ZThe six-person gondola floats up the shady north slope through the icy cold for eighteen minutes. Then, at the last mast, everything is suddenly bathed in glistening sunlight and an alpine panorama opens up that is second to none.
Overwhelmed and half blind by the sudden brightness, you stumble outside at the mountain station and are now 1500 meters above the South Tyrolean district capital Brixen (Italian: Bressanone). If you turn your gaze towards the southeast, a chain of spectacular Dolomite peaks appears close enough to touch and yet separated by a deep gorge.
It is only at second glance that you discover the huge wooden letters that stand up here in front of the restaurant terrace. If you read them one after the other, you will find out the name of this far-away place to which you were just rocking up: Plose is called the house and ski mountain of the old episcopal city, which is extremely popular with the locals, but so good with the majority of tourists in South Tyrol how unknown.
The highest peak measures 2574 meters, and the ski area is mostly over 2000 meters. Most of Bressanone do not think of winter sports, but of a cozy town with knockout charm.
The old town of Tyrol’s oldest town is criss-crossed by arcades and crenellated streets. Here you can enjoy the almost Mediterranean climate, go shopping in amazingly well-stocked shops or eat Schlutzkrapfen in a traditional economy.
One of the greatest viewpoints in the Alps
Anyone who is drawn to the terra incognita of the wintery Plose should explore it carefully – on snowshoes. A lonely route leads along the break-off edge into the Eisack valley to the Fröllspitze, the first of the three Plose peaks. The infamous Brenner Autobahn looks like an ant road from up here.
At the highest point is a circular metal disc that explains the 360-degree panorama. On it you will find everything that has a place and name in the surrounding mountains: Ortler, Brenta, Schlern, Rosengarten, Monte Pelmo, Lang- and Plattkofel, Peitlerkofel, Tofana, Marmolata, Großglockner and countless other three-thousand meter peaks in the Alpine summit sea. No exaggeration: the Brixner Beletage is one of the greatest viewpoints in the Alpine region!
There is of course no lack of great distant views when you are on the 40 km of slopes of the small ski area. It is never full here, because the international ski team has a wide range of activities to make such “popular” winter sports areas.
Skiing on the Plose is therefore still what it used to be: an invigorating nature sport, free of stress and remembrance. Incidentally, the slopes are not Micky – the Trametsch valley run measures nine kilometers. And a total of twelve kilometers of toboggan runs have been prepared for sledge fans.
Especially sun worshipers among winter sports enthusiasts will get their money’s worth around Brixen. The wonderfully wide slopes are all facing south and the rock towers of the Odle group are far too far away to cast their shadows into the terrain.
Bressanone is committed to sustainability
Plose’s range of culinary delights also includes its lovely restaurants. The flagship company is the “Rossalm”. Located in a prime location on the outermost edge of the ski area, it captivates with a culinary quality that you have to search for a long time in hectic large ski areas.
The tenants, Peter and Werner Hinteregger, attach great importance to regional and seasonal products. They have therefore removed fries and schnitzel from the menu. Instead, there are old recipes from the Eisack Valley farmer’s kitchen such as potato platlan – fried potato slices with sauerkraut. The only concession to an audience that has no problem with factory farming is the pork knuckle.
This makes the concept of waste prevention agreed among the Plose hosts all the more consistent. You won’t find any plastic bottles on the self-service shelves. At a cost price of 9.95 euros, a light metal bottle is offered, into which you can get water at any time – namely the well-known spring and mineral water of the Plose.
Fortunately, environmental awareness on the mountain is not an isolated case. Brixen has been committed to sustainable development for more than ten years. It was then that the South Tyrolean People’s Party, which was used to sole government, had to take the Greens on board for the first time.
A lot has happened since then, from which guests and locals alike have benefited: the entire old town center has been closed to motor vehicles, the cycle path network has been expanded, and city bus lines run at frequent intervals. Another good invention is the ‘Brixen Card’, which allows all public transport in South Tyrol to be used free of charge, including one ascent and descent per day to and from Plose. Guests receive the card free of charge if they live in one of the more than 130 partner hotels.
South Tyrol promotes small ski areas with snow cannons
However, environmental protection does not go so far that artificial snow is not used. In fact, 60 snow cannons were recently purchased. After all, they are regional products, they come from the Leitner company based in nearby Sterzing, the global market leader in winter sports technology.
Together with the reservoir, a total of 8.7 million euros was invested, co-financed by 30 percent from the state of South Tyrol, which also wants to keep the smaller ski areas alive. That is only possible with guaranteed snow, argues the state government, which wants to do more than just pray that climate change will take some time.
The bottom line, however, was that the Plose was downsized: in the past few years, four of the once eleven lifts have been dismantled. The motto: There are fewer slopes, but they are prepared all the more professionally. Above all, the less elevated areas were abandoned, where the snow had melted away too often.
In addition to climate change, the sun is the main problem of the ski area with its south-facing slopes. Due to the direct radiation, the slopes can get sultry, especially from the end of February, when the daytime temperatures can reach double digits.
The Plose is perfect for winter hiking
The ever increasing number of winter hikers are of course not affected by all of this. But here, of all things, the enormous potential of the Plose has not yet been exploited. A mere ten kilometers of snow hiking routes are reliably tracked, and on some chairlifts you won’t even be taken up without skis.
After all, a carefully maintained winter hiking trail leads to the “Rossalm”, which couldn’t be nicer. And word got around. “Half of my winter guests come on foot,” says Peter Hinteregger. He would have no objection if the Plose would position itself more than what it has the best conditions for: as a sunny balcony for walkers in the snow.
In any case, it is no coincidence that snowshoe hikers can end their tours at the “Rossalm”. After a relaxing break, you can stroll back to the cable car from here – once again captivated by the view of the peaks of the Dolomites, which architect Le Corbusier aptly described as “the most beautiful building in the world“.
Tips and information
Getting there: Bressanone is easy to reach by public transport. Eurocity trains run from Munich every two hours without changing trains, the journey takes around 3.5 hours. By car via Innsbruck and the Brenner to Brixen, there is a badge for the motorway in Austria, toll charges are due in Italy.
Accommodation: Noble one lives for example in the hotel “My Arbor” in Sankt Andrä high above Brixen on the forested mountain slopes of the Plose, double rooms with half board from 174 euros per person, my-arbor.com. The “Hotel Traube” in the center of Bressanone is a modern city hotel in old walls, double rooms with breakfast from 52 euros per person, hotelbrixen.it.
Further information: Tourist office Brixen: brixen.org; Plose ski area: plose.org; general information about South Tyrol: suedtirol.info
Participation in the trip was supported by the hotel “My Arbor”. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit.
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