Crossing the Alps over a weekend - 3 days in the Rätikon

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An Alp-crossing is a challenge that is on the to-do list of many mountain bikers, but it's not one you set lightly. It requires the right recipe of physical conditioning, time and solid preparation. Meaning that you have to make sure you're properly ready for this adventure before you attempt it. On this 3-day ride through the Rätikon, you can dip a toe into the water and find out if this is something you truly want to do. We've put together some kind of Alpine-cross taster course for you: A compact ride from St. Anton am Arlberg to Switzerland and back. On this intro course, you'll discover Alpine passes, challenging climbs and breathtaking views, and you'll be overnighting in huts in the middle of this beautiful mountain world. In short: you can experience the adventure of an Alp-crossing compressed in two or three days.

Ride characteristics
The demands of this ride increase from day to day. On Friday, you'll start with a warmup ride that'll take you up to your first night's accommodation: the Heilbronner Hütte. The distance is manageable and the paths are easy to ride—the perfect taster for what's to come. On day two, you'll have to ride a total of 44 kilometers (30 miles) and conquer some serious elevation. As you go, you'll encounter blocked passages where you may have to push or carry your bike. Then there's day three: The real Alpine challenge. This stage is long, includes a lot of elevation gain and a longer carrying passage over the Swiss Gate. In return, however, you will be rewarded with absolutely breathtaking high Alpine scenery and the finest views you've ever seen. In case the third stage is too hard for you, we have worked out a much easier alternative for the third day.

All-mountain or Enduro bikes are perfectly suited for this ride. A hardtail is also possible if you are used to it. On the descents, you'll be especially thankful for some softer suspension, while it can't hurt to have something a little stiffer as you ride uphill. Therefore, a bike with full suspension and a lockout function comes highly recommended. Also, consider that you're going to be in high Alpine terrain: bring plenty of spare parts, clothing for a weather change, a first aid kit, enough food and possibly a power bank for navigation. And don't forget your phone. It is also a good idea to give a contact at home a "live tracking link" (most GPS computers or smartphones can do this). Remember, safety first!

For the overnight stay, we have suggested two wonderfully situated mountain huts. You will find the information in the Highlights of the stages. You're going to want to book all overnight stays in advance, however, just to avoid any nasty surprises on the way.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    12.5 mi
    4.2 mph
    3,350 ft
    75 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The first stage of your Alpine adventure is just right to get out of everyday life and get in the holiday feeling. The distance is manageable, the number of meters still ensures that you are warm afterwards.Let's start in the starting point St. Anton am Arlberg. Once again checked the luggage: Do you have everything? If not, you should take the opportunity again, because there are no supermarkets on the mountain. When you're ready to start, the mini alpine cross can start. Out of St. Anton, the first highlight is already waiting for you. The Verwallsee gives you a first impression of the beautiful alpine world.The driveway to the first destination is really something to enjoy. On the one hand the mountain stream splashing, on the other side it goes steeply uphill. And no matter where you look, the Alpine panorama is postcard-ready. About halfway, the Konstanzer Hütte offers a short break. Take a deep breath for the final spurt.This one has it all. While most of the climb has been easy to drive so far, it will now be a bit more demanding. A small preview of the harsh mountains that awaits you in the next two days. If you have to push for a while, that's no shame, but rather the chance to finally enjoy the great view in peace. And then you have already done it: Welcome to the Heilbronner Hütte, your camp.Tip:
    Note the operating hours of the hut. It is usually open from June to September. Since it is quite busy, you should make a reservation. During the week the hut is much less crowded.

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  • Difficult
    27.3 mi
    4.7 mph
    6,400 ft
    8,075 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Day two starts with such a beautiful view that you'll think about just staying here. Understandable but unnecessary: ​​The wonderful alpine panorama will accompany you for two more days. So, let's go. Today a little challenge awaits you!For breakfast there is a nice descent followed by a short but crisp serpentine climb. Then you are warm and ready for the first highlight of the day: the sheer endless descent through the beautiful Valschavieltal, which spits you out on a gravel road on the banks of the Ill, which you relax to follow to St. Gallenkirchen. So far, the tour is a real pleasure. It stays that way, but now comes the real challenge: the climb to the Antönierjoch - today it goes up to almost 2,500 sea.It's best to plan a break in St. Gallenkirchen so that you can start to work fresh-bred. Then it goes parallel to the Suggadinbach and the Gargellner road slowly but always higher. Next Stop: Gargellen, the highest mountain village of Montafon. If you want to strengthen yourself for the final spurt, Gargellen offers the perfect setting. Tranquility and nature meet the hospitality of the hosts - a nice place for a break.Now follows the most demanding part of the day. On great trails you get higher and higher in the high alpine mountains. Nice on the one hand, quite demanding on the other. Take it easy, enjoy the nature and the effort and play it safe, because the mountains are beautiful but also rough. And look forward to today's accommodation. The view from the Berhaus Sulzfluh is breathtaking and if you want, you can enjoy it out of the "hot tub"!Tips
    Book the accommodation on time. Nothing is more stressful than if you can not be sure on the way that everything goes well with the overnight stay. If the climb is too strong for you, you can take the Schafberg cable car in Gargellen, which saves you about 700 meters in altitude.

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  • Difficult
    49.8 mi
    5.7 mph
    9,225 ft
    10,775 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Day three starts, as it hardly goes more idyllic: From the mountain inn you will be greeted directly by the Alpine panorama. The mountain is calling and you should follow the call. Because today is a very nice challenge on the program. There are 80 kilometers of riding waiting for you and you are on high alpine terrain. This includes pushing, carrying and pausing. The track is challenging, but the experience is unique.The absolute highlight of the tour is the "Swiss Gate", the transition between Switzerland and Austria, beyond which opens up a broad view of the mountains, which will fascinate you. Time for a break. So far you have already achieved a lot. The way here can be described as mountain bike climbing. To shoulder the bike briefly from the Swiss gate is inevitable, you should be aware of that. As nice as it is here, so clearly we have to say that this passage is only suitable for riders who dare to shoulder the bike on narrow, steep trails. If this seems too hard for you, take a look at our defused third leg of this Alpine adventure.This is followed by a wonderful, partly technical downhill ride to the Alpengasthof Rellstal, where you can refresh yourself, before another demanding passage follows a hiking trail. After that, however, pure enjoyment is announced. More than ten kilometers and 1,200 vertical meters downhill to Vandans, the rich reward for every meter climbed.Now you have done about half and left the most demanding part of the tour behind. Although it goes up again to Silver Valley Winter Jöchle, but the trails and trails are much more relaxed and easy to drive.Tip:
    If the stage is too long for you, you can take the train back to St. Anton from Vandans. Alternatively, you can also take the Swiss gate out of the route, there are also easier ways down to Vandans, like our alternative leg "E03-b"

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  • Difficult
    40.2 mi
    4.8 mph
    9,025 ft
    10,600 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The plan B, if our E03 is a little too demanding. This tour is shorter and includes two options to save energy.In St. Gallenkirch you can save a whopping 1,160 meters in altitude by taking the Grasjochbahn and saving the uphill over the road to the Grasjoch hut.You'll be back even faster if you drive in St. Gallenkirch in the direction of Schruns. From there, there is a train to St. Anton am Arlberg, with which you are back again at the starting point of the Rätikon round.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    130 mi
  • Duration
    25:52 h
  • Elevation
    27,975 ft

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