We caught an early bus to Axamer Lizum, which has become our favorite local ski area. Much of it can be seen in the photo below. The vertical is not huge (about 2500 vertical feet), but it has a nice variety of terrain, a decent altitude for being so close to Innsbruck (1500-2300 meters), great views, and an affordable summit restaurant.
This post is a bit of a repeat since I've discussed Axamer Lizum before, but it's worth another look. Let's start with the views. Immediately behind the resort is the a huge valley with some very attractive touring options. I haven't found a name for the valley, but there's a mountain hut in the summer and the Kemater Alm restaurant and guesthouse that might require a visit in the summer as the hiking looks splendid.
There are also great views of Innsbruck and the Inn Valley to the northeast
and of the Kalkkögle Alps to the south.
The Kalkögle Alps are very popular for ski touring and with low avalanche danger, they have been getting a lot of traffic. We discovered today why Austrian ski tourers are so fit and fast. Their training involves being chased by carnivores from the Cretaceous.
In the U.S., dining at ski resorts is crazy expensive and we only splurge occasionally for french fries, but Axamer has an affordable summit restaurant, the Hoadl House. I'm sure you can blow a wad there, but today I had a filling bowl of broth with two ginormous Tirolean meatballs for under 5 euro. There is a nice indoor eating area that faces east, but also the area pictured below with huge windows that can be opened on nice days like today and views to the west.
We took advantage of local transit today to make a fun little loop of skiing linking up the lifts to the southwest of Innsbruck. First we rode the bus from Innsbruck to Axamer Lizum. After skiing there for the morning, we rode the Birgitzköpfl double chair on the east side of the resort (#1) to a prominent ridge below the Nockspitze. We then skied a trail below the Nockspitze that contoured over to Mutterer Alm (#2). There are two long gondolas at Mutterer Alm, and we rode each a couple of times. One drops to the village of Gotzens (#3), the other to the base of Mutterer Alm (#4). We then took a 15 minute bus ride back to Innsbruck, which was much nicer than the cramped 45 minute bus return from Axamer Lizum.
Nothing about the route between the resorts is difficult from a ski perspective. It can be done in alpine gear and the route is groomed (I'm not sure if they close it on high-hazard days as there are certainly some areas of concern and I wouldn't ski it if there were concerns). However, there are some quintessential Alpine experiences.
At the top of the Birgitzköpfl double chair is the Birgitzköpfl Haus. Hugely popular with tourers who approach it from all directions. There are routes to this location from within and outside the ski area boundaries.
The big bowl below the Nockspitze. Looked more inviting than I was expecting and I had a longing for my touring gear.
Top of the route to Mutterer Alm. It drops into the valley below before contouring through the trees. Easy peasy skiing, but I would check avy conditions as it does bisect some dangerous terrain.
The Nochspitzbahn gondola above Götzens. Long, easy skiing. Your choice of descent route is easy. There is only one trail, but it drops almost 900 vertical meters (2950 feet).
Descending into the village of Götzens. The skiing down here was terrible as it was refrozen, rain-saturated snow below 1500 meters. Brutal, but we did it twice because it was such a cool experience descending to the village.
This is multiuse terrain. You ski through a pasture with a farm on the left.
Beware of cars! Imagine what the U.S. lawyers would do about a trail like this.
The view of Innsbruck from the top of Muttereralm. This is also a low angle descent, but it gets you within a 15 minute bus ride of town.
Fun times given the lack of snow and warmth of late, although the skiing today above 1500 meters was surprisingly good and fun in the morning. I have a busy week ahead as classes start on Monday, and this will help sustain me through the week.