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Austria: St Anton or Ischgl

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Evening all,

After some much valued SnowHead advice!

Group of 4 of us planning a trip to Austria end of Jan 2019 (always done France before).

Considered several resorts (including Solden and Saalbach-Hinterglemm) but we were really keen to try St Anton. However the more I've done a bit of reading, the more I see Ischgl get thrown into the mix.

Group consists of:
2 intermediates. This will be our 4th trip. We are happy skiing reds and have done the occasional black (including one last year by accident in La Plagne). We have had 3 weeks worth of lessons on our trips previously and this time may just get a couple of private lessons to keep us on track. We like to clock up the miles. I am naturally more confident than my OH who is a better technical skier but is a tad more cautious. We like a challenge but also don't mind to break them up with a bit of cruise. We have only ever done on piste but have skied in powder the last two trips. We want to improve our skiing and become more confident.
2 experienced skiers. One who is very confident and happy to tackle almost anything. The other can do the tougher stuff but again is a bit more cautious. Both are on piste skiers but again happy to ski in powder.
(can you guess who the blokes are out of the couples Very Happy )

As for apres, well we like a drink and to enjoy a few bars as much as we like a bottle of wine over dinner. So we will mix it up. We won't be partying until the early hours as none of us can ski hung over very well! So this isn't too important for us, more an added bonus. Are there places in both resorts where you can choose to have a quieter evening if preferred?

I've read that St Anton is amazing for off-piste (which wouldn't be any good for us really) and that the pistes don't tend to be "groomed" regularly. Ischgl tends to be better if you want corduroy pistes if I'm not mistaken? SA now has the link over to Lech but from what I've read that seems to be almost more trouble than it's worth as it bottlenecks up?

I assume both at that time will be good for snow and we shouldn't need to worry about altitude too much?

So based on the above, should I be looking at one more than the other? I want everyone in the group to get as much out of the resort as possible really!

Cheers

Fridge
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Its not really St Anton anymore but the Arlberg, which is the largest ski area in Austria. This is made up from St Anton, Zürs. Lech and Warth. The area is so large (and planned to get larger) that skiing from one end to the other and back in a day means an early start for most people. Personally I think it is the best place to ski in Austria but clearly this is a subjective view.

For anyone who is competent on red runs upwards there is a great variety of skiing and the apres skiing can be equally epic if that is what you want. Many of the best "pistes" are no longer pistes but designated ski routes, this is a cause of a fair amount of confusion. The theory is that the ski routes have minimal preparation and are only secured along the middle of the run. In reality the red ski routes are little different to pistes (they are prepared every day) and are some of the best runs eg Madloch and Schindlerkar, some of the black ones are seriously steep and difficult eg Langer Zug though some are just long with plenty of moguls eg Mattun. There is a huge amount of off piste though that is probably of less interest to you. I dont think the official black pistes are that difficult more an interesting challenge which should be perfectly skiable by competent skiers in decent conditions. From a skiing perspective the biggest potential downside is how popular the place is, however the end of January is not peak season so that should not be a big issue. There can be complaints about how cut up certain pistes get but that is really related to how busy the place is. The subject of queues on the link between St Anton and Zürs has been endlessly debated here, basically if the resort is very busy there can be big queues if the resort is not overflowing the lift system copes perfectly OK.

Ischgl is also a great place to ski. I have not been for a few years simply because I have decided I prefer the Arlberg (they are about the same distance travel for me). It is a bit more compact and somewhat smaller, if you are used to the resorts in the Tarentaise then this might be a concern if you like clocking up kilometres on different pistes. There are a wide variety of pistes for all standards though there is less off piste than St Anton but more than in most resorts. Apres ski can be equally epic as in St Anton though in both places easy to find quieter places too. My main bug bear about the Ischgl skiing is the red runs back to the valley, these get narrow, possibly icy and moguled near the bottom. There are often too many folk skiing too fast without considering others mixed up with those who would have been better off taking the gondola back from the mid station, often not a relaxing way to finish the day.

In both places most of the skiing is above the tree line, good for snow conditions but not so good in bad weather.

I guess you would have a good time in either place, I would choose St Anton but I am sure there will be someone else who will recommend Ischgl
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Done both in recent years and from your description there isn't much to choose. Yes St. Anton is known for off-piste but there is plenty of piste skiing. You will get posts describing the "sausage fest" of Ischgl but that can be avoided quite easily.

Of the two? I would also choose St. Anton but it's a really close call.
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munich_irish wrote:
Its not really St Anton anymore but the Arlberg, which is the largest ski area in Austria. This is made up from St Anton, Zürs. Lech and Warth. The area is so large (and planned to get larger) that skiing from one end to the other and back in a day means an early start for most people. Personally I think it is the best place to ski in Austria but clearly this is a subjective view.

For anyone who is competent on red runs upwards there is a great variety of skiing and the apres skiing can be equally epic if that is what you want. Many of the best "pistes" are no longer pistes but designated ski routes, this is a cause of a fair amount of confusion. The theory is that the ski routes have minimal preparation and are only secured along the middle of the run. In reality the red ski routes are little different to pistes (they are prepared every day) and are some of the best runs eg Madloch and Schindlerkar, some of the black ones are seriously steep and difficult eg Langer Zug though some are just long with plenty of moguls eg Mattun. There is a huge amount of off piste though that is probably of less interest to you. I dont think the official black pistes are that difficult more an interesting challenge which should be perfectly skiable by competent skiers in decent conditions. From a skiing perspective the biggest potential downside is how popular the place is, however the end of January is not peak season so that should not be a big issue. There can be complaints about how cut up certain pistes get but that is really related to how busy the place is. The subject of queues on the link between St Anton and Zürs has been endlessly debated here, basically if the resort is very busy there can be big queues if the resort is not overflowing the lift system copes perfectly OK.

Ischgl is also a great place to ski. I have not been for a few years simply because I have decided I prefer the Arlberg (they are about the same distance travel for me). It is a bit more compact and somewhat smaller, if you are used to the resorts in the Tarentaise then this might be a concern if you like clocking up kilometres on different pistes. There are a wide variety of pistes for all standards though there is less off piste than St Anton but more than in most resorts. Apres ski can be equally epic as in St Anton though in both places easy to find quieter places too. My main bug bear about the Ischgl skiing is the red runs back to the valley, these get narrow, possibly icy and moguled near the bottom. There are often too many folk skiing too fast without considering others mixed up with those who would have been better off taking the gondola back from the mid station, often not a relaxing way to finish the day.

In both places most of the skiing is above the tree line, good for snow conditions but not so good in bad weather.

I guess you would have a good time in either place, I would choose St Anton but I am sure there will be someone else who will recommend Ischgl


Thanks for your detailed opinions and advice! We are all at least competent on reds and to be honest, we like a challenge so not having perfectly groomed pistes suits us.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I much preferred Ischgl to St Anton. Far better piste skiing IMO and the apres is arguably the best the world.

On all three visits to St Anton I found the main pistes horribly busy and icy. Of course you can go further afield, there is good skiing elsewhere, but I just preferred what Ischgl had to offer (apart from the very end of the main home run).
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They are both very good. I’d say Ischgl slightly better for longer cruising reds. The overall extent of the Arlberg is huge though there is plenty to keep you busy in Ischgl. Both have occasional lift lunch [meant to say pinch not lunch] points. There’s a good pool spa complex in St Anton. Both have fun rowdy apres and both have good quieter places too.

I’d probably say it comes down to where you can get accommodation that suits that is within budget and close to lifts.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Tue 31-07-18 13:57; edited 1 time in total
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Always a close call. Personally I prefer the St Anton experience overall but it’s not without its downsides.
Ischgl has better prepared pistes but there’s more skiing to be had in the Arlberg. I prefer the apres in St Anton but that’s because there’s more live music happening. The apres in Ischgl is still awesome. And finally I prefer the town of St Anton itself - feels more like a real ski town. Either way you’ll love no matter which resort you go to


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Tue 31-07-18 12:55; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Flip a coin. Heads Ischgl this year/St Anton next, tails St Anton this year/Ischgl next Smile
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I've skied both, over the years. In fact in the past two years too.

Difficult choice, I think you'd be happy with either. Arlberg is a massivbe ski area nowadays extending out as far as Warth Schroken so plenty to do. Ischgl too is pretty big with a huge variety of terrain, and some decent skiing down into Switzerland that all of your group could achieve. IMO Apres is superb in both with some world renowened establishments. Now I can't choose which either...

Do one this year, and the other the following year..
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Thanks for all the advice everyone. Seems to be a case of where we can get the accommodation that we want will determine more where we go.

At this moment, that looks like St Anton as it has more of the catered chalet type of accommodation that Ischgl. Has anyone had any experience with Ski Val specifically in St Anton?

I'm hoping that both places will be more on the quiet side (still busy obviously but not mentally so) as we go outside of peak times/holidays. We like to clock up miles and spend the whole day out so it looks like we will be well catered for (in either resort).
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As I always say it I'll say it again. St Anton is not the best place if you are looking for a cruisey piste experience. The majority of complaints about St Anton come from those that visit based on reputation and find the pistes overcrowded and sometimes more difficult than other places they have been. If you are genuinely up to red and black pistes (in whatever condition they may be in) then there is loads of skiing but you have to be prepared for human slalom at certain times of day. Even better of course if you are happy taking the off piste variants.
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I know it is StAnton V Ischgl but why did you eliminate Saalbach Hinterglemm? For a piste based party it has a lot going for it. Fieberbrunn adds some offpiste options, and there is mileage and onpiste variety to spare. Plus a top class lift system and a great atmosphere, good apres and choice of accom.

What @Dave of the Marmottes, says! If that sounds a bit worrying then Saalbach is the opposite.
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there is enough cruisey runs in Arlberg, Stuben Zurs, lech, are all great and easily reachable. I stayed in Warth a couple of years ago, absoutely brilliant, access to Arlberg without over priced accomodation. Although to the Apes was a little tame compared to St Anton..
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
As I always say it I'll say it again. St Anton is not the best place if you are looking for a cruisey piste experience. The majority of complaints about St Anton come from those that visit based on reputation and find the pistes overcrowded and sometimes more difficult than other places they have been. If you are genuinely up to red and black pistes (in whatever condition they may be in) then there is loads of skiing but you have to be prepared for human slalom at certain times of day. Even better of course if you are happy taking the off piste variants.


...and there it is. There are ways of minimising skiing on crowded pistes, but not avoiding them entirely. This is especially true at the end of the day, if you want to ski back to the village from the Galzig or Gampen. Just to make it more interesting, those runs will then be either ice or slush, or perversely both, with moguls thrown in for more entertainment.

Zürs has a number of runs that are relatively uncrowded, but the queues on the Seekopf side are often significant, especially before lunch. A similar comment applies to Lech.

Warth and Schröcken have generally been quieter, but I noticed more people there this year. Perhaps word has got out.

Bottom line: the Arlberg is awesome if you are a competent and genuine Red and Black skier. If you are still at the low end if intermediate, even if you can ski a Black run but only in ideal snow/grooming conditions, then you will probably find the Arlberg a handful.
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@ulmerhutte, agreed..I’d just add.....the pistes are fantastic if you know when and probably more importantly when not to ski them but the main attraction has to be the off piste, so many lift served opportunities but you’ve got to be early out....when the surf’s up it’s s scramble to the best powder. I’d also add for those with limited intermediate experience they’d get more out of say Ischgl or other places.
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Fridge03 wrote:
At this moment, that looks like St Anton as it has more of the catered chalet type of accommodation that Ischgl.


Yep, certainly Ischgl itself is much more hotel/Garni (B&B) based, with some self-catering accomodation. On the plus side this does mean there are loads of restaurants and there isn't one night where everywhere's rammed because all the chalets have their night off on the same night.
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Ive done both , I think you should too!
What ever you pick do the other the following year ,they are both great on and off the slopes
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6-7Euros 0.5Litre of Beer in both Resorts
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Been to St Anton 4 times and Ischgl twice. Love them both. Little to pick between, especially now the Lech/Zurs link is in.

Do one next year and the other in 2020. Simples Wink

The route back into St Anton is slightly challenging - I think it’s the length of it that knackers most people. Then again the cat track back to Ischgl can be annoying. Nothing to really worry about.

Depending on how you wish to book, you can DIY quite easily by emailing the tourist offices. Especially at end of Jan when it’s quiet. Ischgl is quite expensive to book as a package (fee options for Brits) whereas St Anton tends to be more premium priced just because people will pay.

Final point is that St Anton has a lot of Brits (amongst many different nationalities) but there are very few in Ischgl.
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Quote:

I know it is StAnton V Ischgl but why did you eliminate Saalbach Hinterglemm? For a piste based party it has a lot going for it. Fieberbrunn adds some offpiste options, and there is mileage and onpiste variety to spare. Plus a top class lift system and a great atmosphere, good apres and choice of accom.

What @Dave of the Marmottes, says! If that sounds a bit worrying then Saalbach is the opposite.

+1
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The big problem with St Anton last year was that "Happy Valley" the steissbachtal - was closed the entire season making the return to the village a steep very crowded black run. I hope the local farmers will have sorted this out before the start of the season - definitely worth checking out before booking.
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Quote:

definitely worth checking out before booking

@skilegs, on that basis nobody need book until December then when the lifts and pistes officially open......?

It was only a "big" problem if the people didnt have the necessary skills to ski Kandahar, or the common sense to go down the Galzigbahn, I agree it was an inconvenience but not a reason to go elsewhere imo.
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Badbobby wrote:
Final point is that St Anton has a lot of Brits (amongst many different nationalities) but there are very few in Ischgl.


This does play to your advantage in Ischgl. You really see your waitress's, etc demeanor change when she moves from the table of arrogant Russians to your table and realises you're British.

Number of Brits does seem to be increasing year-on-year though. The first year we packaged there were 8 people on the transfer coach. Last year it was about 3/4 full.
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You've probably done well to narrow it down to just two areas that you'd like to ski. now its time to flip a coin. If you choose Ischgl, the VIP club at Idalp is a really great place to have lunch..
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skilegs wrote:
The big problem with St Anton last year was that "Happy Valley" the steissbachtal - was closed the entire season making the return to the village a steep very crowded black run. I hope the local farmers will have sorted this out before the start of the season - definitely worth checking out before booking.


Given the OP I doubt they would have any problems, Kandahar is not the most difficult black run around. Late in the afternoon it can get crowded but that is true of many similar runs in popular resorts. It is a wide piste so it can actually be easier than the Steissbachtal which though not steep is relatively narrow in places and often crowded with ski classes and others. Hopefully not an issue next season in any case.
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Quote:


Given the OP I doubt they would have any problems, Kandahar is not the most difficult black run around. Late in the afternoon it can get crowded but that is true of many similar runs in popular resorts. It is a wide piste so it can actually be easier than the Steissbachtal which though not steep is relatively narrow in places and often crowded with ski classes and others. Hopefully not an issue next season in any case.


Hmm. Kandahar was frikkin scary at Easter. Even cutting out most of it and trying to ski a very tight line at the side you were never quite sure which unguided missile would launch across the bunps in front of you or explode behind you. Death before download crew in full effect. The rest of the run down was bog standard slysh dodgems.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, did hear that Easter Monday was crazy busy, apparently most of the population of Innsbruck decided that a trip to St Anton was a good idea
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Quote:


Given the OP I doubt they would have any problems, Kandahar is not the most difficult black run around. Late in the afternoon it can get crowded but that is true of many similar runs in popular resorts. It is a wide piste so it can actually be easier than the Steissbachtal which though not steep is relatively narrow in places and often crowded with ski classes and others. Hopefully not an issue next season in any case.


Hmm. Kandahar was frikkin scary at Easter. Even cutting out most of it and trying to ski a very tight line at the side you were never quite sure which unguided missile would launch across the bunps in front of you or explode behind you. Death before download crew in full effect. The rest of the run down was bog standard slysh dodgems.


Yup, but still not as bad as the home runs at Ischgl wink
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the home runs from Ischgl are part of the fun experience, The red from Paznauner Thaya is my favorite, although the red from Hollboden can be entertaining too.
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Bob wrote:
If you choose Ischgl, the VIP club at Idalp is a really great place to have lunch..


I'd take the rotisserie chicken over at Alp Bella Smile
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@munich_irish,
Quote:

@Dave of the Marmottes, did hear that Easter Monday was crazy busy, apparently most of the population of Innsbruck decided that a trip to St Anton was a good idea

After the epic day before, they obviously smelled the pow but were sadly too late Laughing that Easter Sunday was the best April 1st we've ever skied. Caught the first post bus to Zurs and it was white-out....as we went over Madloch saw only 5 people on way down to Zug in 30cm of fresh powder all way down. Big loop over top station Zurs then and back over Flexenbahn and up Valfegehrbahn, saw about 10 people all day. Lifts in St Anton mostly closed when we got back, traversed across to Galzig top station in a 100% white out, snow hammering down and zero viz - had a coffee and the snow stopped, sun came out......the rest of the day from 2-4.30pm was just laps on Osthang and Zammermoosbahn and nobody about until word got out about 3pm and a few mostly locals came up......over the knee deep super-light powder, amazing conditions, still laughing now......perfect end to an amazing season.
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Mjit wrote:
Bob wrote:
If you choose Ischgl, the VIP club at Idalp is a really great place to have lunch..


I'd take the rotisserie chicken over at Alp Bella Smile


+1
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Mjit wrote:
Bob wrote:
If you choose Ischgl, the VIP club at Idalp is a really great place to have lunch..


I'd take the rotisserie chicken over at Alp Bella Smile


Agreed it is superb. So thets lunch sorted for two days..
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Alp Bella tends to sort us out for lunch every other day... Embarassed

The tiroler gröstl in Vider Alp is also good - though best for a warm and sunny day as never managed get a seat inside.

The Idalp self service restaurants actually better than you expect (if you're used to French ones) but does get busy. Well worth grabbing a bar of choccolate to get you through lunch and hitting it before heading home, when it's empty, for a huge plate of Kaiserschmarrn or Germknödel and custard (though unless you like your food to have the texture of gravel skip the poppy seeds).

Samnaun's worth doing for one lunch trip, but never found anything inspiring and the flat run to the dog slow gondola make it too much of a ballache to do more than once.
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