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Open-Terrain Skiing

Conditions for undiluted skiing fun have always been ultra-perfect in Vorarlberg. No wonder, as skiing was literally invented here - and never stopped playing a leading role for more than 100 years.

Cut your own trail in fresh powder or granular firn.
Freeriden in Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Foto: Sepp Mallaun
Freeriding in Lech Zürs.

It looks effortless and elegant when professionals swing through deep snow and etch their own trails somewhere in the open terrain. There is a special attraction to skiing in open terrain which is drawing a growing crowd of followers. Open-terrain skiing is not so much about challenge and excitement, but about peace and serenity and the magic spell of the winter landscapes.

And since you usually venture into open terrain in small groups, this form of skiing becomes a special team-building experience.

Open terrain skiing is practiced in three different forms:

  • Ski touring – where skiers strap skins onto their skis and ascend the mountain before making their way down in open terrain
  • Freeriding – freeriders use the lift to ascend the mountain, perhaps mounting for a short while on skis, before venturing on ungroomed runs down to the valley. For some freeriders, the feeling of thrill and excitement is the main attraction.
  • Off-piste skiing – is a particularly enjoyable form of freeriding.

For a region of such small size, Vorarlberg offers plenty of variation for off-piste skiing. The main ski areas lie above 1,800m, i.e. above the treeline. This is important to remember in terms of nature conservation, since skiing forests in winter may harm the trees and disrupt the animals. Respect Your Limits is an awareness-raising campaign calling on all skiers in open terrain to exercise self-responsibility and be considerate in nature.

  1. When skiing in open terrain, always be attentive to the weather and snow conditions. Make sure to be accompanied by a professional guide who is familiar with the local terrain. To prepare, you are strongly recommended to attend one of many freeride camps which are organised by various alpine organisation.
  2. The emergency equipment required can often be rented. The basic gear includes an avalanche beacon (transceiver), a probe and a shovel. A protective helmet and an avalanche airbag are highly recommended. Also, make sure to heed current avalanche warnings.

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