Recently I visited Lech for the start of the 16/17 ski season and the opening of the new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg. Going from Zurs to Stuben it links the Vorarlberg and Tirol sides of the Arlberg ski area, creating the largest lift linked ski area in Austria. It also means you can now ski Lech to St Anton without getting a bus.
Ski Lech to St Anton
You have long been able to ski off-piste from the St Anton side of Arberg across to the Lech Zurs side. However, it’s a route that is only suitable for skiers and snowboarders with off-piste experience and all the relevant gear. Alternatively you could take the bus in either direction.
The new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg means you can now ski between the two halves of the Arlberg which is almost split in half almost along the Lech Zurs and Tirol border. Lech, Oberlech, Zug, Warth, Schrocken, and Stuben are all on the Vorarlberg side with just Stuben from Vorarlberg being on the Tirol side along with St Anton, St Jacob and St Christoph.
Now using the Trittkopfbahn 1 from Zurs plus the Flexenbahn to Alpe Rauz above Stuben, it takes just 14 minutes to travel between the two. Going the other direction you only have to take the Flexenbahn which takes just six minutes, you can then ski into Zurs or take the Trittkopfbahn 2 for a longer run down to Zurs.
To ski Lech to St Anton takes a little longer. From Lech you can take the Rufikopf cable car and ski down – via a chair and a drag lift – into Zurs. From Zurs you take the Trittkopfbahn 1 and Flexenbahn to Alpe Rauz above Stuben, and then take the Valfagehrbahn, from the top of which you can ski down St Anton or St Christoph.
Going in reverse there are various options to reach Alpe Rauz from St Anton, from there you take the new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg and ski into Zurs. From Zurs you can join the famous White Ring Circuit which takes you into Lech via Zug and comes back via the Rufikopf route above.
The new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg not only means you can ski Lech to St Anton and vice versa, but opens up 305 km of lift linked skiing. You can now enjoy the slopes from Stuben to Schrocken, Rendl to Warth and St Jacob to Zug all without getting a bus.
Why was the Flexenbahn needed?
Lech Zurs and St Anton have long been part of the Arlberg ski area, but until the Flexenbahn opened in December 2016 you had to take a bus between them. The bus took about 40 minutes from Zurs to Alpe Rauz in Stuben. It was often packed and when busy could take an extra 10 minutes just to load the bus.
As the bus went every half an hour you would need to get in place early to be at the head of the scrum to get a spot. This means nipping between the Vorarlberg and Tirol side of Arlberg would often take over an hour. If buses were delayed, or full it could take longer.
Not only was it time consuming, but a packed bus full of skiers and snowboarders trying to get home is not a pleasant experience. Furthermore, running diesel buses around the mountain is terrible for the environment and meant there was more traffic on the roads and caused congestion near bus stops.
Review of new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg
To fix these problems the ski resorts collectively spent €45 million to properly link the Arlberg ski area. The Trittkopfbahn gondola in Zurs was rerouted to meet with the new Flexenbahn coming out of Alpe Rauz in Stuben. This cuts journey time down to 14 minutes – or six minutes plus a ski down into Zurs.
To reach the top of the old Trittkopfbahn gondola you can take the Trittkopfbahn 2 from where the Trittkopfbahn 1 and Flexenbahn meet at an impressive threeway mid-station. Not happy with three new gondolas they also built the Albonabahn – that links with the Flexenbahn in Alpe Rauz – giving quick access to the slopes above Stuben.
Impressively they did all of this in the summer of 2016 with the new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg opening in time for the start of the season. While we are talking of impressive things be sure to face the direction of travel on the Flexenbahn towards Stuben as the views are amazing.
I was fortunate to be in Lech Zurs for the opening weekend and was one of the first to try the new gondolas. The first thing I noticed was how quiet they are. As some snow that had somehow ended up in my pants melted I realised that the seats are heated, which will be great on cold days.
The capacity of the Trittkopfbahn 1 and the Flexenbahn is 2400 people per hour with the Trittkopfbahn 2 taking 1200 and Albonabahn 2000. They all use cars designed for everyone to be seated, with ample room to store skis and boards within the cabin which reduces the load time.
The new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg makes it so easy to ski Lech to St Anton and back that we did it two days in a row. So, rather than a stressful and time consuming bus, you can ski between the Lech Zurs and Tirol sides of the Arlberg with ease. In fact it now feels like Arlberg is the one ski area it has always claimed to be.
I hope you found this review of new Flexenbahn gondola in Arlberg interesting. If you fancy booking a holiday to ski Lech to St Anton for yourself then check out our Lech skiing and snowboarding articles or visit the tourist boards website: www.lechzuers.com