Get a big lift in Obergurgl!
One small lift removed – but a giant leap for skiing mankind (and womankind) in Hochgurgl!
Words by Arnie Wilson
Oh dear! What have they done to my favourite Hochgurgl T-bar – the one I used to sneak off to rather smugly when no-one was looking to find my very own secret powder stash? Turned it into a barnstorming high-tech super-gondola, that’s what. So big, that each one is almost a mini cable car.
But I mustn’t be churlish. Or selfish.
The new 10-person Kirchenkar “Top Mountain Cross Point” lift is, of course, a magnificent addition to the Tirolean Ötz Valley resort’s armoury. And I genuinely enjoyed riding the new lift on the day it officially opened on 27th November. I just felt a little sad that my private little Austrian skiing playground (well, there were a few other lone hounds who’d also discovered it, I must admit) had been lionised and bigged up to such an extent that it was rather – I fancied – like seeing a sleek little yacht turned into a huge ocean-going liner.
Now open – Top Mountain Cross Point lift
The new lift will transport 2,400 people per hour – not only increasing capacity but also reducing lift queues. And the futuristic, extensively sweeping lines of the “Top Mountain Cross Point” base station will house a fascinating new motorbike museum (Europe’s highest – opening April 2016). Plus a new restaurant, serving Austrian alpine cuisine favourites, providing dining for 220 inside and seating for a further 220 outside on a terrace with superb panoramic views.
Many of the motorbikes are already in place, with many more to come. Mountain biking – and mountain motor biking – are becoming more and more popular in the Ötz valley every year. Hence the museum!
A preview of the motorbike museum
There’s more – within the next two or three years, there are plans to extend the new lift further up the mountain. Section 2 of the Kirchenkar lift will open up even more terrain, but even then it won’t be the highest lift-served spot…
Dubbed “The Diamond of the Alps”, one of Obergurgl-Hochgurgl’s claims to skiing excellence is the altitude of its slopes, many of them way above tree level, and regularly producing good and long-lasting snow conditions. Indeed, one of the instructors accompanying us on our familiarisation visit to inspect the new lift (and dine at the new Top Mountain Cross Point restaurant with its wood-fired pizza oven) said the slopes were so high that in summer they were “even too high for a cow”.
Top Mountain Cross Point restaurant
Pride of place in terms of altitude and novelty still goes to the Top Mountain Star restaurant (3,030m) with its striking viewing platform near the top of the Wurmkogl 2 quad chair. You can see non-stop peaks right the way across to Italy’s magnificent Dolomites. What a magnificent location for a sundowner! And a terrific ski down to Hochgurgl as the sky starts to turn pink!
View from Mountain Cross Point
Discover Hochgurgl from our base in Obergurgl, including the new lift and motorbike museum – for details of Ski Total’s fantastic chalets, click here.
Arnie Wilson was the Financial Times ski correspondent from 1986-2001, and then edited the Ski Club of Great Britain’s magazine Ski+board for 13 years. In 1994 he and the late Lucy Dicker became the first people to ski for 365 consecutive days, visiting 240 resorts in 13 countries. Wilson has also skied in all 37 of America’s “skiing states”.