It is funny, I have never considered snowboarding in Innsbruck before. I have been to Innsbruck many times but only passing through and never making it past the airport.
I have always considered Innsbruck merely as a gateway to Austrian resorts such as Ischgl. How wrong I have been!
I was travelling with my friend and work colleague, Luke Rees (a snowsports journalist and owner of AWE365), and we had a couple of days free between a press trip in Val Gardena in the Italian Dolomites, and a much-anticipated trip to Jasna, in Slovakia. Instead of flying back home only to fly out again within two days, we decided to stop over and go snowboarding in Innsbruck.
This seemed like a great idea as I had heard great things about the city, and the varied ski resorts that surround it. I also liked the tv show ‘The Jump’ which was based at the city’s famous ski jump and often wondered what it would be like to go snowboarding in Innsbruck.
Hotel Adlers – Innsbruck
We stayed in the magnificent Hotel Adlers which is sited next to the main train station. After collecting my key from the courteous and friendly receptionist, I headed up to my room on the 8th floor!
The room was modern and spacious with beautiful lighting. I was immediately drawn to the large windows that overlooked the city; the view was simply stunning.
As a journalist I really appreciated the large table with a comfortable chair so I could catch up with my writing. My large double bed was very comfortable, but what I liked the most was the Chaise Lounge sofa in which I relaxed on and watched the city life below me.
The bathroom was also huge with a lovely walk in shower. Another great feature of the room was that it had underfloor heating in both the bedroom and bathroom. I had to turn mine down as it was getting a little too hot and almost felt like I was walking on hot coals to get to the toilet.
When collecting our room card, we were given the extra bonus of a free drink voucher. The bar and restaurant are on the top floor with splendid panoramic views of Innsbruck. The bar is modern with a cocktail lounge bar ambiance, complete with unobtrusive mood lighting. A very relaxing and ‘mature’ way to spend an evening before hitting the town!
Snowboarding in Innsbruck
Is there any such thing as too much snow? Well, it appears there is as our first day was disastrous with the local slopes being closed because of too much of the white stuff. This was particularly disappointing as we geared up as soon as we got to the hotel and walked twenty minutes to the nearest Gondola.
After looking on the web we noticed that the lower runs were open in Kühtai. We momentarily got excited before realising that it was at least an hour bus ride away, and by the time we got there it would be too late.
With a heavy heart we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel. It was not a complete waste of a day as we got to go out and take a look at Innsbruck. More of this later.
Day two did not start much better! While having breakfast we checked online to see if the ski areas had opened – you can imagine our dismay when we saw that they hadn’t! But, my friend Luke saw that a small resort called Patscherkofel was open. Even better, it was only a 25 minute bus journey from a bus stop just outside our hotel. We got ready faster than a man in a latex bat suit after receiving the bat signal.
Patscherkofel is one of the smallest ski areas I have been to and is a predominantly top to bottom run supplied by a single Gondola that also stops at a mid-station. I also noticed that there is a nursery slope at the bottom which looked ideal for beginners and had it’s own drag lift.
The Gondola was small but modern, and we didn’t have to queue once to get on it. It was also quite fast, whisking us up a distance of about 1Km in no time at all.
From the top (2Km high) we had a choice of two red runs (one of which is a celebrated Olympic run), a blue as well a black. Not that it mattered to us much as there was so much snow that the pistes were no different to the off-piste. When we got off the Gondola we could only stare in disbelief. So much snow! We were in powder heaven.
Our first run was top to bottom, mainly off-piste but not straying too far away from the slopes. We floated through powder fields, danced through tree lines, and jumped over natural side kickers whilst whooping in delight like toddlers in a ball pit! We were having the time of our lives.
The powder was slightly heavy and although fun, was tiring on the legs. So, for the rest of the day we headed down only to the mid-station before going back to the top. We got more adventurous with each lap, requiring more technical snowboarding. It was a great opportunity to try out new skills to add to the quiver. We also found that it was more choppy lower down so much more fun sticking to the higher slopes.
The disappointment of the day before evaporated as soon as we got off the bus; it really was one of the best days snowboarding I have ever had. So much fun!
Patscherkofel has very modern facilities and I was very impressed with the stylish restaurant at the bottom. Service was prompt, prices reasonable and the food was good. There is also a small hut for après ski which is sited about 100m up from the base. You would need to ski down to it. We did entertain the thought of popping for a quick drink, but a few locals were smoking inside, and with no ventilation we decided it was too smoky for us.
It does seem strange to me that huts in Austrian ski resorts seem the only places in Europe that largely ignore the non-smoking laws.
Innsbruck – The City
I really enjoyed my stay in Innsbruck and found the city fascinating. The centre is quite compact and easy to walk around.
When walking around the city I couldn’t help but notice how diverse the architecture is. On one hand the city is blessed with visually stunning Imperial style buildings which were built in the times of Emperor Maximilian I. But, unfortunately, in some cases these buildings have concrete monstrosities erected by the side of them. How on earth this was ever allowed to happen by the city planners is beyond me.
That aside, Innsbruck is a wonderful city to stroll around, with many small bars and restaurants to stop in.
After our epic day snowboarding, we went out on the town to celebrate. First, we headed to the Galway Irish Pub to watch the football. The place was large and we enjoyed a few pints of Guinness. It was quiz night and the place was packed. Personally, I am not a big fan of quiz nights as it does destroy the atmosphere in a pub for those not in the quiz. A lot of the time it felt like a library as we had to whisper to each other. Unless going for the quiz, maybe best to avoid on Mondays!
We then headed back towards the hotel and went to the nightclub in the same block. We were quite early and the nightclub was quiet when we arrived. The club was large with a round bar in the middle. When ordering a pint of the local lager we surprised when we were only charged five euros for both!
Apparently, it was student night! Innsbruck has a large student community and it was not long before they were all streaming through the doors. There was a great atmosphere in the place and the music was a mix between chart dance music and old classics. Everyone was up dancing and I loved the vibe. Although feeling slightly old in the club, there was such a good atmosphere that we had a great time.
The next morning, we walked to the main train station which was next to the hotel, and as we got on the train for our next leg of our trip to Jasna in Slovakia, we left Innsbruck behind with a heavy heart!
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)