It is that time of the year where should be thinking about booking your next wintersports holiday, and if you haven’t already done so, we are happy to recommend the destination Gargellen, located in the Austrian Montafon area. We visited Montafon in March to review skis, snowboards and clothing, and visited the villages of Gargellen, Silvretta-Montafon and Golm in three days. Three areas that you can visit with the same ski pass.
For me personally it was the third time I visited Gargellen. I had been here with my family on two seperate occasions before, spending a total of two weeks in this area, and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was really looking forward to sharing my experience with this beautiful little area with my fellow reviewers. I wasn’t sure they would like it, because Gargellen is primarily a real family area, small, compact and conveniently layed out with “only” one black descent. What would these top winter sports enthusiasts think?
Before we dive into the review, first some useful and practical facts. Firstly, Montafon is an area in Austira, just over the border from Germany. When you enter Austria over the highway from the north, it is actually the first “real” mountains that you encounter. Montafon’s slogan is “Echte Berge. Echt Beleben” for this reason. The village of Gargellen is lies at 1400 meters and located at the end of a narrow valley, where the cozy little village is close to the slopes and the base station. That one station will take you to the top of 2300 meters with a modern gondola lift.
Compact easy to manage
And with that we have hit the nail of one of the great things about Gargellen, everything is close together and it easy to find your way around the slopes and the village as well. There are hotels and apartment complexes with a lot of capacity without appearing to be massive or too touristic. In addition to that, you can find many private rentals in the village but also on places along the slopes. My first time with family was in a Landal vacation park (nice, spacious but expensive), the second time in a private apartment right next to the slopes. Which was great.
Gargellen is known for being a “schneeloch” (snow hole). The geographical location in relation to prevailing winds and the orientation of the main slopes (east and north / north-east), ensures that a lot of snow falls in this area, more than average in Montafon, which is a great snow area in itself. We experienced that snow guarantee on our review day in Gargellen: a winter wonderland unfolded before us as we drove, carefully through the valley up to the cable station. Very beuatiful and scenic, but lots of snow and high winds does make skiing and snowboarding difficult. The visibility was, very poor at times, certainly higher on the mountain; a bit better lower down down between the trees.
The weather on our review day therefore made it difficult to get a good idea of the area, and had it not been for the fact that I had been twice before, we would not have realised enough how wonderful and wide the pistes are, and moreover, we wouldn’t have know of the mind blowing so-called “Variantenabfahrten”: the fantastic freeride opportunities that exist in this area. The legendary Nidla route, a magnificent freeride descent that starts at the top of the blue 6, and ends 500 meters below where it connects again halfway the same slope 6.
In 2016 I did it with my son, where he followed piste 6, I did the Nidla, and we joined eachother back on the piste again. Just an amazing run, and there are more places in Gargellen that are very easy for a freerider to reach from the lifts and deliver magnifcient runs. The Rinderhütte route between that same piste 6, the entire slope under the blue 2 piste is rife with possiblities, with a kind of wide natural half pipe that you can take. There are challenging routes under the main cable…just a lot. Needless to say that off-piste avalanche equipement should be used when riding these routes.
Back to 2019 we have, thanks to the weather, a challenging day, but despite the weather it is a great day. With deep fresh powder, a fairy-tale environment, a true winter wonderland. At the end of the day we drive out of the valley again, at walking pace, with our bus still half sliding down the road. We feel almost ungrateful, but hope for a little less snowfall for tomorrow. But how good the snow will be!
Gargellen is a great area for families with freeriders in the ranks – or solo freeriders, or if you just enjoy cruising down slopes. During our review day there were no rows at the lifts, but also on both holidays there were virtually no rows and certainly no huge crowds like you can encounter in many other resorts in the area. Compact, cozy, uncluttered and charming. If you are coming for the apres ski or high performance thrashing the piste al day long at 100+ kph than Gargellen is not really the place for you. But if you enjoy a charming area with overwhelmingly beautiful and quiet mountains and an almost 100% garantuee of great snow on and off-piste, then go to Gargellen.