Good day! We will be traveling to Munich on 6 Dec 2012 and departing Venice on 18 Dec 2012, taking buses and trains the entire time (no rental car). We have a very loose itinerary, ideally down through Innsbruck. Can someone please suggest a good ski resort where we can spend a day and night, offers great back country skiing or black courses, easily accessible via train or bus, and we can rent all equipment? I know it is the beginning of the season at that point, so not sure who has the best chance of snow! Thank you for you help!
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the only area in Germany where there is a remote chance of you getting some decent skiing that time of the year. Don't ever expect all courses to be open, in any case. You could try areas in Austria like Solden or Mayrhofen, but it is still a gamble. Back country skiing is rare in Europe. The altitudes just don't make it feasible as in Colorado or Wyoming, for instance.
I like the town of Garmisch, but the skiing there is not my favorite. However, it's probably one of the easiest ski resort to reach via public transportation in Europe. There's two separate ski areas. One is at lower altitude and you can walk to the first lift from the Hauptbahnhof. The other sits on a snow field high on the Zugspitze. From Garmisch, you must ride either the Zugspitzbahn all the way up the mountain or you can exit the Zugspitzbahn at Grainau and ride a gondola to the top. Either way, it takes about 40 minutes to an hour to reach the upper ski area. I'm pretty certain the upper ski area has already opened for the year. The lower area (which is larger) may or may not be open by 6 December. I like Oberstdorf much better for skiing, but it isn't as easy to reach without a car, and your chances of getting good skiing conditions in early December are about equal to Garmsich. For some more difficult skiing and even some back-country options (as Andre noted, these are not common in Europe), you could consider Lech and Zurs am Arlberg. These two towns sit at much higher elevation and they offer some pretty good skiing. But they are also quite expensive, and also not so easy to reach without a car. At least a few resorts in the high Tyrol south of Innsbruck have already opened for the year, so for guaranteed skiing, you may want to consider Hintertux, Ischgl or Stubetal. I have never visited any of them, so I can't vouch for the quality of the skiing or their accessability via public transportation. However, if you're headed down to Venice, these would lie more or less along your route. If you want to monitor snow conditions until your trip, check out this website for nearly live webcam images: http://www.feratel.com/en/home.html
You could also consider the Dolomites. Some areas such as Alpe di Siusi and Val Gardena are easily reached From Bolzano, on the main train line betweennInnsbruckmand Verona ( on your way to Venice). There is very good bus service connecting Bolzano with the ski areas. This are offers world-class skiing and there are bound to be some black runs, or you could look into hiring a guide for off-piste skiing, although early in the season that could be iffy.
Thank you everyone! I fell in love with Germany a few years ago but it's my boyfriend's first time and he is so excited to ski (hopefully!) We'll keep our fingers crossed for snow and enjoy the Christmas markets none-the-less :)