Wednesday 18 April 2012

April skiing in Obergurgl and Hochgurgl, Austria

Reputedly the highest parish in Austria, the resort spanning Obergurgl and the neighbouring village of Hochgurgl, is a pretty solid choice for April skiing. Most of the pistes are above 2,000 metres and the lift system is fast and efficient - even in school holidays, you rarely have to queue. Although the central runs in both Obergurgl and Hochgurgl can get busy, the other pistes tend to be fairly quiet. A lively and scenic red run on the far side of Hochgurgl can be virtually empty, probably because you need to ride a very long T-bar lift to get to the top. Still, by the afternoon the pistes can be quite choppy and many skiers settle into one of the atmospheric mountain restaurants between 3pm and 4pm.  While the views aren't as spectacular here as in some Alpine resorts, the 15 minute ride between Obergurgl and Hochgurgl on the Top Express cable car can be very picturesque.

Little jumps and sharp turns
Advanced skiers won't find this resort very demanding - most of the runs are wide blues and reds (with the occasional steep stretch) and some of the blacks are surprisingly easy. The more experienced will be drawn off-piste, where some daredevils do James Bond-style stunts. But Obergurgl is a good option for beginners and intermediates, as well as kids, who will enjoy the little jumps and sharp turns in the "Magic Forest" and the "Safari" park, with its wooden animal signs. If you fancy skiing after dark, some of the blue runs have floodlights and, when the weather conditions are right, the ski school puts on a show once a week. The village of Obergurgl is a prosperous and peaceful place, packed with upmarket hotels, but the apres-ski is pretty tame. 8/10