Can they link the snow capitals of the Alps - Lech to Warth?

Long mooted and as one of the most obvious ski lift links in the Alps - the link between Lech am Arlberg and Warth in Bregenzerwald was within touching distance this spring.

Warth-Schrocken, dwarfed by the mighty Lech am Arlberg and Arlberg ski region are visually linked through a pretty gentle valley. In winter skiers on both sides of the separated regions gaze north to south or in the opposite direction and almost never swap terrain - an experience partly governed by the road route that in summer is 4 miles and in winter close to 65 miles and mostly by a lack of shared ski pass. Go to Lech am Arlberg or Warth-Schrocken in the winter and there is almost no chance that you will visit the other region unless on touring skis. Proximity is one thing, whilst ski areas can always better market themselves on the basis of impressive lift numbers piste kilometres. Whilst Warth-Schrocken offers a decent sized ski area and a shared ski pass with the other Bregenzerwald ski areas, compared to the Arlberg ski region the Bregenzerwald is dwarfed by a ski region that is revered around the world - fact or fiction (and mostly fact) the Arlberg has few peers in any ski region worldwide. Smaller and less well known it surely is, but Warth-Schrocken and the wider Bregenzerwald ski region has a trump card that has long kept its link to Lech am Arlberg and the Arlberg is region a hot topic - snow. Visitors to the Lech - Zurs ski area rarely complain about snow, Zurs am Arlberg is statistically the 2<sup>nd</sup> snowiest resort in the entire Alps. In terms of bragging rights though the northern neighbour of Warth, part of the Warth-Schrocken ski area is ranked number one snowiest ski area in the whole of the Alps. The snowfall accumulation in Warth is mind-blowing and its north-facing slopes hold incredible depths of snow long into the summer. So proximity is clear and if the Arlberg could be trumped by any resort in the Alps in terms of snow then it is Warth; hence the push to incorporate it into the beast of Austrian skiing - the Arlberg. In the path of linking these areas has been endless factors that make the Alps a uniquely wonderful place - they boil down to one thing however - money. The landowner who would 'welcome' one or more ski lift pylons in his or her grazing pasture has been deep in negotiation over how they would be rewarded by this aerial intrusion and concrete foot-print amongst the grass and manure. Suffice it to say there has been a stand-off in agreeing compensation for this passage. On another commercial level then the ski areas of the Arlberg, in particular Lech am Arlberg have been negotiating with Warth-Schrocken in terms of the revenue share model of apportioning revenues to lift companies from shared area ticket holders. The bad news is that negotiations stalled recently but there is renewed hope that this special ski lift link can be agreed to and completed in 2013. The snowiest and 2<sup>nd</sup> most snowy ski area in the Alps may well be joined with a shared ski pass and connecting ski lift. Another string to the bow of the Arlberg - of sure and recognition and revenue for the Bregenzerwald resorts of Warth-Schrocken. The extended unification of the snowiest regions in the Alps - surely win-win?

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