Brandnertal, AT 02/03/15


After two days of storm skiing at places that I'm sure are gorgeous when sightlines are clear, today was payback. I went to Brandnertal -- a Vorarlberg ski area geographically located between the two large regions I'm visiting: Bregenzerwald and Montafon -- on a beautiful sunny day with plenty of off-piste powder from the past 48 hours.

Here's a map overview of the region:

Brandnertal map:

In 2009, the Panoramabahn tram was completed, joining two separate ski areas, Brand and Bürserberg, in this gorgeous valley just a few minutes from the city of Bludenz. From an infrastructure point of view, they couldn't be any different. Bürserberg's lifts are all older fixed-grip chairs (which are becoming more and more rare in Austria), while Brand has mostly high-speed lifts. I started the day on a Bürserberg chair that screamed "early 1970s" and got me right in the mood for a family place that's completely off the beaten path, but is only a few minutes from the Autobahn. Figure that one out.

After a few quick runs, I took the new Panoramabahn across a treed valley to the Brand side:

There, I met the delightful Nina, who's worked at Brandnertal for years and completely embodies its unpretentious, family-friendly, all-about-the-nature, we're-not-a-resort vibe: my kind of people. And, by the way, Nina can ski -- exactly the way we expect Austrians to do it after watching them on TV for decades -- fast and smooth with completely clean racing technique. On every trail, within a few turns, it seemed like she would be a couple hundred yards ahead of me without even trying:
Nina 12.JPG

We eventually made it to the top lift and saw a nice entrance to the looker's right. The top part was tracked, but thigh-deep:
top lift.jpg

We dove in. I'm the tiny dot:

nina top.jpg

Then we traversed further and all you had to do was stay left to make trenches:



After lapping that twice, it was time for lunch -- at yet another cute mountain-top hut:

We were joined by a Swiss couple we'd met earlier on the lift:

To make things interesting, the next table over was a group of Italians who looked like they'd just left a photo shoot. Don't ask how they kept that perfect hair while skiing:

Time for dessert:

Including my personal Austrian favorite, Kaiserschmarrn:

Nina brought back some fantastic schnapps in deer antlers.

I saluted the Vorarlberg flag on the way back to my skis:

And at 3 pm, headed back to the car. Another great one at a "small" Alps ski area.
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