News from the snow
Zell im Zillertal Austria
In December 1999 Zell's local skiing was lift-linked to neighbouring Gerlos, Konigsleiten and Gerlosplatte to create the Zillertal Arena, the fourth largest ski area in the Tyrol and one of the largest in Austria. Skiers get good value for money here - The Zillertal Super Ski Pass opens up a vast area of trails served by more than 170 lifts throughout the Ziller Valley including the guaranteed snow trails of the Hintertux Glacier, known as some of the best glacier skiing in the world, as well as free travel on scheduled trains and buses. Zell am Ziller itself is lift linked to four other ski areas in the Zillertal Arena ski domain. Long before the American gold rush days Zell thrived as the gold mining centre for the Ziller Valley. Between the 14th and 19th centuries Tyrolean gold was much in demand and was used for minting coins throughout Europe. In 1997 the old mine in Hainzenberg was re-opened to the public and offers some insight into how hard the miners worked. The name 'Ziller' derives from the Ziller River which, since Roman times, has acted as a natural boundary between provinces and countries. The dioceses of Brixen and Salzburg used it as a natural boundary and the red and green church towers still reflect this historic period in the Ziller Valley. Originally known as The Land in the Mountains, this province was first referred to as the Tyrol in 1248. The third largest province in Austria, with Innsbruck 60km/37 miles as its capital, eastern Tyrol has the highest concentration of ski resorts in the country, the biggest and most well-known, Mayrhofen, situated at the lower end of the Ziller Valley. Zell im Zillertal ("tal" means valley) is the collective name for Zell am Ziller and the many resorts which are located in the valley. The first ”foreign“ visitors to the Ziller valley and Zell were welcomed early in the last century, and the Ziller valley has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. The construction of the Ziller railway provided much easier access to the resort, which previously had only been possible on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. It soon became obvious that improving the appearance of the resort and guest facilities should be treated as a matter of urgency. Itinerant salesmen and folk singers were frequent visitors to the valley at the end of the 18th century, and were in no small part responsible for extending the region’s fame and praising its virtues beyond the boundaries of the valley. In summer the network of hiking and biking trails plus the easy gondola access to the mountain tops make it ideal for exploring the spectacular mountain terrain while the glacier makes it a summer ski and board destination too. This area holds a special place in the heart of many British skiers as so many of them learned to ski here. Unlike so many resorts, the beginners slopes are high enough up to ensure good snow cover giving learners both excellent conditions and spectacular views. Nearly 600 peaks rise above 3000m and the Wildspitz at 3,774m tops them all. Even the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner 3797m reaches into the Tyrol.
Delightful village in the spectacular Zillertal with a Super Zillertal lift pass giving access to virtually all the region's lifts and over 600km of terrain. In December 1999 the local skiing was linked to Gerlos, Wald and Gerlosplatte, creating the Zillertal Arena, the largest area in the Zillertal and one of Austria's largest ski areas. Wide range of off-slope activities include the more unusual, such as stamp-swapping for philatelists at the Cafe Rosengarten on the third Wednesday of every month, air-gun shooting and billiards.
In summer, the skiing is at 3250m and includes 18km of prepared pistes. Lifts open at 8.30 and its best to ski early as the snow tends to get very soft after lunchtime. There is a ski shop at the top of the "Gletscher Bus" (the second bus-like gondola) with a locker service where you can leave your gear overnight. There are panoramic cameras at the top of the glacier so its possible to check out the weather on TV (ORF2) without even leaving your hotel room.
There is a ski kindergarten for younger kids and a daily childrens' collection service when instructors will pick up your children from their hotel. At the end of each week the ski school organise a childrens' "world cup" with prize giving.
Great fun in more than 30 huts and snowbars in the skiresort as well as in the 5 apres ski bars directly at the base station and in the village guaranteed.
Hot-Zone Snowpark in Gerlos (Vorkogel lift); Snowpark at Gerlosplatte, 80m Halfpipe at Gerlosplatte; 100m Halpipe in Gerlos/FuBalm