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Head to head... Ischgl vs St Anton

Which has the better snow?

by Fraser Wilkin, 4 February 2013

St Anton and Ischgl are the undisputed heavyweights of the western Tirol. Their skiing is world-famous, their night-life even more so. But which has the better snow record?


Winner - St Anton



Because it gets more snow - simple as that!


In this part of western Austria, there’s quite a difference in snowfall between the resorts to the south of the Inn Valley (such as Obergurgl, Sölden and Ischgl), and those to the north (such as Lech and Warth-Schröcken). St Anton sits in the valley itself, but most of its ski area is on the northern side.


St Anton has an average snowfall of about 4.5m at resort level and 7m at 2200m. Lech and Warth-Schröcken get much more still. Ischgl, on the other hand, “only” receives about 3.5m at resort level and 5.5m at 2200m.


What’s more, not only does it snow more heavily in St Anton than it does in Ischgl, it also snows on a greater number of days.

St Anton, Austria Photo: TVB St. Anton am Arlberg / Josef Mallaun

Looking for hotels in St Anton?  Click here


Winner - Ischgl



St Anton may get more snow, but Ischgl is better able to preserve it and, on average, has the better on-piste snow quality.


There are four reasons for this:



The pistes in Ischgl are (on average) that bit higher.



A greater proportion of Ischgl's pistes face north, and get less direct sun than St Anton.



Being closer to the northern edge of the Alps, the warming influence of the gulf stream is slightly greater in St Anton than it is in Ischgl, which means that Ischgl is both less likely to see rain, and is better placed to rid out milder spells in general.


4. Ischgl's terrain is (on the whole) gentler. All things being equal, gentle slopes keep their snow better than steep ones.
Ischgl, Austria Photo: TVB Paznaun-Ischgl

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Winner - Neither - it's a draw!



Because neither resort excels in this department. 


St Anton’s home slopes may get more snow, but they also get a lot of traffic and are very exposed to the sun. Net result: chopped up and icy/slushy/mogulled snow, depending on the time of day and year.


Ischgl’s home runs are shadier, but are also very busy, and have a reputation for being icy - especially earlier in the season (when they receive no sun whatsoever), and in the mornings in spring.

Weathertoski's overall verdict:

For powder hounds, St Anton is the place to be. Though, due to the volume of people competing for it, a local guide is highly recommended. Nearby (and even snowier) Lech-Zürs and Stüben give you more options.


But for the majority of skiers, the quality of the snow is far more consistent in Ischgl. Indeed it (along with Obergurgl) has, in my opinion, the best snow record and longest season of any entirely non-glacial resort in the Alps.