Ski pioneers in St. Anton am Arlberg

The first skiers and the foundation of the Ski-Club Arlberg

In the winter of 1895, the parish priest of Lech tried his luck on skis. Benevolent onlookers smiled as he made his first inexpert descents, but they were soon convinced that there was something about this new pastime, and it probably had a future.

At the same time, Mathias Zdarsky developed the Lilienfeld skiing technique in Lower Austria. In contrast to the Norwegian way of skiing, his involved leaning forward, but also propagated the one-stock method. Slowly but surely, skiing was wending its stylish way into the Arlberg region.

First ascent of the Galzig


On December 10, 1899, Hermann Hartmann climbed Galzig on skis for the first time. In a little more than 3 ½ hours he reached the summit from St. Anton via St. Christoph – a very respectable time, even by today’s standards. Back in the Hospiz, Hartmann recorded the first winter ascent of Galzig in the guest book: ‘With snowshoes from St. Anton to St. Christoph in 1 ½ hours, from St. Christoph to the Galzigspitze, 2185 metres, in 2 hours 10 minutes, downhill in 18 minutes, snow height 0.68 to 1.60 metres - wonderful panoramic view.’ And that same wonderful view remains to this day...

Other skiing pioneers in the Arlberg were Professor Karl Gruber, Max Madlener, Josef Ostler, Hospiz host, Oswalt Trojer, and Viktor Sohm. And among the young locals, the summit stormers attracted attention, with some of them even attempting to make their own skis themselves. 

Hannes Schneider was one of these young admires of this new craze, and he, too, made his first skis from the waste cuts of a sledge maker and a sieve that he nailed to his boards as a binding. He later said that he practised a lot with these home-made skis, but often until late on moonlit nights, as he wanted to avoid the ridicule of his schoolmates. On the occasion of the inauguration of the Ulmer Hütte, the 13-year-old received his first ‘real’ skis with a sea-tube binding from Professor Weiser, the chairman of the Ulm Alpine Club section.

Ski pioneers in St. Anton am Arlberg
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