Nowhere else are there so many different types of slopes, events and family…
Tips for a Day in St. Anton am Arlberg
The snow-covered Galzigbahn cable car.
Heavy snowfall, stoked freeskiers and a status as the ‘Birthplace of Alpine Skiing’ – St. Anton am Arlberg is one of the most famous ski resorts in the world. We are lucky enough to be joined by Rosanna, who grew up in St. Anton and knows the resort better than almost anyone. We spent a day on the slopes and in the village to find out what makes St. Anton am Arlberg so special.
08:00 // St. Anton am Arlberg railway station
We meet our guide Rosanna at the railway station. Uniquely for a major ski resort, St. Anton is serviced by high-speed Intercity and Railjet trains from all over Europe. With the railway station at its heart, St. Anton am Arlberg is easy to reach and, once there, small enough to navigate on foot – ski lifts and the pedestrianised main street are just a few steps away.
Rosanna, our guide for the day, is a social worker with a love of travelling. Today she has kindly agreed to show us her backyard, a ski resort that is acclaimed the world over and an eclectic village with cosmopolitan allure that has nevertheless managed to retain its soul and heritage.
08:30 // The snow blower
If it snows in St. Anton, it really snows. Moving the masses of snow out of the way is therefore no mean feat. After a fresh dump, residents of all ages use snow blowers to clear their pathways and quickly remove snow from their driveways. The video below shows Rosanna's grandfather, who was born in 1927, clearing the snow outside his house.
09:00 // Hotel Arlmont
Cutting-edge, minimalist design at the Hotel Arlmont.
From high-end hotels to rustic mountain huts, St. Anton am Arlberg offers accommodation options for every taste and budget. Rosanna shows us her favourite hotel in the resort, the stylish Hotel Arlmont. “This place is really cool and puts a fresh, modern spin on the typical St. Anton experience. Its location right next to the Nasserein cable car makes it an excellent base for quick and easy access to the slopes. I attended a friend’s wedding here last summer and the staff were super friendly and helpful.” Rosanna’s second recommendation is Der Waldhof, a modern and stylish hotel known for its excellent food.
09:30 // SkiWest sports shop
Rosanna takes us to what is probably the smallest ski shop in the whole of the Arlberg area, SkiWest, owned and operated by her father. Precision ski tuning in the cellar is his passion and he offers a special type of mountain expertise and a fine selection of the Tirol Shop collection for guests keen to take a little piece of Tirol home with them. When it comes to sports shops, visitors to St. Anton will find a huge selection. On the pedestrianised main street alone there are half a dozen sporting goods stores, including Alber Sport, Intersport Arlberg, Sporthaus Jennewein and Skisport Fauner.
Rosanna’s father is an expert at precision ski tuning.
10:00 // Galzigbahn cable car
Pretty much everything in St. Anton Village is a snowball’s throw from the slopes, the village centre and the railway station. We walk to the strikingly contemporary base of the Galzigbahn, a state-of-the-art cable car that takes skiers to the top of 2,184-metre Galzig mountain. In 2006 the original cable car, built in 1937, was torn day to make way for a new jumbo gondola with a revolutionary ferris wheel design.
The bottom station of the Galzigbahn cable car in St. Anton am Arlberg is an eye-catching architectural highlight.
10:30 // Private ski guiding
Powder-filled bowls, legendary chutes, huge cliffs and tight couloirs – St. Anton am Arlberg is famous amongst freeskiers the world over. We meet up with Daniel Federspiel, a 30-year old backcountry ski guide, who has agreed to show us best off-piste skiing the resort has to offer. As we ride up into the mountains and the snowfall becomes thicker and thicker, we chat about the current snow conditions, why he loves his job and why even experienced skiers should book a ski guide to make the most of their time in St. Anton.
“We have had more than one metre of fresh snow over the last one and a half weeks, with more forecasted for next week,” says Daniel, who has turned his passion into his profession. So why should even experienced skiers go to the trouble of hiring a mountain guide when exploring the terrain in St. Anton? “Weather, snow, wind, light and other factors always change the ‘sweet spots’ in the mountains. Without proper knowledge of these elements and the terrain, you cannot always be sure of finding the right slopes to match your ability. Take the Inner Rendl mountain, for example. One day it can be moguls, the next you find yourself waist-deep in powder.” This is where the knowledge of local guides is essenial. “Even if you are a really good skier or snowboarder, an expericed guide will make sure you stay in your zone and stay safe as opposed to finding yourself in areas too challenging or too avalanche prone. Plus, we love to show you ‘our mountains’ and the best secret pockets and powder stashes. Visitors to St. Anton keen to book a qualified mountain guide should contact Arlberg Ski Schools.
11:00 // Galzig and Valluga
The ultimate aim of any skier coming to St. Anton is to take on the steep faces of the Valluga mountain on a powder day. When conditions are good, the 2,809-metre peak – the highest mountain in the Arlberg area – can be accessed via the tiny Valluga II lift. Valluga II opens up some seriously extreme terrain. So serious in fact that you are not allowed to enter the gondola with skis or board unless you are accompanied by a qualified guide, explains Daniel.
All we wanted to do was to ride the gondola to the top of Valluga, take a few pictures then head back down again. Unfortunately, the heavy snow meant the lift was closed on the day we were in St. Anton. However, we were lucky that three days earlier Rosanna had been up on the summit of Valluga with a friend and taken some great photos on her phone. On clear days the views are simply breathtaking. Check out the photo below!
View from the top of the Valluga mountain. Photo: Rosanna Battisti
12:00 // Ski piste number one
We follow Daniel down to Sennhütte along ski piste number one. The snow is perfect, but visibility is pretty limited.
If the weather had been better we would have followed Rosanna’s tip and skied over to the neighbouring villages of St. Christoph and Stuben am Arlberg. “My favourite way to get there is on the piste from Schindlergrat to Rauz, a super long trail where you can ski really fast. With fresh snow, you can lay first tracks down onto the wide open trail on your way down. Once in Rauz, don't take the Valfagehrbahn chairlift but ski on to Stuben and then head to the Albona lifts. There’s an awesome backcountry trail! An all-time favourite is Bachseite, a trail that offers heart racing steeps in (almost) all snow conditions.”
“Besides the Valluga mountain, for me the best views are enjoyed from the Schindlergratbahn chairlift and and at the end of the fast run down to the Ulmerhütte. From there you have a fabulous panorama including the peak of the Patteriol, a mountain topping out at over 3,000 metres.”
12:30 // Sennhütte
We say goodbye to Daniel and stop for lunch at the Sennhütte, a typical St. Anton ski lodge where the welcome is always warm, the food is always great and the vibe always chill. “The people in charg here are so friendly. They often come over, sit down and chat for a while. It's one of those places where people stop for a quick bite and end up staying for a few hours. From the delicious food to the sun-soaked slopeside terrace to the dancing-on-tables-in-ski-boots tradition, Sennhütte is all about good times with good people,” says Rosanna.
Designed for those who enjoy an elevated dining experience in the true sense of the word, the Verwallstube restaurant atop the Galzig mountain is Europe’s highest award-winning fine dining restaurant. Over the years it has welcomed the rich and famous, including Caroline of Monaco and the former Spanish royal couple Sophia and Juan Carlos I.
The Verwallstube restaurant on the Galzig mountain.
The restaurant at the local Ski & Heritage Museum, situated close to the village centre, is another place Rosanna recommends. The museum tells the story of St. Anton and the surrounding area, from the creation of the St. Christoph Hospice in the 14th century through many hundreds of years of poverty and hardship to the building of the Arlbergbahn railway line and, finally, the growth of skiing and tourism from the second half of the 20th century to the modern day.
The local ski & heritage museum in St. Anton am Arlberg also houses a café and restaurant.
14:00 // Female freeskiers
St. Anton am Arlberg offers women-only freeride camps.
Arlberg is the the kind of place where you always bump into friends. At the Sennhütte, Rosanna spots local freeskiing legend and ski guide Geli Häusl who runs women-only freeskiing camps. Today she is leading a group of six freeskiers keen to explore St. Anton's legendary off-piste terrain. They have spent the morning practising avalanche safety protocols in the snow near the Sennhütte.
Among the participants is Katharina from Munich. She is enjoying the fresh snow and is planning on staying two more days after the end of the camp to get in a few more powder runs.
Geli teaches the group avalanche safety protocols.
15:00 // Time to explore the village
We decide to call it a day on the slopes and swap our ski boots for winter boots before heading into the centre of St. Anton. “Despite being a major tourist destination, St. Anton has managed to retain its traditional charm,” says Rosanna. “The main street is lined with locally owned shops, hotels, bars and restaurants. In winter you will find throngs of people all with big smiles on their faces after an epic day of skiing or snowboarding. There is an awesome local vibe of true diehard skiers here. For me, St. Anton has the best skiing in the world, especially when it comes to off-piste skiing.”
16:00 // Après-ski
At the bottom of the Galzigbahn cable car you will find Base Camp, a lively après-ski hangout.
As well as being the ‘Birthplace of Alpine Skiing’, St. Anton also claims to be the birthplace of après-ski! Kicking back after a day on the slopes with food and drinks while still wearing ski gear is a time-honoured tradition here for mountain guides, ski instructors, freeskiers, locals and visitors alike. Rosanna’s recommendations? “No trip to St. Anton is complete without a visit to the Krazy Kanguruh and the MooserWirt. Another of my favourites is the Sennhütte! On Saturdays they have live music where you can sing along and even get up on the tables and dance.” All three spots are located right next to ski piste number one leading down into the heart of St. Anton.
After a few final photos, we say goodbye to Rosanna at Base Camp located at the bottom of the Galzigbahn gondola. It's been great fun. We'll be back soon!
At the bottom of the Galzigbahn cable car you will find Base Camp, a lively après-ski hangout.