2.19.2018 – 2.23.2018 || Obergurgl | Hochurgl || Austria
After spending 48 hours in Munich we were on our way to Obergurgl, a village in the Ötztal Alps in Tyrol, Austria. Obergurl is referred to as the Diamond of the Alps where snow is always guaranteed since the village and ski resort sit above 6,000 ft.
We arrived in Obergurgl Monday evening and had plans to ski for four days before heading back to Munich and then on to the United States. We stayed at the Hotel Alpenland located right off piste 6. It was a good sign to see so much snow already!
Obergurgl is largely comprised of ski-in ski-out hotels so that you can literally ski from the doorstep. Hotel Alpenland had a conveniently located ski room on the backside of the hotel that was steps away from piste 6 and a short ski to the Hohe Mut Bahn I gondola in the village.
I definitely appreciated being so close to the hotel at the end of the day and having a place to store and dry our rental equipment.
Another great aspect of a ski-in ski-out hotel is being able to see your friends when they head out into the snowy conditions earlier than you do.
The Hotel Alpenland was also convenient for renting ski equipment. Lohmann Sport has great customer service, taking you and your equipment to and from the hotel so that you don’t have to worry about the transportation. To avoid the lines in the village, purchase your ski pass at Lohmanns when you rent your equipment. They also do a proper fitting and make adjustments before sending you off with a shot of Austrian schnapps. Cheers to a fun and safe week of skiing!
Now that we had our gear it was time to explore Obergurgl. There hasn’t been much snow in the Washington, D.C. area this winter so I was fascinated by the amount of snow. It is piled up high, well over our heads in the first picture. The Fassl pub has a unique barrel design and was a great spot for our first night in Obergurgl.
The next day we were up bright and early for a ski lesson at 9 am. I ended up walking most of the way to the village since my one lesson at Wisp didn’t exactly prepare me for the ski-out aspect of our hotel on the first day but I hoped to change that by the end of the week! It was a brisk – 12°C (10°F) in the village at the start of our lesson, and most mornings – brrr!
After some research we landed on Skischule Exclusiv Obergurgl and selected a 2-hour private lesson for the first day. We were paired with Traudl, who was amazing! She had no idea how challenging her job would be but to my surprise, we were both skiing down an actual piste within minutes of the lesson starting.
The best way to learn is really to get right out there. I was terrified after Wisp but I paid attention to every single word and did whatever Traudl said, and it worked! Oh there were wipe outs and maybe a fall from a chair lift, but they’re largely undocumented. There is more to this post than how I learned to get down a mountain without “pizza” the entire way.
After the lesson we regrouped in the village with friends and decided to meet at Hohe Mut Alm hut for lunch. We all took the Hohe Mut Bahn I and HoheMut Bahn II gondolas to 8,000 ft. You can’t see the village from this view but you can see a few clouds rolling in.
The rest of the group wanted one more challenging run before lunch so the three of them set off on a red piste but I headed for the Hohe Mut Alm hut in search of a table and a glass of prosecco to cheers a successful morning on the slopes.
We were able to grab a table out on the terrace. Eating lunch surrounded by mountain peaks while it lightly misted snow (or maybe it was just the clouds) was a unique experience.
The 360° views were stunning!
Glad we headed to the top before lunch because in an instant the weather changed and became overcast and cloudy. After lunch we spent another hour on piste 6 before calling it a day and time for après-ski.
The Hotel Alpenland was a solid choice for another reason too. We had two rooms with a shared balcony that looked right onto piste 6. This is après-ski with a view!
The next day we were up bright and early for our second 2-hour lesson with Traudl. The morning sun lit up the mountain tops while the village remained shaded.
We advanced from the lower portion of piste 6 to piste 4. I looked exactly like the skier on my shirt. Pretty sure of it despite the video footage that has me wiping out and also stalling at times due to lack of speed. Amazing how you can be so fast and out of control one moment and then barely moving the next.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky after the lesson so we practiced some more on the 4 and 6 before heading back to Hohe Mut Alm for lunch.
Incredible views all around like nothing I’ve ever seen.
We skied a bit more and then headed back to the hotel to change out of our ski boots so that we could drive over to the neighboring village, Hochgurgl. Obergurgl and Hochgurgl are connected by a 9 minute gondola ride if you are an intermediate or advanced skier but beginners like myself should plan on taking a bus or driving to Hochgurgl if you want to head up to 10,000 ft to take in the views at the Top Mountain Star hut.
In order to get to the hut you need to take 2 gondolas, the Hochgurglbahn I and Hochgurglbahn II, to the Wurmkogl II chair lift. Luckily you can take the same route in reverse so the experience is open to all levels.
I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of heights but I prefer to be closer to the ground. The views were a great distraction at 10,000 ft. Hello Dolomites and Italy!
My favorite après-ski so far!
The clouds were starting to roll in but we had just enough time to take some pictures before catching the lift back down.
Yup, that’s a goat…with a goat’s eye view of the Ötztal Alps down below. I’m working with my cameraman on better placement so that I’m not entirely covering the object I am trying to pose with…
A few more views from 10,000 ft above as we head to the lift. Those dots all the way down the larger picture on the right-hand side is the lift that we took for the final ascent to the hut. It just disappears into the clouds!
Day three of skiing hit me hard. Traudl set us free after two days of lessons and suggested that we keep practicing on our own by repeating piste 4 and 6. After about an hour of shredding I needed a break so I headed to the Nederhütte for a coffee.
Now that I can manage piste 4 I could ski-in and ski-out of the Nederhütte since it wasn’t entirely accessible by gondola or lift. Yay for progress!
The Nederhütte was one gondola away from the village and was lower in elevation than the previous two huts but it had a fun vibe with lounge chairs outside and an expansive terrace for lunch and prosecco. New trend or faux pas to wear your ski goggles as sunglasses?
I parted ways with the group after our midday check in. I headed back to Hohe Mut Alm for one more look at the views from 8,000 ft while the rest of the group hit a more challenging piste.
Yup, still pretty amazing up here!
After taking it easy on the third day I was ready to get back out there to take advantage of our last day in Obergurgl. Another beautiful day from pistes 4 and 6.
All smiles after the last run of the trip.
It was SO SO SO much fun spending the week (4 days) skiing the Ötztal Alps.
Obergurgl really is the Diamond of the Alps and beyond impressive in person. Until next time, Obergurgl!
Obergurgl Ski Necessities:
- Lohmann Sport – Great place to rent all ski gear (boots, skis, helmets, etc.). Avoid the lines in the village by purchasing your lift pass when you rent your gear.
- Skischule Exclusiv – Private ski lessons to build your confidence while learning technique from expert instructors. Tradul was fantastic!
Notable Après Ski*:
*Après Ski refers to the social activities and entertainment following a day’s skiing
- Fassl Bar aka the Barrel Pub
- Josl Keller located in the Josl Hotel
- Jenewein Schirm located in Hotel Jenewein
Notable Food Experiences:
- Hohe Mut Alm
- Hexenkuchl at Hotel Jenewein
Question: Where should I ski next? What’s your favorite ski village, and why?