What a record-breaking start to 2012 in the Austrian Tirol. Several resorts are reporting that so far this month they have received more snow than any other January in the last 30 years, whilst Nauders and Galtür haven’t had such heavy snow at the start of the year for the last 60 years. Some of the largest snowfall over the last 24 hours has been in Bergwang, in the Zugspitz Arena, with up to 70cm falling. One of the areas experiencing the heaviest snowfall has been the Arlberg region, with snow depths on the Galzig now at 550cm and on the Valluga at 585cm. It has been snowing over in the east of the Tirol region too, with the Skiwelt Wilder-Kaiser Brixental reporting 50cm, Kitzbühel 30cm and the Alpbach Valley reporting 40cm of fresh snow. Later this week the forecast suggests a little sunshine is on its way, creating some of the most amazing skiing conditions.
It can be easy to get carried away with the excitement of fresh powder but heavy snowfall over a short period of time can also increase the risk of avalanche danger. Understanding mountain safety is an absolute must both on- and off-piste. The Tirol Tourist Board recommends all skiers and boarders follow these basic safety tips to enjoy their holiday to the full:
1) Get informed: weather forecasts, snow reports and avalanche bulletins are widely available on the internet and through the local tourist offices. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains so always be prepared. Always carry a piste map and know how to get help if needed.
2) Signage: take notice of what’s around you – make sure you know your location and take note of the difficulty level of the piste. Most importantly pay attention to signs, issuing warnings such as piste closed or to the flags notifying the avalanche danger level. Don’t ignore the signs – they are there for a reason!
3) Protection: wear the right equipment and clothing. Protecting your head is vital – so make sure you wear a helmet. If you choose to go off-piste, always go with a certified guide and don’t forget to carry a transceiver, probe and shovel. Having the correct safety equipment and more importantly, knowing how to use it, is fundamental.
4) Be responsible: check out the FIS (International Ski Federation) rules for ski and snowboard conduct – your Highway Code to the slopes! Always make sure the skier in front has priority and adapt the manner and speed of your skiing to your ability and the conditions on the mountain.
5) Learn from the experts: ski instructors and guides know the mountains better than anyone and booking a lesson or a few hours guiding can not only improve your skiing skills, but provide you with local knowledge about the mountains and resort.
FREE SAAC AVALANCHE CAMPS
The free Snow & Avalanche Awareness Camps (SAAC) were set up in Austria for skiers or snowboarders, over the age of 14, to encourage them to learn about the mountains, with particular attention to alpine dangers, improving awareness and increasing an individual’s own sense of responsibility. The 2-day SAAC basic camps offer a mix of theory and practice, including learning about the factors that make up an avalanche, analysis of the snow, route finding and search techniques. Participation in the SAAC Basic Camp and the emergency equipment (avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe) is free.
Wildschönau: January 21/22
Imst: January 21/22
Nauders: January 28/29
Füssener Jöchle Grän I: February 4/5 (Girlpower course)
Mayrhofen: February 25/26
Füssener Jöchle Grän II March 3/4
Galtür: March 17/18
Hochfügen II: April 7/8
Stubaier Gletscher II: April 28/29
Late deals to the Austrian Tirol
Save £175 – Seefeld
Neilson (0845 070 3460; http://www.neilson.co.uk
) has 7 nights on half board at the 3* Hotel Krinserhof in Seefeld from £384 per person (was £559). Price includes return flights from Gatwick and resort transfers. Departs 21st January.
Save £230 – Neustift in the Stubai Valley
Crystal Ski (0871 231 2256; http://www.crystalski.co.uk
) has 7 nights on half board at the 3* Hotel Augarten from £395 per person (was £625). Price includes return flights from Luton, East Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle and Gatwick to Salzburg and resort transfers. Departs 28th January.
Save £150 – Kitzbühel ski area
Thomson Ski (0871 971 0578; http://www.thomsonski.co.uk
) has 7 nights on half board at the 3* Hotel Aurach in Aurach from £349 per person (was £499), including flights from Luton, East Midlands, Glasgow, Newcastle and Gatwick to Salzburg and resort transfers. Departs 28th January.
Save £150 – Söll
Direct Ski (http://www.directski.com
) has 7 nights at the 3* self catering Schindlhaus Apartments in Söll from £315 per person (was £465), including flights from Gatwick or from £295 per person (was £445), including flights from Manchester and resort transfers. Departs 21st January.
Save £246 – Ellmau
Inghams (020 8780 4447; http://www.inghams.co.uk
) has 7 nights half board at the 3* Pension Claudia from £399 per person (was £645), including return flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers. Departs 21st January.
Save £380 – Luxury St Anton
Kaluma Ski (01730 260263; http://www.kalumatravel.co.uk
) is offering luxury Chalet Montfort in St Anton, from £495 per person (was £875 per person) including bed and breakfast and the Kaluma Concierge Service. Departs 18th – 22nd January. Flights and transfers additional.
For further information and images contact:
Becky Horton, Horton PR
or 020 8330 2143; 07766 738020