It had been a patchy season in the Arlberg, but a serious dump the week before we arrived on 19th February fixed most base issues. A week of sunshine had created some firm and fast conditions on piste, and left most off piste terrain highly avoidable until early afternoon. We still found some decent north facing snow and lines, especially in Warth and Schroeken where the conditions were holding up really well. And then, on Monday night, it started to snow ….
What followed was a classic succession of Arlberg storms and powder days. Tuesday it dumped all day, with poor viz making things tricky and scaring most people off by early afternoon. When the clouds partially lifted around 2pm, those of us left out there had infinite fresh lines of boot deep pow to explore. It was a pretty good storm cycle start.
It kept snowing through most of Wednesday but with much better visibility, and then a break in the weather delivered the first of those sublime Arlberg, cold, bluebird powder days. We lapped the Albona at Stuben top to bottom with hardly anyone else – it was incredible skiing, with fresh tracks everywhere. North facing lines on Galzig were lightly tracked and steep and bumpy, and the widest couloir on the Schindler Spitze had soft partially tracked bumps all the way down after the inevitable ‘step in’ over a few pesky rocky bits. I love that run.
More dumpage and iffy viz on Friday set up probably the best day of the trip on Saturday. Boot to knee-deep super light fluff was as easy to find as oompah music at Austrian apres bars. We slowly did the White Ring, taking deep powdery laps on every lift. There were frequent visits to the White Room under a deep blue Alpine sky. What a day.
Sunday was a mixed bag and even slightly damp low down. But Monday it deluged all day, with strong winds keeping the high lifts closed. And then once again it cleared for our last day. The wind had battered and scoured the north facing Lech slopes. Compensation was it had loaded ski routes like Sudhang and the fabulous run down to Zug from the Kriegerhorn. Hitting them early before the sun did any damage provided some of the best and deepest runs of the trip. We finished with another leisurely White Ring, picking off fluffy remnants all around the mountain.
It was with great emotional pain that I removed the skis at 3pm in Lech village and trudged back to the hotel. The compelling mix of terrain quality, expanse, snow quantity and lack of pow competition is really hard to beat.
Trip Totals – 12 days, 108,800m vert, 6 powder days
(Lech 9600m, St Anton/Zuers 9000m, Warth/Lech 8300m, Lech/Zuers 8700m, Lech/Zuers 12,300, Lech 7400m, Stuben/Zuers 8600m, Lech Zuers 7700m, Lech Zuers 9600m, St Anton/Zuers/Lech 10,400, Lech 8100m, Lech/Zuers 9100m vert)
Season totals: 38 days, 302,000m vert, 12 powder days