If staying in the main village, getting to the skiing – centred on the Wiedersbergerhorn – involves using a free ski-bus to the Wiedersbergerhorn gondola, a couple of kilometres away, where there is a gondola up to Hornboden, or to Inneralpbach, where the gondola to Wildschonau is located.
The creation of Ski Juwel means there are now 109 kilometres of linked piste, served by a total of 45 lifts. In Alpbach, the upper slopes are above the tree-line but you don’t have to ski down far for them to become tree-fringed and excellent when visibility is poor.
It's perfect family skiing, with a few challenges here and there, and great for intermediates who will get a real sense of achievement from the lovely sweeping top of the mountain to the bottom blues and reds.
And Alpbach packs an unexpected punch. Surprisingly, given that the village is not especially high, fabulous powder is to be found after fresh falls on the well-protected far side of the Wiedersbergerhorn. And the 4,000ft vertical provides long runs – with some excellent snowboarding terrain.
Alpbach, for a resort of modest altitude, can boast a good snow record because most of the runs are north-facing – and Wildschonau too has a similar pedigree, sitting in its snowy 'hanging valley'. And across the two areas, 80 per cent of the runs are covered by snow cannon.
The gondola from Inneralpbach up to Wildschonau - which actually installed its first chairlift in 1945, 15 years before Alpbach got its first - brings skiers to Auffach and its top station at Schatzberg at 1,903-metres. Auffach has sweeping runs suitable for intermediates all the way to the bottom station, but also nicely challenging and adventurous routes, including the Gern run, from Schatzberg down an often deserted valley.
Wildschonau comprises the villages of Neiderau and Oberau as well as Auffach. However they are not linked and it's necessary to catch the ski bus from Auffach along the valley to try their skiing - very limited at Oberau but more extensive at Neiderau.
From the beginning of the 2017-18 winter, a new eight-seater 18-million euro gondola takes skiers and boarders from the base at Auffach to Schatzberg, a four-kilometre journey.
The small separate area of Reith, lower down the valley from Alpbach, is also on the ski pass and well worth a day's excursion, with some well-groomed and usually near-deserted slopes.
Ski highlights for all levels
Beginners: There are gentle, dedicated nursery slopes right by the centre of the village, so absolute beginners can get into things without the distraction of good skiers flying past them. On the main mountain, there are gentle slopes to graduate to near Hornboden. What's great too here is the space - the slopes aren't crowded and are good for practicing wide turns.
Intermediates: The entire Alpbach ski area is predominantly red and blue, with lots of attractive, unintimidating cruising. Intermediates will find the reds perfect for honing their skills and the resort prides itself on its well-groomed pistes. Less confident intermediates will find the long blues down to Inneralpbach from Gmahkopf and Hornboden the best way to build their confidence. The runs down to the Wiedersbergerhorn bottom station present slightly greater challenges, particularly the closer you get to the bottom.
Experts: No one would pretend this was the resort to find a huge amount of tough skiing – but the mountain is predominantly red rather than blue so there is no shortage of steepish cruising, and there are three black runs not without challenge. Route No 1 is a classic black from Hornboden, nicely steep all the way to the middle station of the gondola – and there are usually plenty of moguls to give your knees a work-out. A special treat is the Baumgarten route, which starts off as a regular piste from Gmahkopf but becomes a technically off-piste ski route and one of Tirol’s great runs. You choose between an entertaining zig-zag run – or straight down the fall-line (in moguls or in powder, depending on conditions), ignoring both zigs and zags, all the way to Inneralpbach.
Ski schools and guides
There are four schools, all with excellent reputations. The Alpbach-Inneralpbach Ski School is headed by the great Sepp Margreiter, and has taught generations of British youngsters. Sepp, who himself skis in a sitski, is qualified to teach handicapped skiers. Incidentally, Sepp recently became the first person to reach the top of the Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain, on a handbike.
The extraordinary Johann Schneider has a one-man ski school and offers private ski and snowboard lessons. Johann lives on one of Alpbach's most beautiful farms - and holds several Guinness world records. He is a karate champion, a world champion in Nunchaku - martial arts with chain sticks - and has a world record for performing press ups on uncooked eggs, beer bottles and nails!
The Alpbachtal Ski School offers lessons for all ages but particularly specialises in teaching children, privately and in groups. It has offices in Alpbach and Inneralpbach.
Werner Margreiter is a former national ski team coach and his school gives private and group lesson in skiing, snowboarding, cross-country, Telemark, ski touring and snow-shoeing.
Alpbach Aktiv ski school, next to the Wiedersbergerhornbahn top station, as well as teaching adults, offers play-in-the-snow ski lessons for children from as young as three and proper lessons on the slopes from age four. It also has childcare from age two.
There is also a ski school at Reith.
There is also the Tiroler School with private lessons by Johann Schneider.
Snow reliability and snowmaking
Alpbach is not high – but it has a good snow record and most of the runs on the Wiedersbergerhorn are north-facing so snow often remains in good condition long after a fall. And with, throughout Ski Juwel, more than 85 per cent of the runs being covered by artificial snowmaking, the resort is proud of the fact that the runs down to the valley are usually open even in late season.
The Snowboard Family Park Schatzberg has a range of obstacles for beginners and experts - kickers, straight boxes, curved boxes and kinked boxes, plus a 90-metre halfpipe.The Snowpark Alpbachtal, which is served by seven snow cannon, has a 150-metre halfpipe, and every box, rail and kicker you can think of and a 15-metre rollercoaster track. You can find more details here: https://www.alpbachtal.at/en/winter/skiing-alpbachtal/parks
Between Christmas and the beginning of March there is floodlit night skiing off the top of the Reitherkogelbahn gondola on Friday and Saturday between 6.30pm and 9.15pm.