Stubai valley, 2012/2013: The range of pistes on offer at the four Stubai ski resorts leaves absolutely no desires unfulfilled. However, local insider knowledge has always been your best bet for off-piste options. Until now, that is - because the new Powder Department on the Stubai glacier is your key to eleven unusual freeride runs.
Nothing but white all around you. It’s like being in a snowstorm - the snow crystals appear to eddy around your face in defiance of gravity, literally rendering you blind. Your field of vision opens for a split second before your skis disappear back into featherlight powder snow and your freeride guide is swallowed up by the next snow cloud.
If you take a breath now your mouth fills with snow. Just one more long turn, and your guide shoots out of the narrow gully directly below the ridge onto flat ground. His radiant face emerges out of the cloud of whiteness, making the sun in the blue winter sky appear dull by comparison. The "Cannonball", one of eleven freeride routes, is hidden away within touching distance of the piste but more often than not remains pristine - which, when you consider the possibilities offered by Austria’s largest glacial ski region, is hardly surprising.
New lines for freeriders
There are some 110 kilometres of prepared pistes as well as almost 20 kilometres of marked but unprepared ski routes at the Stubaier glacier, but the true vastness of the area only reveals itself when you go off-piste. It’s no exaggeration to say that the possibilities are magnificent - and they are attracting ever increasing numbers of veteran freeriders. These also appreciate the altitude of the glacier region with its guaranteed snow cover, for the season starts earlier here than elsewhere - and doesn’t end until way after the first hardy souls start bathing in the valley below. As of this winter, part of the freeride range at the Stubai Glacier goes official: Eleven runs with sonorous names like “Cannonball”, “The Wall” or “North Face” have been defined in the free ski area. The routes can be conveniently reached from the lifts, and are recorded on the off-piste map and available for download as GPS tracks for your mobile phone. As is well known, half the fun lies in the anticipation, so route videos have been filmed for three runs - and the results are so entrancing that you will want to pack your powder skis and head off there and then.
Safety first: Freeride Checkpoint at the Stubai glacier
The preferred meeting place of all freeriders at the Stubai glacier is the Freeride Checkpoint. On a big overview chart you will find all the important information, such as route descriptions, weather, snow and avalanche reports, slope exposure and gradients, and there is the option of an avalance tranceiver check. For those who have forgotten their kit, the adjacent Eisgrat sport shop has stocks of avalanche tranceivers, probes, shovels, rucksacks and helmets for hire. And if you don’t have the experience required for an excursion onto the powder - all freeride routes are located on open and unsecured ski areas - you can pick up the necessary skills at the free SAAC avalanche camp (17./18.11.2012 and 27./28.4.2013) or the Pieps (“beep”) training site for avalanche victim searches at the Gamsgarten station. Freeride professionals like Pia Widmesser also address this important topic in their freeride camp (16.2.2013). Who already has the basic knowledge can participate at the OPEN FACES STUBAI Big Mountain Contest (23.2.2013), a 3-star-qualifier for the Freeride World Tour.
Stubai: The freeride valley
Thanks to the off-piste map and GPS track download, eleven runs at the Stubai Glacier, previously partially concealed in places and known only to locals, are now open to all freeriders. Others, by way of contrast, such as the giant back country ski area in the Schlick 2000 ski resort, should not be overlooked and are just waiting to be explored. This is home to endless expanses of wide slope and steep gullies, along with cliffs and cornices for jumping - and all of this against the unique backdrop of the Kalkkögel range. “Locals consider Schlick one of the best freeride areas around Innsbruck” says our freeride guide, as he loses no time in making his way from the Gamsgarten station on the Stubai Glacier to the next powder run. Again, he has to go only a few metres to swap the piste in the heart of the ski region for the fascinating world of the freerider. The as-yet untouched powder snow glitters in the sun in front of him; his extra-wide skis then dive into the stuff of all freeride dreams - wrapped in a white cloud he floats away into the aptly-named Hidden Valley.
THE STUBAI VALLEY – the most beautiful valley in the Alps
The Stubai Valley in the Tyrol is located only twenty minutes from the state capital of Innsbruck and is easily reached from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy via the Brenner motorway. The Stubai Valley is 35 km long and surrounded by 80 glaciers and 109 three-thousand-metre mountain peaks; its five main centres are Neustift, Fulpmes, Telfes, Mieders and Schönberg.
Stubai offers everything needed by children and adults for perfect ski enjoyment – this was the conclusion of the ADAC SkiGuide 2012 who awarded the Stubai Valley the title of “most family friendly ski area in the Alps” for the third time. The Stubai Glacier, Austria's largest glacier area which was voted top in the “snow safety” category by the online portal www.snow-online.de, offers 110 piste kilometres of ski enjoyment and snow safety from October to June. Optimally prepared pistes also await holidaymakers in the Schlick 2000 Ski Centre in Fulpmes, at the Serlesbahnen family ski area near Mieders and the Elferbergbahn in Neustift.
The Stubai Tirol tourist board gives information about current offers, dates and events on the website www.stubai.at. An online accommodation search helps you to find suitable lodgings for your holiday. You can also request information by telephone: +43 (0)501881-0 or via email at email@example.com. Stubai Touristik would be delighted to assist you in booking package deals, tel: +43 (0)501881-171 or 172 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tourismusverband Stubai Tirol
Find more at www.stubaier-gletscher.com and www.stubai.at