Ischgl, AT: 01/29/13


After staying in the middle of the ski area the previous day, I took advantage of today's clear weather to go counter-clockwise around the perimeter. Starting at the mid-mountain hub area at Idalp -- where six chairs and two gondolas converge -- I went looker's right to Höllenkar.

Then down to Fimbatal on the far looker's right:

Up a chair that takes you 3,100 verts to the top of Palinkopf:

Then down a long expressway that drops you across the Swiss border:

... and into the village of Samnaun, which allegedly has 64 duty-free shops selling everything imaginable that you schlep in your backpack to your hotel in Austria. Seems like a lot of work just to save a few shekels, but duty-free is a huge racket there.


You then ride this odd-looking double-decker tram up to the Alp Trida section:

Alp Trida is like a huge volcano crater, easily a mile wide, with lifts going in every direction from its center. I spent the next 2.5 hours trying out the different terrain pods, which had beautiful conditions. Unfortunately, the day's clear, sunny weather went poof as a storm moved in with high winds and stinging graupel, so no pix from Alp Trida. Instead, I went all the way back to the Fimbatal section (where there were trees to help with visibility) and had lunch at an outdoor restaurant/bar/cafe.

One thing you have to come to terms with in the Alps is Euro Disco. It's unavoidable and a distinct part of the culture, so you just suck it up and check out all the people who seem to enjoy it, like this lady who was dancing to a disco version of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again."

There was also a French couple in matching outfits, which you see here from time to time amongst middle-aged couples:

Skipping ahead to the following day, January 30 -- after spending a nice morning in nearby Kappl, I hopped on the bus, went back to Ischgl, and made it to the mid-station Idalp hub by 12:45.

On my first run, where I was poaching low-hanging fruit along the main arteries, I saw something that I can't imagine in the U.S. -- 14 Pisten Bullies were doing a synchronized groom on a principal trail. On the trail map, there's a "did you know?" blurb that says Ischgl has 36 of them and they cost $650K each:

Also in the Idalp area is a complete helicopter landing area and admin building. This copter had just landed, I assume to pick up someone who had been brought down in the meat wagon:

I then headed to the Alp Trida lodge for a quick lunch:

In my Costco ski coat with a Plattekill lift ticket visible:

For the next 2.5 hours, I did the same thing as at Kappl, lapped untracked snow alongside the trails, but at Ischgl it was in better shape even mid-afternoon. Although it doesn't look like much in this pic, that's a 2,700-vert drop to the bottom of the lift from where I'm standing:

Interesting architecture but not what I want to see at a ski area.
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That's a lot of ground covered before lunch, though from my Sunday afternoon on Parsenn it doesn't surprise me.
Tony Crocker":32owvpj2 said:
That's a lot of ground covered before lunch
I didn't go to lunch until 1:45. Knowing the cost of everything here, I brought along a pile of Clif Bars from Costco.
braveskimom":1x8s3gg5 said:
Okay! You win. You're having the best winter of anyone I know. Lucky, lucky!

Agree! You had a great winter. The place is nice. Thanks, you gave me idea on where to ski next. =D>
Fraser mentioned that he recently booked a late-April trip for a client to Ischgl, which reminded me that it's one of the Alps latest operating ski areas (usually into early- or mid-May). I gave its website a quick scan and despite a low-tide winter an impressive 212 out of 239 trail kilometers are still open and 39 out of 45 lifts are currently running. While I don't foresee going there again during the main part of the winter, it's worth keeping Ischgl's spring operations in mind if I'm on the continent in future years.

Ischgl is famous for its Top of the Mountain closing concert. This year was April 30.

But you get "Robbie Williams, Elton John, Tina Turner, Katy Perry, Jan Delay, 30 Seconds to Mars and Muse playing to a 20,000-strong audience."

With numbers like that - you try to keep as much of the mountain open till closing day.

On the town moving carpets connecting the two sections, they list all the past performers.

However, if you are not looking for debauchery, you likely should avoid closing week.


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And looks like next year they have added another Top of the Mountain Spring Concert in mid-April. Ischgl is the Ibiza of the Alps. April sounds like one big party with potentially big crowds.

Spring in Ischgl - that means sun, firn snow and a first-class concert in the middle of the ski area at 2,300 metres above sea level. Since 2022, the "Top of the Mountain Spring Concert" joins the legendary Top of the Mountain concerts as a springtime addition within the framework of the Spring Blanc.

Somehow I do not see James showing up for one of these weekends. But Im sure you could ski away from Idalp and find peace.
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