Project to make the best skiing in Innsbruck bigger & better edges closer |

Long a dotted line on the Innsbruck region ski map, the decision as to whether Muttereralm / Götzens ski areas will finally be linked to the fantastic Axamer Lizum ski region is edging closer after the buyer of the indebted Muttereralmbahn included some contractual stipulations. When the project is finally realised, the best ski area in Innsbruck will extend into the hugely popular Mutters and Götzens ski areas, creating the biggest area and ensuring the best ski area in Innsbruck just got better.

The capital of the Alps, with an international airport just 2 miles from the centre, Innsbruck is a stunning provincial centre with towering peaks to the north and south of the city. These peaks host ski resorts such as the Nordkette, Patscherkofel, Glungezer, Muttereralm / Götzens and Axamer Lizum. In differing ways the ski areas keep the ski-obsessed Innsbruck locals busy during the long winters. A ski pass covers all the areas and the experience of sampling these historic ski areas from an Innsbruck base make this ski region a truly incredible destination. One absent feature from the Innsbruck ski region are inter-connected ski areas though, and this has been a planning debate for many years. Innsbruck ski areas are resolutely independent and can call on Olympic pedigree and have played pivotal roles in the development of Austria skiing. But as Les 3 Vallées, the Arlberg and the Portes du Soleil have proven, bigger sells better.

For decades the projected connection between Muttereralm and Axamer Lizum has been a dotted line on the piste map. Muttereralm had new investment in 2005 in the shape of a new gondola, chair and restaurant. Accessible by tram from downtown Innsbruck, the ski area offered magical views over the city and was a big draw for Innsbruck locals. Axamer Lizum with its Olympic legacy is the highest resort in the Innsbruck region. It has legendary off-piste and an outbound ski route to Götzens and Muttereralm. But it is 20-25 minutes further by road than Muttereralm and there is no lift link to take guests on ski, from Muttereralm to Axamer Lizum, (only the other way). The financial crisis of 2007 hit the ski region and Muttereralm was bailed out by the local government in subsequent years, a debt situation that exists to this day. Along comes Tatry Mountain Resorts from Slovakia, the chosen buyers who negotiated a purchase in tranches, with the final payment based on approval of the Muttereralm – Axamer Lizum lift link being officially approved. With local governments keen to offload the debt and running of the Muttereralm ski area, Tatry played a card that seems set to break the decade’s old impasse on the lift connection. Discussions continued last week to ensure that Tatry pay the full purchase price, whilst at the same time, get their lift link to Axamer Lizum, thereby making their investment in the Muttereralm ski area, so much more valuable. Planning applications are still pending, but for the first time in many decades, this lift link is on the verge of construction.

So what can the visiting Innsbruck skier expect from the upcoming lift connection? Stepping out of a central Innsbruck hotel, guests can jump on an ultra-modern tram that winds through the city and up the mountain toward Mutters. From here the Muttereralmbahn gondola takes skiers to the slopes above the city. With the new lift link into Axamer Lizum, guests have the chance to ski the tree-lined runs of Muttereralm, with views over the whole of the city, or head over into the wilds of Axamer Lizum for some of the best off-piste skiing in the region. The run back from Axamer Lizum is also a wonderful experience through stunning forests and the sight of Innsbruck in the distance. Lunch can be taken at the striking Hoadlhaus restaurant at the peak of Axamer Lizum, or else in one of the rustic huts that dot the ski region. As well as the epic skiing, the views over the city and the Innsbruck valley make this is a truly special experience. Linking the ski areas makes for bigger headline figures such as lift numbers and piste km’s and should allow them to reach a wider market. After all what other city offers the connectivity between arrivals hall, city centre and ski region?

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