Alpbach offers a surprisingly extensive ski area with lengthy intermediate level runs which belie the reputation that it has built up as being a "beginners' resort". The new link to the Wildschönau only increases the interest.
The altitude of the village and the shaded nature of the runs under the main Wiedersbergerhorn cable car mean that the snow conditions are often better than the highpoint of 2100m might suggest - although the sunny slopes of the runs above Inneralpbach sometimes suffer in bad snow conditions.
Alpbach / Wildschönau Ski Lifts
Gondola : 7
The new lift from Inneralpbach which links Alpbach with the Auffach ski area is the latest addition to what is a pretty impressive ski area for a small village not particularly known as a winter sport giant.
In fact, the local tourist office says that the combined area moves it into the top 10 of Tyrolean ski areas.
The link over to the Wildschönau is via a two-stage gondola to the Schatzberg. The skiing on that side is described on the Auffach page - return is possible down a red run to the mid-station but the final descent to Inneralpbach is by way of a gondola.
Beginners will start on the small draglift behind the Congress Centre and the Hotel Böglerhof in the main village of Alpbach. But soon everyone heads up the Wiedersbergerhornbahn gondola whether they are beginner, intermediate or expert.
For most visitors, this is a ski bus journey in the morning to the base of the gondola at the lower entrance to the village. An alternative way into the main ski area is from Inneralpbach via the long Pöglbahn gondola.
The Wiedersbergerhornbahn gondola has an intermediate station with a red (and sometimes icy) run down to the base station. The intermediate station is also the starting point of the rickety and ancient one-seater Wiedersbergerhorn chairlift which runs as a supplementary way up the mountain in crowded periods and good conditions.
Arriving at the top of the gondola, a crowded area with restaurants, beginners' lifts and children's ski school allows access to most parts of the Alpbach area.
Heading straight back down under the gondola is a black run, which is often more red than black, an easier red run, and an unpisted black bump run which heads off the red run. The wide open areas and good signposting mean that it is easy to pick one's way between theoretical red and blue pistes, as well as taking short sections of off-piste.
Underneath the Hornboden restaurant at the top of the gondola is the traverse around to the two lifts which can be seen immediately on the exit from the gondola building: the Kohlgruben chairlift and the Mulden draglift. The chairlift has a short but enjoyable red run while the draglift offers a blue run with an easy gradient very popular with ski school groups.
A crowded blue run from the ridge leads back down to the Wiedersbergerhornbahn gondola past the top of another gondola and chairlift. These are the lifts coming up from the Inneralpbach side.
The Gmahbahn chairlift offers the option of returning to the ridge from around halfway down, while a lengthy red run eventually leads down to Inneralpbach and the base of the Pöglbahn gondola.
Arriving back on the ridge at the top of the area, there are two more chairlifts - the Brandegg and the Horn 2000. Both have options of red and "black" runs from the top (essentially a harder and easier way to descend). These lifts also open up a lot of powder skiing in good conditions, which can be extended down the ski route to Inneralpbach which leaves from the base of the Horn 2000 chair.
The official ski route follows a lengthy path through some gorgeous scenery, but with the opportunity for short cuts in powder or bumps. Nervous intermediates may find this path somewhat intimidating as it is narrow and can get icy on the hairpin turns (although the gradient is undemanding). The route ends with a long straight section to the base of the Galtenberg draglift.
An alternate way back to the main area from the Horn 2000 lift is offered by a blue traverse which ends up at the base of the Gmahbahn.
The live webcam image below is taken from the Gmahkopf in Alpbach. Clicking the image will open a live stream in a new window.