Crossing borders – the Trittkopfbahn ski lift from Alpe Rauz to Zurs am Arlberg |

One of the more obvious ski lift links in the Alps is back on the boil with consultations underway regarding a lift linking the western extent of the St Anton am Arlberg ski area with the Lech – Zurs ski area in Zurs am Arlberg.

The Arlberg ski area has long comprised of the ski areas of St Anton am Arlberg, St Christoph am Arlberg, Stuben am Arlberg, Zurs am Arlberg and Lech am Arlberg. Until now the Arlberg ski area has contained distinct areas that are not connected by lift or ski piste, those of St Anton, St Christoph and Stuben and Lech – Zurs. A single ski pass covers all the areas and it is possible to ski throughout the separate entities but to move between the 2 it is necessary to catch a short bus transfer between Alpe Rauz and Zurs am Arlberg. The only other ways I know of skiing or snowboarding between the 2 are the Valluga 2 descent into Zurs am Arlberg from St Anton and the Zurs route into Stuben that worryingly includes the roof of the semi-tunnel / ‘gallerie’ that leads into the Flexen Pass. Neither route should be tackled without a certified local guide meaning essentially the areas are cut off on skis or board. And whilst the proposed lift connection has been rumoured to have been a proposal for the last 70 years, the link is now in a consultation process. There are powerful arguments from both the proponents and the opponents of the Trittkopfbahn ski lift development with a great deal making sense. From the point of view of a passionate skier then the link has great merit and the argument that it will further degrade the area ecologically has justified yet limited resonance as far as I can see on the basis that this is already a highly developed Alpine area. For me a logical compromise would be to build the lift and make meaningful changes to the locality which would mitigate the effects of the development. Toll charges on through traffic may be unpopular but the traffic through both Lech and Zurs can be needlessly heavy at times and does nothing for the atmosphere or environment of an outstanding area. The large parking areas at Zurs am Arlberg could be transformed into other uses if the traffic using them was forced / taxed into using free local ski buses or else the new lift link. The ideal solution surely encompasses a level of development balanced by action to mitigate the effects which does something that is significantly beneficial for the environment and visitor experience. Quite what action is necessary would require careful analysis but the result could turn out to be a win-win situation for skiers, the resorts and the environment – a better environment in one of the very best ski areas in the world.

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