Soelden and Obergurgl quite rightly have a reputation as two of the Alps finest early-season destinations, with over 250km of snowsure slopes between them.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Obergurgl opened on 17 November and Sölden hosted the first FIS World Cup race of the season at the end of October on the famous Rettenbach Glacier. Both Tirolean resorts are currently offering exceptional conditions for mid-November thanks in part to the natural snowfall, but also due to the world-class snowmaking systems that can cover the pistes in a matter of days.

Sölden just gets better this season

Saturday 19 November marked a historic day for Sölden as the new Giggijoch access gondola fired into action. This record-breaking lift has the highest capacity of any ski lift ever built – it can shift 4,500 people each hour – so queues in the valley will be a thing of the past. It accesses the extremely popular, sunny slopes above Giggijoch, home to some of the best learner pistes in the region. Access to the resort’s two glaciers will also speed up significantly – perfect for getting those early-season turns on freshly groomed glacial pistes or those wishing to visit the film location for James Bond’s epic SPECTRE – the Gaislachkogel. See it for yourself in our latest "7 in 7" series video:

7 in 7 - Our guide to Sölden (Episode 5)

 

But the jewels in Sölden’s crown are the “Big 3” – three towering 3000m+ peaks that cap this spectacular, high-altitude ski area. On the Gaislachkogel (3,048m) head to the roof of the new restaurant for a panoramic view, at the Tiefenbachkogel (3,250m) brave the 20m glass walkway over the valley below and walk to the Schwarze Schneide (3,340m) platform to reach the summit of the ski area. Tackle this all in one day by following the Big 3 Rally, a 50km trail taking in all the summits as well as the best pistes in the resort.

Obergurgl retains its reputation for early season snow

With 90% of the lifts and pistes already open, it is clear to see why skiers and boarders flock to the two snowy villages of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl at the end of the Ötztal. Almost every run is above 2000m and 320 snow cannons cover the entire ski area, so a lack of snow is the last of your worries.

If you’re looking to hone your carving technique ahead of the season, head to the wide, cruisy blues under Wurmkogel, or if you’d prefer an off-piste challenge the Hohe Mut is renowned for its north-facing powder fields. The area is also fantastic for beginners, with six magic carpet lifts dotted across the mountain and some fantastic progression on to gentle blues further up.

If you’re visiting Obergurgl for the first time be sure to link up with the Ski Club Leader in resort between 17 December and 15 April.

Obergurgl Facebook

And a lift pass links the two

Only 13km separate Obergurgl and Sölden so it is well worth hopping on the bus (free with your ski pass) to sample both ski areas. And the best part is that you only need to buy one lift pass to ski the two of them. Just purchase the €14 top up to any 5-14 day pass at either resort and you will get you a full day at the other, so there’s no need to pay a big supplement. If you’re staying in Sölden consider the Ötztal Super Ski Pass too. This also covers the neighbouring resorts of Hochötz, Kühtai, Niederthai and Gries in Ötztal – perfect for a day trip to explore even more of the Austrian Tirol.

Sölden

But what about away from the slopes?

If you’d rather take a break from the slopes there’s no better way to unwind than by visiting the vast Aqua Dome Spa, just down the valley in Längenfeld. Over 22,000m2 of inside space, filled with thermal baths, saunas and steam rooms await and the short journey down the valley is well worth it. However if you’re looking for something more active, then there are miles of winter walking trails, several tobogganing tracks and ice rinks in both Sölden and Obergurgl – which can be used for both skating and curling. Check out the Aqua Dome Spa in all its glory in our "7 in 7" shot there last season:

7 in 7 - Our guide to Obergurgl (Episode 3)

 

Count me in – where to stay?

The Ötztal has countless options when it comes to accommodation. In Sölden you have two options – to base yourself at the bottom of the new Giggijochbahn, or slightly further up the valley by the Gaislachkogelbahn. From the 5* Hotel Das Central and 4* Hotel Stefan a stone’s throw away from the Giggijochbahn, to more budget options, there is a huge amount to choose from. In Obergurgl there are also two options as you need to decide whether to stay in town or at Hochgurgl just up the mountain. For a slightly greater buzz and more dining options base yourself in Obergurgl, where the 4* Hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl comes highly recommended – and is home to the Ski Club’s social hour every evening.

Tirol - www.visittirol.co.uk