…now for my best ski spot in Austria |

One person’s spam is another person’s ham. Hoping to avoid the Jeremy Clarkson approach to reasoned debate, I now follow Janina in picking my favourite ski spot in Austria. We didn’t agree on the ski area, but we are ultimately both right.

The ‘best’ and ‘your favourite’ are 2 very different things. For me the best all-round ski area in Austria would be the Arlberg, with its huge distances, diverse terrain, epic off-piste and numerous adorable villages. For off-piste skiing then it would have to be Ischgl, Stuben am Arlberg or for the best gnarly experience, I would go for the back-country of the Krippenstein. The ‘Krip’ has serious off-piste terrain, ironically located near some of Austria’s most well-trodden tourist paths in Hallstatt. Early or late season skiing has to be Sölden or the Stubai Glacier, south of Innsbruck. And to end a day that doesn’t require an early start the following day, Kitzbühel or Ischgl would be my watering holes. We know people who would never return to a certain ski resort and for others who want nothing more than to revisit to that same resort. So, the best resort should really be what has given the most pleasure and whilst Janina has skied in many, many big-name areas, she chooses one that most people will have driven past on the way to Ischgl.

For me there are 2 places in Austria which never fail blow me away – Axamer Lizum in Innsbruck and the Zillertal Arena in the Zillertal valley. Familiarity breeds knowledge and having skied in Axamer Lizum for almost 20 years, there isn’t a day I head up without expecting to find some awesome terrain. It can have snowed 7 days earlier and if the temperatures have been cooperative, then I have no doubt about finding fresh lines. The place is spectacular, and the rugged terrain offers endless bowls, chutes and tree-runs. The lifts would get a thumbs-down from some ski guide publications, but their editors are preoccupied with the irrelevant – I haven’t ever booked a ski holiday based on heated seats or 6-seater chairs instead of 4. It is the descent that matters and in Axamer Lizum, there is real soul skiing on offer, amongst some of the greatest mountain peaks in the region.

One of the most popular ski regions in the world, the Zillertal Valley can hold few undiscovered spots. That isn’t the reason that I am spell-bound, each time I ski from Zell am Ziller into Gerlos – it is in fact, a very familiar experience. But skiing between Rifflerkogel and Kreuzjoch is one of the greatest thrills I have had on skis, there is nothing particularly noteworthy about the ski piste, but the setting just gets me each time. It isn’t the Aiguille du Midi, or the Matterhorn, but there is something so magical about this high-altitude bowl that connects with my sense of skiing. I cannot remember a single occasion I haven’t gazed across the lunar-like terrain and been mesmerised. Exiting this area provides views right across to Hochkrimml in the far distance, reachable on skis and one of the most rewarding ski safaris out there.

So where is the best? It could be Kappl, Axamer Lizum, Gerlos or anywhere or everywhere in-between. That’s the joy of the Alps – they are so much more than a static, homogenous experiences and the best is where you find the most pleasure, memories and reward. Only you have the answer.

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