There are extensive easy slopes on the mountainside directly above the village and right across to the suburb of Nasserein, next to the little village of St Jakob. You will find nursery slopes here and you have the choice of several ski schools to teach you, including the Ski School Arlberg, one of the very first, established in 1921 by Hannes Schneider and now employing around 400 teachers. Whether St Anton is the best place to learn to ski, other than for its great heritage, is more difficult to quantify. As with most long-established, world-class resorts, you can certainly find quieter cheaper and more conveniently designed places in which to first clip on your skis, but if you’re part of a group of mixed ability skiers who have brought you along with them while they hit the powder, you could do worse.
St Anton's ski area has an excellent lift system
St Anton is an unusual proposition for intermediate skiers because, despite the hundreds of kilometres of piste on the Arlberg pass, there doesn’t feel to be a huge amount of terrain for intermediate level skiers as there is in a less challenging ski region such as the SkiWelt around Soll and Brixen or the Grand Massif around Flaine. The issue is that much of the Arlberg terrain is made up of advanced steep runs or off piste terrain and to some extent the resort is a victim of its global fame with tens of thousands of skiers arriving each week, many of them perhaps not as good skiers as they hope they are, with the consequence that most end up on the limited amount of blue and red runs – which can mean crowded main pistes. Neighbouring Lech gets round the problem by limiting the number of people it will sell lift tickets to on any one day.
Despite those provisos St Anton does have extensive terrain for intermediate level skiers – although there is no figure for St Anton only, nearly 250km of Arlberg terrain (which includes the non-lift-linked Lech-Zurs sector) is divided almost equally between blue and red terrain. Popular runs include the main blue run down to the village (although as most runs funnel in to this, it can be one of the most crowded runs in the Alps and probably the world at peak times!) and the long sunny blues above St Christoph. The quieter Rendl sector, which was better connected to the wider ski area with a new gondola for winter 2009-10, provides some enjoyable terrain too and of course you should take the ski bus over to Lech on at least one day during your stay to make use of your lift ticket there too.
St Anton does have good terrain for intermediate skiers
St Anton is one of those legendary resorts that all good skiers feel they must visit at least once, while many return year after year. It’s up there with Jackson Hole, Val d’Isere, Kicking Horse and Chamonix.
And as with all of these, the reputation is not built so much on what’s to be had on the piste, of which, incidentally, only about a tenth is graded black, but on the huge range of off piste opportunities, which are generally agreed to be among the world’s best. There are 180km of ‘marked ski routes’ in the Arlberg, ungroomed trails, and many more completely off piste routes besides. To make the most of them and to tackle them with the maximum safety possible, a guide is essential.
Many of the most famous trails involve starting from the Valluga peak at the top of the ski area. There are runs in multiple directions from the summit, although most will head for the huge snowbowl on the front face of the mountain which eventually runs out in to the often crowded Happy Valley. More challenging descents, for parts of which you will need to be roped up on some sectors, lead over to the Lech side of the Arlberg.
St Anton is well renowned for having great snow
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
St Anton’s hardcore culture and extensive off piste powder ‘routes’ for snowboarding culture even better than skiing, so it’s no surprise that the resort is as big a draw to expert boarders (and the rest) as it is to skiers.
Although freestyle is not such a big attraction here as the freeriding, there are terrain features for freestylers to enjoy including a double Kicker line with two Jumps between seven and 11 metres (23 – 35 feet) high as well as a wave and curved box. There’s also a jibline, butter box, kinked Box, mushroom, down rail and a pyramid next to the chill out zone.
Great freeriding in St Anton, Austria.
St. Anton has been working to build up its reputation as a cross country ski centre to, if not rival its downhill skiing and boarding image, at least put it up there as a serious provider for cross country skiers. There are now 40km of track to which the Tyrol region has given a ‘quality seal of approval’ for their variety and maintenance, as well as for having a good choice of trails and typically good snow cover thanks to the routes chosen.
The shortest track links the village to neighbouring St Christoph above it, a 2.5km run which has several meeting points with the downhill pistes so is good for mixed groups who want to meet up during the day. There’s a gentler, 3km route starting east of Hotel Tirolerhof on which dogs are allowed, this also connects to the longest trail in the area, the 22km Stanzertal track. This begins at the Wertstoffhof farm at the Aubrücke bridge and is an easy track along the Rosanna river leading to Flirsch. Finally there’s the 10km long Verwall route, one of the areas most scenic and moderately challenging. It begins 200m from the Hotel Mooserkreuz and leads across the pretty Verwalltal Valley, past the reservoir. There are another 30km+ of track in the wider region.
The Ski School Arlberg (+43 (0)5446 2738; http://www.skischoolarlberg.com) offers cross country ski lessons for all standards, equipment can be hired locally and a trail map is available from the tourist office or hotels. The resort’s website also has an online map and latest track conditions.
Some of St Antons Picturesque Chalets
Average Snow And Weather Conditions
With ski lifts rising above 2,800m and an average snowfall of seven metres (23 feet), St Anton has a fairly formidable reputation for its snow accumulations. On top of this, St Anton is ideally positioned in the Arlberg to take advantage of the weather systems as they come in, so when it’s snowing elsewhere it’s usually snowing harder in St Anton.
Just to be sure, the resort has installed more than 600 snow guns covering nearly two thirds (over 100km) of the groomed runs, so the resort can build up its snow depth as soon as temperatures drop.