During my stay in Lech, I took one day to explore the Warth-Schröcken ski area which is perhaps one of the less covered areas in the greater Arlberg region. Warth-Schröcken is connected to the rest of the Arlberg via the Auenfeldjet. As one of the more remote ski areas, this is one of the hidden gems of skiing in the Arlberg area and definitely worth a visit when staying in Lech, though it might be a bit of a trek from St. Anton.
The town of Warth is closer to Lech but located at the other side of the Karhorn mountain which looms over the area along with the Wartherhorn peak. It is best to hit the east-facing slopes of Warth in the morning and heading to the slopes facing Schröcken in the evening following the direction of the sun.
Though there is a road connecting Warth and Schröcken to Lech, this road is usually closed in the winter time. That is why this cable car might be the easiest and only way to get there for skiing from the Arlberg ski region. Alternatively most visitors who stay in Warth and Schröcken could be driving in from Dornbirn, Austria or Munich, Germany as this ski area is closer to the German border.
CHAIRLIFTS & GONDOLAS
Aside from the Auenfeldjet cable car connecting Warth Schröcken to the rest of the ski area in the Arlberg, there is only another short cable car at the Warth village. All the major lifts are operated using 6-seater chairlifts.
Skiers coming from Lech would most probably encounter the Salober jet first which brings them up to the highest lift-accessed point at 2,043m at Saloberkopf. Here, the Salober jet chairlift meets with the 6-seater Salober jet and 4-seater Hochalpbahn chairlift. Heading the direction towards Hochalpbahn will bring skiers quickly towards Warth.
Over on the Warth side of the mountain there is the 6-seater Wartherhorn Express and the 6-seater Jägeralp-Express chairlift, with the latter serving day skiers from the car park to the top of the mountain.
From the village at Warth, there is the 4-seater Steffisalp Express that serves a nice intermediate and advanced black piste from the mid-mountain back to the village. There is another short gondola for skiers staying in the village at Warth to access the pistes along with a shorter 4-seater chairlift parallel to the Steffisalp for beginners.
In addition to the larger 4 and 6 seater chairlifts, there are several double seater chairlifts that opens up more areas for skiing. This includes the Karhornbahn that allows easier access from Schröcken to Warth and the pair of chairlifts serving Körbersee.
All in all, the major chairlifts here have bubble covers to shield skiers from the harsh elements of wind and snow and the addition of smaller chairs means it was never too crowded and I never need to wait for the chairlift at all during my day skiing here.
COST & VALUE
Prices for a one day lift ticket in Warth Schröcken costs EUR 52.50, while a day pass for the Arlberg region is EUR 54.50. Skiers coming here from Lech or Zürs would have to pay for the Arlberg pass for access through the Auenfeldjet cable car.
Skiers staying here for more than a couple of days should also consider getting the Arlberg pass for access into Lech and beyond. Though if you are just here for a day trip or two, getting passes for Warth Schröcken is adequate as well since these 2 areas are great for a couple of days of skiing.
Warth Schröcken is similar to Lech in that there are easier blue runs running from the top of the mountain to the base. Blue runs are plentiful here and the slopes are milder. Add to that a heavier snowfall and the pistes are much more forgiving for beginners. Most starting beginners would probably want to practice at the base of the Salober-Jet chairlift with the double chair Kuchlbahn serving the short Kuchl pistes.
Those who have progressed from the easy slopes could then move to the Bremstel and Karhorn pistes served by the 2-seater Karhornbahn chairlift. There is a short red run for beginner skiers to progress to at this location.
It is also nice for beginners in the sense that all the major traverse between Schröcken and Warth are on blue runs. The long Sunnamahd piste allows skiers to descend to the Hochtannbergpass parking lots from Saloberkopf and the traverse to Warth from the top of Karhornbahn is another panoramic blue piste. Most beginners should have no trouble going on these routes.
Finally the Körbersee area is wonderful for beginners as well since this section is usually quieter with less traffic. The short runs here have variable terrains that makes for a great place to progress in terms of skill. With all the beginner pistes here, I find this resort to be the most friendly to beginners in the Arlberg area.
Most of the intermediate runs here are long and suitable for cruising. The major red piste is the Auenfeld piste that links Saloberkopf summit to the Auenfeldjet cable car station for the return to Lech.
Another wonderful red piste that I enjoyed was the Kleinhörnle from the top of Wartherhorn Express linking with the red traverse that leads back to the base of Steffisalp Express. This is a nice and easy run that is easily visible from the chairlift so beginners can check out the gradient before attempting it. This is because one section of the red piste is more like a black piste due to the steep gradient.
For a relatively large resort, the red intermediate pistes are surprisingly limited and does not seem to comprise the majority of the slopes in Warth Schröcken. That could be the reason why the ski area here is less crowded.
On the other hand, black pistes make up quite the number of pistes in Warth Schröcken. There are black pistes from the major chairlifts with all the marked runs alongside the Salober-jet being black pistes.
From the Steffisalp Express, a section of the piste back to the base is even marked as black. While indications are for an expert piste, I find strong intermediate skiers can definitely go down some of these with ease especially when there is adequate visibility and snow cover.
The wide open bowls from Saloberkopf does help to make some of the black runs more accessible to skiers and with the day I spent skiing here being the last day of my ski trip, I did not hesitate to go down these black runs.
BACKCOUNTRY & TERRAIN PARK
Nearly all of the pistes in Warth Schröcken are above the tree line, with the exception of the Nessleg-Schröcken piste that passes by some trees en-route to the village of Schröcken. Since I did not need to visit the village and there was no cable car or chairlift back from the village to the piste, I did not attempt this route.
Instead, I did find some sidecountry opportunities around the Körbersee area where there are pockets of snow here for those seeking some easy freeride opportunities.
Advanced freeride skiers generally have plenty of the mountain to work with as there are little limits around the mountain and with plenty of lifts, this is an easy mountain to indulge in some off-piste skiing, especially when the snow here is plentiful.
During my visit, I did not notice the terrain park though I believe there is one located along the route back to Warth village, and accessed via the Wannenkopfbahn chairlift. In addition to the terrain park, there are ski arena for skiers to time their runs along with a slalom course sponsored by BMW xDrive with a video recording included.
With mountain lodges being a mainstay of every European ski resort, Warth-Schröcken is no different. Plenty of quaint lodges provide an opportunity for skiers to have drinks and food at the top along the piste without the need to go back all the way to the base of the chairlift.
From the small hut of Punsch Hütte along the Wartherhorn piste to the Skihütte Hochalp between the traverse from Schröcken to Warth, there are places to rest and have lunch on the slopes.
At the base of Salober-jet is probably one of the larger venues for lunch with a more complete range of facilities including a ski shop for tuning needs. There are restaurants and bathrooms at the base of Steffisalp and Jägeralp Express making it convenient for skiers.
Even in the more remote Körbersee area, there is a guest house with a restaurant. This venue would be nice for skiers who want to escape the crowds as it is away from the main pistes and is the least crowded section of the mountain.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
Compared to Lech, the food found here is more classical Austrian/German dishes like Schnitzel, steaks and sausages. Expect plenty of meats though there are salad bars and pastas served in the larger cafeterias and restaurants. Soups like goulash and pea soup are commonly served as well.
Prices here seems cheaper in general with main courses ranging between EUR 10-15 while soups and salad are between EUR 4-7. Desserts like cakes and strudel can be found in the lodges as well and they cost around EUR 4-7 while beverages are priced between EUR 2-3 with a good selection of bottled juices, soft drinks and beer.
Lodging here are more limited with the main village of Warth and Schröcken being located off from the base of the main chairlifts. This means it negates the convenience factor for skiers to stay in either Warth or Schröcken. Instead I found skiers staying in Lech has an easy time getting here through the Auenfeldjet cable car. Thus skiers considering to ski here can stay at Lech.
Otherwise there are limited lodging available at the guest house in Körbersee and at the base of Steffisalp Express. However the village of Warth and Schröcken are both some distance away from these accommodation options next to the piste so conveniences like grocery stores and off-site restaurants are limited. With that in mind, I find that many skiers here are day visitors that drive to the numerous parking lots at the base in Salober Ski Arena and the bottom of Jägeralp Express chairlift.
Since I was here for the day and had to return to Lech before the close of the Auenfeldjet cable car, I did not partake in any aprés-ski. However based on my observations, the restaurant at the base of the Salober-jet chairlift is probably one of the best places to get some drink while enjoying music out on the terrace after a day of skiing. The large outdoor terrace makes it an excellent aprés-ski when the sun is out and on spring season skiing.
From the top of Salober at 2,053m above sea level, it is possible to capture some scenic views of the surrounding peaks such as Widderstein peak and the Karhorn peak.
Skiers could also get a nice view from the top of Wartherhorn Express and Karhornbahn. However with those lift-accessed summits at around 2,000m above sea level, the views might not be the most breathtaking.
While looking at the ski map might indicate this to be a ski area geared for beginners, the supple snow with less crowds than the rest of the Arlberg area makes this a great ski area for intermediates as well. Even advanced skiers would have no lack of fun in exploring the hidden stashes of powder which can last longer as many skiers seems to be concentrated around the major lift areas.
Thus aside from being one of the most approachable ski area in the Arlberg pass, Warth-Schröcken still has interesting terrain to offer for the advanced skiers. And that makes it a worthwhile visit especially when skiers are based in Lech or Zürs.