Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Nearby Ski Resort

Hochzeiger

    Pitztal Glacier & Rifflsee Ski Resort Map
  • Pitztal Glacier & Rifflsee Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1680m – 3440m (1760m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    10m+ 
  • Lifts (13)
    4 Gondolas/cable cars/funicle
    4 Chairlifts
  • Ski Hours
    Oct* to early May (*mid Sep if conditions allow)
    8:30am - 4:30pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 86km
    42km piste trails & 44km variant routes
    Longest run – 11km
    Advanced - 59%
    Intermediate - 25%
    Beginner - 16%
  • Lift Pass Prices (Day Ticket 18/19)
    Pitztal Glacier & Rifflsee
    Adult - €42 to 51
    Child - €25 to 30
    Child u/5yr - Free

    Rifflsee only
    Adult - €40
    Child - €25
    Child u/5yr - Free
    Hochzeiger Ski Trail Map
  • Hochzeiger Ski Trail Map

Pitztal Glacier ski resort was rated equal first in Europe as a Powderhounds destination for one reason – it is a powder skiing haven far removed from the masses at larger ‘destination’ resorts. Skiing Pitztal Glacier provides the goods in a high-altitude ski area that is just as much a feast for the eyes as it is a destroyer of thighs!

Pitztal Glacier Skiing & Snowboarding

The Pitztal Glacier ski & snowboard terrain is one of absolute contrasts. Split between the high-altitude glacier area & the lower Rifflsee, piste terrain is only 42km but the skiable vertical is 1760m & the ski route distances vast (>41km officially - a lot more unofficially).

For most visitors, the potential 1760m vertical will never be touched. The reality of Pitztal Glacier ski resort is that the main lift served terrain is only around 650m of vertical. The other 1100 odd metres of skiable vert is in the wonderful off piste/backcountry variants that depart the upper resort area & find their way down to the funicular base at Mittelberg or the Rifflsee base at Mandarfen.

A two for one ski area, the Pitztal Glacier consists of high alpine glacial bowls well above the tree line, whilst Rifflsee has lower elevation non-glacier alpine peaks & limited below treeline terrain.

Terrain aspect at the Glacier is broadly northeast, but the ski area is wide enough to soak in the sun on a good day. Rifflsee has all aspect terrain.

Pitztal Glacier Skiing Highlights

The Pitztal Glacier skiing highlights are a rite of passage according to Powderhounds. Tick off the following when at Pitztal Glacier but remember riding powder ALWAYS takes priority.
  • Catch the first funicular & then the Wildspitzbahn gondola up to the summit as the first rays of sun hit the peaks. Harvest fresh powder or fast paced groomers & cut laps on the gondola until your thighs have liquified.
  • Ski to & explore the toe of the glacier below the Mittelbergbahn mid station – fascinating. Beware of falling ice hazards later in the season.
  • Complete a full tour of the ski area. Starting in Mandarfen, take the gondola up to Rifflsee. Rip some lines down the Sunna Alm & Muttenkopf chairs before heading across to the Grubenkopf. From the top, take the valley trail to the Glacier (Gletscher) Express base. Enjoy the cramped ride up. Start on the long Brunnenkogel T-bar & carve wide groomers or smash some sneaky powder to the Wildspitzbahn gondola. At the top, avoid the overpriced café & walk up to the summit viewing point. Enjoy the run all the way down to the Mittelbergbahn gondola base. Cut at least one lap on the lift. Finish with one more ride up & traverse to the Taschachtal variant route for a long finish back to the car parks. Anyone not equipped for skiing the route can take the Gletscherseebahn chair back to the funicular & download to the car park. Phew. That was fun.
  • Scope out the steeps & chutes rom the gondolas & if you like what you see, take the plunge.
  • Reward yourself with heli-ski like conditions & ski the 10km+ Taschachtal glacier route. Entry is from a saddle accessed by a high traverse from the piste trail leading away from the Mittelbergbahn gondola top station. A short climb is required but from there it is all downhill to the car parks. The last 4km can be interesting if an exit trail hasn’t been put in yet. Stay as high as possible in the lower section. Cross a bridge at the end before a short climb to the Pitztaler Skihütte for a well deserved brew.
  • If conditions allow, skin out to the Wildspitze, Austria’s second highest peak at 3774m. Access is as per above & the full exit is via the Taschachtal. Beware of crevasse & avalanche dangers. If in doubt ski with a guide.
  • Skin or bootpack up Mittaskogel peak & smash the 1400m vertical down to the car parks – Pitztal Glacier’s longest fall line terrain. Beware avalanche danger.
  • Ski directly to the best après ski at Pitztal, Pitztaler Skihütte. Access is via Rifflsee or the Taschachtal or Mittaskogel variants. If coming from one of the variant routes, the drinks are well earned. Enjoy!

Pitztal Glacier Ski Lifts

The lifts at Pitztal Glacier are perfectly suited to the ski area. The two gondolas are nothing short of incredible. Wildspitzbahn ascends to a nose bleeding height of 3440m just below the summit of Hinterer Brunnenkogel. The panoramic views of the Wildspitze & its cloak of glaciers are stupendous from the café or the summit viewing platform.

The Mittelbergbahn gondola doesn’t quite reach the perched splendour of the Wildspitzbahn, but its journey via a mid-station over the glaciers gives one a perfect view to scope out the steeps just below the top station.

Two surface lifts ply their trade on the glaciers, with the long Brunnenkogel providing some surprisingly good terrain. A modern chair, the Geltscherseebahn, links it all together & serves a short beginner trail.

The funicular from the base is the main let down as it is a slow loading process, a cramped impolite journey, topped off with a ridiculously designed exit with day lockers & their users blocking all egress. Aaargh!

Across at Rifflsee, the modern chairlifts provide efficient access to the mostly advanced piste trails. Experts will enjoy the Grubenkopf chair for its vertical & diversity of trails & routes. The access gondola, Rifflseebahn, provides a comfortable way up the mountain, whilst the home trail back down to Mandarfen provides a cruisy way back, avoiding the need to download.

Lift Passes & Tickets

Lift passes for short term visitors to the resort come in several varieties. A standard day or multi day lift pass is valid for both Pitztal Glacier & Rifflsee. An option exists for a cheaper Rifflsee only lift pass which is perfect for bad weather days. Also worth knowing is that a 6 day pass at nearby Hochzeiger includes one ski day at Pitztal Glacier – pretty cool!

Pitztal Glacier Trail Map

The Pitztal Glacier ski trail map provides a simple representation of the lifts & pistes of the two ski areas. Rifflsee is poorly shown as it has a confusing saddle in between the Grubenkopf base & the gondola summit. On the Glacier, useful detail on route entry points, glacier snouts & several ridge lines is missing. The trail map should NOT be utilised for skiing the backcountry routes. Scope it all out visually or with a better map before you go.

Snowboarding Pitztal Glacier

Pitztal Glacier is a snowboard friendly destination if one stays on piste, however the off-piste variant routes do have long flattish exits which are skiable without skins but are not rideable on a board without skins &/or poles There are minimal surface lifts (T-bars et al). The terrain park on the glacier is quite feeble, so unless you get a lot of chuckles from hand-slappers, those looking for a variety of man-made terrain features must apply elsewhere.

Beginner Ski Areas

Pitztal & Rifflsee have limited beginner terrain. Many of the intermediate trails on Pitztal Glacier are suitable for strong beginners. Laps on the sunny side of Rifflsee is the best option. A sheltered ‘learn to ski’ area is separate from the two main ski areas in Mandarfen. .

Pitztal Glacier for Intermediates

Pitztal Glacier is perfect for intermediates. All groomed trails are suitable. Some nice low angle off-piste terrain in either bowl allows for learning powder turns.

Advanced Terrain

Terrain may be limited for advanced riders if the off-piste is cruddy (really!) or avalanche prone. In powder the inbounds off-piste terrain is great for new powder skiers on broad gentle terrain & for everyone else in more steeply pitched bowls. Steeps & chutes for experts can be found off the top of both gondolas. Scoping it out from the gondolas is easy enough before taking the plunge

Freeride & Backcountry Skiing at Pitztal Glacier

The freeride & touring options at Pitztal Glacier are exactly what skiing Europe is all about. Brilliant stuff! The 10km long Taschachtal variant is sensational, but snowboarders may struggle on the last 4km without a splitboard, skins or at least poles. The skiing is heliski quality minus the helicopter, guides & other people! Have a celebratory drink at the Pitztaler Schihutte near the end.

The best fall line descent is the 1400m+ Mittagskogel variant which involves a small climb (boot pack or skins) & then a great ski down nearly all the way to the base of the funicular.

Crevasse hazards on the glaciers are real and should not be taken lightly.