Serfaus-Fiss, Austria, March 25, 2022

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
This was a last minute call for the day we checked out of the Bergland hotel in Sölden. These areas are two valleys west from the Otztal (upper Inn Valley), not that far up so about 1.5 hour drive. We arrived Fiss’ farthest west parking at the Waldbahn at 10AM.

SerfausFissMap.jpg


We knew the base areas would be a slushfest as they face mostly south and temps warmed up to 50+ at base elevations around 4,500 feet. We rode the yellow bubble Sattlebahn to 7,600 feet.

IMG_4022.JPG


Much of the south facing off piste has melted off in the sustained sunny weather. A closer view at the top of Sattlebahn of a recent wet slide:

IMG_4024.JPG


We skied to the main Fiss base and rode the Schönjochbahn gondola so we could ski off the north facing backside. Snow was moderately firm but not frozen as hard as yesterday at Hochgurgl and much more popular than the slushy frontside.

IMG_4026.JPG


This is what James calls “industrial skiing.” The pic is of the 6-pack we are about to board, and at far looker’s right are a gondola and a 12-pack(!). Yes we wanted to check out that perhaps unique lift, but we had one day to survey the whole complex and I had higher priorities.

I guessed that the wandering 3,700 vertical pistes 7 and 8 down to Ladis would have less traffic and thus a more corn-like surface than the runs to Fiss and Serfaus.

IMG_4033.JPG


IMG_4034.JPG


The Fendels ski area is in left center background across the valley.

There was a sculpture garden at the top of #7.

DSC02631.JPG


From Ladis we were done with base elevation skiing until the end of the day. We rode a transport gondola to Fiss then another gondola and Sattlebahn. From there we headed west into a vast sprawl of terrain with better exposures and gradual gain in elevation. This Google map shows the actual extent of sprawl vs. the compressed ski trail map.

SerfausGoggleMap.png


We skied the mostly catwalk #80 piste to Planseggbahn. From the top of that we get a good overview of the Scheidbahn lifts and pistes.

IMG_4036.JPG

Note the Sahara dust is quite evident between the pistes. The farther west you go in the Tyrol this week the more dust there is.


We took a couple of Scheidbahn laps in good conditions.

IMG_4039.JPG


From the back of Scheidbahn, here’s the view to the next valley west served by the Pezidbahn gondola.

IMG_4037.JPG


We skied the piste near that gondola on the way back. But we’re not done yet.

Behind PezidBahn is this view south into wilderness.

IMG_4041.JPG


Farther west the Messnerkopfbahn chair rises to 9,200 feet. The black piste #160 in this pic had slick chalky snow and I saw 3 snowboarders take long slides.

IMG_4044.JPG


Riding Messnerkopfbahn here’s a view of accessible off piste, glazed in current conditions.

IMG_4043.JPG


But it would take a long time to track out fresh snow in these western valleys.

We worked our way back and rode the Lazidbahn just to check out a sector we had bypassed. We did not ski down to Lawensbahn due to the late hour and its south exposure. The #129 piste we did ski had granular snow cone consistency.

We had two low elevation pistes #90 and #72 to return to the car. #90 was as clumpy as one can imagine at the end of the day. #72 was smoother as there is only one hotel plus a parking lot at the Waldbahn base.

IMG_4046.JPG


The town of Fiss is in the background. We skied 28,400 vertical and were quite exhausted at the end of the day. Spring skiing can require more effort, but to me it’s a lot more enjoyable than the hardpack/frozen granular most of us (perhaps Austrians excepted!) have to ski defensively.

Serfaus/Fiss is about the same size ski area as Sölden, and in both cases we skied about 80% of the pistes in a full day. Even though we decided to ski here only a day in advance, we figured it out well enough to stay in decent snow most of the day.
 
Last edited:

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
This is what James calls “industrial skiing.”
Credit where it's due -- I borrowed that term from the German speakers on Alpinforum ("Industrieskifahren").

Nine years ago while at Ischgl, I considered going to Serfaus; however, the other smaller ski areas in the Paznaun Valley (Kappl, See, and Galtür) were far more convenient to reach on public transport.
 
Last edited:

ChrisC

Well-known member
This is what James calls “industrial skiing.” The pic is of the 6-pack we are about to board, and at far looker’s right are a gondola and a 12-pack(!). Yes we wanted to check out that perhaps unique lift, but we had one day to survey the whole complex and I had higher priorities.

A 12 pack lift?!!!! Love to see 12 snowboarders load/unload successfully.

That seems almost as excessive as the Lavadinas-fuorcla sura Lift at Laax that rotates 45 degrees so you get the best view of the summit.

 

Weathertoski

New member
Serfaus is one of the largest ski areas in Austria that hardly anyone in the UK will have skied, let alone heard of. The market is predominantly affluent Germans, and UK tour operators (including ourselves) cannot get a foot in. Shame, as it a relatively snow sure, mid-size mostly intermediate ski area that would suit your "average skier" quite well. Pleasant traditional villages too.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Serfaus is one of the largest ski areas in Austria that hardly anyone in the UK will have skied, let alone heard of. The market is predominantly affluent Germans, and UK tour operators (including ourselves) cannot get a foot in.
It's interesting to learn where UK tour operators are firmly entrenched and where they aren't. You recently mentioned that Kleinwalsertal is another well-known area with virtually no operator representation from across the channel.

What determines whether you can get a foot in the proverbial doorway? Does there need to be skier interest first or is skier interest stoked by operators offering tours -- a skiing version of "l'appétit vient en mangeant" (appetite comes with eating)?

Separately, it's a shame that @Tony Crocker couldn't have glided over to the 12-pack lift and snapped a pic. :icon-mad: I'd like to see how they load that chair.
 
Last edited:

Weathertoski

New member
That isn't a 12 seater, it's just called something odd with twelve in it. There are no chairs more than 8 anywhere, I don't believe, but happy to be corrected. James, Serfaus used to appear in UK tour op brochures 25-30 years ago but disappeared quite suddenly. Not too sure why as it ticks a lot of boxes.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Serfaus used to appear in UK tour op brochures 25-30 years ago but disappeared quite suddenly. Not too sure why as it ticks a lot of boxes.
I always used the Where To Ski and Snowboard Worldwide as reference for which resorts had a British tour op presence. Serfaus had never appeared in their large books up through the mid-2010s; however, it finally received a decent-sized and relatively laudatory chapter in the more recent (2017) Austria standalone book.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I'm inclined to believe Fraser about the 12-pack. There's a fair amount of publicity about the 8-packs, so I think we would have heard about a 12-pack chair. The new lifts in the Alps tend to be oversize gondolas, which I guess can move the maximum number of bodies per hour. Val Thorens has two of them new this year and not on the 2020-21 trail maps Club Med gave us.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Video of the wet slide avalanche in my second pic of this TR. It happened 6 days before we were there:
Follow the snowboarder in the shaded center of the video starting about 25-30 seconds into it.
 
Last edited:
Top