The Arlberg ski area is about to get a lot bigger

A new lift between Kappl and St Anton am Arlberg has been given the green light, but where will it end?

It’s been planned for years but this week an Environmental Impact Report has given the green light for a connection between the Kappl and Arlberg ski areas in Austria.

The new connection will link the small resort of Kappl in the Paznaun Valley with the mega Arlberg ski area via the Malfontal to Rendl, expanding St Anton’s skiable terrain by at least 42km, and bringing the Arlberg region’s as a whole to nearly 400km.

The project, which was first launched in 2010, could be the first step in a mega ski area expanding all the way from Warth-Shröcken, at the far north of the Arlberg region and Samnaun, in Switzerland, via Ischgl (link in German). Indeed, there are already plans for a cable-car between Zürs and the Alpe Rauz in St Anton, which would connect the Arlberg’s two largest ski areas.

The plans to link Kappl and Arlberg are not without controversy. The Malfontal is a popular backcountry skiing area, and as local expat Steve Brooks comments, “Malfontal is one of the last wilderness areas in the Arlberg. An amazing ski touring area where you have to earn your turns will be opened up to the masses. A very sad day.” 

The Austrian Alpine Club is still hoping to appeal the decision on environmental grounds. If they are unsuccessful, the new connection should be in place by 2019.