The search for white gold
Even the drive to Hintertux is exciting. As we drive in the direction of the glacier, we pass between the brightly coloured autumn forests of Mayrhofen’s local mountains – the Ahorn and the Penken. In the valley, hikers are still lacing up their hiking boots whilst we are searching for the imposing glacier. Altitude metre by altitude metre we drive further up into the Tux Valley, until we spy our destination: the Hintertux Glacier! It’s white, snowy peak reaches high into the sky and our excitement to be skiing in autumn grows!
Modern technology at 3,250m
“Have fun” smiles the cashier as we head for the Gletscherbus 1 cable car. The modern cable car transports us up the mountain until snow glistens beneath us. When we arrive at the top station of the Gletscherbus 1, engineer Erich Pfister greets us and explains some of the modern technology at work on the glacier: “The Hintertux ski area is home to the highest cable car with just one cable in the world – the Gletscherbus 3, which is just one cable car journey away from us. Building a cable car station at an altitude of 3,250 metres was a huge challenge and transporting the materials up the mountain was an especially arduous task. Also, the cable car needs to be able to withstand the heavy wind, rain and storms which can occur at such high altitude. The 7.5km long cable has a diameter of 48mm which makes it very safe at altitude. Another thing that is different from other cable cars is that the main gondola station is at the top of the cable car rather than at the bottom.” After this interesting conversation and a further cable car journey – in Gletscherbus 2 – we strap into our snowboards and set off to explore the Hintertux ski area ourselves.
Facts about the Gletscherbus 3
- Capacity: 3,000 people per hour
- Gondolas: 27 gondolas, each with a maximum capacity of 24 people
- Drive System: 4 motors, each with 500 kw
- Speed: 6 metres per second
- Kaserer lifts – perfect for autumn skiing
- Kaserer lifts – perfect for autumn skiing
Perfect for skiing in autumn
Cool, crisp mountain air hits us as we exit the top station of the Gletscherbus 2. There is not a cloud in sight and the bright sunshine means we can see for miles. After taking a minute to appreciate the views, we follow the signs to the “Kaserer lifts” – a tip given to us by an experienced snowboarder. We follow the piste “red 11” until we arrive at two drag lifts. The Hintertux ski area offers runs for everyone: wide, gentle runs for beginners and narrow, steep pistes for advanced skiers – a perfect combination! With the incredible panorama, amazing pistes and the warm rays of the sun on our faces, we are starting to understand why the Kaserer lifts are so popular in autumn!
Refreshment at the Tuxer Ferner restaurant
After spending the morning exploring sunny pistes, our stomachs are rumbling. It’s time for a lunch break at altitude (2,660m!). We find a table on the sun terrace of the “Tuxer Ferner” restaurant which, unlike many mountain restaurants, offers table service. Whilst we wait for out Tiroler Gröstl, we enjoy the views of the “hohen Riffler”, “gefrorene Wand” and “Olperer” mountains. The restaurant is attractive from the outside with a rustic wooden façade and traditional stone cladding. The inside is also unique with cosy wooden dining rooms, luxurious leather couches around a log fire, and a beautifully decorated bar with snow crystals hanging from the ceiling. After our main course, we treat ourselves to a coffee and apple strudel before heading back out to the pistes.
Top Tip: The modern lounge with its leather sofa and log fire is the perfect place to enjoy coffee and cake.
Panorama terrace & Betterpark
Next stop: the panorama terrace! We take the Gletscherbus 3 cable car to an altitude of 3,250 metres. Just a few steps from the top station is the terrace with amazing views over the surrounding mountains. The sunshine and clear views makes this an unforgettable panorama. We can see the Zugspitze, the Großglockner and the Dolomites. A highlight of the glacier which is not to be missed!
Making easy turns in the autumn snow, we snowboard to our next stop: the Betterpark Hintertux by the Olperer lift. Here we are met by Chris who looks after the park. “I’m responsible for the set-up, planning, maintenance and shaping of the park. The Betterpark Hintertux is one of the largest in the whole of Austria. Its mix of various steel obstacles, big jumps and tubes makes it completely unique. Professional freestyle skiers and boarders regularly meet here”, explains Chris. After our talk he puts his snowboard to show us some amazing tricks in the park.
Facts about the Betterpark
- one of the highest freestyle parks in Austria
- The park drop-in is at an altitude of 3,200 metres
- 5 lines: pro line, medium line, easy line, 2 jib lines
- Obstacles such as rails, tubes and kickers
- New design twice a year (spring and autumn)
We’ll be back!
Time flies when you’re having fun and, just before 4pm (the drag lifts close at 4pm), we descend the red, blue and black pistes back to the Gletscherbus 2. While we are sitting in the gondola, watching the sunset, we reminisce about our day. Quite simply, we love this ski area. The large selection of pistes, unpretentious huts and highlights such as the panorama terrace and the Betterpark deliver the perfect ski or snowboard experience. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you’re sure to enjoy the wide range of pistes on offer. With our heads full of all of the sights and experiences of the day, we arrive back at the car park in HIntertux. We end our day with a final glance back at the glacier above us. However, we’re not too sad to leave as one thing is sure: we’ll be back very soon!