If you pull out of the Inn Valley of Austria just north of Innsbruck and head up the Zillertal drainage, you can offshoot a winding mountain road up to the ski resort of Hochfügen, as well as a vast inventory of ski touring terrain.
Hochfügen itself is nothing to shake a stick at; if you end up there after a powder storm on a weekday, you can reap an amazing quantity of face shots on the gondola. Or, buy a one-ride ticket for access, ride cable to top of resort, then head back into a series of beautiful valleys. More, you can also leave from the Hochfügen parking area and head upvalley to a whole other inventory of backcountry terrain.
Today we were trying to beat the weather so we got a one-ride on the lifts so we could charge one valley over from the piste. The snow was actually quite good and no other ski tourers were about for some reason. I guess the reason was the visibility got worse and worse as the day progressed. Even so, we reaped a few good powder turns, then hiked back up to the piste and skied the resort back down to parking. Not much in the way of photos due to much of the day being inside the “egg” of whiteout conditions. If you ever tour in this region, try to make it to the Hochfugen zone. Self guiding is easy, just look for existing ski tour tracks and have a map handy.
Interestingly, the access road can be the most dangerous part of ski touring in this area, as it’s a precarious shelf road that passes under a couple of gigantic avalanche paths. One of those ripped just the other day, and some people in their car almost didn’t get out alive. More here.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.