Striking gold in St Anton
It was only a 5 day trip to the Austrian resort of St Anton in Arlberg, but we got lucky. The weather was bad when we arrived, with heavy snowfall starting almost as soon as we stepped off the plane, and got worse through the night, continuing in to the next day. Which meant the first day on the mountain was hard work; visibility down to a few metres and biting blizzards at the peak that really put our gear to the test.
Happy to say that my new kit worked well even in these conditions. Burton Such a Deal jacket proved that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a coat to stay warm in the harshest environment, and my new The North Face Decagon GTX gloves kept fingers toasty at all times. Despite this it was a relief to get back to the hotel, admittedly via the legendary Moosewirt bar which spits you out dazed and confused, half way down a run when it closes at 8pm.
We’d heard the weather might clear up overnight so we booked a guide for the next day and kept everything crossed as we slept. Then in the morning – Nirvana. Bright sunshine and blanket powder everywhere. Our guide, Andy, has lived in St Anton for 15 years and knew all the best ski routes which for the first hour or so were untouched by all except our group. These were literally some of the best conditions I’ve ever snowboarded in, and needless to say we came down for lunch with perma-grins that are still lingering now.
As an added bonus we got to watch the womens’ Downhill and Super G over the weekend, and although it didn’t snow again there was enough white stuff around to keep us going. This trip will long be remembered if only for the ‘morning of dreams’. Out there on the mountain that day we all knew that no matter what happened next, we’d be coming home happy.