Ski touring is awesome. Fresh tracks, in the natural pristine mountain wilderness, a sense of peace and freedom. 

Once the preserve of a few hardy mountaineers immersing themselves in the stunning winter wilderness, it’s popularity is rising as more and more people learn the sheer joy of escaping the bustle of the resort in search of untracked descents.  

And this season as people search out their own space, ski touring has really come into its own. Here in St Anton, the vast mountain ranges of the Arlberg, provide an almost limitless choice of Off Piste runs.  

Starting from just 30 min walking, the journey is often rewarded with long descents of 1,500m or more.  

We know ski touring is something special but here are a few reasons why we think it's hard to beat this season! 

1. Immersion in a pristine natural winter wilderness. Enjoying the peace, solitude, and one-ness with the mountains. Touring is the perfect antidote to still your mind and soothe your soul.

Get far away from the crowds, and noise of the resort into the real backcountry. The mountains make us happy, standing in line, skiing crowded groomed trails don't.

3. For the thrill of making that first long descent, taking in the incredible mountain scenery all around you, skiing through beautiful remote valleys, forests, and endless powder trails.    

4. To improve your overall fitness, in the fresh mountain air. Simply being between 1,500 and 2,000m strongly benefits your health, improves sleep quality and general well being. Because it is low impact, people of all ages can try this - if you can slow jog you can skin up.  

Enjoy the uphill, the rhythmic slip of sliding one ski in front of the other in a kind of hypnotic meditation, emptying your thoughts focussing only on conserving your energy, regulating your breathing. Time moves slowly, there is no need to rush. 
6. To catch rare glimpses of wildlife, in remote areas of the Arlberg you have a good chance to see wild mountain goats, Marmots, Ibex, and raptors in their natural habitat.

7. For the sense of companionship. The shared anticipation of a tour, accepting everyone, and looking out for each. Strong friendships are frequently formed on hut-to-hut tours, bonded by the shared adventure and memories that last a lifetime.  

If this has wetted your appetite to give it a try you just need to know a few basics.  

Ski touring is anything from short day tours, to a couple of nights in a hut or longer traverses - such as the stunning, intermediate Silvretta Hut to hut tour. You need to first hone your Off Piste skills as you may encounter different types of snow so having the right skills is important. In addition you need an average level of fitness. If you’d like to do some training, start with cross training to build strength and cardiovascular fitness.  

Much of your equipment - skis, skins, crampons and boots can be rented but nowadays hybrid boots used for the downhill can be perfectly adequate for most day ski tours.  Ski touring skis are narrower and lighter than standard Off Piste and we always recommend on longer tours that you use pin bindings. The emphasis is on lightweight and functional equipment. Lighter the better but layering is key - on the uphill you may be sweating and at the summit your temperature rapidly cools so you need to don the extra layers for the descent.And staying hydrated, using a camel back and maintaining your energy with snacks such as nuts and dried fruit mixes. 

If you are touring we always recommend that you take a fully qualified IFMGA / UIAGM mountain guide, for safety reasons and also so you can kick back, have fun while the experts guide you. Piste to Powder based in St Anton, run Avalanche safety training, Daily Touring groups, 3-day touring skill camps, Off Piste technique camps and 7 day hut to hut tours in the Silvretta, Otztal and Norway. They have been operating in St Anton for more than 20 years and also offer private guiding and Heliskiing in St Anton, Zurs Lech. All their local mountain guides are IFMGA/UIAGM qualified, English speaking guides. Interested? Get in touch with our friendly team today.