The Perfect Winter map

Finally, here it is! All the resorts visited during The Perfect Winter campaign are now on Google Maps. The secret spots are carefully left out – it’s so much more fun to find them yourself!

Click on the image to explore the map and find roads, lifts and slopes. So many possibilities!

Quite a lot of mapping, driving, hiking and sliding down faces of mountains. How I miss those days. Fortunately this winter is already at the doorstep and it’s looking promising!

tpw-map

Advertisements

Alpine essence

If the Matterhorn summit chocolate-esque shape is possibly the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the Alps, the next is without question the quiet valleys of Tirol in Austria. This corridor that separates Germany from Italy is nowadays a popular tourist destination for the average ski fan but there is much more to be learned and experienced in this fantastic corner of the Earth.

Its first human settlements in the valleys date back to the end of the last glacier period, around 12,000 BC. In fact, ancient humans were already crossing the highest Alpine passes 5000 years ago, as testified by the Ötzi discovery in 1991. After going through Roman, Goth, Austro-Hungarian, German, Italian and even a recent French occupation (after WWII) it was finally re-established as Austrian in 1955.

The snowy peaks around the Ziller Valley are among the main attractions in Tirol. A railway built in 1902, running between Jenbach and Mayrhofen and still in operation, opened a region previously relying on agriculture and mining to commerce and tourism.

(all pics by João Saraiva)

DSC02297

DSC02303

DSC02488

Initially passionate about climbing, visitors shifted gradually into ski enthusiasts with the opening of the Gerlosstein ski area (today the Zillertal Arena) in 1953 and the Mayrhofner Penkenbahn lift in 1954.

The region offers many options for nature aficionados, both in summer and winter. Hiking trails are well marked and spread throughout the peaks and the valley and are an excellent option if you really want to get immersed in the mountain spirit during the warmer months.

DSC02391

DSC02389

DSC02390

But don’t get carried away: the numerous cows that you’ll eventually bump into while you walk around in the trails will remind you that you are a tourist, and the real mountain people here are the local farmers that have been living in harmony and caring for this beautiful landscape for centuries. It is still this respect for the land that prevents the Zillertal from the disfiguration of mass tourism that one can find in certain areas of the French Alps, for example.

DSC02424

DSC02510

DSC02517

DSC02519

The Hintertuxer glacier on the southern end of the Ziller valley offers skiing year round (the only one in Austria and one of two in the world doing so – the other is Zermatt in Switzerland) and it can really be an experience. At certain points the ice is over 120 meters thick, and the glacier moves so much that the lifts going to the top have to be relocated several times a year to keep vertical.

DSC02404

An interesting visit to a natural crevasse (the Nature Eis Palast) can be performed right at the top of the glacier – but it is however kind of eerie to think about similar death traps spread around the face of the glacier. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t ski in glacier terrain.

DSC02310

DSC02315

DSC02323

Oh, and the food, the food! So much to write about!

DSC02573

DSC02417

DSC02572

Despite the fantastic mountain landscape in the summer, it is winter that draws me here. And that will be reserved for future posts…