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Austria Solo Skiing: SkiWelt

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

**NB. These reviews won't just be helpful to solo's**


Sun set across Brixen Im Thale, light on snow covered traditional roof tops
Sun set across Brixen Im Thale

21/22 season I threw caution to the wind, brought my flight forward and flew out to Austria for an 8 week trip in the middle of the pre-Christmas COVID wave panic that swept across Europe.


I spent 8 weeks living, remote working and solo skiing in various different resorts across the Austrian Tyrol.


Christmas week I spent in Soll and mid-January I spent a week in Brixen im Thale. I want to share my experiences to help other remote workers and solo skiiers plan their trips.


These 2 towns are part of the wider SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser ski area, made up of 6 parts totaling around 250km of slopes.


The Ski Area

View down a piste in Soll austria across shallow valleys
Looking out across the SkiWelt area

I'll cut to the chase, SkiWelt is the least favorite area that I've ever skied.

I genuinely wouldn't recommend it to anyone who likes the same kind of skiing or snowboarding that I do.


Well, what is that then? I'm an advanced skier, and a bit of an Adrenalin junkie, I love going fast, I love challenging pistes that I can really get my turns in on, long cruising pistes to take in the scenery and feel how overwhelmingly small I am in the vastness of the mountains. Big mountain skiing.

SkiWelt doesn't deliver that.

Snowboarding - I'm very much fresh meat, still in my first week or so of learning.

Variety of accessible slopes was small (especially if coming from Soll) - more of this in a bit.


Does that mean it's bad? Of course not, but it's certainly not a something for everyone area.



What is Ski-Welt like then?

This is quaint, tree-lined skiing territory.

Majority of runs are quite short, with branches off offering slightly different routes down. Lifts transport you a short ways up again as you make your way around a maze of small valleys.


A quick study of the piste map and it all begins to make a bit more sense.


Lovely scenic cruising if you are all about the calm life, taking in the views. Incredibly annoying if you crave speed and variety, you're down in 10 seconds and then trying to figure your way out of another bowl.

I feel like the vast majority of my time was spent on lifts.

A few of the valley runs down to the key resorts provide nice long runs but travelling between them takes a while. It took me nearly a full day to get over to Ellmau from Soll because of the sheer number of lifts and wrong turns that it was so easy to make.





If you're not someone stressed about covering the whole area or getting as many miles under your belt as possible, the pistes were well maintained and the lift system quick and modern.

Even in the low season before Christmas, although hard underfoot, the conditions were good and the ice only started creeping in 10 days after the last snow fall.


Epic run down from Westendorf into Brixen im Thale

When you stay in Brixen im Thale, you can access skiing on the other side of the valley that's also accessed via

Westendorf. Although a small area, it's runs are much longer and less chaotic.


The number 11 seen in the picture was my #1 favourite in the entire area, especially at first tracks. This red runs all the way down into Brixen im Thale and there's an unusual rope tow at the other end across a field to get you back to the main lift without walking. A funny sight to see when you first make it into town.


Last but not least - the difference between Red and Blue runs was very hard to predict. To me the majority of Reds could have been blues.




Segway - Snowboarding Newbies

In all the resorts I go to I scope out where I would be comfortable practicing my snowboarding. There's a fair few things to appreciate for a beginner snowboarder that don't necessarily occur to skiers. For example, blue runs, they may be classed as easy for skiiers but, snowboarders have to consider the impact of extended flat sections. Whilst a skier can poll along if they didn't get up to speed, a snowboarder has to either get a decent amount of pace (and flat ground is ironically the hardest for a newbie to stay upright on) or unclip and walk if they don't. Narrow roads are also stressful as new snowboarders don't necessarily have a small turning circle or the ability to carve.


In my first week, based in Soll, firstly, there's some very shallow slopes perfect for absolute beginners, but once you're on your feet and gliding there's not a whole lot of blues accessible. A few short ones at the middle station are good a few hours of progression but the 40 down into town is a road that would cause a stress ulcer to people new on a board. The red's are mostly manageable on that face of the mountain but if you don't have anyone to scope it out for you it's a risk.


Brixen im Thale had more long blue options at the top of the access point, even a mixed gondola/chairlift up the 2nd part for those who are sick of falling off the top of chairlifts.




There's a real mix of food offerings on the mountain, from the traditional to the more mass catered offerings. My favourite was a very cute, traditional hut called Frank Alm. The menu was by no means long but it did the job (as long as you're not vegan). Its tiny inside area ticks all the old school ski vibes, cosy in bad weather if you manage to get a seat, and a terrace that catches the sun beautifully when its nice out.



The Towns

Of the two I stayed in, Soll was the one with more potential for being more lively. Brixen im Thale was very much about efficiency, go ski, grab a pint, head home for the evening.


Now, of course, I visited during a global pandemic, but that doesn't make shops, restaurants and bars disappear without a trace.


Brixen wasn't a place you wander and browse, there wasn't enough there for that. The restaurants are few and scattered about town and very much a destination, pick one and go. Although not enough to sustain you if you like eating out every night at a different place, it's very much a self-catered or half board town. If you're self catered I'd recommend going to the gym a lot or getting yourself a car to visit the supermarkets at either end of town.


For a solo traveler such as myself this felt like a shame, I like to wander and feel the energy of a place and pop into a bar or restaurant I like the look of.


The town itself if pretty much single track between the main Gondola and the train station, where it then spreads out and becomes much more picturesque, mixing old traditional buildings and farm houses with newer but sympathetically styled small apartment buildings and hotels.


Staying around here has a nice community feel, and is a quick ski bus ride to the access points, with a slope down to it when the conditions are right. Also makes it a very quick transfer from the train which is an ideal way to transfer quickly from Innsbruck.




Soll

This small town has a warmer feel as it is much more clustered together in the valley. Compact, there's a handful of lively bars dotted around if you want to continue with your apres, but the majority of its streets are quiet. Some slightly more refined options here for dining out than I found in Brixen, but still not a wealth of them.


Almost all accommodation options require a bus, although I really recommend the Hotel Tennenwirt near the round-about, not only have they recently refurbished the rooms in the adjacent guest house to a high standard, but the owners were really helpful and accommodating.

It's a short walk across the field to the drag lift which takes you up to the Gondola, no coordinating with timetables and waiting for a bus to drive you 2 min up the hill.



Over and out

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