Skiing in Soll

Sőll is one of the main gateway villages to the SkiWelt: one of the biggest and most modern lift-connected ski areas in Austria with 284km of perfectly groomed ski pistes, 90 ski lifts and over 70 mountain restaurants and bars.

Soll & SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental Ski Area Overview

There are few surprises as you ski from one resort to the next, so this is an ideal opportunity for improving beginners and intermediates to enjoy the thrill of being ‘on the road’ rather than exploring just one resort. But it’s well worth remembering your route and consulting the piste map from time to time. You could do worse than use your first day to get your bearings before further exploration. There are three principal routes: the Salven circuit via Brixen, Westendorf, Hopfgarten, Itter and Söll, the Kaiser Route via Brixen, Scheffau, Ellmau and Going, and the Westendorf circuit via Westendorf and Brixten.

The SkiWelt is perfect for intermediates and mixed-ability groups and there is also a wide selection of runs for beginners. With just a scattering of steeper black runs, like the steep short pitch from Soll’s Hohe Salve (1829m), stronger intermediates will find sufficient to keep them amused too – not least the scenery, with stirring views of the craggy Wilder Kaiser peaks to the north, and the Kitzbuheler Alps to the south – but there’s very little challenging terrain for experts. With 284km of on-piste skiing, the biggest challenge for advanced skiers is to see how much of the SkiWelt they can ski in a day. There’s more than enough groomed skiing to keep even the best skiers busy skiing different runs all week and it’ll take many visits to gain expert knowledge of more than 70 mountain restaurants and bars.

The SkiWelt is situated south of the Wilder Kaiser mountains and the road that runs between Sőll, Scheffau, Ellmau and Going (11km east from Sőll) and to the east and mostly north of the road that connects Soll with Itter, Hopfgarten, Westendorf and Brixen im Thale (20km from south-east Soll). The entire SkiWelt Wilder-Kaiser ski area covers 284 kilometres of slopes between 620m and a maximum of 1,957m above sea level.

Although it’s not especially high, the SkiWelt gets plenty of snow each winter supplemented by SkiWelt’s extensive snow-making capabilities. 1,400+ snow cannons and lances cover more than 80% of groomed runs, which helps ensure a good snow base throughout the ski season and prevents steeper and narrower runs from icing over so quickly. Compared to more mountainous, higher altitude ski resorts there are fewer rocks so less snow is needed to create good ski conditions. SkiWelt’s treeless, grassy summits and grassy runs between forested lower slopes can easily be made skiable with just 30-50cm of snow.

Of a total of 284km of groomed ski pistes, SkiWelt has 122km (43%) of easy blue runs and 129km (45%) of red runs for intermediates. Black runs are 33km (12%) in total, but no steeps or mogul runs for experts and the off-piste is very limited and benign. Every 3.5km on average you’ll find a mountain hut, umbrella bar, restaurant or sun terrace, so you will never be short of places to stop for refreshment, but never have time to visit them all – It’s hard to imagine a ski area with more mountain restaurants and bars and standards are high.

The whole SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental area has benefited from huge investment in recent years and there is an ongoing program of modernisation and investment to ensure ski lift infrastructure, snow-making and grooming are second to none. With such a big ski area, good signage and mapping to help skiers navigate their way around the SkiWelt (and find their way home) is also important and there’s been plenty of investment in signage. However, until you get to know the area well, it’s still easy to sometimes take the wrong route, but just about everything you can think of is marked on the ski map so you’ll soon get back on track.

Many ski resorts boast night skiing, usually no more than a floodlit beginner slope on the edge of the village, but Sőll is home to the biggest night skiing area in the Alps with 13km of floodlit skiing including a 3km floodlit valley run back to Sőll. There’s excellent night skiing Wednesday – Saturday between 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm from mid-December to mid-March (floodlit on the valley descent until 10:30 pm), and it’s not just for tourists. The night skiing in Sőll attracts plenty of locals so you can expect to see some amazingly good skiers carving expert turns. There are also two floodlit toboggan runs – Hexebritt and Mondrodelbahn – the biggest floodlit fun park for boarders and freestylers and plenty of good food and fun to be had in the night skiing area at the Alpengasthof in Hochsőll, the Grűndalm, Stőckalm, Gasthof Salvenmoos at middle station and at the Moonlight bar at the bottom of the valley run.

Beginner Skiing in Soll and the Ski Welt

There are many runs suitable for beginners in Sőll, but actually getting to them is not always so easy. Young children and novices start on nursery slopes (between the main road in Sőll and the the bottom of the gondola) before progressing higher up the mountain to mid-station.

Although SkiWelt statistics show that 43% of runs are suitable for beginners, most blue runs in Sőll are clustered around a plateau at Hochsöll (half way between the Sőll base area and Hohe Salve), at the top gondola station in Scheffau and more still “up and over” the Hohe Salve peak on the slopes high above Brixen and Hopfgarten. But these are quite hard to get to from Söll as there is no easy way down to reach them from the top of the Hohe Salve gondola.

Sőll and the SkiWelt generally are excellent for improving beginners. Confident beginners should be able to ski the red run down from Hochsőll to Soll. It’s well protected by artificial snow-making, but can sometimes be icy in parts if there’s a lack of natural snow cover, in which case blue-run skiers can return to the valley by gondola or ski the blue that runs from the bottom of the Stőckl chairlift to Sőll.

All of the SkiWelt villages, except south-facing Brixen and Hopfgarten, have dedicated nursery slopes at the bottom of the mountain. While novices can have a great holiday learning to ski in Sőll, first-timers and especially families with young children taking their first steps on skis are advised to consider staying in Scheffau or Ellmau.

Scheffau has a better dedicated area for novices on a sloping meadow beneath the church as well as an extensive cluster of blue runs in the main ski area at Brandstadl (1650m) and a wonderfully long and easy blue run back down to Blaiken on the outskirts of Scheffau. Ellmau has a deservedly good reputation for teaching young children to ski. The selection of nursery slopes in Ellmau is better than in Soll and the ski school in Ellmau is especially child-friendly.

That said, the Ski & Snowboard School Sőll Hochsőll is among the best ski schools in Austria and offers skiing lessons for novices and beginners of any age, separate meeting places for adults and children and a special program for younger children (aged 3-5) with child minding at lunch times available at extra cost.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Soll and Ski Welt

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Intermediate Skiing in Soll and the Ski Welt

The SkiWelt is one of Austria’s truly great intermediate ski circuits. With 284km of groomed pistes, of which over 90% are designated easy or intermediate, the SkiWelt is a perfect playground for experienced intermediate skiers and boarders.

The SkiWelt’s 284km groomed pistes are exceptionally well-maintained. There’s artificial snow-making covering 85% of marked runs to ensure a good base early in the season and to prevent narrower and steeper runs from becoming too icy. With as much as 122km (43%) of blue runs and 129km (45%) of red runs, Soll and the Ski Welt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental ski area is ideal for intermediates.

The longest run in Sőll is the 7km descent from the top of Hohe Salve down to Hopfgarten – glorious red runs down, but not quite so simple to navigate because it’s very easy – especially at speed – to take a wrong turn and end up having to queue for a lift you had no intention of taking to get back to the top and start again. More haste less speed is probably the answer if you are a first-time visitor wanting to ski down to Hopfgarten in one go.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Soll and the Ski Welt

Although there are some steeper groomed slopes running down from Hohe Salve towards Söll, only 4% of Sőll and SkiWelt’s groomed terrain is said to be difficult and suitable only for advanced skiers. That said, there are masses of well-groomed piste skiing for good skiers and boarders to improve their carving techniques and enjoy cruising fast.

SkiWelt’s groomed pistes (284km) are mostly made up of 122km (43%) easy and 129km (45%) intermediate terrain. Black pistes and ski routes, which are never groomed, amount to 33km (12%) and are fun, but not too testing.

That said, the SkiWelt is a great fun destination for a skiing holiday, especially if you like cruising fast on well-prepared slopes amid beautiful scenery. The challenge for advanced skiers and boarders is not the difficulty of the terrain, but the extent of it. The question is how much of it can you ski in a day or a week? The answer is not all of it by any means!

Some of the toughest and steepest piste skiing can be found on the homeward bound runs on the Söll side of Hohe Salve. The 3km run down to the new Hexen6er (correct spelling) six-seater chairlift is one of the most challenging. At Westendorf, the 1.5km black run from the Alpenrose lift on Choralpe (1820m) down to the middle station (1320m) is relatively challenging. At Scheffau, another black run for stronger skiers and boarders to get their teeth into runs from the top station in Scheffau (Brandstadl) down to the middle station (Neualm).

If you’re looking for more challenging skiing and if the snow conditions are good enough for skiing off-piste then it’s best to hire a guide. Even without a guide, in powder snow conditions there are plenty of opportunities to ski between the marked pistes and to find more difficult lines including steeper descents off-piste beneath some chair lifts – watch out for the tree stumps!

Boarding & Freestyle in Soll and the Ski Welt

Boarders are well represented and catered for very well in the SkiWelt. There are three terrain parks: Snowpark & Funslope-Area in Sőll, Intersport KaiserPark in Ellmau and Boarders Playground in Westendorf.

Intermediate boarders and above can get around the SkiWelt circuit well, but beginners will find some parts of the network difficult as there are some flat areas between the various villages.  The wide-open terrain includes opportunities for boarding in deeper snow between the marked runs and there are massive amounts of riding and good restaurants to be enjoyed throughout the SkiWelt, in addition to terrain parks.

Mountain Restaurants in Soll and the Ski Welt

SkiWelt has an extraordinary number of restaurants and bars (more than 70) dotted throughout the ski area. That’s an average of one welcoming restaurant or bar every three kilometres so you are unlikely to be hungry or thirsty for long in the SkiWelt, but you will never have time to visit them all.

Mountain Restaurant
Photo Credit: SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental, Christian Kapfinger

Traditional mountain huts and large-self service restaurants serve classic Tirolean dishes including the ever popular goulash soup, speck bacon, alpine cheese, grőstl (a favourite meat and potato served in a pan), specknődel (bacon dumplings) and kaiserschmarrn (thick pieces of sugared pancake served with cream and JAM).  Standards are high and the on-mountain eating experience even in self-service restaurants is generally very good.

Although there are no less than 70 restaurants throughout the SkiWelt circuit, the best and the most popular restaurants are invariably busy from 11:30am onwards. Each of SkiWelt’s mountain restaurants is numbered and clearly marked on the ski map making them easy to find them and useful as reference points when navigating the ski area. Picking the best is a hard call, there are so many and standards are high so expect to be spoiled for choice and be willing to explore.

To help get you started, the Gasthof Grűndalm and Gipfelrestaurant Hohe Salve are recommended, Gipfelrestaurant Hohe Salve and the Bergrestaurant at the top-station of the Brandstadl gondola have a large sunny terrace and wonderful views of the Wilder Kaiser. Schernthannstuberl is welcoming on a cold day and the Gasthof Stockalm – a converted cow-shed near Hochsöll where you can watch bread and cheese being made – and Krafalm are busy almost as soon as they open. At Scheffau, the Aualm prides itself on home-made cooking and tasty Wiener Schnitzels.

The charming Rűebezahl-Alm (number 58 on the map) overlooking Ellmau is among the best mountain restaurants in the SkiWelt and well worth visiting at least once. Constructed almost entirely from wood, the cosy interior includes wood burning fires, red cheque table cloths and curtains and walls decorated with photographs of Austrian and German celebrity guests – Arnold Schwarzenegger and Boris Becker among them. Rűbezahl-Alm is situated to the west of the funicular railway, approximately half way down the red run from Hartkaiser (1555m) to Ellmau, and on a fine day the sun terrace is a perfect place to enjoy great food and unrivalled views of the Wilder Kaiser.


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