Back in the Zillertal

February 19, 2024  |  Aschau im Zillertal, Austria
Wetterkreuz (2417m) emerges from the clouds on a stormy February morning. This photo shows a taste of the vast and easily-accessible...

Wetterkreuz (2417m) emerges from the clouds on a stormy February morning. This photo shows a taste of the vast and easily-accessible off-piste terrain of the Hochzillertal/Hochfügen ski areas; and it also shows the dense February ski crowds on the main pistes down below!

A single lonely piste running down through grassy hillsides provides a ski route home to the village of Aschau from the Hochzillertal...

A single lonely piste running down through grassy hillsides provides a ski route home to the village of Aschau from the Hochzillertal ski area.

After our last two weeks spent in East Tyrol, we returned to the Zillertal valley yesterday and are staying in a small village called Aschau at the foot of the Hochzillertal-Kaltenbach ski area. There hasn't been much snow in Austria in general in the last three weeks or so and the valley here looks more like it's spring than winter, with green grass and birds chirping. But the town sits at a mere 600m (1,969 ft) elevation, and it's a different story when you take the gondola up a thousand meters (~3,300 ft) higher to where most of the lifts begin and it still very much looks like winter!

There's no ski lift in Aschau (I have to take a 5-minute bus ride to the next town over to catch the gondola) but there is a single piste that runs all the way down to the village here. In fact from the top of the Wimbachexpress gondola (visible near the top of the mountain in the first photo above) it's possible to ski continuously for 1700 vertical meters (over 5,500 vertical feet) down to Aschau!

We skied here previously about a month ago, and as I wrote then I was pretty impressed with this ski area and its off-piste potential. Fortunately the snow forecast is finally looking favorable again, so hopefully I will get to ride some powder here in the not too distant future!