Skiing Off Piste St Anton am Arlberg
Off Piste St Anton
There are plenty of opportunities to ski unpisted snow throughout the St Anton ski resort, especially either side of the high altitude ski routes Schindlerkar and Mattun.
Here you’ll see successive lines cut by skiers traversing high and wide in search of good lines back down to the main ski route. But with so many off piste powder hounds around you need to be quick off the mark to find fresh tracks in these high traffic areas.
In St Anton and throughout the Arlberg there is plenty of scope to practice your off piste technique between the pistes without engaging in the big adventures further afield, but even between the pistes you are entering avalanche terrain so knowledge of avalanche risk and mountain safety is essential and be mindful of the fact that the majority of skier related avalanche fatalities happen a short distance from the pisted runs.
Galzig – Off Piste St Anton
The Galzig ski area is reached by cable car from St. Anton and offers excellent off piste ski terrain, but you’ll need to be quick here, as Galzig attracts heavy skier traffic on a powder day, especially when the higher slopes of the Valluga and Schindler are closed due to wind or avalanche risk.
Straight off the cable car, you’re faced with numerous options. First off the bat is Zwischen which is sandwiched between Ostang (Blue 5) and Kandahar (Black 2). Here you’ll find powder slopes and challenging lines between the trees which will bring you out close to Feldherrnhugel lift. Backseite is the Galzig classic, it’s north facing, steep and perfect for developing off piste technique on steeper terrain.
Zammermoos affords easier access to the steepest terrain and on a powder day you can make excellent laps using either the Feldherrnhugel or Zammermoose lifts and heading right at the top.
Rendl – Off Piste St Anton
The Rendl ski area on the opposite side of the valley is accessed from the Rendlbahn gondola station just a 2-minute bus ride from St Anton. The off-piste skiing at Rendl is a personal favourite and often used for guiding due to its variable terrain and predictable snow. There is good off piste skiing between the pistes left and right of the Maass Bahn, where you’ll find gentle slopes meandering through the trees; always a favourite area during stormy days as the trees help with the visibility.
Moving higher up the mountain, take the Gampberg six-man chair lift and ski right, skiing the line under the chair lift, it’s long and perfect for getting into that powder rhythm, you can either traverse out left back to the piste or continue further for more fall line turns to reach the Tobel T-bar which will take you back to the restaurant area.
Off the Back of the Valluga – off piste St Anton
St. Anton’s ‘off the back’ is legend and can be crowded on a powder day, but these ‘must do’ descents are worth skiing even many days after a fresh snow fall, especially the mighty Valluga descent to Zürs.
The gut-wrenching Valluga summit descent into the Paziel-Tal to Zurs is world famous for being one of the “must ski” off-piste descents accessible from a lift station and justifiably so. This awesome off- piste descent is certainly not for the faint hearted! A small gondola carries sightseers and skiers to the observation platform at the Valluga summit, but for safety sake only those accompanied by a qualified guide are allowed to take their skis or board to the summit.
From the exposed summit the slopes on all sides disappear into the abyss and the first timer is not quite sure where they should begin to ski as they are faced with a convex slope and what appears to be a labyrinth of cliffs and rocks. It may help to consider that an experienced mountain guide is unlikely to allow you to attempt the descent unless already satisfied as to your skiing ability and the fact of the matter is that nervously straining your eyes will not make this gut-wrenching descent any easier so best to relax, enjoy the scenery and pretend you are not a little bit afraid.
Following the guides careful instructions the descent begins with an option of two variations from the summit.
The classic Valluga North Face (variante 1) begins with tight turns in the fall line on the far left of the face, where a tenuous traverse leads right; here great attention is needed as a fall could end in a rocket slide leading to cliff which one would not wish to visit twice. A traverse right, then a traverse left leads to elation among the group as the first obstacle is over and the terrain now looks almost enjoyable. Now only wonderful turns lie ahead but care is again exercised to avoid the 40 meter cliff at its base. During this adrenaline surging skiing try to stay relaxed, look up form the tips of your skis and enjoy your skiing while marvelling at the view ahead.
Once you’ve gained the col splitting the two dominant summits of Valluga and Rogspitze, you cast your eyes back to what you’ve skied and either thank your luck you survived or ask your guide when you can ski it again! The scenery here is dramatic with two towering summits overhead creating an intimidating yet a marvellous atmosphere. Skiing away from the col you’re now faced with seemingly endless powder slopes down to Zürs.
The second option from the summit, Valluga Bridge Couloir (variante 2), is equally exciting and, to add to the adventure, your elementary mountaineering skills and head for heights will be put to the test as you make your way down the roped steps to gain the old wooden Bridge that spans the famous “Bridge Couloir”. After a step down under the wooden planks of the bridge, a tight 40 degree couloir requires expert technique in jump turns. After 15 turns the couloir disappears around a left banking corner before finally opening up into the wide west slope of the Valluga, where sweeping turns lead you to a meeting point safely at the base of the west face. A short traverse north west leads you around a hidden corner to open up a treasure of powder and adventure running all the way to the Zürs ski area.