Zillertal Ski Touring – Hochfügen


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 5, 2012      
In a valley near Hochfugen ski resort, heading down to a small mountain village.

A few days ago after returning here to western Austria from Italy. In a valley near Hochfugen ski resort, heading down to a small group of mountain farm houses. I continue to recommend backcountry skiing in this area of Austria -- provided you first determine the relatively low-elevation snowpack is adequate. This year is of course exceptional, though it is getting warm and who knows what that trend will lead to.

If you pull out of the Inn Valley of Austria just north of Innsbruck and head up the Zillertal drainage, you can offshoot a winding mountain road up to the ski resort of Hochfügen, as well as a vast inventory of ski touring terrain.

Hochfügen itself is nothing to shake a stick at; if you end up there after a powder storm on a weekday, you can reap an amazing quantity of face shots on the gondola. Or, buy a one-ride ticket for access, ride cable to top of resort, then head back into a series of beautiful valleys. More, you can also leave from the Hochfügen parking area and head upvalley to a whole other inventory of backcountry terrain.

The ubiquitous gasthaus that's seems to be part of every tour around here.

I guess this has become a Wildsnow cliche, the ubiquitous gasthaus that seems to be part of every tour around here. It's a cliche I can live with, however. Though in this case the larger-than-life serving of schnitzel just about did me in.

Today we were trying to beat the weather so we got a one-ride on the lifts so we could charge one valley over from the piste. The snow was actually quite good and no other ski tourers were about for some reason. I guess the reason was the visibility got worse and worse as the day progressed. Even so, we reaped a few good powder turns, then hiked back up to the piste and skied the resort back down to parking. Not much in the way of photos due to much of the day being inside the “egg” of whiteout conditions. If you ever tour in this region, try to make it to the Hochfugen zone. Self guiding is easy, just look for existing ski tour tracks and have a map handy.

Schnitzel at Alpengasthaus Schellenberg. I skipped desert.

Schnitzel at Alpengasthaus Schellenberg. I skipped desert.

Interestingly, the access road can be the most dangerous part of ski touring in this area, as it’s a precarious shelf road that passes under a couple of gigantic avalanche paths. One of those ripped just the other day, and some people in their car almost didn’t get out alive. More here.

Alpengasthaus Schellenberg

Hochfugen ski resort info.

Comments

6 Responses to “Zillertal Ski Touring – Hochfügen”

  1. gentle sasquatch March 5th, 2012 1:24 pm

    Music to my ears Lou. They got a good thing going and they just about perfected it for a wide variety of customers.

  2. Mark W March 5th, 2012 8:36 pm

    Sounds really good, except for the wicked avalanche paths gunning the road.

  3. Tom Gos March 5th, 2012 9:51 pm

    Lou, cool to see, years ago before I was a BC skier I spent a week resort skiing in the Zillertal. Amazing place, the lift network is astounding and I’m sure the touring is too. The Zillertal seems to be largely unknown to Americans. Lots of snow this year, huh?

    A somewhat off topic question (although this is sort of a travel post), any advice on packing Dynafit bindings for air travel? The way the volcano on my Comforts sticks out seems kind of vulnerable. Thanks.

  4. Lou March 5th, 2012 11:23 pm

    Tom, what I do for air travel is wrap my bindings with a layer of foam cut from an old sleeping pad. You are correct, the heel risers are very vulnerable. I’ve seen ski bags drop 8 feet from cargo bay to pavement, that would be hard on a Dynafit heel riser… For huge trips with lots of changes, some guys actually remove the heel units. Louie uses his insert equipped skis to be able to completely remove his bindings when packing in ski bag, that’s the nicest solution.

  5. Rob March 6th, 2012 10:37 am

    Lou – the ubiquitous Gasthaus is the BEST part of skiing in Europe! I had an incredible meal in a hut half-way down the Vallee Blanche, and my brother enjoyed an exquisite roast duck at 2500m at La Grave. In fact, a friend of mine taught his wife to ski in Europe, and when they returned to the States, she couldn’t find anyplace beside the trails to buy Vin Chaud!

  6. Wookie1974 March 6th, 2012 3:34 pm

    Hochfügen is also really cool because they allow you to camp out in a van if you have one. Really cool scene there nights after all the day-trippers head home. Big fun!

    Maybe we saw you and didn’t know it!

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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