Altitude: 1,304m – 2,811m
Pisted area: 340km
Closest airport: Friedrichshafen
St Anton has a well-deserved reputation as a ride hard, party harder kind of place. There are plenty of amazing steep faces and powder to hunt out and plenty of après ski bars to quench your thirst.
It’s an attractive, traditional alpine town, which has a well-connected train station making it really easy to get there from most airports. Its expensive reputation is well deserved and you’ll be needing a suitably large wallet to really make the most of it.
St Anton, St Christoph and Stuben combine with Lech and Zürs to create the Arlberg ski area, totalling 280km of pistes with a mouth-watering 180km of off-piste trails. It really is worthwhile making the 30 minute bus trip over to Lech or jump off at Zürs, especially during the week when the slopes can be almost deserted.
The whole Arlberg area boasts a fine 280km of pistes, and a visit over to the quieter Lech and Zürs is essential. In St Anton the variety of pistes is fantastic; from the steep and fast runs down from the Valluga to the gentle runs off the Gampen and Galzig.
In general, beginners are not as well catered for, but the slopes in Nasserein and Runs 4 and 5 from the Galzig are good places to get started. By the end of the day though the top section of Run 1 gets incredibly busy, as well as a bit flat and icy, so it can be a bit of a confidence knocker.
There’s one piste run not to miss when skiing in St Anton: Blue 17. A great long wide run straight down in to Stuben where you can either head straight back up on a luxury heated chair lift or stay for fun in a back country paradise for more advance riders.
There is a lot more effort going into the park up on Rendl these days. It is now maintained by the experienced QParks crew, and head shaper René Friedl manages to cram a lot of features into what is still a relatively small space. Located just below the top station of the main gondola, it’s served by its very own tow-lift. When it’s fully set up, you can expect a pro, medium and easy kicker and rail line, totalling around 20 features. There is a further terrain park in Lech, but it’s not really up to much these days.
The word is out on the great freeriding to be had here, so you’ll need to be up early and charging to be making – rather than following – tracks. Riders who know what they’re doing should worm their way up to Kapall where they’ll find loads of great freeride terrain. You can also head to the mid station of Valluga Grat via the Galzig cable car to reach some major off-piste, with long runs back down to St Anton and St Christoph.
There are routes off the summit of Valluga into Zürs, but these are only do-able with an official guide. Rendl is great fun after a fresh dump, and you can expect to find the locals and ski-bums cramming into Rendlbahn for first tracks. However, they don’t call it rocky Rendl for nothing, so take your knackered old rock hopper board early season.
This area is amazing for full-on freeriding terrain with tight and open trees, and relatively crowd-free slopes. Make sure you head over to Lech for a day at least; the off-piste trails from the top of Rüfikopf are excellent, and they even have a T-bar in the middle of nowhere just for these off-piste runs. From this peak you can also head over to Zürs for some super quiet freeriding. Back in Lech there is more fine stuff off the Kriegerhorn and Zuger Hochlicht peaks.
St Anton is an attractive town, and most of the action is located on or just off the main pedestrianised street. There are plenty of fancy hotels and money floating around, and recently there has been a surge in cool boutique style hotels; however it still manages to retain a good balance without becoming too poncey.
Après ski in St Anton is the thing of legend – as long as you like it Austrian style and starting halfway up the mountain. Descending on Run 1, just before it meets with Run 21, take a look at the Senn Hütte where a nutter called Didi Diesel will be on the mic. Next stop is the Heustadl for some more traditional live music après ski. From here traverse left onto the Red 21 and head to the Krazy Kangaroo or the (slightly more chilled) Taps bar next door. The Mosserwirt – only open for six months a year – sells the most beer in Europe and has some of the cheesiest music ever created! Head there for lunch for the best chicken wigs and ribs in town.
While in St Anton you have to try the Austrian cuisine, if only for the Kiserschamn – a delicious – pancake dessert the perfect reward after a hard days riding. At the bottom of the Galzigbahn, the Anton Bar is a nice respite from the après ski and has snowboard movies playing on the big screens.
On and just off the main street you’ll find a good number of bars, starting with the Piccadilly which has a covers singer every evening until 8pm and then re-opens as a nightclub later. The Kandahar does good food and has a nightclub open until 4am, Bobos is the place for a taco and tequila, and Bar Cuba is popular hangout among seasonnaires. Scottys Bar is an old classic, and tend to run a few drink specials.
If you need a day or two of the mountain then it’s well worth checking out the Arl Rock Centre which consists of a sports bar, climbing and bouldering walls, bowling, squash and indoor tennis. There’s also the Wellness Centre, an indoor/outdoor heated pool with saunas, Austrian steam rooms and massages – always a good place to unwind and never that busy.
St Anton 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.