Spring weather in the Arlberg

12th December 2013, by Dave Watts

The Rodel-Alm restaurant at lunchtime – the pistes were just as quiet

The Rodel-Alm restaurant at lunchtime – the pistes were just as quiet

Fortunately I had a 1.45pm flight to Zurich out of London City on Tuesday for my first trip of the season, and so avoided the mass flight cancelations caused by the morning fog. After a super-smooth flight and express train transfer I arrived in St Anton with snow in the streets but a forecast of sunshine till at least Christmas.

Sure enough, Wednesday dawned sunny and I set off with goggles as well as sunnies in case it was bitterly cold. No chance – the temperature soon soared to +6ºC at mid-mountain giving spring-like rather than typical mid-December conditions. The off-piste was basically unskiable due to the shallow coverage of old snow and the last snowfall being accompanied by high winds that blew the fresh stuff away. The top lifts were closed because of insufficient snow too. But below them, the pistes were in good condition – a bit hard in places but with plenty of loose stuff too. I took it easy and explored all that was open in St Anton’s main ski area. And it was delightfully quiet, with none of the usual crowds to worry about – early season skiing does have its advantages.

On Thursday I skied straight to St Christoph to meet Stephan who runs the Maiensee hotel in an unbeatable position right by the chairlift out. He has been advertising his hotel in our book for the last few years and I was curious to see it. It far exceeded my expectations – wonderfully designed with huge attention to detail. There were great artworks of old and modern skiers side by side and a wonderful wall-long image of the panorama from the Valluga, all set among nicely woody rooms and a great sun room. The bedrooms were fabulous too – with the loo separate from the bathroom in nearly all cases (a great advantage in my view) and excellent views (including of the chairlift going overhead). I stayed at the Post right in the centre of St Anton – also excellent and with great staff and being 120 years old more traditional in style.

I then headed for shady Stuben with its slow, old double chairlifts. The trails there were deserted apart from a few local freeriders desperately seeking some thrills. It was lovely piste skiing and although north-facing and in the shade not at all cold. After my first (excellent) Tiroler Gröstl of the season at the atmospheric and woody old Rodel-Alm the afternoon was spent cruising in the sun – very pleasant except that the crowds on the home run had increased significantly since Wednesday. The resort was obviously filling up, partly because the famous Mooserwirt après-ski bar is holding a big event this weekend that a massive TV crew was setting up to film.

So as the crowds arrived, I took a short 30-minute transfer to Lech, The official opening of the new Auenfeldjet gondola link to next door Warth and Schröcken is on Friday and I’m going to be one of the first to check it out. More news soon.

Back to all blogs

Recent blogs

Share |