St Anton am Arlberg is a highly popular ski resort situated in the Austrian Tyrol, and lies on the Rosanna River. It’s the principal resort in the Arlberg ski area, so-called after a small mountain pass that, in the 14th Century, was the main connection to the area. Travellers would say they “passed the Arlberg” – those days by horse and cart – when referring to the journey they had made.
St Anton has been a haunt of skiers since the early days of the sport, and remains ever popular. Famed for its exciting skiing, and lively après-ski, the resort is one that draws visitors back time and time again. The village of St Anton is long, and squeezed into the narrow valley. In fact, it is almost big enough to be a town. The resort remains hugely popular with people from all over the world, but at the same time has retained its Austrian idyll and charm.
Skiing in St Anton is challenging and the resort is certainly not suited to beginners. In fact, 60% of all the runs are either red or black, and there is very little ‘highway’ or ‘motorway’ skiing for intermediates and beginners. The lift pass includes the nearby resort of Lech – nestled further up the valley – which can be accessed by bus for free from Alpe Rauz.
Galzig/Gampen: The ‘main’ side of St Anton and served by multiple high-speed lifts. In the morning, avoid the ultra-modern Galzig cable car, opting instead for the Gampen four-person chairlift, which will whisk you up the mountain in half the time. Next take the Kapall chairlift, which, from the top offers access to all gradients of terrain – blue, red and black.
Rendl: Located on the opposite side of the valley to Galzig, Rendl is the smaller, yet equally interesting, area. Take the gondola from the resort to access the area, from where there’s a whole host of options waiting to be skied. The red run from the top of the Rendl bubble is one of my favourite pistes, and a great way to avoid the melee at the end of the day.
St Christoph: The small village of St Christoph further up the valley offers the perfect escape from the throng of St Anton. Here the skiing is gentler, yet linked to the main area. St Christoph is a great place to stay for people looking to ski the slopes of St Anton, yet enjoy a quieter holiday.
Why go there?
The challenge: For those looking for an off-piste adventure, it is possible to reach Lech from St Anton via an off-piste itinerary, however a guide is strongly recommended for anyone wishing to undertake this route. For diehard skiers a descent off the infamous Valluga Nord is a must. A gondola whisks you to 2809 m, from where you can launch yourself down the 40–55 degree north-facing pitch. It’s a pretty hairy descent, especially the first few hundred metres where hidden cliffs make it a no-fall zone. Again, a guide is an absolute must.
Proximity: Located just an hour’s drive from Innsbruck, the resort is ideal for someone looking to take a weekend break, maximising their time on the slopes, whilst minimising time away from the desk. Ski Weekends operates weekend breaks from the UK starting at £636 per person based on two sharing. This includes 4 nights on a half board basis and includes flights and resort transfers.
To escape from the throng: Head to the nearby villages of St Christoph and Stuben. Both provide linked skiing to the main St Anton area, but are tiny villages, offering a far more tranquil holiday experience.
The X Factor: St Anton is famed for its wild Austrian apres-ski. The party begins on the slopes at the infamous Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh bars – both of which have music blaring from 4–8pm. It is reputed that the Mooserwirt sells the most beer in the whole of Austria – an impressive feat for a bar open for a just a few hours each day, and located on the ski slopes.
Once the piste apres-ski ends it’s down to the town. Nightlife in the resort is second-to-none, with partying until the early hours at the Post Kellar and Cuba nightclubs. Here Jagermeister and Red Bull are the order of the day, and so the phrase “Jagerbombed” has come to describe those a little worse for wear at the end of the night.