The Stubaier Gletscher ranks alongside Hintertux as one of the most extensive and rewarding glacier ski areas in the Alps. Neustift is the nearest major village, 20km away from the lift base. But another 5km down valley, livelier Fulpmes is at the base of the Stubaital's best low-altitude area, Schlick 2000, making it a better base for some visitors. The 30km-long Stubai valley lies a short drive south of Innsbruck (there's also an antique tram to Fulpmes). The glacier is of course at the head of the valley. There is simple accommodation to be had in hamlets like Falbeson (10km from the glacier) or Krössbach (15km). But there are three bigger villages - Neustift, Fulpmes and Mieders - with their own wooded ski areas, covered along with the glacier (and linking buses) by the Stubai Super Skipass. These resorts, described in this chapter, amount to a sizeable area of mostly intermediate terrain. All have impressive toboggan runs - the valley has 11 in total. The glacier offers an extensive area of runs between 3200m and 2300m. In the wake of the Schrahe report (read our feature on piste extent) the lift company now publishes a realistic total of 75km of pistes plus 29km of ski routes, making our total of 104km. But note that ski routes are 'only with ski instructor or Alpine experience' (says the piste map in German), which goes against the general rule. Two gondolas go up from the huge car park at Mutterberg to a mid-station at Fernau, and then to the two mid-mountain stations of Eisgrat and Gamsgarten. A third gondola from Eisgrat goes to the top of the slopes. Elsewhere, there is a mix of ancient and modern chairlifts and the usual glacier drag lifts. The slopes are broken up by rocky peaks giving more sense of variety than is normal on a glacier. There are lots of fabulous long blue and red cruising runs. The two shorter black pistes are very much at the easy end of the spectrum. The much longer Daunhill black (1.8km, 600m vertical) that opened a couple of years back is said to have a maximum gradient of 31°, so it's steeper; with its own private fast quad, it could be heavenly to do laps on. Much the toughest is the 4km Fernau-Mauer at the eastern extremity of the area - after the gentlest and widest of starts this drops steeply towards the Fernau mid-station. There is also a lovely 10km ski route (Wilde Grub'n) from Gamsgarten to the valley - start with a cruise from the top of the glacier to get a total of 1450m vertical. And there's proper off-piste to be explored - there's a special map with 11 freeride runs shown (and described in German). There are good beginner slopes at Eisgrat and Gamsgarten, where there is also a major children's area with childcare. Higher up there is a family fun slope, extended last year. The area is popular with snowboarders. There are lots of natural hits and kickers across the mountain, and a big terrain park at the top of the area which last year got an additional rope tow. Queues are not usually a problem. The access gondolas and Eisjoch six-pack can get busy at weekends. Gamsgarten has a huge self-service restaurant, and excellent food in the table-service Zur Goldenen Gams. Eisgrat's cool building includes the serious table-service Schaufelspitz. At Jochdohle, Austria's highest restaurant (3150m) gives good views. Dresdner Hütte is a proper climbing refuge. Après-ski starts up the mountain in the lively Gamsgarten bar and Ice Cube (Eiswürfel) bar.
High, snow-sure glacier slopes plus lower bad-weather options
Quiet, pretty Tirolean villages
A lot of shuttling up and down the valley to and from the glacier
Few challenging pistes