Ski St Anton: resort guide

imageSki St Anton: resort guide
Guide to St Anton ski resort, including practical information on hotels, restaurants and piste guide. Taken from ‘Where to Ski and Snowboard 2012’.

St Anton is the western extremity of the Tirol, at the foot of the road up to the Arlberg pass. It is at one end of a lift network that spreads across to St Christoph and over the pass to Stuben. These two tiny villages are described at the end of the chapter.

The resort is a long, sprawling place, almost a town rather than a village, with mainly traditional-style buildings, squeezed into a narrow valley – there is only just room for the town, the bypass road, the river and the railway. St Anton spreads down the valley, thinning out before broadening again to form the suburb of Nasserein.

Development spreads up the hill to the west, towards the Arlberg pass – first to Oberdorf, then Gastig, 10 minutes’ walk from the centre. Further up the hill are the suburbs of Stadle, Dengert and Moos – a long way out, but the latter two next to the slopes.

The ski pass covers Lech and Zürs, reached by regular free ski-buses from Alpe Rauz, where the slopes meet the Arlberg pass road, and the less well-known Sonnenkopf area above Klösterle. These buses can get crowded early and late in the day and often provoke complaints from reporters. The post bus offers a less crowded alternative, and means you can start or end your outing in St Anton; but it is not free. Taxis can be economic if shared. Serfaus, Ischgl and Sölden are feasible outings by car.

WE LIKE

• Varied terrain for experts and adventurous intermediates; lots of it, once you include Lech-Zürs, a bus ride away
• Heavy snowfalls, lots of snow-guns
• Car-free village centre retains solid traditional charm
• Very lively après-ski
• Improved lift system has cut queues from the base areas, but…
WE DON’T LIKE

• Some pistes are made dangerous by crowds and uncontrolled, inconsiderate skiers
• Slopes can be tough for near-beginners and timid intermediates
• Most tough runs are unpatrolled
• Snow quality can suffer from sun
• Resort sprawls, with long treks from some lodgings to key lifts and bars
• Centre can be noisy at night
VILLAGE CHARM

Traditional but lively

Although it is crowded and commercialised, St Anton is full of character, its traffic-free main street lined by traditional-style buildings. It is an attractively bustling place, day and night. Its shops offer little in the way of entertainment, but meet everyday needs well – a well-stocked Spar, for example, a watchmender who stocks batteries that fit our altimeters, and an excellent bookshop that sells good numbers of this book.

CONVENIENCE

Not bad for a large resort

The hub of the resort is at the western end of the main street, close to the base stations of the lifts to Gampen (a fast quad chair), to Galzig and to Rendl (modern gondolas). Staying on or close to this main street is ideal to keep treks to the lifts short.

Nasserein has an eight-seater gondola up to Gampen, and makes an appealing base for a quiet time. The nightlife action is a short bus ride or 15-minute walk away. Staying between the centre and Nasserein is fairly convenient too as the Fang chairlift gives access to the Nasserein gondola.
SCENERY

Head for the Valluga

St Anton squeezes into a narrow, partly wooded valley. The scenery becomes more impressive as you ride up the lifts, either towards the dramatic Valluga, or across the valley up to Rendl, which opens up a splendid panorama.
SNOW RELIABILITY

Generally very good cover

If the weather is coming from the west or north-west (as it often is), the Arlberg region gets it first, and as a result St Anton gets heavy falls of snow – and neighbouring Lech and Zürs get even more. These resorts often have much better conditions than other resorts of a similar height, and we’ve had great fresh powder here as late as mid-April. But many slopes face south or south-east, causing icy or heavy conditions at times. As spring approaches, in particular, It’s vital to time descents of the steeper runs off the Valluga to get decent conditions, or you can find yourself in trouble.

The lower runs are well equipped with snowmaking, which generally ensures the home runs remain open.
SCHOOLS AND GUIDES

Mixed reports

The St Anton and the Arlberg schools are under the same ownership but operate separately. Reports on both schools complain of ‘groups that were too large and the ability of pupils far too wide’. But past reporters have been satisfied with beginner classes and off-piste guided groups with the Arlberg school.

Piste to Powder is a specialist off-piste outfit run by British guide Graham Austick. Past comments include: ‘one of the best days ever on a mountain’, ‘a great operation’, ‘absolutely corking day with a great guide’, ‘exactly the right balance of instruction and guiding’. If you have particular ambitions, make sure your group is all of the required standard, though. We’ve had mixed reports of beginners to off-piste: some have been known to give up halfway through the day; others have had the ‘best day ever’.
FOR FAMILIES

Nasserein ‘ideal’

The youth centre attached to the Arlberg school is excellent, and the special slopes both for toddlers (at the bottom) and bigger children (at Gampen) are well done. Children’s instruction is reportedly very good (‘Kids had a great week in the Arlberg school,’ says a 2010 reporter). At Nasserein there is a moving carpet on the baby slope. There’s also a good children’s area by the Gampen fast quad. Nasserein makes a good base. Family chalet specialists Esprit Ski have their own facilities here.

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