Great new link from Lech to Warth

17th December 2013, by Dave Watts

Opening the new gondola link between ski resorts Lech-Zürs and Warth-Schröcken

Opening the new gondola link between ski resorts Lech-Zürs and Warth-Schröcken

Most keen skiers have heard of Lech and Zürs, the most fashionable resorts in Austria. But few have heard of Warth or Schröcken in the next valley – but the ski area these two resorts share gets more snow than anywhere else in the Alps (an average of 11m a year; up there with some of North America’s best). And now this powder paradise is linked directly to Lech by a new 10-seater gondola with heated seats that you ride both ways to get between the resorts.

The priests from Lech (left) and Warth (right) blessed the new gondola

I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening ceremony on Friday, which was great fun, with an oompah band playing jolly music, local dignitaries thanking each other and even the local parish priests for Lech and Warth blessing the new gondola and praying for no catastrophies (if I understood their German correctly!). That was at the Lech end; then we boarded the gondola for a banquet and clips from old movies of the region at the Warth end.

Is it worth all the fuss? Oh yes, for sure. In my view this is one of the biggest and best developments in the Alps in recent years. It adds more than 50% to the Lech–Zürs ski area and almost triples the size of the Warth-Schröcken area. Most of the Warth-Schröcken pistes are easy cruising and ideal for Lech’s clientele – even the few black runs around are on the gentle side.

The slopes were delightfully quiet in Zürs

I skied most of the slopes that were open in the two days I was there and loved it. The snow was better than it had been in St Anton the previous two days and slopes were delightfully quiet. The only slightly worrying thing was that on the Saturday while we were catching the gondola from Lech to Warth, the gondolas coming the other way were packed with locals who had driven to Warth-Schröcken to try the new link and ski in Lech for the day. Maybe it was the novelty value – but if it continues Lech could find its slopes busy at weekends unless it finds a way of policing its maximum 14,000 day passes policy imposed to keep the slopes quiet.

Having fun in the disco cable car

Saturday night was Lech’s yearly Cineastic Gondolas night. One of the Rufikopf cable cars is turned into a cinema for the evening and you watch an imaginative short movie on the way up and down. The other turns into a disco cabin with a live DJ.  At the top the restaurant is also turned into a cinema and there are projections and music outside too. Great fun.

To cap it all off, as I walked home in the early hours of Sunday morning, it was snowing (against all the forecasts of clear skies till Christmas) and a few inches of fresh powder lay on the ground. Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy it on the mountain on Sunday as I was heading back to the UK.

The view from Dave’s balcony on Sunday morning

Lots of tour operators feature Lech including Crystal, Inghams, Ski Total and Skiworld. But few feature Warth or Schröcken – the only one I could find with web information about them was new operator snow-wise (which also features Lech and Zürs).

I stayed at the 4* Hotel Kristberg, which is a few minutes walk up from the centre of Lech, has great views of the ski area, a lovely wellness centre and is splendidly run by former Olympic and World Championships gold medallist Egon Zimmermann and his nephew Michael, who make it their jobs to talk to every guest personally whenever they see them.

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