Schlick 2000 in Austria is my all time favourite secret spot for snowboarding. This unknown ski resort is found above the towns of Telfes and Fulpmes in the Stubai valley and can be reached from the city of Innsbruck within thirty minutes. Outside of the holiday periods you will find mostly locals here. Especially after a heavy fall of snow people living nearby may take the morning or day off from their work and head down to Schlick 2000. During the holiday season also families with young children come to Schlick but it hardly ever gets crowded.
Easy access freeriding out of bounds in Schlick 2000. This is what you'll see when looking over your shoulder after dropping in from the '1' blue slope on top of the Kreuzjoch.
Let Me Tell You About My First Time
The first time I learned about Schlick was back in December 2005 when professional snowboarder Rudi Kröll recommended this place for a photo shoot. I was working as a Marketing Minion for Nike ACG at the time and Rudi was one of the sponsored athletes. That week it was snowing heavily so we had to find a location with enough visibility and contrast for a successful photo shoot.
Clouds usually stay above the tree tops and forests add the necessary contrast and depth. Schlick had a lot of both. On top of that the forest at Schlick turned out to be easily accessible for the photographer who was bringing a lot of gear. Due to low light conditions we needed a lot of flashes to get sharp images of the riders while they were passing in front of the camera at full speed.
Together with snowboarder Florian Mauser and free-ride skier Roman Rohrmoser we did not only get all the photos we wanted, we also got some serious snowboarding fun in the forest that day. Doing photo shoots and riding together with athletes never really felt like work. Being back in the office did feel like work though but that is another story. Let's just say that I have been coming back to Schlick ever since, especially on days when it's puking snow.
The Real Meaning of the German Word 'Schlick'
When you reach the ski station above the town of Fulpmes by car you will find a big parking area below the 'Kreuzjochbahn' gondola. Even on relatively crowded days you should be able to find a parking spot here. When you arrive in the afternoon try to find a spot all the way in front. Many locals arrive early morning and leave again before noon leaving empty spots in 'pole position'.
There's a bus bringing people from the parking to the ticket office at the bottom of the gondola every couple of minutes but I recommend walking up as it is a nice warm-up and doesn't take long to reach. Make sure to grab a map of the resort when buying a ski pass. It may already be useful to get a digital resort map online while reading this article as it may help you visualize the places mentioned below.
The Kreuzjochbahn, on some maps referred to as gondola 'A', will take you up the mountain in two stages. The first part brings you to the Brugger Alm at 1363 meters (4,471 ft) where you can drop off your kids at Big Ron's Kinderland. Now I don't know Big Ron personally so I can't vouch for him, I mean this is Fritzl's Austria after all, but I do know there's a bunny hill at the Brugger Alm where one can get familiar with the principles of snowboarding and skiing.
The second part of the Kreuzjochbahn takes you all the way up to 2136 meters (7,007 ft). Depending on your skiing or snowboarding ability you can either stick to the groomed slopes or you can try some of the many tree-runs out of bounds. When visiting a ski area for the first time it is always wise to ride the slopes first and get familiar with the surroundings before attempting something a little more challenging.
If there is low visibility and you have chosen to stick to the slopes then I recommend (now is a good time to have a look at your digital resort map) the '1', '1b' blue and '4' red slopes and start lapping them. When it's foggy you won't notice riding the same slope over and over again anyway. If on the other hand the visibility is good then the resort is small enough to try out all the different slopes in one day and decide which ones are your favourites.
Now when your ability allows taking tree runs this resort can be heaven on earth with the right snow conditions. The tree runs out of bounds are exceptionally easy to access from the top of the Kreuzjoch and easy to exit down at the Schlickeralm. The first time you drop into the forest from the top of the Kreuzjochbahn (gondola 'A') I recommend taking ski-touring route '1'. This ski-touring route '1' is marked with a dotted red line on the resort map and will take you down from the Kreuzjoch at 2136 meters (7,007 ft) to the Schlickeralm at 1650 meters (5,400 ft) altitude.
To get back on top of the Kreuzjoch you can either go all the way down to the halfway station of the Kreuzjochbahn at Big Ron's Kinderland or take the Sennjochbahn chairlift up to the Sennjochstuberl at 2225 meters (7,300 ft). From the top of Sennjoch you will have to take the '2' red and '1a' blue slopes down to drag-lift 'F' which will bring you back up to the Kreuzjoch.
Instead of taking the '1a' blue slope you can also take a little shortcut down the forest if you feel comfortable riding in between the trees. Make sure you stay to the right side of the '1a' blue slope though so you don't miss drag-lift 'F'. If you do miss the drag-lift just go all the way down to the Schlickeralm and try again.
Once you're back on the Kreuzjoch you can start to make variations on ski-touring route '1' by venturing deeper into the forest and discover the many gnarly gullies and powder pillows here. There are no dangerous cliffs in this part of the forest but always stay vigilant of unexpected obstacles or rabid snow bunnies. Eventually you will exit the forest either on red slope '4' or directly at the start of the Sennjochbahn.
When you are looking for a change of scenery then you should check out the gullies that can be found on the sides of the red '4', '4b', the black '4a' and the blue '4c' and '4d' slopes. Before going out of bounds in this area please ride the groomed slopes down first and locate the waterfall where blue slopes '1b' and '4c' meet. Then later make sure you don't fall off this waterfall when going out of bounds.
From the panorama point on the Kreuzjoch there are also some expert free-ride tree runs down. You can already see these runs below you when coming up with the gondola. These descents are for expert skiers and snowboarders only as it demands a lot of skill to negotiate the chutes down. I recommend waiting for some locals at the panorama point and ask if they would be so kind to show you around.
As you can see Schlick has a lot to offer especially during or right after heavy snowfall. Because the forests are mostly found on the north face the snow will stay fresh and powdery relatively long. When temperatures rise drastically though you may find out why they call this place 'schlick' as it literally translates into 'sludge' from german.
The view from the Kreuzjochbahn with the Stubai valley to the right and the Inn valley to the far left.
When in Europe Take the Europabrücke
Schlick 2000 is on my short list of go-to places when I am staying in Innsbruck. When taking the A13 Autobahn in the direction of the Brenner Pass across the famous Europabrücke it takes less than thirty minutes to reach. It will also cost you a couple of Euros in road tax.
Now even though the Europabrücke is an impressive feat of Austrian engineering from the late 1950's and was Europe's highest bridge until 1974 it just looks like any other bridge when driving over it. To fully appreciate its height of 657 meters (2,156 ft) and angelic span of 777 meters you may want to choose the scenic route through the Wipp Valley below. The winding departmental road 182 does not only offer a breathtaking view on the Europabrücke from below, it also takes you through a beautiful forested valley away from the busy Autobahn above. Of course it takes more time to reach Schlick when taking this route but no need for 'powder-stress' because Schlick never gets tracked out quickly on a powder day.
When you are staying in Innsbruck and you don't have a car you can take the Stubaitaltram from Innsbruck central station. The tram will take you to the station of Fulpmes in 40 minutes from where you will need to transfer to a free shuttle bus to reach the gondola.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Fulpmes or Telfes then hotels can be found quite easily. Normally there should be no problem booking a hotel here except during the Christmas holidays. Then it may be wise to book in advance. But if you have the flexibility to choose the dates of your snowboarding adventure outside of bank holidays then I recommend going to Schlick only when they predict a lot of fresh snow. You'll be glad you did.
Schlick, 6165 Telfes im Stubai, Austria