13 December 2013 from Gareth in 'Live from the slopes''

Sölden

Each year, the Snowplaza team like to be among the first up on the slopes! This year we chose to spend a long weekend in the popular Austrian ski resort of Sölden. To get a real feel of the resort, we like to try everything; the skiing, of course, the mountain restaurants too and not forgetting the après-ski! And while in Sölden, we just had to test the nearby Aqua Dome! Our teams arrived in Innsbruck from our various offices, some after a more pleasant journey than others. For the Amsterdam team, the weekend began with storms, but for everyone it ended up with fantastic sunny conditions on the ski slopes in Sölden.

The eye of the storm - in Sölden?

The different Snowplaza teams met in Innsbruck in Austria after early morning flights and from here, the transfer time to Sölden - Hochsölden is a mere 1 and a half hour drive! This gave us the chance to dress quickly on arrival in our guest house and before noon we were already in the Gaislachkogl gondola on our way to the top. Unfortunately, across Europe last Friday and Saturday there were some strong storms, and Sölden was not protected from these! This resulted in the closure of some higher lifts and the two glaciers - Tiefenbach and Rettenbach in the Ötztal ski area on Friday and Saturday. It was a shame, but fortunately the runs on the Giggijoch made up for it.

Sölden cloudy day

Après-ski and a good hearty meal

After a hard day’s skiing in limited visibility, it was time to test the local après-ski in Sölden - Hochsölden. We started with a drink at the valley station of Gaislachkogl and then moved on to the Almrausch in the center. Even though it’s still early in the season, there was little evidence of this here – we raised our glasses and sang along in true Austrian après-ski style to get this new winter season off to a good start. Ok, so around 8pm, our appetites got the better of us and following advice about the restaurant at the Hotel Grauer Bär we decided we’d deserved a good meal. The food was superb with generous portions and very pleasant prices in lovely, cozy surroundings.

Hotel Grauer Bär

Never mind the weather – we’re here to ski!

Saturday morning was another stormy, snowy morning but there was no way we would let it spoil our fun. We noticed how much busier it was on the lower slopes – probably because many lifts and runs were closed so everyone was concentrated into a small area. The restaurants didn’t seem to have counted for so many people this weekend and we couldn’t find somewhere to order lunch. However, after a late, but delicious lunch, we had an unfortunate incident when one of our colleagues couldn’t find his skis! After reporting the disappearance to the police, we found ourselves once again at a bar in the resort! It seems that this kind of theft may happen quite regularly as the police had already found the stolen skis and had taken them back to the sports shop where they come from!

Sun and fresh snow - the perfect combination!

After another extensive and profound "acquaintance" with the nightlife in Sölden - Hochsölden on Saturday night, we were up bright and early on Sunday morning at 08:30 am and were first in the queue at the gondola. The weather had completely cleared - blue sky as far as the eye could see! We went through the Gaislachkogl to the Tiefenbach Glacier which takes about an hour: 3 gondolas, 2 chairlifts and 2 ski runs. Getting across to glacier is quite a trek, but once we reached the slopes at more than 3,000 meters, we realised it was well worth the effort. The slopes and the snow conditions on the glacier were really fantastic and we almost had the area with its lovely wide slopes to ourselves! After lunch we decided to explore the other glacier, the Rettenbach, as it has more sunshine on its slopes in the afternoon and quite frankly, both of these glaciers areas must be high on your list if you ski in the Ötztal ski area area.

Sölden sunny slopes

Well-deserved relaxation at the Aqua Dome

On Sunday afternoon, after returning from the glaciers, we decided we deserved some pampering so headed off to the Aqua Dome, a wonderful and unique spa centre in nearby Langenfeld. Here, there is a large area outside with several lit up pools and saunas. Laying back and looking up at the starry sky, we couldn’t think of a more perfect spot! What a delightful way to relax aching muscles after strenuous exercise. On Monday, we were again treated to some beautiful sunshine and after almost a full day of skiing it was time to pack up and make our way back to Innsbruck!

Aqua Dome

Snowplaza's top tips for Sölden

Sölden is a perfect destination for skiers and snowboarders who love a snow sure ski area and an authentic ski resort with plenty of lively après-ski and good restaurants. Here are a few of our favorite spots on and off the slopes in Sölden:

  • the blue run 38 to Tiefenbach Glacier
  • the blue run on 13 Giggijoch
  • the black run on 14 Giggijoch
  • the red run 11 of Giggijoch to Gaislach
  • on the slope restaurants Sonnblick Gampe Thaya and Gampe Alm
  • and of course the Almrausch and Fire and Ice for après-ski

Sölden glaciers

Enjoy! And let us know if you get up on the slopes in Sölden this season...

Skiing was something that was sort of forced on me as a child. When my parents signed me up for the school ski trip when I was 11, I think I sulked for a whole month! However, I have no idea how to thank them as I haven’t looked back since!