Ski touring in 2023: the good, the bad and the ugly

Ski touring in 2023: the good, the bad and the ugly

Last week, I spent five days on an organized ski tour with the german alpinism club (DAV). We were staying in a bed & breakfast in the Defereggen valley in eastern Tyrol. I want to share some thoughts on what I liked and what was not that great.

The good

First, ski touring in general is awesome. Going up a mountain with your skis is fun, skiing down in nature instead of in a ski resort with hundreds of other people is amazing. In our case, on the third day, the ski lifts were closed due to heavy winds, so we had the entire ski resort to ourselves. Combine that with the amazing views due to the wind carrying huge amounts of snow, it was simply spectacular.

Windy skiing slopes
No people, just snow and wind.

But on the days with good weather, the views were just as spectacular:

Great winter view
A view to sit back and enjoy.

Also, the group of people was diverse, nice and funny, I always like to be in a group of people who do not know each other but come from very differnt backgrounds.

The bad

Whenever you are not on a ski piste in a ski resort, there is the danger of avalanches. In our time, we mostly had avalanche warning status of 4 (on a scale of 1 - 5) so basically you should not do anything off a secured piste. This is a natural part of this sport and can always happen, but still it is unfortunate. I was looking forward to these days as I will not be able to spend so much time ski touring this winter, so it is a bit of a let-down to be limited to few possible tours each day.

Apart from that, global warming takes its toll on the alps. By now you have to drive quite a distance to get to an area where having enough snow is more likely (and, as we saw, even then it is never guaranteed).

The ugly

When I paid for the accomodation in the end, I noticed a weird name on the invoice: “Freiheitliches Bildungsinstitut Österreich”. The name sounded suspicious and after some googling I found out about the history of the apartment. Aparently, it belongs to the partially right-wing FPÖ party in autria, was linked in misuse of corona funds and stored some gold ingots in a safe in the basement for the party (link).

Apart from that, the general feeling remains that due to less snow each year and more unpredictable weather and thereby a higher danger of avalanches skiing and ski touring is becoming a hobby for fewer people each year, mainly those who can afford the tickets and driving to the fewer places where it is still possible. Also, I kept wondering if I should hold onto it (I still love it when it works) or if my time would be better spent trying to fight the causes making this hobby more difficult each year. After all, just the drive through the alps has a massive CO2 impact, and then you cannot even be sure if the conditions will be sufficient for some proper tours or if you will spend most your time walking up in a ski resort.


Ski touring is great. It is a unique experience that you hardly get anywhere else. At the same time, it is hard to plan, you should know what you are doing in order to avoid dangerous situations, and it requires a high investment regarding equipment. Also, the environmental impact is high due to the long distance driven to get to the destinations by car. I will keep doing it, but less frequently, and knowing that it is one of those activities that will barely be possible any more sooner than we would wish, maybe even within the next 5 to 10 years.

Empty ski resort with ski touring group
A ski resort just for us.