Skiers and boarders have woken up to the fact that Lech-Zürs am Arlberg is the snowiest A-list resort in the Alps. Zürs gets close to ten metres on average every winter season -double the average of Val d’Isere-, and Lech manages a still-impressive seven metres. Is Lech-Zürs the Eldorado of deep powder? The Arlberg Ski Area is famous around the world as a destination for serious skiers, and Lech is a key part of it. Lech-Zürs is an excellent place for beginners and intermediates with perfectly maintained slopes to flatter the egos of the discerning guests who ski here. In terms of pisted terrain, it is not particularly a top-destination for experts. However, the opposite is true for opportunities in un-tracked free-nature skiing!

From scenic routes to tempting off-piste itineraries

Beginners are well catered for with wide, perfectly groomed pistes and world-class ski-tuition. The Flühen lift, situated near the church in Lech, leads up to the gentle slopes where the ski schools operate. More confident skiers can explore the easy blues at Oberlech. Both sectors provide scenic routes in-between patches of lovely forest which also makes it a good shelter on days with poor visibility.

Eldorado of deep powder
View from Trittkopf on the Flex Pass

Although Lech and Zürs cover all the levels, prepared runs favor the intermediates on up. Lech and Zürs has the best of the Arlberg’s intermediate level skiing, with well over 50 percent of the slopes suited to all types of progressive skier. The Madloch side of the valley has six long intermediate runs. Countless opportunities open up via the central Schlegelkopf or Schlosskopf lifts. From the other side of Lech centre you can access the slopes of Zürs via the Rufikopf lift. The more challenging runs are to be found at the Zürs end of the area, on the Kriegerhorn and Zuger Hochlicht. There are varied rapid reds on the White Ring circuit from Madlochjoch down to Zug. Other favourites include runs from the top-station of the Steinmahderbahn in Lech.

While there may be few really challenging black-rated patrolled runs -as opposed to neighbouring Sankt Anton-, there is a wide selection in very tempting off-piste itineraries that are among the best in all Europe. Advanced skiers and snowboarders are in paradise at Lech and Zürs. They can access well over 180 kilometres of challenging off piste terrain. The best thing: you won’t encounter the crowds like for instance in Sankt Anton, Alpe d’Huez or Chamonix.

View on Lech

Prime destination for free-nature skiing

Don’t be fooled into thinking Sankt Anton is your main option in the Arlberg region for free-nature skiing. Lech-Zürs is where you’ll find some of the best off-piste skiing in the Alps. In particular the mountains at Zürs are mainly devoid of trees which has the advantage of being able to access more terrain.

Superb off-piste skiing in Lech Zurs
Muggengrat sector

Many of the best runs in Lech start from the top of the fast Steinmähder chair, which finishes just below Zuger Hochlicht (2377m). Some routes involve a short climb to access bowls of untracked powder.

From the nearby Kriegerhorn there are shorter off-piste runs down towards Lech and a very scenic long ski route down to Zug. Most runs, however, are south- or west-facing and can suffer from sun.

Rüfikopf, on the opposite side of Lech, is famous for it’s steep slopes. Take the large cable car to the Rüfikopf and then a 30 minutes hike to the Rüfispitze.

In Zürs you will find the the Steirloch, Madloch steep slope, the Stierfall or the Trittkopf. The Steirloch is lovely option from the top of the Madloch-Joch chair, which starts with a narrow couloir and eventually descends into the charming Zug village. Another example is the Flexenmulde from the top of the Trittkopf bahn at 2423m, with a traverse towards the Rauz slopes. There are lots of steep couloirs in this area, and descents down into Stuben from where you can connect to the Sankt Anton sector.

The Zurs Gams route off the top of the Muggengrat chairlift provides lots of challenging routes. The entry is narrow and steep, but beyond there are plenty of downhill options. The route ends up near the tunnel between Lech and Zürs and you have to get a bus back to a chairlift.

Lech Zurs

At the end of the season, when the snow is deep and settled, the off-piste off the shoulder of the Wöstertäli from the top of the Rüfikopf cable car down to Lech can be superb, as can Zuger Hochlicht.

The tourist board of Lech-Zurs and the ski schools actively promote responsible free-nature skiing. If you like to do some serious off-piste skiing please inform yourself of the current snowcondition and weather. Moreover, always use a helmet and rescue backpack which includes an airbag and an avalanche beeper. The ski schools can assist you with the hiring of a guide.

Powder guaranteed!

Lech-Zürs is the snowiest major ski area in the Alps with the sort of annual average snowfall to rival the North Americas top-rated skiresorts. It appears to have it’s own special micro-climate that sees it receiving nearly double what nearby Sankt Anton gets. Powder is pretty much guaranteed from the end of November until the end of April, even at lower altitude. The ski area has a long season by Austrian standards. ranks Lech-Zürs 10/10 based on snow reliability and skiing conditions (historical snow data).

Woods around Lech

For more information on Lech-Zürs please visit the tourist board or visit one of the top-class ski schools

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Austria’s little known gem, Obertauern, is hardly an hour’s drive from Salzburg Airport. It has an infectiously friendly laid-back atmosphere and with generally quieter slopes than the big name resorts it’s no surprise that this destination is gaining in popularity fast. Situated in the Salzburgerland region of the Austrian Alps and nestled within the scenic peaks of the Tauern mountain range, Obertauern was originally just a mountain pass before it became a ski resort. At 1750m it is one of Austria’s highest ski resorts and one of the most snow-sure. The snow conditions are second to none. It has one of the longest winter seasons in the Alps, usually from November till May. Obertauern is referred to as “Austria’s Snow Bowl” and having “Champagne Powder” due to the quality of the snow which has been scientifically proven to be some of the best and most reliable in Austria. Based on the 10-yr average snow depth rates Obertauern as one of the most snow sure ski resorts in the Alps. 

Obertauern is both Austria’s only attempt at a purpose-built destination and also one of its oldest. The village is a rarity in Austria. Don’t let that put you off, it has a charm of its own and bears no resemblance to the concrete purpose built monstrosities in the French Alps. The attractive, typically Austrian, chalet-style architecture is pleasing on the eye and gives the impression of a traditional Austrian mountain village. Of course the real advantage of a purpose-buil’ village is that it brings real ski convenience. The majority of accommodations offer doorstep skiing so there is no need to catch a bus here.


Skiing here has been well designed; the ski pass allows access to a modern interconnecting lift system where you can ski 100km of pistes in a natural circuit without the need of ski buses! This clever system allows you to always return to your original starting point, whichever direction you start off in. Obertauern’s ski area is modest by ‘super resort’ standards and the vertical drop is not enormous, but the figures are deceptive and there is endless fun to be had exploring the various circuits you can make of the area in both directions.

Obertauern’s terrain is best suited to the all-round intermediate with the majority of the slopes being wide open blues and reds. Intermediates are spoilt with two thirds of the terrain graded at that level. You can clock up decent mileage on flattering, cruisy runs without encountering too many nasty surprises which makes Obertauern an ideal family destination.

Although not famous for its expert level skiing, nonetheless 20% of terrain is graded black and Obertauern’s powder bowl skiing is very highly regarded. The five black pistes include testing mogul fields. The off-piste promises some decent challenges for experts.  Guides will take you on the many off-piste routes, including the ski excursion down to the nearby town of Untertauern

There are some wonderful wide nursery slopes near the village and in the centre of town with virtually guaranteed snow throughout the season. Strangely, for a snow-sure resort, most of the pistes are south-facing.

Ski Obertauern

The lift system is modern, fast and made up almost entirely of gondolas and high-speed chairs. Despite the resort being busy due to the excellent snow conditions, you will barely encounter a queue all week. The slopes are generally quiet especially outside peak weeks, perfect for beginners and families not wanting to waste valuable ski time in long lift queues. Obertauern also has some of the best piste maintenance. The mountain was alive late into the evening with an army of piste-bashers ensuring the slopes were in perfect condition for the following morning.

The town has retained a slight village atmosphere with some fun and funky places to apres ski. There are plenty of bars and taverns and restaurants on the slopes to stop in for a break. There is fabulous apres-ski at “the Lurzer” and up the mountain at “the Hochalm”. The Edelweiss bar on the slopes is a real treat at the end of your day – and a 400 meter run down an easy slope into the village after.

Ski map Obertauern

The resort is part of the Top Tauern Ski Check pass scheme which includes more than 30 ski resorts in the Tauern area, some of them lift-linked to one another, although not to Obertauern. Some of the better known resorts in the ski arena – which opens up over 700km of slopes and nearly 300 lifts – are Altenmarkt, Schladming and the Dachstein glacier lifts.

Getting there

By air: Salzburg’s W.A.Mozart Airport is closest and offers shortest transfer times to Obertauern (1 hour 40 minutes).

By train: buses leave every hour from the Radstadt station. The journey takes just 20 minutes by car.

Link suggestions

For more information on Obertauern please visit the official website of Obertauern

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