Obergurgl ~ 27th January – 3rd February
Jan and I chose to go to Obergurgl in Austria this year, near to where our skiing story began! Obergurgl is a small hamlet within the beautiful Austrian Tyrol and is perfect for skiing during the winter months!
27th January ~ Time to set off!
As we had a very early flight departure time we stayed at the airport overnight on the Friday night, very civilised!! All went well with the flight and transfer and we arrived in Obergurgl at lunchtime which was amazing!
Very encouraging scenes at Innsbruck airport, lots of snow on the ground and more importantly, on the mountains beyond!!
Obergurgl lies at 1,927m above sea level and is within the auspices of the village of Sölden, the resort where Jan and I started out on our skiing journey, way back in 1975!!
We were so early that after a very quick unpack we set off for the skipass office and bought a half day ticket so that we could make a plan for the next day! We were soon on the chair lift heading for the slopes! This was definitely a first for us!!
We are thinking that this is going to be a great week!
We thoroughly enjoyed getting our ski-legs going and after a couple of hours we returned to our hotel to finish our unpacking and to relax after a long day which had started at 3am!
At the heart of this mountain community is the church which is set admidst lots of hotels, guest houses, ski shops and restaurants. Obergurgl is also Austria’s highest parish village with a church.
The parish church of St. John Nepomuck
An unusually decorated roundabout in Obergurgl! The church in the background is showing off it’s narrow, pointed spire which is so typical of the region.
Hotel Austria-Bellevue – our accommodation for the week!
When you don’t know the area, it is purely pot luck as to the accommodation you choose, however, we were extremely fortunate to settle on this hotel the development of which has been in progress since 1968! It is owned and run by the Steiner family, who have been in Obergurgl since 1561!!
Jan and I were very comfortable indeed! The hotel was very well appointed, deliciously warm with great food too. There was also a beautiful indoor/outdoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi! On one day when we had come down from the slopes, we went for a swim outside while it was snowing which was unusual but also very enjoyable!!
We were extremely well looked after! One evening there was a ‘Menu Dégustation’ preceeded by cocktails in the bar! Thoroughly spoiling and a very far cry from our experience of the chalets in the French Alps!
‘Menu Dégustation’ ~ very special!
However, Jan and I both agree that lovely as it was there is a place for both ways of enjoying the mountains!
28th – 31st January ~ Perfect Conditions!
Over the first four days we enjoyed wall to wall blue sky and beautiful skiing conditions. The pistes were wide and varied and not too busy. We loved it practising everything we knew and with the occasional stop in a mountain restaurant for refreshment – well it would be rude not to?!
We took the Top Express lift to the Hochgurgl side – not that there was much express about it as the ride took 20 minutes! However, it was worth it as the skiing was amazing on that side! It was incredible how to me at least, the two areas felt very different when they were in such close proximity.
These are some shots of the Hochgurgl side….
The Ötztal Alps run southwest from Innsbruck and at one point the summits form the border between Austria and Italy. The views from the Top Mountain Star viewing point were stunning!
Looking towards the Dolomites at 3,000+ metres
30th and 31st January ~ Discovering new grounds!
We wanted to ski the red run down from the top of the Hohe Mut but we were advised that until the sun has warmed it up a little it can be qute icy! We duly skiied other runs while we waited and then went up on the gondola lift. The run was fabulous, beautiful and testing too!
We then contented ourselves with the runs through the trees which were just as good and at the end of a long day on the pistes, just what we needed!
Gentle skiing through the trees with a stop for a hot chocolate!
Photos en route down the red run from Hohe Mut – chance for a breather too!
1st February ~ a White Out Day!
Unfortunately, the blue skies disappeared and the snow came down in bucket loads! Jan and I decided to be sensible and not risk the adverse conditions. So we went for a walk to explore a mountain trail which turned out to be a little risky in itself!
Love padlocks on a bridge and difficult conditions to walk in!
We gave up on the walk and caught the bus down the valley to Sölden where we first skiied together all those years ago! It was a trip down memory lane for us but we had to admit that the only thing we recognised was the church and the river running through the town!! So much development in the intervening years!
2nd February ~ Last Day on the Slopes!
As the saying goes, all good things come to an end but not before we had our final runs in this beautiful mountain resort. The morning was overcast with very poor light for skiing but it improved and by the afternoon the skiing was great again and we just had to make the most of it. The tree area was favourite and here are some shots of our last day!
The morning after the day before!
Some snippets of information about Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
In 1991 the discovery of the perfectly preserved body of a Stone Age hunter at over 3,000 meters in a melting glacier provoked much interest. He was believed to be a shepherd and part of the ancient tradition of sheep driving across the alps to the lush pastures of the upper Ötzal Valley in search of grazing for his sheep and food for his family. It was quite a sensational find and he was given the name of Ötzi
The Haflinger Horses ~ also known as the Avelignese
Another interesting discovery for me at least! These horses have been developed in Austria and northern Italy during the 19th century. All of the blood lines of these most attractive horses are descended from an Arabian stallion called Folie and their ‘dished’ heads are very typical!
Walking through the middle of Obergurgl you can’t help be assailed by the strong smell of stables emanating around the Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl! The hotel is owned by the prominent Scheiber family who have bred and owned these lovely horses since the 1920s!
The Haflinger Horse is small in stature and stands usually between 13.5 and 15 hands high and is defintely a horse, not a pony! They are chestnut in colour with a flaxen mane and tail. A beautiful new riding hall not far from the centre of the village provides stabling for these horses during the winter and the ‘school’ facilitates riding at all times of the year.
On a Topical Note….!
Dave Ryding is one of our medal hopes at the Winter Olympic games in South Korea
With the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea upon us we discovered that our ‘own’ Dave Ryding is now sponsored by Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and has full use of the training facilities on the slopes of this beautiful mountain resort!
Dave will be taking part over the next days and will be going in the slalom racing in which he specialises. I will be watching his progress with great excitement over the next days in Korea!
Dave Ryding competing in Hammarbybacken earlier this year!
….having returned our ski passes and packed it was time to go home. We very much enjoyed our week in the mountains at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and would love to return one day ~ some time in the future?