13th century. The Berghof, one of those original farmsteads, is still in use today.

For those planning a vacation in the Alps, The Sölden ski region and main ski area boasts two glaciers, the Rettenbach and the Tiefenbachferner, which guarantee snow from November through May. The area is sure of late spring and early fall skiing, as well as good winter skiing when snow cover is not adequate elsewhere. These glaciers are accessible by cable car, or they can be reached via the second highest paved road in Europe, the Ötztalergletscherstraße (Ötztal Glacier Road). Using the glaciers, Sölden is able to kick off the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season in late October every year, with giant slalom races for men and women.

Tourism started in the Ötztal with the arrival of mountaineers in the 19th century. Today it is the valley’s most important source of income and employment. Sölden had 1.8 million visitor nights for the 2015/16 tourism season, ranking it third in the country as a tourist destination, behind Salzburg and Vienna. It is able to accommodate 15,000 visitors per day in its many hotels, guesthouses, and mountain inns.

Sölden is Austria's only ski area with 3 mountains higher than 3,000 meters. They are all accessible by modern high capacity lifts. The BIG 3 are the Gaislachkogl (3,058 m), the Tiefenbachkogl (3,250 m), and the Schwarze Schneide (3,340 m). The longest run covers 15 km from the BIG3 viewing platform at Schwarze Schneide to the Gaislachkogl base terminal, a descent of 1,970 m. The Sölden arena boasts 434 Hectares of skiable terrain with 144 km (89 mi) of groomed trails. Beginner, or blue trails, comprise 49% of the area, intermediate, or red trails account for 31% of the prepared trails, and the remaining 20% are rated black for expert skiers. Off-piste (off trail) possibilities are virtually endless given the considerable portion of the skiing area above the tree line.

Solden Mountain

The Sölden resort is ideal for anyone skiing or snowboarding abroad. It has 33 state-of-the-art mountain lifts with a carrying capacity of 70,000 skiers and riders per hour. These include six 8 person gondolas, one 30 person gondola, one funicular, one 8 person chair, four 6 person chairs, eight quadruple chairs, and three double chairs. Most of these lifts are high speed and have protective bubbles for comfortable riding in cold and windy conditions. The Gaislachkogl gondola with 8-person cabins (3600 persons/hour) and the new Giggijoch gondola with 10-person cabins (4500 persons/hour) together provide one of the most powerful lift combinations in the world. There is also a fleet of 24 groomers, that work to provide fresh groomed corduroy every day, and with snowmaking on 77% of the trail system, skiers and riders are ensured of great conditions all the time. Visit the Sölden website at https://www.soelden.com/en for more information.