On the trail of 007 in Sölden
Thanks to Bond, James Bond, moviegoers around the world will be treated to a close up of one of Austria’s most stunning alpine areas when ‘Spectre’ hits screens in November 2015. 007’s next outing will feature footage filmed in the popular and party-obsessed ski resort of Sölden, deep in the Austrian Tirol. So has the world’s most famous secret agent taken a fancy to jägerbombs and dancing in ski boots? In mid-December, with the slopes of resorts across the Alps looking rather green given the time of year, a press release with a rather more positive message landed in my inbox. The next James Bond film – Spectre – is to be filmed in and around Sölden, where the Ötztal Valley winds its way towards the Italian border. As well as being one my favourite Austrian resorts, Sölden was also one of a handful of ski areas offering genuinely decent snow conditions pre-Christmas. More than enough reason, I thought, to pay a visit.
Of course Spectre won’t be the first time 007 has taken to the snow. From ski base jumping in The Spy Who Loved Me, to skiing down a bobsled track in For Your Eyes Only, Ian Fleming’s Bond character is no bunny hill punter. I am, naturally, curious as to exactly how Sölden will be portrayed in the new movie, which is being filmed throughout January. Villain (played by Inglourious Basterds actor Christoph Waltz) plots to take over the world with hypnotic schlager tunes? Bond woos local ski bunny over delicious homemade Knödel? Almost certainly none of the above, but on a sunny Sunday in December as I make my way towards the Tiefenbach Glacier, locals are already talking about the car chase that’ll take place on the Ötztal Glacier Road. Reaching 2830m, it’s the second highest paved road in Europe (and the highest in the Alps), normally used to access the glacier where the first FIS Alpine World Cup of the season traditionally takes place in October. No denying it’s a spectacular setting for a car chase, though it’ll be interesting to see how they work around the fact that blue piste #30 runs parallel to the road for much of its length!
Being a fairly snowsure resort, there’s generally no need for skiers to take the road to access the glaciers, though it’s still a bit of a ‘commute’. It’s well rewarded though, as the east-facing Tiefenbach Glacier catches the morning sun and has expansive (though fairly flat) groomed pistes. The Rettenbach Glacier is steeper, and although shaded and fairly cold, the snow stays in superb condition, getting a lot less traffic. The question still remains as to whether Daniel Craig will be the next “skiing Bond”, but if he isn’t, I dare say he’s missing out in a big way.
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see how other locations around Sölden could feature in a filmic sense. The precipitous viewing platform on the Tiefenbachkogl, for instance, with views over the Pitztal and the 3770m Wildspitze. Or any number of the rustic traditional huts that dot the snowy landscape. But in fact it’s a rather more recent construction that is earmarked to feature. At the top of the Gaislachkogl is the Ice Q restaurant, a culinary spot that opened in December 2013.
Inside, it’s a gourmet table service restaurant. Outside, it’s easy enough to envisage the modern, glassy construction as some manner of villainous hideout (though it’s far from hidden). From its perch at 3048m the Ice Q has one of the most commanding views in the Austrian Alps, though I personally don’t hang around at the top of the Gaislachkogl for too long. When the snow does come, the Wasserkar area below offers up the best lift-accessed off-piste skiing in the entire valley.
However, whatever role the unique mountain restaurant plays in Spectre, it is clearly hoped that it’ll bring long-lasting benefit to the region. Fair enough, too, when you consider that the Piz Gloria restaurant (in Mürren, Switzerland) that featured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is still cashing in on it’s Bond appearance. And that film was released back in 1969, well over four decades ago! So if you’re lucky enough to be headed to the Ötztal in the next few weeks, keep your eyes peeled for the film production. Meanwhile, it turns out that the production will also be filming in idyllic Obertilliach, a tiny (but incredibly scenic) little resort in Osttirol. Well, I guess that decides the destination of the next ski weekend. All in the name of research, of course… For more information: soelden.com oetztal.com visittirol.co.uk Sölden is covered by the Tirol Snow Card – 87 ski areas, 1100 lifts and 4000km of pistes.