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Tuesday January 15, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

The resort was cut off this week. PlanetSKI battled through to get in on the first bus in. Our efforts were rewarded, but when is it safe to ski off piste?



We detailed our ‘interesting' journey into the resort lower down this updated blog.

The resort was cut off from Sunday through to Tuesday evening this week.

Huge quantities of snow + avalanches meant the road and rail links were unsafe.

So, what was it like once we got in?

First, THE SNOW.

The evidence of the snow is everywhere.

From the partially dug out staircase by the main lift.

St Anton, Tirol, AustriaSt Anton, Tirol, Austria














To the bars in town.

St Anton, Tirol, AustriaSt Anton, Tirol, Austria















And the buildings up on the slope that have not yet been cleared.

St Anton, Tirol, AustriaSt Anton, Tirol, Austria

















Even the communication masts had to have the snow removed.

St Anton, Tirol, AustriaSt Anton, Tirol, Austria
















I decided to visiting its neighbouring resorts as well.

In my humble opinion The Arlberg with its resorts of St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Zurs, Lech and Warth-Schrocken is the best linked area in the world.


First, St Christoph.

I have skied here many times and never seen such snow.

It looks more like a meringue.

St Christophe, The Arlberg, AustriaSt Christoph, The Arlberg, Austria
















And on the first day this month that it hasn't snowed, or been forecast to snow,  a huge clearing up operation swung into full gear.

St Christophe, The Arlberg, AustriaSt Christoph, The Arlberg, Austria
















This lift had to be completely dug out.

St Christophe, The Arlberg, AustriaSt Christoph, The Arlberg, Austria
















And here is the liftie's hut:

St Christophe, The Arlberg, AustriaSt Christoph, The Arlberg, Austria
















The road out of St Christoph was closed for several days earlier this week.

The snow ploughs have now done their work.

Cutting through the snow to the tarmac.

The road from St Christophe to Stuben, The ArlbergThe road from St Christoph to Stuben, The Arlberg
















And in the next resort of Stuben the trees were like those after a storm in North America.

The cold had tunred the trees into ‘snow ghosts'.

Stuben, The ArlbergStuben, The Arlberg














And in among the avalanche breakers:

Stuben, The ArlbergStuben, The Arlberg















Next up was Zurs where some immaculate grooming had gone on to open up the slopes.

Zurs, The ArlbergZurs, The Arlberg
















Sadly I couldn't make it over to Lech and the fabulous further resort of Warth-Schrocken.

Both have the same amount of snow, perhaps more.


And as I headed back to St Anton on the Flexenbahn I looked down and considered a question I have been asked a few times this month.

‘Is it safe to ski off piste?"

I have been interviewd by everyone from The Times and The Independent in the UK through to Slovenia's largest circulation daily newspaper.

It's The Delo by the way.

And just in case you speak Slovenian then see here.

Many have been following our snow stories on PlanetSKI and realise I keep by eye on these things and have some degree of knowledge.

I have a standard answer:

"It is safe to ski off piste but you must only go slightly the other side of the marker posts on blue and red runs, never ski on a closed run and obey all the rules and instructions from the piste patrol."

It is though more complex than this.

Far more complex.

Are some of the people skiing and snowboarding in St Anton today in the wrong?

They have had a great day, survived safely and never really put themselves at risk.

Hundreds and hundreds have not followed my advice.

More often than not I don't follow my advice.

And as I write this I realise it is, as I said, a far more complex affair.

I am travelling across the Alps to Val Gardena in Italy in the next day or so to ski in The Dolomites.

A long journey including coach, train and mini-bus.

I feel an off piste safety blog coming on to pass the time... and consider an interesting subject.

I leave you with an image to study and form a view on:

img_4813_500On and off piste in St Anton
















And as a parting shot another video view from my favourite linked ski area in the entire world:



The resort in the Tirol is said to be one of the best places to be in the entire Alps after all the fresh snow.

Metres and metres of the stuff.

It was a no-brainer to head to St Anton.

Talk of unprecedented levels of snow.

Epic, sick, unreal, wicked were adjectives being bandied about.

It has had 4m of snow since January 1st and the latest storm was one of the biggest.

Wave a magic wand and where is the place to be?

Only trouble is when I arrived in Austria on Monday into Innsbruck the resort was shut to the outside world.

Heavy snow and the very real danger of avalanche had closed its road and rail links.

I had to wait in Innsbruck for 2 days, but it was not a bad place to be stranded as I reported here.

And as the clouds finally lifted on Tuesday over the capital of the Tirol, if not the Alps, I could think of no finer place to be.

Innsbruck, AustriaInnsbruck, Austria <













Except perhaps St Anton.

At 5pm on Tuesday I was told by officials that the trains would not be running.

The road would also be closed until Wednesday.

An hour later a very good friend from the St Anton tourist office called.

"Pack you bags and get to the station James as the trains are going to be running shortly. It hasn't been announced yet but it will happen," she told me.

I did not even question Wilma Himmelfreundpointner.

Not only does she have the best surname of anyone I know, she knows absolutely everything that happens, or is about to happen, in St Anton.

"If I am wrong I will come and pick you up in my car," was her parting comment.

To say I was excited as the train arrived at Innsbruck station with my ski life on my back was an understatement.

Ready to goReady to go














And I wasn't the only one who had heard.

Heading to the slopesHeading to the slopes














We needed to change from train to bus at Landeck as avalanches threatened the rail line, but no matter.

Minor detail - I was heading to the powder snow of St Anton.

We all squeezed on.

On the busesOn the buses














As I arrived in St Anton it was not hard to see why the snow had closed the resort.

There were walls of snow by the side of the road.

Walls of snowWalls of snow














Submerged by snowSubmerged by snow














I would obviously have liked to have arrived earlier, but I hadn't missed that much skiing.

Just a handful of runs were open on Tuesday morning.

Though more did open as the day progressed.

And today, Wednesday, is a blue sky powder day.

I somehow feel I am in the right place at the right time.

Do check back later today for the updates.

I feel it is going to be something special.

Very special.


Good morning St Anton...

St Anton, TirolSt Anton, Tirol
















St Anton, TirolSt Anton, Tirol














St Anton, TirolSt Anton, Tirol
















For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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