Above Innsbruck there are two ski stations at Goetzens and Mutters and these 2 areas share a common top station. Recent investment has been substantial including restaurants and new gondolas and chair lifts. Both areas combine to make a decent beginner’s ski area but better intermediates will soon exhaust the on-piste options. Then some ca.700m above these ski stations is Axamer Lizum, the highest ski holiday resort around Innsbruck and offering some excellent on and off-piste skiing and boarding. It is possible to ski out of Axamer Lizum into either Goetzens or Mutters but not the other way round. Hence the projected lift to connect skiers and snowboarders in these lower areas with Axamer Lizum.
False starts have been many but there finally seems the impetuous to create this link and make the largest ski region in the Innsbruck vicinity a reality. Firstly rumour has it that the Birgitzköpfl double chair in Axamer Lizum has had its safety license suspended due to its age (not great news for those currently hovering above the slopes on it right now). The lift accesses both the Birgitzköpfl mountain restaurant and crucially the ski route out of Axamer Lizum and into the Goetzens and Mutters ski areas. It was previously suggested that a chair would connect the Goetzens Alm area of the mountain to the Birgitzköpfl top station. It now seems that the plan could be to develop a continuous link from Axamer Lizum to Birgitzköpfl and over to the Goetzens / Mutters top-station, with an intermediate station at Birgitzköpfl – thereby replacing the obsolete Birgitzköpfl chairlift.
Secondly there is general acceptance that to make the ski region commercially successful the area needs to attract visitors from outside the region and they will only be drawn to the destination when the disparate areas are linked to form an impressive, continuous ski region. Essentially the combined area will exceed the sum of the 3 parts. Speaking to the local ski partners in the area the area is losing out to bigger, better marketed areas and to arrest this decline it is essential to produce a better combined product for the consumer. It seems there now exists a real imperative to see this realised.
Lastly it seems that the nails in the coffin of the alternative link from Axamer Lizum to Schlick 2000 in the Stubai valley are too numerous for the project to have any future. The mountain ridge that the lift was supposed to cross is a protected alpine park and opposition to development is fierce (and in my opinion justified) – this really is a remarkable area of geology and lift would certainly damage it.
So whilst a start date for the link has yet to be published, the signs are there that the coming winter will see one of the most logical and impactful lift links in the Tirol will be realised.