Winter in the Arlberg returns – in March!
Discovering the sweet powder spots with the OPEN GROUPS in St. Anton, Arlberg:
It’s been very good ski days lately – despite an average unusual warm February with less than average precipitation across the whole alps. We’ve been enjoying the sun and spring snow skiing – but now back to powder! Sandra, one of our clients who regularly joins our open groups is looking back at amazing off piste skiing in the Arlberg:
“It’s just 2 days before the end of February and I’ve joined our Open Level 3 group gathered outside Anton Bar. We have a great International mix – Netherlands,USA, Sweden, Belgium, Poland and UK, 3 girls and 3 guys, most of us in our mid 50s with one 23 year old – and we are all excited in anticipation to see what magic our guide Stefan can work.
These last days we’ve seen a return to the blistering fresh winter air and cold temperatures which keep the snow in good condition. And while the very bottom of the slopes can be a bit of an adventure in bush slalom, we know the higher section still holds secret powder spots that Piste To Powder mountain guides are expert in sniffing out like truffle seekers. They have the advantage that each morning the mountain guides meet for a safety talk and exchange ideas on where the best runs are. An easterly wind blowing overnight can mean wind affected slopes but for those in the know this brings secret sweet powder spots where the snow collects.
I’m leaving it all to my expert guide – and they don’t disappoint. As we ride the Flexenbahn we notice a heard of gamskar, mountain goats in the gulleys below us – a great spot for nature watching.
Today we are heading up Antenna in Zürs to ski into Paziel-valley. This starts with a boot pack hike up – fairly steep to begin with and I keep my eyes focussed on the young polish girls boots which feel like they are almost pulling me up. Stefan stops occasionally to admire the view and show us the area. To keep my balance I keep my eyes down until we start moving again. After 30 minutes we reach the top. The view is spectacular on all sides – we can see as far as Silvretta, the great Patteriol that is our St. Anton trademark, the remarkable Roggal-rock and to the distance we can see Valluga west couloir and powder bowl with a couple of skiers descending.
We put our skis back on at the top, one of our team members is facing the wrong way but perfects an accomplished kick turn around before demonstrating a few more balance positions and we all gaze in admiration at her flexible prowess. We are ready to descend, our guide puts me immediately after him – I turn to explain to the group that I have a slight fear of heights and they all generously encourage me to go on. The entry is just a small slide down but I need to stop safely so I mentally prepare, take a deep breath and follow Stefan in. To my great pride, I accomplish it with a secure safe stop then watch to see everyone else safely down. And now we edge to the start of the run, as we look over I’m grinning like a cheshire cat as a huge powder bowl opens up below us, this short 30 minute hike was so worth it for the reward. And this is in snow poor conditions as stated in some of the newspapers 😉 As the others reach me – I see the broad smiles appearing, collectively we could light up 1000 stars with the buzz we are feeling right now.
We set off with 30m distance between each of us whooping and hollering the whole way down – the snow is light and soft – remarkable as our last snowfall was now over a week ago but the snow condition has held and there is still plenty of space for fresh tracks.
The final run out in this beautiful quiet area is healing for its peace and tranquility and incredible immersion in nature. and finally we ski to one of the characterful hotel in Zürs – our final stop for the morning for a well deserved lunch – delicious Rosti, Kasespatzle, and Schnitzel washed down with a large Johannes beer gespritz (not beer at all but more like Ribena). We enjoy the easy companionship of the group – talking as if we have known each other for years when we only met that morning.
In the afternoon we head back to St. Anton with a few more off piste runs en route. as we hit the final slopes and rejoin the crowds heading for the legendary St. Anton apres, some complaining of the cold, I know that this means winter is once more returning. The forecasts look good with a week of snowfall ahead – and I know that with this predicted snowfall the guides will be able to continue snuffling out these amazing powder runs until the end of March and who knows maybe even in April this season – I’m back next week for the fast open level 3, looking very much forward to more fresh snow to come!”
Ready for your off-piste adventure in St. Anton, Alberg & Lech, Zürs Arlberg – join our OPEN GROUPS or book your PRIVATE MOUNTAIN GUIDE!
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Whether you’re still tentatively making those first powder turns away from the piste, or bashing the couloirs, our Piste to Powder guides will take you further into the backcountry with our Open Groups, Private Guiding and Hut To Hut Touring Trips.