29th November 2022 | James Cove, Soelden, Austria
PlanetSKI has arrived in the Tirol to start our ski season. Five resorts in a week – seeing what’s on offer now and for the season ahead. First up it’s Soelden. NEW
It hasn’t been the best start to winter in this part of the Alps.
World Cup ski racing was disrupted back in October, and then the full opening on November 24th was postponed as there wasn’t enough snow.
However, this was the view as I flung open my curtains on Tuesday morning.
Snow at resort level – 1,377m.
The skiing goes up to 3,300m so there should be some decent turns to be made, and so it turned out to be.
It looked wintery on the way up with low cloud and light snow falling.
It remained that way for the rest of the day.
There was nowhere near enough snow for any off piste skiing as this area is pretty rocky and needs plenty of snow to cover the high-altitude terrain.
No matter, the on piste conditions on the glacier were more than acceptable for a first day back on snow at the end of November.
It was hard to contain my enthusiasm.
My ski guide for the day was Hubert Walther (he’s the guy holding the camera in the video above).
Hubert has seen a few winters.
“It makes no difference what happens in November. Sometimes it snows and sometimes it doesn’t,” he observed sagely.
“There have been some great Novembers for snow that have not fulfilled their promise and other ones where snow has not fallen much, yet the winter turned out to be a bumper one.
“It is what it is, and we shall just have to see what happens.”
Wise words given all the excitement on social media – whether about a lack of snow or when snow falls.
Soelden is towards the end of the Otztal Valley in the Tirol.
Its main foreign market is Germany, but the British are in joint second place with the Dutch.
The resort has a Ski Test Centre up on the slopes at the base of the Rettenbach glacier that is open for a couple of pre-season months from the beginning of October to the end of November.
For €40 a day you can test out all the latest skis – there are 500 pairs available from all the major manufacturers, so you should be able to find a pair you like if you want to try some out before buying.
It is a neat early season attraction.
I have actually rented mine from an Intersport shop in town.
It is part of the Test Centre but also offers the option for people to change their skis during the course of a week’s rental across the whole season.
Whether due to the snow conditions changing, or you just fancy trying a few out.
It’s a great idea from Intersport and one I have taken advantage of over the years.
Is it me or are ski technicians getting younger?
So, what is new in Soelden for this coming season?
Perhaps one of the the best self-service restaurants in the Alps for a start.
It is in the Giggijoch area, seats 1,000 people and is run by Robert Hanser.
Much of the interior is made from reclaimed wood from 300-year old derelict farm buildings.
Who says a self-service mountain restaurant can’t be stylish?
“Over recent years the resort has improved its lift infrastructure and mountain safety, and now it is turning its attention to restaurants,” said Hubert.
Lunch was not here, but Hubert led me to the Ice Cube restaurant.
I always have the same lunch on my first day skiing in Austria.
This Wiener Schnitzel was one of the best.
Now you may recognise the Ice Cube building.
It is from the James Bond film, Spectre.
And for the first time I decided to visit the 007 Elements exhibition that is housed within in it.
After all the visibility outside after lunch wasn’t so good.
It opened in July 2018.
If you have seen Spectre you may remember this plane crashing through a farm building.
And here are the plans for the film segment.
The 007 franchise is 60-years old this year – the first film, Dr No with Sean Connery in the starring role, was released in October 1962.
23 other films followed.
A special commemorative film has been made looking back at the Bond heritage and it can only be seen at 007 Elements.
I’m afraid I can’t show you an image from it as there are certain copyright rules to be followed.
It isn’t even on You Tube.
But I suggest you pop into 007 Elements to watch it if you are a Bond Fan and you are coming to Soelden this winter.
There are many artefacts too – guns, watches and a variety of exploding devices.
On the right is the ski pole used by Roger Moore – not just for skiing, but also for shooting the bad guys chasing him in The Spy Who Loved me.
It remains the best ski sequence in any 007 film in my opinion, even though it may look rather dated:
Back out on the slopes of Soelden there is a new black piste, No 41, for this coming season.
We decided not to tackle it in inclement weather, and on my first day back on skis.
But I made a note to tackle it once the sun comes out.
It is set cheer up a bit on Wednesday.
And then we saw the sun – if only briefly.
Sadly one run has gone as the melting glacier has made it untenable – the traverse at the base of the Rettenbach glacier.
A new route has been put in.
And with that my first day back on skis drew to a close.
I am back in my natural habitat.
James will be updating this report on Wednesday from Soelden.
Then on Thursday he heads up the Otztal Valley to Obergurgl and Hochgurgl.
Friday it is Khutai and Saturday is Stubai.
It is, as they say, a hard life – but someone has to do it.
This article was originally published by Planetski.eu. Read the original article here.