Sölden Ski Verdict
Sölden has dealt with its earlier problems of poor snow and overcrowded pistes by upgrading the lift system and connecting the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers to the main ski area. The resort has a surprising expanse of testing runs and a pleasant mixture of terrain. Sölden may often be overlooked and is not even in the brochures of many travel companies yet it deserves to be thought of as one of Austria's top resorts.
Sölden Ski Area
Cable Cars: 8
Draglifts or other smaller lifts: 9
The skiing in Sölden is split into three main areas: the Gaislachkogl area; the Giggijoch area; and the glaciers. A route publicised by the tourist office - the BIG3 Rallye - describes a way to get around all the areas in one day (the BIG3 refers to the three peaks of over 3000 metres that it is possible to visit along the way).
Approaching the village from the Innsbruck side the first lifts appear on the right heading up into the Giggijoch area and the high-altitude suburb of Hochsölden. The Giggijoch is a typical high mountain conglomeration of lifts and runs and is filled with intermediate skiers and ski school classes enjoying the largely red and blue runs.
For those looking for something a little bit harder, the red and black runs down past Hochsölden can often be testing, as is the short bump run to the left of the Roßkirplbahn chairlift. The other areas can be reached via the Silberbrünnlbahn chairlift - red runs lead down to the Stabelebahn chairlift with its access to the Gaislachkogl area, or a simple blue heads to the bottom of the Einzeiger chairlift and the links to the glacier skiing.
Up to the right of the Einzeiger is the Schwarzkogel chairlift with another high-altitude expert run and at the top of the Einzeiger is the Gletscherexpress gondola system which provides the link into the base of the Rettenbach glacier.
The Schwarze Schneid two-stage bubble takes the skier up to the highest point on this particular side (with the opportunity to climb to the top of the Innere Schwarze Schneid at 3370m) and with a selection of blue and red runs back down to the base station or to the Seiterjöchl draglift.
A "ski tunnel" provides access to the other side of the ridge and the Tiefenbach glacier (this can also be reached via the draglift mentioned above). The Tiefenbach tends to be the sunnier side and has slightly easier runs (although none are particularly difficult on either glacier).
A trip to the top of the Tiefenbachbahn gondola should be on everyone's list, if only for the spectacular views and photos available from the viewing platform at the top - a platform which has been built out into thin area and has a marvellous panorama of the surrounding glaciers and mountain scenery.
To return to the main ski areas above Sölden, one can either take the Gletscherexpress in the reverse direction or attempt the cold and sometimes stony ski route down from the base of the Rettenbach through the Rettenbach valley. In fact from here it is possible to take an unbroken run from well above 3000 metres to the town at 1377 metres.
This will bring the skier to the base of the Gaislachkoglbahn gondola and the third of the Sölden ski areas, as well as the third of the BIG3 peaks. The gondola is a two-stage affair with a breezy and not particularly easy red run off the top. There are a few older chairlifts on this side of the mountain and there is the option to continue on the face above the town or to head over to the quieter area above the Gaislachalm.
This is reached via the Wasserkar chairlift and a long red run which eventually leads to the base of Heidebahn chairlift. A red ski route off to the right leads to some picturesque buildings with lovely isolated views out over the Vent valley and some scenic mountain huts.
The return to the main ski area can be made via the chairlift or by taking the long blue run which heads through the trees and back to the base of the Middle Station chair or the Gaislachkoglbahn gondola.
The live webcam stream below is taken from the top of the Gaislachkogl lift. Another webcam from the Seekogl area is available by clicking the middle button above the live stream.