Reflections on Lech, Zürs, St Christoph, St Anton – and Warth

30th March 2014, by Chris Gill

Hexenboden, on the afternoon-sun side of Zürs, on Friday 28th

Hexenboden, on the afternoon-sun side of Zürs, on Friday 28th

After a week of excellent skiing – two days of continuous snow followed by four days of more or less continuous sun – I’m happy to confirm that the Arlberg remains one of my favourite areas. For piste skiing we found Zürs, newly linked Warth and St Anton’s Rendl the most rewarding in the spring conditions. St Anton’s main slopes were good at times, but suffered from the sun – as did many slopes at Lech.

Warth also has some excessively sunny slopes, but it also has an excellent shady side, where we enjoyed some of the best runs of the week, especially on the easy groomed black runs.

Piste skiing in this area means skiing on prepared but unpatrolled ‘skiroutes’ as well as proper patrolled pistes. As we’ve been saying for years, this arrangement is simply nuts. The nuttiness is compounded by the fact that there is no consistency in the way these runs are marked on the mountain. The markers may be in the middle, or at the edge, or somewhere in between. What are you to do when a white-out materialises?

Staying in St Christoph confirmed what I’ve long thought on the basis of skiing down there for lunch: it’s a place to stay only if you’re content to stay closeted within your lodgings. The through-road over the Arlberg pass is not busy, but it is emphatically a road and not a street. The lack of pavements is not a problem, because there is nowhere you would want to walk to.

As a base for skiing St Christoph works well, with quick access by chair lift to Galzig and thence the Valluga etc. Post-buses to and from St Anton are free unless the driver spots an opportunity to rob you of a euro or two. Post-buses from the village to Lech are not free; more importantly, they are not adequate, and often some people are bumped on to the taxis standing conveniently near the stop. You can of course ski via Galzig to Alpe Rauz near Stuben, where there is a free shuttle bus to Zürs; but on a sunny morning you can’t count on finding space on that, either.

Inghams’ chalet-hotel St Christoph seemed to keep its residents very happy. Like most such places, it has bedrooms a step up from the chalet norm, but the real key to its success (at present anyway) is the really excellent dinners. I and my chums were seriously impressed, and the kitchen team was greeted with wild applause when it made an appearance on the Friday evening. There is an excellent pool, little used during our stay. The furniture in the public areas is frankly shabby, but no one else seemed to mind, or perhaps notice. The wifi is literally useless – I resorted to accessing the innernet via my phone instead.

My beery companions were slightly miffed to find that the Zipfer in the bar was €5.50 a pint, which is appreciably more than in most mountain restaurants in the area. Is this normal in a British-run chalet-hotel, I wonder? This is not entirely a rhetorical question: to let us know your experiences, go here:

Forum thread

And finally: The Arlberg piste map, which in a single view now takes in Warth-Schröcken as well as all the other resorts, is hopeless – confusing in many places and often simply inaccurate in others. For example, two major chair lift stations in Zürs are marked in wildly wrong positions. We’ll have more to say about this in the next edition of our book.

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