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On Top of the World

Small but perfectly formed

The following day we stay closer to our Götzens base, this time taking the bus all of five minutes to the neighbouring village of Mutters and its compact Muttereralmpark ski area. Better known as a summer resort, the Muttereralmpark is wildly different to Kühtai in just about every imaginable way. For starters, it’s tiny (with just four lifts) and low (950m at the base, compared with 2,020m in Kühtai), which means on the one hand the very bottom slopes – at the tail-end of a less-than-spectacular winter – are a bit thin on the snow front. On the other, its small number of pistes are tree-lined and framed by a picture-postcard Alpine backdrop, and there’s a friendly family atmosphere to go with it.

“You’ll get bored really fast,” Toby had told me the day before when I’d explained we were heading to the Mutteralm, but it turns out he’s wrong. The limited options which would no doubt start to drag a bit, even for a total beginner, after a few days make the Muttereralmpark a perfect one-day stopoff on an Olympia Skiworld safari.

The Tyrol capital is one of the best cities in Europe for Christmas markets

Perhaps he hadn’t reckoned on my appetite for the truly tedious – or perhaps being a ski instructor means he’s forgotten how much fun it is to simply go the top of a mountain and ski all the way down; then do exactly the same thing again and again. I keep coming back to the same run – starting with Projekt, a short, steep and fast black that soon joins a central piste, before nipping into the snow park, which spits you out into a narrow funnel of a red, surrounded by snow-laden trees and full of small hops and jumps. And there’s no one on it – ever – which, considering the small number of runs in the resort anyway, strikes me as a minor miracle. I’ll take it.

From the very top, it’s also possible to ski back into Götzens; a great idea in theory, though snow coverage is sparse towards the bottom and I’m quietly relieved I’m riding rental skis rather than my own as the piste gets suspiciously, er, greyer.

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