Pitztal Glacier – Rifflsee

Rifflsee (bottom) and Pitztal Glacier (top) – Click on Trail Map to Enlarge and View in new browser

Pitztal Glacier offers skiing on Tirol’s Highest Glacier from September through May from the 3,440 m summit. The Pitztal Glacier Ski Area connects with Rifflsee Ski Area to offer 40 kilometers of trails, incredible views and vast freeriding.

From the cute alpine village of Mandarfen, you ride the Rifflsee gondola up to this ski area’s lifts and trails network. Rifflsee has three upper mountain chairlifts and a T-bar serving a half dozen moderate to steep trails, mostly north-facing. The highest and most challenging is off the summit Grubenkopf quad up to 2800 meters. Rifflsee has a few charming huts, and you can ski over to Pitztal’s base via Trail 1 to the train up to glacier skiing.

Pitztal Glacier is accessed by a unique Glacier Express Train out of Mittelberg, a 10-minute underground large-capacity lift that whisks you up 1200-meters. Emerging from the tunnel is breathtaking, spectacular views of peaks surround you from this high plateau where there are two T-Bars, two gondolas and a chairlift.

Board Pitztal’s modern Wildspitzbahn gondola and you will soon be at the very top – Hinterer Brunnenkogel (3,440 m). Here you can drop down the three long runs after visiting “3440” – the highest cafe in all Austria!” The suspended terrace above this modern lodge offers uninterrupted views of the glaciers and alpine summits all around. Ski the Zirbenfall 80% grade steeps, or some of the long well-prepared pistes from the next Mittelberg gondola.

The real beauty of Pitztal is just off the prepared trails, when you hire a guide to explore the Glacier valley run, or some of the steeper hike to terrain. We loved our day with Bergfuhrer Harald Fichtinger of Tauernwind. He guided us up and down one very steep, very long freeride route back into Mittle valley, and then a more serene scenic around the summit into a gorgeous glacial snow bowl, which ended perfectly at Pitztaler Ski Hutte for a drink!

Get to Pitztal soon, before it becomes as discovered as Solden or St Anton. The terrain is amazing. The views are spectacular. The two combined ski areas offer a dramatic 5,905’ vertical drop combined! There is a proposal to link Pitztal to Solden, which you can see from the slopes, but that has met with environmental opposition. Piztal may get a new lift opening new terrain instead. The connection could be a detriment to this extraordinarily quiet valley, as currently, you can find untracked terrain a few days after a storm, and there are simply too many skiers in Solden.

The place to stay when skiing Pitztal is Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten. Its perfectly poised at the base of the Riffesee gondola. This luxurious hotel is two-generations family-owned in the small alpine village of Mandarfen. The hotel is traditional but very modern and chic inside. Our lovely room had a grand balcony overlooking the gondola, the Nordic trails and the amazing mountains of Pitztal.

This ski hotel features a beautiful lounge off the lobby, and an elegant dining room with delicious food, buffet breakfast plus a 4-course dinner, and an après ski bar – Siglu. Several spas, some adults only, some family, await you after skiing with saunas, infrared, steam and a hot tub. We loved staying at Vier Jahreszeiten, sitting on our balcony watching skiers descend, or relaxing at the lobby bar.

Go ski Pitztal Glacier – Rifflsee, it’s a very special place. You can combine the visit skiing other nearby ski resorts in Austria’s Tyrol, like Hochzeiger in the same beautiful Pitztal valley.

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Pitztal – Rifflsee Combined Ski Stats:
Base Elevation: 1640 Meters (5,380’)
Summit Elevation: 3440 Meters (11,289’)
Vertical: 1800 Meters (5,905’)
Lifts: 13
Trails: 40 km of prepared pistes – plus unlimited off-piste adventures