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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Regarded as the cradle of modern Alpine skiing, Sankt Anton is established as one of Austria’s big-name ski resorts. And for a good reason: it combines proper skiing with a bustling apres-ski. Sitting in a narrow valley at the foot of the Arlberg pass Sankt Anton is a long, sprawling place, with some traditional character.  Bustling with activity throughout the day and late into the night. The vast Ski Arlberg ski area is serviced by several modern cable cars, all of them within walking distance. The cable cars will bring you into the heart of the vast Sankt Anton ski area.

Lot’s of variety in slopes

Sankt Anton’s slopes fall into three main sectors, two of them linked: the south facing Galzig / Valluga area pistes accessed mainly by the modern Galzig bahn, and the Kapall area accessed by the Gampen chairlift or the Nasserein bahn. Rendl is a separate mountain, reached by a gondola from the centre of town.

Sankt Anton has 2 lift linked ski sectors: St Christoph and Stuben, and the up-market skiresorts Lech – Zürs and Schrocken Warth.

Sankt Anton is especially attractive for advanced skiers, although there are very few black runs on-piste. Most of the expert terrain is off-piste. With most of the resort above the tree line, there’s a nice range of off-piste areas to be consumed by experts at Sankt Anton. The runs in the huge bowls below the Valluga are justifiably world-famous. Lower down, there are some moderate challenging runs in many directions from both Galzig and Kapall-Gampen. In general, under good snow conditions the off-piste skiing is quite good, but unfortunately due to the south-facing aspect, these quickly become sun affected. For some serious off-piste skiing and better snow quality head over to neighboring Zürs.

For intermediates there is great skiing in any conditions due to good grooming and snowmaking facilities, and there’s a huge range of runs to choose from. You could easily master them in a week. Intermediates will find plenty of friendly runs across Gampen, Rendl and Sankt Christoph. The run from Schindler Spitze to Rauz is long, varied and ideal for good intermediates. Alternatively, turn off from this part-way down and take the Steissbachtal to the lifts back to Galzig or Gampen. The Kapall-Gampen section is also interesting, with sporty bumps among trees on the lower half. Good intermediates may enjoy the men’s downhill run from the top of this sector to the town.

There are few easy cruising pistes; most blue runs here would be red in most other European skiresorts. The beginners runs are relatively challenging, and as Sankt Anton has a tendency to be crowded, these green runs can quickly become mogulled making them even more difficult. Beginners will most likely head up Galzig chairlift towards St Christoph where the gentler blue slopes are more prominent and make up roughly a quarter of all the slopes in the resort. The gentlest cruisers are the short blues on Galzig and the Steissbachtal, but they get extremely crowded. The blue from Kapall to Gampen is wide and easy to cruise. The best bet for beginners is to start at Nasserein, where the nursery slope is less steep than the one close to the main lifts. There are further slopes up at Gampen and a short, gentle blue run at Rendl, served by an easy draglift. But there are no other easy, uncrowded runs for beginners to progress to.

The Sankt Anton has one a good snow depth track record. Unfortunately, this can’t be said of the town itself; it is shielded by from most serious weather systems. If the weather is coming from the west or north-west (as it often is), the Ski Arlberg region gets a full load, and as a result the Sankt Anton ski area receives over 7m of snow – neighbouring Lech and Zürs and Schrocken Warth get even a staggering 10m! These resorts often have much better conditions than other resorts of a similar height, and we see great fresh powder here as late as mid-April. But many slopes face south or south-east, causing icy or heavy conditions at times.

Legendary après ski

The apres ski in St Anton is legendary and centres around several piste side mountain restaurants until the early evening. All the après ski takes place above the Galzig, starting with the Heustadl which you will encounter as you head down Blue 1. This bar is more family friendly and tame compared to a lot of the other bars. The Krazy Kanguruh is one of the oldest après ski bars on the mountain and used to be the wildest. However in more recent times the Mooserwirt, on the other side of the piste, has become more popular. This plays traditional German folk music mainly and is pumping by mid afternoon. Be warned it will be absolutely rammed. The ski back to town (they both close at 8pm) is a snow cannon slalom, short but often performed imperfectly.

For more information on Sankt Anton am Arlberg please visit the website of the tourist office:

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