Looking down the valley to Obergurgl villageSitting 1,930m above sea level, Obergurgl is one of the highest ski villages in Europe. At the end of the road (literally) through the Ötztal valley in Austria, the reliable snow cover, fantastic hotels and well looked after slopes encourage skiers and boarders back year after year.

My first time skiing in the Alps was an excellent experience. Forget the piste and lifts and snow, you can go to Obergurgl for the views alone. Hohe Mut (2670m) offers spectacular 360 degree views of glaciers and mountain tops, while Top Mountain Star in Hochgurgl (3,080m) provides incredible views across the Alps and Dolomites. Quite awe inspiring, really, and well worth the effort even if you do it without your skis on.

With the (absolutely stunning) views firmly in the memory banks I got on with the job at hand – the skiing. I describe myself as an “okay intermediate”, preferring wide gentle blues to little narrow reds although I will ski both thanks to being taught to slide down on my ski edges a few years ago. The skiing in Obergurgl is typically Alpine. For those preferred easy-on-the-legs undulating blues head over to Hochgurgl where 26 and 26A (along with new addition “fun slope”, presenting skiers and boarders a little taste of ski cross with rollers, banks, a tunnel and a high five; great fun) will give you plenty to do. The snaking 15 from the top of the Steinmannbahn in Obergurgl is also very enjoyable – and if you want a ‘first red’ then 16 is a great start. Be warned that not all marked blues are wide and gentle; some are narrow and icy, with little room for smooth traversing to keep the speed down – this is why they still teach snow plough first in ski school!

TopStar Restaurant at HochgurglThe route back down from the Top Mountain Star is a very good example of this – just be sure to confidently nail those sharp switch-back turns or you’ll fall down an unmarked very black-looking slope in full view of a busy ski hut!

Access across both the Obergurgl and Hochgurgl areas, which is all on one lift pass, is excellent. The majority of lifts are gondolas and chair lifts, with just a handful of drag lifts dotted across the two mountain areas. I admit I didn't even try the Kirchenkarlift, a steep t-bar, which is supposed to take 15 minutes to get to the top - no thanks! It’s easy to get between Obergurgl and Hochgurgl thanks to the “Top Express” gondola, so both areas are truly open whichever side you decide to stay. With the altitude comes strong winds, though, and the lifts are subject to fairly regular closures thanks to the weather. In our six days skiing the Top Express was closed for two – the free ski bus regularly hops between the two villages so you will never be stranded should you be on the wrong side of the mountain when the winds develop. The Steinmanbahn seems immune to such problems, being protected by trees, and that part of the mountain seemed busy even on the worst day weather-wise.

There are plenty of places to stop and rest and grab a drink and bite to eat on and off the slopes. We favoured David’s Hutte and the Nedderhutte as that’s where we always seemed to end up, but you’ll eat a decent open sandwich, sausage or soup wherever you choose to stop. You’ll not need much, though, as the hotels in Obergurgl have a reputation for serving quite lovely breakfasts and evening meals – the Austrians know hospitality. The bonus is that most hotels in Obergurgl are ski-in-ski-out, which makes the whole resort very easy to use.

Obergurgl really is a beautiful place to ski, and being so high you are going to get snow even if the rest of the Alps is struggling a bit. It definitely comes recommended.

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