St Anton is one of Europe's best ski areas for challenging on- and off-piste skiing and snowboarding. Together with the other resorts that make up Arlberg ski area (St Christoph, Stuben, Lech-Zurs, Warth-Schroecken and Klosterle-Sonnenkopf), it offers over 300km of pistes and ungroomed trails, huge amounts of off-piste and over 1,500 vertical meters served by over 80 ski lifts.
Nearly half of the total Arlberg ski region is in the St Anton area alone (130km / 5,400 acres), which includes the interconnecting mountains of Gampen, Kapall, Galzig, Schindlergrat and Valluga to the north, and Rendl to the south. Most of the tougher skiing in St Anton is found higher up the mountain on the slopes of Schindlergrat and Valluga but there are endless off-piste skiing possibilities throughout the Arlberg including serious challenges up to expert / professional freerider level.
Gampen (1850m) can be reached directly from a lift in the centre of St Anton or from the Nasserein lift at the St Jacob end of town. There are blue, red and black runs down to St Anton, many of which are below the tree line and so this can be a good place to ski when there is poor visibility. But you don’t have to stop here: you can keep going up the mountain, taking the lift to Kapall (2330m), or head left towards the Zammermoos lift which is the gateway to Galzig and the rest of the St Anton ski area. Although there are black runs and extreme ski routes for experts, Gampen and Kapall mostly consist of gentle slopes (at least by St Anton standards – many blue runs in the resort would be classified as reds in others) and so it’s a popular ski area for beginners and less confident intermediates.
Much of the best skiing begins at Galzig (2,185m), which can be reached directly from St Anton village via the impressive Galzigbahn gondola. This gets you to just below the main ridge. To get to the top you have to ski down to the Osthang, Zammermoos or Tarizboden lifts, or cross over to the St Christoph side on piste 64 and take the St Christoph chair back up. Once at the top of Galzig you can access the Schindlergrat or Arlenmahder lifts which get you high enough to ski down to Alpe Rauz – the gateway to Zurs and the Albonagrat. But there is no need to rush onto other areas: there are plenty of runs here on both sides of the mountain, ranging from blue pistes to ungroomed red diamond trails as well as fantastic views of the Arlberg and amazing off-piste options.
Ski the (gentle) black run (58) northwest from the top of Galzig and you connect with the blue run that takes you to the Schindlergrat triple chair, then ride to Schindler Spitze (2,660m). Intermediates will enjoy the delightful red run (85) to the Ulmer Hütte, immediately followed by the long and wide blue run (100) which goes all the way to Alpe Rauz. This is now a major lift terminus with fast gondolas going to the Albona area above Stuben and to Zurs, and a fast chair returning you to the Ulme Hutte. If there are queues for the Schindlergrat chair, or you’re a less confident skier who would prefer not to tackle a Black run, there is an ‘all blue’ alternative route to Alpe Rauz via runs 59 and 76 and then the Arlenmahder Chair. Experts, however, will want to wait for the Schindlergrat chair because there are various alternative descents from the top.including the steep and narrow Schindlerkar Steilhang and Mattunjoch extreme routes for experts only and the less extreme but still challenging Schindlerkar ungroomed trail (86). There is also another Experts-Only extreme ski route under the Valfagehr chair which should never be attempted in poor visibility because of the nearby cliffs.
The top of the Galzigbahn is also the departure point for the Valluga I cable car which rises to the Vallugagrat lift station and panoramic restaurant at 2,650m, To ski down from the Vallugagrat (2,650m) follow the short red run (92) and ride the Valluga T-bar then you have more or less the same choice of red piste or ungroomed trails and extreme routes as from the Schindlergrat chair (see above).e Experts with a guide, however don’t have to ski down from the Valluga 1 station, because the small 5-person Valluga II cable car rises from here and goes to the observation platform on the summit of the Valluga (2,811m), the departure point for the famous Valluga Nord off-piste descent to Zurs. (If you’re not with a qualified mountain guide, you can take the lift to see the view but you’re not allowed to bring ski or boarding equipment with you.).
Rendl is not connected to the other St Anton ski areas but it is easily reached from it’s own lift station in the centre of St Anton village, just above the main bus station and about 5 minutes’ walk from the Galzigbahn. Rendl is a a wide, open ski area with good slopes for both beginners and intermediates, although it is mostly west-facing so it can be icy first thing in the morning. It also has challenges for more advanced skiers, including the black run and ungroomed trails from the top of the Gampberg lift, the ‘good skiers only’ ungroomed area at the top of the Riffel II lift, and the off-piste chutes and gullies below the Riffel 1 chair which you can assess whilst riding this lift. Once you have finished exploring the upper reaches, enjoy a drink at the popular 'Rendl Beach' then ski the long red run back to Rendl base station. More extensive Off-piste options for experts include Rendl north face, skiing over the back of Riffelscharte (2,645m) into Hinteres Rendle or use ski touring equipment to skin up to Rosfallscharte (2,732m) then ski the Malfontal to Pettneu where you will need a taxi to return to St Anton.
The tiny village of Stuben offers excellent piste and off-piste skiing and snowboarding on the north facing slopes of the Albonagrat (2,400m) which typically holds the best snow in the Arlberg. iThe Albona is also the starting point for the Langen and Milchboden itineraries. You can now reach the Albona’s slopes direct from St Anton via the Albonabahn II lift from Alpe Rauz.
The nearby ski area of Lech-Zürs is now linked to St Anton via the Flexenbahn lift, and, mostly offers easier blue and red piste skiing for beginners and intermediates, but there are also about thirty ungroomed trails and plenty of challenging off-piste terrain including heli-skiing on Mehlsack (2,652m). Intermediates will enjoy the White Ring circuit which links the villages of Lech and Zűrs. Although the Flexenbahn lift is fast and efficient, it’s still a long journey to Lech so less confident or slower skiers should consider using the cheap bus service between St Anton and Lech and Zurs if they want to maximise their time in this area.
The smaller Warth-Schroecken area is now linked to the rest of the Arlberg and it’s becoming a popular day trip from St Anton. It’s on the far side of Lech so you will have to ski fast (or take the bus) to spend more than a couple of hours there. Warth claims to be the snowiest village in Western Europe (although Stuben is a rival contender for this title) and it’s slopes are North facing so there can be fresh powder here when there is none in St Anton. There is skiing to suit all standards, with plenty of blues for beginners but also some interesting blacks and off-piste routes for more advanced skiers.
The small family friendly ski area at Sonnenkopf near Klosterle is 20km from St Anton. It’s covered by the Arlberg ski pass and connected to St Anton by a bus service. Sonnenkopf ski area includes around half a dozen easy blue runs for beginners and a similar number of red runs including wonderful forest ski trails for beginners and intermediates as well as quite a steep black run, a couple of ungroomed ski routes and some excellent off-piste possibilities for advanced skiers and riders. The Vermalen run from Glattingrat to the main Sonnenkopfbahn lift station is an 8km long 1,300 vertical meter descent. If travelling by car, the "Wald am Arlberg" exit on the Arlberg-Schnellstraße S16 which brings you to the main lift station or you can take the bus service from St Anton and Zurs.
The entire Arlberg ski region is served by an efficient high-speed lift system of 94 ski lifts carrying over 123,000 skiers per hour. Around 50 per cent of this ski lift capacity serves the slopes in St Anton where the ski lifts open between 8:00-8:30am and run until 4:00-4:30pm.
The ski lifts to Gampen (1,850m) and Kapall (2,330m) were first improved for the 2001 World Championships with the addition of a number of high-speed covered chairlifts then by the addition of an 8-person gondola from Nasserein to Gampen, which makes Nasserein a more convenient place to stay and a peaceful alternative to the busier St Anton village as well as taking pressure off the main lifts in St Anton.
A 6-person chairlift rising to a new lift station at 2,320 m to the east of the Ulmer Hütte mountain restaurant was added in 2003/04, replacing the Arlenmahder draglift and opening up the Arlenmahder slopes and providing alternative easy access to the Ulmer Hütte and the long blue run (14) to Alpe Rauz as well as taking pressure off the Schindlergratbahn triple chairlift.
The old cable car from the centre of St Anton was replaced in 2006 by the impressive new Galzigbahn cable car station with glass panel construction to showcase the state of the art mechanism used to detach the 8-person gondolas without slowing the high-speed cable then reattach them to the cable with a full payload.
On Rendl a 6-man chair replaced the long Gampberg draglift and more recently in 2009/10 the old Rendelbahn gondola on the outskirts of St Anton was decommissioned and replaced by an impressive new lift station and 8-person gondola located next to Sport Jennewein in the centre of the village, just a short walk from the Galzigbahn.
Alpe Rauz on the edge of the St Anton ski area is the gateway to both Lech-Zurs (via the fast Flexenbahn lift) and to the Albona ski area above Stuben (via the Albonabahn). Since 2013, the Audenfeldjet lift above Oberlech connects the ski areas of Lech and Warth-Schrocken, adding a further 66km of pistes and even more off-piste to the area covered by the Arlberg lift pass, and accessible from St Anton.
Nearby resorts on the same lift pass include Stuben am Arlberg, Lech-Zűrs, Sonnenkopf and Warth-Schrocken. That's a total 340 km of pistes for all levels of ability, over 200 km of off-piste terrain served by 94 state-of-the-art lifts and cable cars and an abundance of top class mountain restaurants throughout the Arlberg.
Arlberger Bergbahnen AG
Sankt Anton am Arlberg, Austria
Tel: +43 5446 2352
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While the Arlberg ski area as a whole has plenty of blue runs, the skiing in St Anton itself is mostly demanding and ideally suited to intermediates and above, so Lech and Zurs are more obvious bases for beginners.
That said, the widening of some runs and improvements to the lift system have made it easier for beginners who should make good progress with St Anton's ski schools, and if you learn to ski in St. Anton, you should be comfortable skiing any other resort.
The best slopes for novices are the nursery slopes at Nasserein where first time skiers can gain confidence before progressing higher up the mountain to beginner slopes on Gampen then higher still to ski blue runs on Kapall and on Galzig where the wide slope served by the Osthang chairlift is a good training ground and popular with ski schools.
The long blue run from Galzig to St. Christoph is a classic. While it is often busy and the middle section may intimidate nervous beginners, if skied slowly or with help from an instructor, it can be tackled reasonably easily by confident beginners. At the bottom, they can be rewarded for their endeavours by a visit to the famous Hospiz Alm restaurant. It’s not cheap but adults will enjoy the gastronomic delights, sunny terrace and extensive wine list, whilst children will be impressed by the slide down to the toilets in the basement.
Beginners should be comfortable skiing relatively easy blue slopes close to the main restaurant and lift station at Rendl Beach, but the runs higher up at Rendl and the long descent from Rendl Beach back to St Anton can be tough for beginners especially when snow conditions are icy - so be prepared to take the lift down as well as up.
Zurs and Lech both have excellent ski areas for beginners and early-stage intermediates. However it may be best to reach them from St Anton the old fashioned way by bus, which is quick and inexpensive, rather than via the Flexenbahn lift. There is an all blue run route to the Flexenbahn from St Anton via the Galzigbahn, piste 63 to Osthang, then pistes 59 and 76 to the Arlenmahder lift, then 100 to Alpe Rauz, but it involves crossing a lot of other runs on Galzig and it’s easy to stray onto reds and blacks by accident. It is also a very long (although often very enjoyable) journey for novices which will leave them little time to spend in Zurs and even less in Lech. If you do decide to take the Flexenbahn lift, it’s recommended that beginners take the Trittkopfbahn lift down to Zurs rather than attempt the red run descent, which is narrow and can be crowded.
The return journey from Zurs to St Anton via the Flexenbahn is much easier. If you’re exhausted when you land at Alpe Rauz, you can catch a bus back to St Anton, but if you’re up for a challenge, there is a very long continuous blue route from the top of the Valfagher chair (pistes 78, 56, 55 and 50) all the way into St Anton. Be warned though, that the bottom of this is often very slushy, and you’ll be passing plenty of bars with refreshments that certainly won’t help your skiing.
More confident beginners who want to explore far and wide might also appreciate an expedition to Warth. They will definitely need to take the bus to Lech (and maybe back again too) because it’s too long a journey for a beginner to ski over from St Anton via the Flexenbahn, but the reward is a seemingly endless supply of beginner-friendly blue pistes, stretching from the slopes above Lech and Oberlech all the way to Warth and back again.
Lastly, novices shouldn’t forget about the Sonnenkopf area at Klosterle. It is a quiet area covered by the Arlberg pass, has lots of blue runs and is only a short bus or taxi ride away.
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Intermediate skiers and boarders in St Anton can carve their way through magnificent mountain scenery. It's almost a vertical mile from the top of St Anton's three main mountains down to village level. The longest run is 10.2 km (6.4 miles) from Valluga via Ulmer Hütte to St. Anton and a number of famous St. Anton red and black runs feature high on the list of itineraries to be explored.
Kapall, where a long testing black piste (42 then 34) winds its way down the World Cup downhill run to the village (there are also easier red and blue routes); Schindler, where the long classic red to Ulmer Hütte and blue to Rauz will stretch the leg muscles of even the fittest skiers; and Galzig, where the busy Kandahar black run (52) will test your thigh muscles and short turns.
Rendl is usually a quieter alternative for those wanting to escape the busier slopes on the Galzig side of St Anton and offers intermediates a choice of blue, red and black pistes on wide-open slopes, and half a dozen marked but ungroomed trails that more confident intermediates can tackle. To finish there is along red run descent from the top of the Gampberg lift all the way down to St Anton although on a sunny day you will have to resist the temptation of stopping off at Rendl Beach for a drink.
Stuben offers piste skiing on the north-facing Albona (2,400m) where the snow remains of a high quality often into May, and also some sunnier slopes on the south-facing side. The Albonabahn II lift gives St Anton-based skiers direct access to these excellent red runs as well as the chance to test their powder skills well away from the busier slopes of St. Anton, whilst Stuben itself makes a delightful lunch stop.
Further afield, there is excellent intermediate skiing at Lech-Zürs which is easily reached by the Flexenbahn bubble. Start at Zürs from where you can follow the White Ring circuit via Zug to sunny slopeside terraces at Oberlech for lunch and then down to Lech and ride the cable car up the other side to complete the White Ring circuit by skiing back to Zürs. Return by taking the Trittkopfbahn, Flexenbahn and Valfagehr lifts from where you can ski all the way back into St Anton, perhaps stopping off at one of the famous apres-ski bars that line the final stages of the route.
The Warth Schroecken area beyond Lech can also be reached from St Anton in a day, but you will have to ski fast, or take the bus to or from Lech, to spend more than an hour there. Warth is allegedly the snowiest village in Europe (although Stuben is a rival contender for this title) so there can be fresh snow here when there is none in St Anton.
Lastly, intermediates shouldn’t forget about the quiet Sonnenkopf area at Klosterle. It is covered by the ski Arlberg pass, and apart from one Black and one ungroomed trail, it is entirely composed of red and blue runs. It’s not connected to St Anton by lift but it’s only a short bus or taxi ride away.
There is a huge amount of terrain for advanced and expert skiers in St. Anton, with a variety of steep slopes to test even the best. Favourites include the ungroomed Schindlerkar and Mattun ski routes, both of which include several steep descents and usually plenty of moguls. Stuben has abundant opportunities, including the red runs on the Albona north face which descend over 1,000m of variable terrain. For experts there is also the famous Valluga north face off-piste which is one of the longest lift accessible off-piste descents in the Alps. Further afield, the Flexenbahn lift gives St Anton-based skiers ready access to approximately 30 ungroomed but marked trails and plenty of off-piste in Lech Zurs, and a few more steep runs, on and off the piste, in Warth Schroecken.
The Schindlergrat triple chair to Schindler Spitze (2,660m) is one of the most popular (and now one of the oldest) chairlifts in St Anton. It leads to some of the most accessible off-piste itineraries, including open bowls, steep chutes and narrow gullies as well as accessing the immensely enjoyable red run to Ulmer Hűtte. There is some inspiring off-piste on south-facing slopes beneath the chairlift, which can be reached with a guide from the top of the chairlift or skiing and then traversing west around the shoulder of Schindler Spitze. The steep west-facing chutes (protected by a high fence) at the top of the Schindlergrat chairlift are for experts only. If these options are too extreme, try the Schindlerkar (86) marked trail. The Mattunjoch (90) extreme ski route is another famous descent..
The Valluga cable from Galzig (2,165m) to Vallugagrat (2,650m) gives you access to the same runs as those from the Schindlergrat. But it also takes you to the small (4-person) Valluga II cable car which rises to the viewing platform on top of the Valluga (2,811m) for stunning views or to ski off-piste down the notorious Valluga north face. Skis and boards may only be carried on the Valluga II cable car if accompanied by a qualified guide. The initial slopes seem to drop away into the abyss; falls must be avoided as you wind your way left down between cliffs and rocks to the Pazieljoch saddle before skiing the glorious open powder fields all the way down to Zürs. From the Pazieljoch onwards the gradient is relatively gentle, but the initial exposed descent from the Valluga summit is genuinely dangerous to fall on and not for the faint hearted.
The powder snow capital of the Arlberg, Stuben has several life times of off-piste skiing. Open mountain faces and deep forests await the adventurous skier led by a competent guide. There are countless off-piste possibilities on the North Face of the Albonagrat, and quite a few on the south-side as well. But be warned: there is a band of rocks that circles almost the entire North face, and whilst there are plenty of ways through, some are much steeper and narrower than others, so take care, or better still, take a guide. And be very wary of skiing into Stuben itself by any other route except the marked pistes and trails, because there are steep precipices and rocky gullies. Longer off-piste routes (both accessed from the top of Albonagrat) include: the moderately difficult Geisleger on the north face, which often holds great powder and is good for short turns; the harder Maroikopf-Langen route, which involves booting up 20-30 minutes to Maroikopf followed by 4 miles off-piste and 1,300 m vertical, taking in the "Krachel" snow bowl and the narrow "Wasserfall" gully past blue ice-columns, eventually ending up at Langen railway station to catch the last train (or a taxi) back to St. Anton.
The separate area of Rendl offers a more relaxed approach.. The most easily accessed challenges for advanced skiers are the black run and ungroomed trails from the top of the Gampberg lift which connect to the long red run home, the ‘good skiers only’ ungroomed area at the top of the Riffel II lift, the extreme route between the Salzboden drag and the Maass chair (which also has off-piste to the side), and the off-piste chutes and gullies beneath the Riffel 1 chair which you can assess whilst riding up on this lift. tThe toughest terrain, however, is hidden well away from the lifts so take a local mountain guide and, conditions permitting, check out the deep powder in Hinter Rendl, Malfontal and Rossfall. Favourites include the moderately difficult Rendlscharte-Malfontal which is accessed by dropping off the back of Rendl into Hinter Rendl; after skiing towards Rendlscharte, shoulder your skis for a 30 minute climb before enjoying 10 km (6 miles) of fantastic backcountry skiing and 1,350 m vertical through the Malfon valley to Pettneu, returning to St. Anton by taxi.
The Flexenbahn lift at Alpe Rauz connects St Anton to Zurs, from where it’s relatively easy to proceed onto Lech and even Warth Schroecken. (The bus from St Anton to Zurs and onto Lech is still the quickest way to get from one side of the Arlberg to the other, so it’s a useful option to consider as well, especially if you want to maximise your time in Warth or Schroecken ). There are about 30 ungroomed trails in Lech and Zurs, including about half a dozen ‘extreme’ routes. There are also a few interesting black pistes in Warth Schroecken (number 283 is allegedly the steepest of all the groomed pistes in the whole Arlberg area) and some interesting off-piste, particularly around the Jageralp Express which is also where the only marked Extreme Route is. Lech, Zurs, Warth and Schroecken also give St Anton-based skiers access to a wider variety of snow conditions. In most years, more fresh powder falls in Warth and Zurs than it does in St Anton, and it tends to stay untracked for longer. The meadows of Lech also require less snow cover than the rocky slopes around St Anton, so off-piste skiing can be more enjoyable here if there has only been a light snowfall.
St Anton and neighbouring Arlberg ski resorts offer you plenty of scope to warm-up and improve your off-piste technique between the pistes without engaging in the big adventures further afield, but even between the pistes you are entering avalanche terrain so knowledge of avalanche risk and mountain safety is important. It's worth remembering that the majority of skier related avalanche fatalities happen a short distance from the pistes!
Boarders and freestylers can check out the terrain park on the old Masslift stretch at Rendl which includes a 40m x 17m half-pipe, 8-10 barriers, a pro-jump, two quarter pipes, washboard, table top, slide and a long jump. The half pipe is maintained three or four times a week. Rendl is good for beginner and intermediate boarders, with wide, open slopes and plenty of groomed runs which are mostly suitable for beginners and intermediate riders.
The inevitable flat sections of St. Anton's connecting valleys, Steissbachtal being a prime example, are not obvious snowboard territory, but plenty of riders keep coming back. They are mostly experienced and attracted by St Anton's endless off-piste opportunities despite the long walk-outs from some of the best routes. Beyond St Anton there is plenty more excellent boarding nearby at Stuben and Lech-Zurs both on and off-piste.
For information about off-piste go to St Anton and the Arlberg off-piste >
Valluga North Face Off-Piste
St. Anton's 'off the back' descents are legend and can be crowded on a powder day, but these 'must do' descents are worth skiing even many days after a fresh snow fall, especially the Valluga north face descent to Zürs. The gut-wrenching Valluga summit descent into the Paziel-Tal to Zurs is world famous for being one of the "must ski" off-piste descents accessible from a lift station and justifiably so. This awesome off-piste descent is certainly not for the faint hearted! A small gondola carries sightseers and skiers to the observation platform at the Valluga summit, but for safety sake only those accompanied by a qualified guide are allowed to take their skis or board to the summit.
From the exposed summit the slopes on all sides disappear into the abyss and the first timer is not quite sure where they should begin to ski as they are faced with a convex slope and what appears to be a labyrinth of cliffs and rocks. It may help to consider that an experienced mountain guide is unlikely to allow you to attempt the descent unless already satisfied as to your skiing ability and the fact of the matter is that nervously straining your eyes will not make this gut-wrenching descent any easier so best to relax, enjoy the scenery and pretend you are not a little bit afraid.
Following the guides careful instructions the descent begins with an option of two variations from the summit. The classic Valluga North Face begins with tight turns in the fall line on the far left of the face, where a tenuous traverse leads right; here great attention is needed as a fall could end in a rocket slide leading to cliff which one would not wish to visit twice. A successful traverse skiers right, then a traverse skiers left leads to elation among the group as the first obstacle is over and the terrain now looks almost enjoyable. Now only wonderful turns lie ahead but care is again exercised to avoid the 40 meter cliff at its base. During this adrenaline surging skiing try to stay relaxed, look up from the tips of your skis and enjoy your skiing while marvelling at the view ahead.
Once you've gained the col splitting the two dominant summits of Valluga and Rogspitze, you cast your eyes back to what you've skied and either thank your luck you survived or ask your guide when you can ski it again! The scenery here is dramatic with two towering summits overhead creating an intimidating yet a marvellous atmosphere. Skiing away from the col you're now faced with seemingly endless powder slopes down to Zürs.
The second option from the summit, Valluga Bridge Couloir, is equally exciting and, to add to the adventure, your elementary mountaineering skills and head for heights will be put to the test as you make your way down the roped steps to gain the old wooden Bridge that spans the famous "Bridge Couloir". After a step down under the wooden planks of the bridge, a tight 40 degree couloir requires expert technique in jump turns. After 15 turns the couloir disappears around a left banking corner before finally opening up into the wide west slope of the Valluga, where sweeping turns lead you to a meeting point safely at the base of the west face. A short traverse northwest leads you around a hidden corner to open up a treasure of powder and adventure running all the way to the Zürs ski area.
The Galzig ski area is reached by an impressive high-speed gondola from St. Anton and includes some excellent off-piste ski terrain, but you'll need to be quick here too as Galzig is one of the first areas that gets skied on a powder day, especially when the higher slopes of the Valluga and Schindler are closed due to wind or avalanche risk.
Straight off the cable car, you're faced with numerous options. First off the bat is Zwischen which is sandwiched between the Ostang Einfahrt blue and the Kandahar black piste. Here you'll find powder slopes and challenging lines between the trees which will bring you out close to Feldherrnhugel lift. Backseite is the Galzig classic: north facing, steep and perfect for developing off-piste technique on steeper terrain dropping into Steissbachtal (Happy Valley). The red ski route (51) from Galzig down to St Anton is a reincarnation of black Ostang and the mogulled section between the trees is usually quite challenging.
Backseite is accessed by riding the Zammermoos chairlift or the Tanzboden T-bar then ski towards red ski route (54) which offers multiple entry points and the chance to pick the steepest terrain or head skiers left at the top of the Kandahar run towards the bottom of Tanzboden then ski off-piste down the steep north facing pitch into Steissbachtal (Happy Valley). The Zammermoos affords easier access to the steepest terrain and on a powder day you can make excellent laps using Zammermoos lifts and heading right at the top.
Easily accessed from below the Galzig cable car Maienwassen is truly world class on a powder day even when the visibility is low, as the trees are never far away to help with the contrast, but utmost care must be taken as left and right side of this descent are deep cutting valleys which can present extreme avalanche danger on fresh snow days.
Off the Kapall lift to the east of the resort is Schonegraben, meaning "Beautiful Grave". This descent offers steep trees and open faces and the correct line must be chosen to remain safe from potential avalanche threats. Upon entering the area you must head for the trees and take care on the steeper slopes left of the forest line. From the top of Kapall looking towards Schonegraben is a very inviting bowl, this bowl must never be skied in its entirety as it ends in an ever increasingly convex form to end in a steep narrow gauge called the "The plug hole" which has claimed many avalanche deaths in the area over the years. To avoid this follow the high logical traverse to the right to gain the bottom of the drag lift to access the top of Kapall lift.
The Rendl ski area on the opposite side of the valley is easy to reach from the impressive Rendlbahn gondola station in St Anton. The off-piste skiing at Rendl is often used for guiding due to its variable terrain and predictable snow. There is good off-piste skiing between the pistes left and right of the Maass Bahn, where you'll find gentle slopes meandering through the trees; always a favourite area during stormy days as the trees help with the visibility. Moving higher up the mountain, take the Gampberg six-man chair lift and skiers right, skiing the line under the chair lift, it's long and perfect for getting into that powder rhythm, you can either traverse out left back to the piste or continue further or join the long red run down to St Anton. There are also some chutes and gullies under the Riffel lift. Ride the lift up to assess them from above before tackling them.
St Anton's Rendl ski area, however, really comes into its own when you want to start venturing farther away from the lifts with a number of short side-stepping climbs allowing access excellent hidden off-piste stashes. Rendl's many 'off the back' options include the Hinter Rendl bowl, the challenging North Face and scenic silence in comparatively gentle Rossfall.
Hinter Rendl, a huge north facing bowl, offers steep and wide untracked powder through high alpine ski terrain and open forest lines. It can get tracked early, but its vastness and unlimited lines means that you can almost always find something untracked many days after the last snow fall. Ride the Riffel 1 and 2 chair lifts and you access the bowl passing through a roped off section with a sign warning indicating you're leaving the patrolled area. You will need to have experience in avalanche judgement to ski here. The other entrance point is after riding the Gampberg lift, head right along Schimalegg ridge and where the terrain flattens a line right is taken to access a wonderful open bowl which leads you to trees and the track back to the Rendl Bahn, but be aware this route requires experience in route finding and avalanche judgment. Attention must be paid not to ski in the couloirs directly right as these hold dangerous snow directly after strong wind and or fresh snow and the scene of many an accident.
Long and dominating, Rendl's North Face immediately south of St Anton shadows over the village and offers an outstanding powder run that invites you to its upper open faces and its lower technical trees lines. This route however requires excellent route finding skills as take the wrong line and you will end up surrounded by cliffs and drops with a strenuous if not impossible hike back up the mountain.
You can access this area from the Gampberg lift and ski the itinerary route number R5 to its half way point, traverse right until you reach a radio antenna and ski the fall line to reach the trees, and then taking the obligatory right traverse line to escape the cliffs. There are many convex slopes on this face and they must be avoided during powder days as these are serious potential avalanche areas.
For those not quite up for the challenge of Rendl's north face, Rossfall wide rolling pitches offer delightful powder. A short traverse and a steep side-step climb up right side of the Riffel 1 chair lift allows access to this little paradise, where the stunning views and mountain silence remind you that off-piste skiing is what life's all about! Route finding experience is important here too as you need to avoid certain convex slopes and potential terrain traps in this area.
The Schindlerkar (86) and Mattunjoch (90) ski routes can be reached by riding the chairlift to Schindler Spitze (2,660m) or taking the Valluga I cable car to Vallugagrat (2,650m) then ski red 19 and ride the cable car to reach the ski routes. Here you'll see successive lines cut by skiers traversing high and wide in search of good lines back down to the main ski route. But with so many off-piste powder hounds around you need to be quick off the mark to find fresh tracks in these high traffic areas.
If you like skiing steep and narrow couloirs lined either side by rocks then check out the Schindler West experts only chutes dropping down to your left from the top of the Schindlergratbahn top station. A robust wooden fence prevents accidental access to these couloirs and you can be sure there'll be quite an audience when experts climb the fence and perch somewhat perilously before jumping in and disappearing from view after just a few turns or quicker still if they were to fall. And in all but the very best fresh snow conditions when local ski instructors and ski bums will have got there before you in any event, it's moguls all the way.
The Schindler South slopes beneath the Schindlergratbahn triple chair offer excellent deep snow possibilities on a powder day and can be accessed high up from behind the top lift station but you'll need an instructor or guide for safe route finding and to ensure a safe descent through rocky couloirs higher up and on avalanche prone south facing slopes. Easier access at lower level can be gained by skiing down on piste from Schindlergratbahn then not far from the top as you bear left towards Ulmer Hutte traverse skiers left off-piste quite some distance around the shoulder of Schindler then a short boot up and you can drop on to the slopes running down beneath the chairlift.
Sonnenkopf is primarily a family resort that joined the Arlberg area some years ago. About thirty minutes by car or bus from St Anton, Sonnenkopf is included in the main Arlberg lift pass and the ski area is similar in character to many a ski mountain in North America with spaced out trees and bowl like skiing possibilities. Hidden over the back of the top lift, however, is the very impressive Nesingastal off-piste run offering 1,500m vertical of exciting steep lines, huge open faces in impressive scenery and to conclude the run there's the obligatory steep exit line through a demanding and gullied steep section studded with bushes leading to the Nesingastal. This spectacular adventure ends close to Langen where you catch the train in time to get you back to St. Anton for a well earned après ski!
St. Anton has a wide choice of restaurants and après ski bars on the mountain and standards generally are very good. The places to avoid are the self-service restaurants in each of the main lift stations at Gampen, Galzig and Rendl, unless all you're trying to do is refuel quickly and at least cost in which case the food is acceptable and the impersonal atmosphere not such a problem.While the ski map shows the locations of some mountain restaurants, usually only those situated at the top of the ski lifts, there are many better mountain restaurants the majority of which are privately owned:
St Anton's best mountain restaurant (and one of the more expensive) is the legendary Hospiz Alm with its famous big bottle wine cellar in St Christoph and superb sun terrace. No visit to St Anton would be complete without visiting the Hospiz Alm at least once for lunch (or dinner). The food here is good, the wine list outstanding and the view from the popular sun terrace is among the best in the Arlberg. Immaculately dressed in "tracht" (traditional Austrian costume) the Hospiz Alm's friendly waiters and waitresses provide excellent service and if you show enough interest in the wine list they may even arrange for one of the sommeliers to give you a guided tour of the wine cellar. Tel: +43 5446 2611
The Griabli restaurant and bar is located next to the Mooserwirt on the main piste leading back to St Anton, about 500m before the Galzigbahn gondola station. Griabli offers excellent food and service at lunchtimes and is popular for apres ski. The traditional welcoming interior includes a log fire in the main restaurant area and a great sound system for live music during apres ski which is vibrant from 4pm until 7:30pm daily. The restaurant is well regarded and open for dinner in the evenings from 7:30pm. For those sunny days, there's also a small terrace overlooking the Mooserwirt.Tel: +43 5446 3673
Better known for après-ski than for its restaurant and allegedly serving more beer than any other bar in Austria the Mooserwirt is busy at lunchtimes and packed to bursting point from mid-afternoon until long after dark. Food portions are often unnecessarily generous, but no doubt help to support the prices at this goldmine mountain restaurant and bar which recently added a luxury ski-in, ski-out hotel next door. To get to the Mooserwirt, ski the blue run (1) from the Zammermoosbahn chairlift to St Anton, continuing past Sennhűtte and Heustadl and you will find it on the right hand side of the piste next to Griabli. Arrive early to have any chance of getting a seat on the sun terrace. Tel: +43 5446 3588
The popuplar, but not so easy to find Rodelhűtte is located skiers left before the top of the Fangbahn as you ski from Gampen to Nasserein. A traditional Tirolean restaurant with a large sun terrace, the Rodelhütte serves good food in a rustic alpine atmosphere and portions are generous. The cosy interior of the old hutte which includes a log fire is especially charming and fully booked on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for dinner and tobogganing.
Sennhütte is a typical Tirolean hut offering wholesome food and excellent atmosphere inside and outside on the large sun terrace. From mid-afternoon, it's the domain of Austrian singer and comic DD Diesel whose music and jokes entertain a predominantly German speaking crowd, but the atmosphere is memorable whether you understand German or not and especially if you enjoy traditional Austrian après ski and drinking large glasses of beer. To get there, ski the blue run (1) from the bottom of the Samermoosbahn chairlift to St. Anton and you'll find Sennhütte below the right hand side - the roof of the restaurant is barely visible from the piste - before Heustadl. Arrive early to secure a good table. Tel: +43 5446 2048
The Ulmer Hütte is prominent on the left hand side of the red piste (14) running from Schindlergrat towards Rauz and Stuben. It's a delightful spot with great views and a popular place stop for a drink on sunny days. While the outside bar with tables and benches are an obvious pit stop, the Ulmer Hűtte restaurant is also worth considering and a welcome refuge when it's snowing. Tel: +43 5446 30200
Located in the lift station building on Galzig, the Verwallstube gourmet restaurant serves excellent food with wines to match and has a sun terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine or champagne. It's expensive, but very good and also open for dinner reservations on Friday evenings. Look out for the sun terrace on your left when skiing past the lift station building (on your left) en route to St Christoph. Tel: +043 5446 2352
Little known, but well worth visiting, the Arlberghohe in St Christoph offers a warm welcome, good service and an extensive choice of Tirolean traditional dishes in an old style setting. Phone ahead to reserve a table and in good weather you will need to arrive early to be sure of a seat on the sun terrace. Prices are cheaper and service faster than at the more illustrious Hospiz Alm, but the food is equally good. To get there ski the long blue run (8) from Galzig to St Christoph, then continue past the Hospiz Alm and you'll find the Arlberghoe to the left of the chairlift in St Christoph. Tel: +43 5446 2635
St Anton am Arlberg is Austria's most famous ski resort and among the best ski resorts worldwide. Originally a small picturesque farming village when skiing started here over one hundred years ago St. Anton has long since become a major international ski resort.
The railway line from Zurich to Vienna used to pass right through the village centre but was moved in 2000 to allow a bigger finishing area for the 2001 World Championships. An impressive new railway station was built on the Rendl side just two minutes walk from the village; the site just north of the old railway station was redeveloped to create a major new sports and leisure facility Arlberg-well.com which includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wellness centre and Benvenuto restaurant which is recommended.
Situated between the main ski area of Gampen, Galzig and Valluga to the north, and Rendl to the south and to the north of the main road, St Anton's pedestrianised village extends eastwards along the valley floor for about 1km, with the main street running the length of the village. The village centre still retains an historic alpine charm but the redevelopment of the old railway area has left vacant space along parts of the former railway line which could still be put to better use.
Recent improvements have include massive investment in two landmark ski lifts, the state of the art Galzigbhan gondola was newly construced in 2006 and the new Rendelbahn gondola station was built in 2009 close to the centre of the village in place the old gondola on the outskirts of town. A number of designer boutique hotels now challenge the dominance of St Anton's leading four-star hotels and planned development in the village includes a new luxury hotel which will be built on the site of Pangratz, Bar Platzl, Funky Chicken and the Pizzeria Pomodoro - each of these properties is being demolished to make way for the new hotel.
There are fast road and rails links so getting to St Anton by train, bus or car is easy with a variety of transfer possibilities from Zurich and Innsbruck airports.
There are a few chalets and chalet apartments in the centre of St Anton, but most are located either in the Nasserein area (served by high-speed gondola to Gampen) or in the elevated Gastig and Oberdorf areas, which overlook the Rendl ski area.
The Nasserein area, which has been gaining popularity as a chalet location since the opening of the new gondola, is approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of St Anton, whereas the chalets of Gastig and Oberdorf are a little further away and also located up a fairly steep hill. Guests staying in these elevated areas can usually leave their skis and boots in the ski hire shops situated close to the main St Anton lifts making the journey to and from their chalets much easier.
The chalets in St Anton generally provide excellent value accommodation compared to the high quality 4-star hotels dominating the resort centre. However, there is a growing number of luxury chalets where the standard of accommodation, quality of the food and personalised service now rivals even the smartest hotels.
While the majority of St Anton ski chalets holidays are catered and aimed at the British ski market (flight and transfer included), many chalets are available for independent travellers, self-catered or catered, and can be booked by specialist travel agents.
No skiing day is complete without a visit to at least one of six nearby après-ski bars located on the home run from Galzig to St. Anton. Off the mountain, the partying continues at Anton Bar, at the Underground on the Piste and in the centre of the village at Piccadilly Bar, which has live music daily. For those just wanting to relax and chill out there are many quieter bars and cafes in which to wind down after a day's skiing. Pub 37 is a charming little bar and the sunny terrace at the Hotel Alte Poste is a popular hang-out late in the season when the weather warms up.
The Mooserwirt is St Anton's best attended on-mountain apres ski bar and rumored to sell more beer per square metre than any other bar in Austria. The food is excellent and portions are large so it's a popular place for lunch, but very busy in peak season, so you need to book a table. The real Mooserwirt Experience begins inside from 3pm when the "Final Countdown" starts, the shutters all close, the light show begins and the crowds pile in. The Mooserwirt is soon packed with skiers drinking and dancing on the tables, and singing along to mostly German music. The large outside terrace is jam packed by 4pm, but also great fun and a must have experience at least once during your trip. A new hotel - the Mooser - has been built next to the bar, but it's a sophisticated designer boutique hotel, not a party hotel. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 3588.
A bit higher up and most easily reached by sking down from Gampen is The Krazy Kanguruh which is popular with seasonnaires and full of partygoers. Founded by ex Swedish ski racer Gunnar Munthe in 1974 the Krazy Kanguruh is legend for full-on apres ski with sun terrace pumping beer and party atmosphere from 3pm until after dark. The Krazy Kanguruh is now owned by local ski racer Mario Matt. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 2633. Adjoining the Krazy Kanguruh, Taps is a quieter yet still busy alternative with a good sun terrace. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 2628.
A traditional mountain restaurant and bar, just above the Mooserwirt and below the Krazy Kanguruh, Griabli has live music most days from talented rock, soul and blues band. Busy but mellow in comparison to either of its more rowdy neighbours and a popular apres ski bar from around 3:30pm each day. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 3673.
The Heustadl is one of the first bars you come to as you ski down the blue run (1) from the bottom of the Zammermossbahn chairlift. Located on the left hand side of the piste, a hundred meters or so after Sennhutte (on the right), Heustadl is a friendly bar restaurant with a large sun terrace in front and a good sound system playing mostly German music, and sometimes live music. The interior resembles an old hay loft with seating upstairs and downstairs. Tel: +43 5446 302 97
For traditional Austrian style apres ski with a predominantly German-speaking crowd try Sennhutte, a popular mountain hut with a big sun terrace and busy after skiing as well as at lunch times. Located to the right of the main piste leading from the bottom of the Zammermoosbahn chairlift to St Anton, Sennhutte is almost hidden from view, but the roof top is visible just off the main piste. DJ Didi Diesel serves up music and abundant humour even if you cannot understand German. Sennhutte. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 2048.
The Anton Bar modern apres ski bar located next to the Galzigbahn cable car. Invariably busy, with good atmosphere including skiing and snowboarding videos, DJ's playing good music and plenty of alcohol fuelled fun. If you fancy a snack, try the Anton cafe next door which serves good food and has outside table and chairs with sheepskin rugs. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 2408
The hugely popular Undergound Bar & Restaurant in the village closed its doors for the last time in May 2004. After more than 20 years as one of St Anton's most popular apres ski venues, it was sadly missed, but owner Joan Devey has created a similarly popular restaurant and bar, The Underground on the Piste. In a quiet location at the bottom of the home run, next to the ski museum and just a stone's throw from the Galzig cable car station, the Underground on the Piste is more sedate and a good place to chill out and relax away from the crowd. There's live music most days after skiing and it's also a popular place for dinner or for after dinner drinks in an uncrowded private house party setting. Tel: +43 5446 2000.
A British-style pub underneath the Hotel Post, The Picadilly Bar has great atmosphere for apres ski and live music every day 4:00 pm, so get there early to be sure of a table and a seat. Busy again from 9:00 pm until late and conveniently next to Post Kellar disco allowing you to flit between the two. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 2213 276.
The smallest and one of the longest established bars in St Anton, Pub 37 is well worth a visit, but get there early after skiing to ensure a table or a seat at the bar. Tel: +43 (0) 5446 2965.
With around 70 restaurants to choose from, including restaurants in more than twenty leading hotels, there are plenty of good dining options in St. Anton. For excellent food and wine in a wonderful traditional setting, book a table for dinner at The Hospiz Alm in nearby St Christoph. You will not be disappointed. And for those travelling on a tight budget there are a number of places to refuel at low cost.
Hazienda is a well established stylish bar-restaurant that is popular with a smart local crowd and visitors alike. At Mexican style Bo Bo's bar you can dance the night away, helped by shots of Tequila after a meal of Tortillas. Sadly, two of St Anton's most popular bar restaurants, the Funky Chicken and The Platzl bar finally closed their doors in 2011 and were demolished to make way for a new hotel and adjoining bar restaurants, but the news establishments are nowhere near as good as Funky Chicken or Platzl Bar.
A walk through the village at night reveals a reasonable choice of late night bars and clubs. Bar Cuba is popular with a predominantly English 20-30 crowd.Night owls, the Piccadilly Bar features live music and the neighbouring Post Keller and the Kandahar nightclub across the main street are populatr for partying and dancing until late.
The new ARLBERG-well.com conference and leisure centre opened in 2002. Besides 2,000 sq m (21,520 sq ft ) of floor space suitable for all types of sporting events and concerts, it includes an excellent health centre with 3 swimming pools, sauna and steambaths, fitness studio, ice skating and curling on the front square, and the Ben Venuto gourmet Italian and Asian restaurant.
There's ice-skating and curling at the new leisure centre; the cross-country ski and walking trail winds through the Ferwall forest. You can eat and drink at the Verwall Inn at the far end of the valley and call a taxi for the return journey. There is a 4 km (2.5 miles) illuminated toboggan trail from Gampen plateau (accessed via the Nassereinbahn gondola), which takes 10-15 minutes to descend from top to bottom.
The St Anton Ski & Local Heritage Museum offers a detailed historic journey through the skiing archives of the Arlberg. Set in an idyllic Alpine villa built by Bernhard Trier in 1912 and just left of the piste close to the Galzigbahn cable car St Anton the museum reveals an interesting history of the town, past sporting events and more famous members of "Ski-Club Arlberg" notably Hannes Schneider (1890-1950) whose statue can be seen in the grounds. Also in the same building and well worth visting is the Restaurant Cafe Museum.
Aside from an impressive array of shops selling ski equipment, clothing and the usual souvenirs there is little in the way of retail therapy to satisfy the serious shopper. For telemark and off-piste ski equipment we recommend Pete's Telemark shop and for ski and leisurewear there is a branch of Peak Performance which is also good for exercising your credit card. However, unlike some other big name ski resorts, major fashion brands are conspicuous by their absence as most people come to St Anton to ski, not to shop. The main street is being overtaken by too many banks and ordinary shops, the latest addition being a large BIPA (think Superdrug) outlet complete with supermarket style shopping trolleys for those that need to stock up with shampoo.