News from the snow
Tux - Finkenberg Austria
The Hintertux glacier dominates a small, alpine valley, Tux, which sits at the head of the popular skiing valley of Ziller, 90km (56 miles) from Innsbruck. At the foot of the mountains five typically Tyrolean villages of Hintertux, Madseit, Juns, Lanersbach and Vorderlanersbach nestle on the valley floor. The resort is now jointly promoted with its near neighbour, the village of Finkenberg. Despite its remoteness, this area has been inhabited for aeons; some artefacts point to the earliest settlers as being Breons, part of the Illyrian tribes of the Rhaeto-Roman peoples. While these early inhabitants made their living from hunting, farming and husbandry, the modern residents of Tux work hard 365 day a year catering for the thousands of skiers and tourists who come to enjoy the plentiful snow and the magnificent alpine scenery. Tourism first began for this area in the 19th century, when Tux became famed for its 23 hot springs. The radium-rich, clear and odourless liquid has a temperature of 20.5 degrees celsius and wealthy Europeans used to flock to the area to take the waters. As skiing developed throughout the Alps, Tux's high altitude and glacier made it a magnet for winter sports enthusiasts. The resort has grown steadily since the early 1960s as ski lifts have proliferated, initially around the Eggalmbahn area above Lanersbach and then on the glacier itself. The resort celebrated the new millennium in the best way it knows how, by building the highest bicable continuous cable car in the world. This technical masterpiece rises 650 metres and a distance of almost two kilometres from the Tuxer Ferenhaus to the Gefrorene Wand in just five minutes. Atmosphere-wise, despite its reputation for having the best summer skiing in Austria and being host to virtually all the world's national ski squads, Tux is not a cosmopolitan resort having instead a rather quaint and provincial Austrian atmosphere.
The Hintertux glacier is one of Europe's largest year-round skiing operation and in winter is part of the Ziller valley pass that takes in Mayrhofen. The glacier is serviced by increasingly high-tech lifts including Glacier Bus 3 with 24 person cabins capable of uplifting 3000 skiers per hour from the bottom to the top of the glacier. There are five villages in the valley beneath the glacier, which is regarded by many as having the best summer skiing in the world and is one of the few centres open for snow spoprts 365 days per year. The largest is Lanersbach, where most of the facilities are based. The little village of Hintertux itself, at the head of the valley, has thermal springs. The lifts are directly at the huge day-visitors car-park. Apart from skiing there are motre than 250 km of hiking trails and Natursport Tirol offers active sports like paragliding, canyoning, flying fox and caving.
The resort is part of the Ski and Glacier World Zillertal 3000 lift linked pass with Finkenberg and Mayrhofen, although a bus journey is required through the Tux valley to make up the link to the glacier.
Skiing from the door is a no-no but the resort is included in the Zillertal Super Pass which gives the skier a wonderland of nearly 640 kms (400 miles) of pistes. The management keeps the area beautifully groomed with its arsenal of snow canons and piste machines.
Like most of Zillertal, Tux - Finkenberg is really a paradise for intermediates, with many kilometres of excellent, laid-back trails. However, there is a real shortage of nursery slopes, especially when snow is scarce and, for the expert, there is little to quicken the heart. Off-piste skiing can be good when there is a lot of new snow but the dangers of skiing off the beaten track on glaciers are very real - who wants to end their holiday falling down a crevasse? Local guides are available if you want to explore.
The various ski schools at Tux - Finkenberg are excellent, teaching all standards of skiing and snow boarding.
For three plus year olds, there is an excellent ski kindergarten and babies and toddlers from 1 -3 years can be looked after by the Guest Kindergarten.
Popular bars in Hintertux are the Batzenkeller, the Almhit, the Hohenhaus-Tenne and the Tux 1. The other villages, especially Lanersbach, have a very traditional Austrian flavour and much of the apres ski is in the many large hotels, with special Tyrolean entertainments put on for visitors.