Most ski resorts in the alps open up in December for the winter season, but not here in Stubaital. The glacier means you can ski from around the end of December to early June and this weekend saw the opening of a brand new lift to whisk you up from Mutterberg at the end of the Stubai valley to 3000m on the Stubai glacier in eleven minutes.
The new lift is one of the most expensive in the world at 68 million euros and is just the latest investment for the ski area.
During the main season the Stubai Glacier ski area has 110km of pistes (From around mid December to early April you can add more if you take the Stubaier Super Ski pass which also covers Schlick 2000, Serlesbahnen and the Elferlift) , but what can you expect if you travel in the autumn for you ski holiday?
Firstly although it’s a glacier this does not mean you are skiing on ice. The higher areas get alot of snow which enables the resort to prepare the slopes as they do in winter. It’s not possible to ski all the way back down to the valley and the whole area will not be open, but for anyone looking to get their first turns of the winter in or for anyone who fancies trying out wintersports it’s an excellent time to go. Many ski teams use the glaciers at this time of year to start their training for the winter and it’s not unusual to see the race courses set up.
The number of lifts and slopes open in autumn is still weather dependent as it is during the winter, but you can expect around 26km to play on – more if it has been very cold and snowed alot. As you can see from the photos the weather can be lovely and you still need to remember to pack your sunscreen.
There are various places to stay along the valley, with most people opting to stay in the main town of Neustift. This is about 20 minutes from Mutterberg and the ski bus starts at and runs until ....Other towns/villages include Fulpmes and Milders. There is one hotel at the foot of the glacier lifts (Happy Stubai) bit if you also want to enjoy some of the restaurants, bars and shops the valley has to offer then you would need to use the bus service in the other direction.
The resorts in the valley are pretty much open for business year round and whilst there will rarely be snow down in the valley in early Autumn the ski shops are open as are the hotels and a selection of bars and restaurants.
An average ski day in the autumn starts with an early breakfast - most hotels start at 7am – and then the bus journey up to Mutterberg. From here there are 2 options– either take the Eisgrat lifts (upto the top at3210m or you can change at the middle station to go up to Gamsgarten. Eisgrat and Gamsgarten are the 2 start points for the skiing. There are ski shops at both, but if you have booked skischool with us the meet point will be at Gamsgarten. There are ski hire shops up in each of the start points and also lockers you can hire so you don’t have to go up and down the valley in your ski boots and with your equipment. If you have your own skis or board or have hired down in the valley you can still hire a locker up on the mountain.
Most people ski all morning (maybe stopping to enjoy the views over a hot chocolate or coffee) and then enjoy lunch in one of the mountain restaurants. A few more runs after lunch and then either a beer or schnapps on the mountain before heading down or back to your accommodation. last bus leaves Mutterberg at 19:00. Most hotels offer afternoon tea and many have large wellness areas were you can relax in a sauna , steam bath or whirlpool or have a dip in the pool. Lots also offer massage treatments.
Dinner will either be in your accommodation if you have booked half board or are self catering or could be out at one of the restaurants, after which you can have a few more drinks or head to bed to be ready for the next day o the mountain.
The buses are free with your skipass/guestcard
Any non skiers can spend more time relaxing in the wellness areas, but can still enjoy a trip up the mountain and may have a walk on the glacier and see the Top of Tirol. It ‘s only half an hour by bus down to Innsbruck which is definitely worth a visit. If you are there in December from you can also see the Christmas markets.
So whether you are a seasoned skier/boarder looking to get your first fix of the winter or a novice wanting to see what it’s all about there is something for you.
Of course the Stubai glacier is not the only place you can go – other glaciers open in the autumn include Pitztal and Solden also in Austria, Saas Fee and Zermatt in Switzerland and Tignes and Les Deux Alpes in France (although Les Deux Alpes usuaily only opens for one week at the end of October and then closes again until the end of November.