SEASON START & END: Open late November to Early May
SKI ALTITUDE: 1,400m-2864m / Vertical Drop- 1464m
PISTES: 21% Beginner / 64% Intermediate / 15% Expert
LIFTS: 45 (Gondola-7 / Chair lift-25 / Drag lifts-13)
SLOPES: 83 Pistes for a total of 238km
SNOW: 1100 snow cannons
LIFT TICKET 2017/18 Ski Pass: Adult: from 49Euros-1 day / 222 Euros-6 days
AIRPORT: Nearest airports are Innsbruck 105km (1:20 hours) / Zurich 234km (2:50 hours)
TRAIN: Nearest station is Landeck station (30km)
Ischgl is not only known for its skiing, but also as a hotspot of entertainment from it legendary opening and closing concerts attracting the likes of Kylie Minogue, Elton John, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi, The Scissor Sisters and Robbie Williams over the years. Ischgl seems to have been the first to link skiing with modern music and many other resorts have followed in their footsteps. You only have to look at their logo to realise that this is the true heart of Alpine concerts.
Their entertainment does not stop at the music though, from events throughout the season, high end shopping to some of the best culinary experiences to be had. The area has been given the title of gourmet hotspot by culinary guides Gault & Millau 2018 and A la Carte 2018 with 16 toques and 24 stars, with three of the restaurants being the highest ranking in the Tirol region. Ischgl is well known for its apres-ski party atmosphere to rival that of Ibiza and for that reason it may not be best suited to young families. The crazy table dancing may confuse the little ones! Some of the entertainment might be brazen, but that is the fun of Ischgl, unashamed enjoyment.
One really can not see the skiing from the resort, which tends to be hidden by steep mountain sides and forest. My favourite ride up the mountain is the Pardatschgrat gondola, perfect when staying in the Elizabeth Arthotel. Many of the lifts are state of the art because Ischgl has invested in its infrastructure over the years, with very comfy padded and heated seats on many of the lifts. Among this infrastructure they have invested in the new Viderböden reservoir with cubic capacity of 52,000 feeding its 1100 snow cannons which keep the resort flowing when natural snow is being elusive. Because of this set up and the gurus who tend to the pistes, the slopes are still skiable no matter what happens.
Once up the mountain and above the tree line, there are a multitude of choices and directions to go, such as heading over the Swiss border via either of the ‘smuggler’s pistes’ to the Tax-free haven of Samnaun for your booze or heading up to one of the highest areas of Palinkopf for some stunning black pistes. At the end of the day there are two choices, to head back down on one of the ski lifts or via the very long red that can be narrow at places, steep and often packed with people struggling to get down. So be advised, make sure you have some fuel in the tank, and enjoy steep, tight and as I experienced, hard packed snow conditions… If this is the case it can be a fun journey back home.
Despite 21% of the resort being set up for beginner, there is a good connection of blues once up the mountain. Unlike most resorts with nursery slopes at the base, the easier slopes are to be found up the mountain giving the beginner a real taste of the mountain experience.
With 64% of the pistes being suited to intermediates, one will not get bored with mile upon mile of terrain to explore. Go explore and let thy mountain be thy oyster.
If in search of black pistes you are best to hang out on the pistes of the three mountains, the Greitspitze, the Höllspitze and the Palinkopf with a good selection of interesting pistes. Piste 14a gives an incline of 70% at points.
– OFF PISTE –
In 2013/14 the Piz Val Gronda cable car opened up a whole load of free riding potential on the slopes of… Piz Val Gronda with 900 metres of lift access off piste. To find the best snow and keep safe, make sure you take a guide. Ischgl also boasts some good off pistes for powder virgins, so go book that guide.