It’s not exactly tucked away, but most people’s perceptions is a signpost off the motorway as they zip through the E60 that connects Switzerland to Innsbruck, heading to better-known resorts like St Anton, Solden and Kaunertal.
However, this hidden gem – just 90 minutes from Friedrichshafen Airport is well worth checking out, a backcountry heaven coupled with one of the most accomplished park crews of recent years, something Nike recognised by making the mountain their finals destination for 2012’s Chosen Sessions.
Not only that, but for the last two seasons they’ve played host to the much acclaimed Snakes & Hammmers event, a style-centric combination of boardercross and slopestlye bringing in big names such as Seppe Smits, Tor Lundstrom, Kevin Backstrom and even David Benedek!
Whilst Montafon isn’t the steepest mountain going in the region – almost two thirds of the marked pistes are designated as beginner runs – there are a few gems in amongst the rolling blues, plus these are all jam-packed with enough natural features and side hits to keep you entertained for a week.
The HochjochTotale at 10km from top to bottom is the longest run in the Vorarlberg region – certain to get those legs burning if that tickles your fancy, plus the almost deserted pistes have that Austrian motorway thing going on. Think huge sweeping turns down groomers without fear of being taken out by rogue skiers.
Think huge sweeping turns down groomers without fear of being taken out by rogue skiers.
Montafon is connected to a whole host of other resorts, by pistes, gondolas, buses and… a tunnel? The jewel in the crown of the Vorarlberg region is the Hochjoch ski tunnel which goes through a whole mountain!
At almost 500 metres in length it’s the longest of its mind in the world and is spot lit the whole way through – a surreal shred experience is almost guaranteed.
As mentioned before, in recent years Montafon has been the destination of choice for Nike’s European events for the last two years, a well-deserved choice at that. The shaping crew put together the biggest terrain park in Europe for 2012’s Chosen Session – featuring a huge skate bowl-inspired snake run, a chasm-gapping hip and a huge booter over a swoosh viewable from space it was also one of the best we’ve ever seen.
The regular park usually has around eighteen jumps between them that start with small rollers – to learn basics like popping or even frontflips off – to Goliath kickers that’ll send you to the moon. Not only that but they also have a halfpipe and around 50 jib/rail/wallride features to get creative – if park is your thing there are days of fun to be had here.
The regular parks usually have around eighteen jumps between them that start with small rollers to Goliath kickers that’ll send you to the moon.
To top it all off they also have what they call a ‘Cross Park’ – essentially a boardercross park aimed squarely at progression and fun. With burms and banks to rail out or slash you can go as fast or as loose as you like, just make sure you enjoy it!
Whilst the parks are where the parties are at, there’s plenty for the backcountry silverbacks to be getting on with out here, and with almost no competition for fresh tracks why wouldn’t you?
To start off, head over to the one-of-a-kind Freeride Safety Check zone: an Ortovox sponsored area where you can demo transceivers and make sure you’re search and rescue skills are up to the task. Then venture over to the Hochjoch are, a renowned zone with generally stable snow that once even hosted a leg of the Freeride World Tour, the equivilant of an international backcountry gold star.
There’s the one-of-a-kind Freeride Safety Check zone: an area where you can demo transceivers and make sure you’re search and rescue skills are up to scratch
The Novatal region is also prime for powder shredding, even in poor weather as the runs meet up with the top of the tree line for some low-vis face shots.
Finally, Kreuzjoch is locally know as the freeride ‘play zone’ with it’s short but steep faces, jam packed with cliffs, drops and rocks to channel your inner Gigi Ruf… dropping!
The flipside of the subdued, almost empty pistes and pow stashes are that this vibe carries on into the apres and night life, but for some the lack of a Folie Douce style venue is nothing but a blessing in disguise.
Think more lounging, post shred chilling than expensive burger and table dancing – bars and pubs willing to let you in for a beer and a sit down. Food is generally cheap in these parts, at least compared to the French slope-side mafias – but as usual don’t expect a vast buffet if you’re on a vegetarian diet.
The on hill restaurants have some of the most stunning alpine views going, then down in town expect great stuff from Alt Montafon – the locals’ favourite evening food destination. Get there early on for the famous ribs as they’ll often sell out fast!
Montafon is just 90 minutes drive from Friedrichshafen Airport. British Airways flies to Friedrichshafen twice a week from London Gatwick, with fares starting from just £45 pp each way, based on a return fare.