My Favourite Ski Runs In Tirol IV: The World Cup slope, Sölden
Every year, after a long wait, when the month of October arrives, the Giant Slalom World Cup Races in Sölden remind us that a new winter season is just around the corner.
Sölden is a very modern and popular ski resort in the Ötztal valley of Tirol, Austria. The main village of Sölden is located at 1,368 meters above sea level. The highest peak in the valley is the Wildspitze (3,768 meters), the second highest mountain in Austria after the Grossglockner.
Sölden offers the marvelous BIG 3, Austria's only ski area with 3 mountains higher than 3,000 meters which are accessible by lifts. From November through May thanks to the ski area's high-Alpine location (1,350 - 3,250 m) and the modern snowmaking system (covering all slopes lower than 2,200 m) snow is guaranteed in Sölden.
With two glacier ski areas and 144 kilometers of perfectly prepared pistes of all difficulty levels the Sölden ski resort promises a maximum of variety during your skiing holiday in Tirol.
With a surface covering more than 20 km² and 34.5 km of pistes, Sölden's glacier ski area ranks among the largest in Tirol and all Austria. Located between 2675 and 3250 meters, the scenic mountain ski areas of Rettenbach and Tiefenbachferner are connected by a ski tunnel.
Eight modern mountain lifts take skiers up the glacier ski mountains. The base lift stations at the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach Glaciers can be also easily reached by car or bus via the highest Panoramic Road in the Eastern Alps.
If you drive towards the upper valley through Sölden, the glacier road branches off to the right at the very end of the village. On spectacular bends and steep ascents you will quickly gain altitude on this connecting toll road (free of charge with a valid skipass).
An average gradient of 11% awaits drivers on the 13 km long route to Rettenbach Glacier. If you also want to visit Tiefenbach Glacier you have to cross the mountain through Europe's highest road tunnel (1,8 km), passing also the highest point of the glacier road (2830 m).
To reach the start of the World Cup Slope you must take the Schwarze Schneid Bahn I + II, an 8 passenger Gondola lift (monocable circulating ropeway) built in 2003. In less than 7 minutes you move from the Base station (2.673 m.) to the Top station located at 3250 meters a.s.l.
The start of the run (blue piste number 33 and 32) is easy and relatively flat until you reach the start of the big impressive steep wall (black piste number 31, maximum slope of 65 %).
A challenge suitable, and enjoyable, only for experienced and skilled skiers. Not without reason, the Giant Slalom of Sölden is one of the toughest in the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup calendar.
If you are not sure about your skills don't worry, you can stay in the blue 33 piste to go all the way down, or from just above the steep wall you can take the piste number 35 and be amused by the fantastic view of the glacier.
But Sölden is also much more than skiing. Here, in this same scenario, we have had the opportunity to attend, and we highly recommend it, one of the most spectacular events held in the Alps: Hannibal.
The performance of "Hannibal – The Crossing of the Alps" is all about the historical facts of the Second Punic War and Carthaginian General Hannibal, staged with all modern theater settings on the giant open-air stage at Sölden's Rettenbach Glacier.