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Montafon is a high alpine valley known for its sun and powdery snow. It stretches some 42km (26 miles) at the southern tip of Vorarlberg, with the Ill River flowing through on its way to join the Rhine. The valley, filled with mountain villages and major winter recreation areas, is encircled by the mountain ranges of R├Ątikon, Silvretta, and Verwall.

Montafon has been called a "ski stadium" because of its highly integrated ski region. One ski pass covers unlimited use of 70 cable cars, chairlifts, and T-bars in all four of the valley's main ski areas, as well as transportation among the resorts.

Hochjoch-Zamang offers skiing in the back bowls and down the front, and is the main mountain at Schruns (of Hemingway fame). Tschagguns has Grabs-Golm for some easier runs. Silvretta-Nova at Gaschurn and St. Gallenkirch is a superb ski circus on several mountains, and the Schafberg of Gargellen is secluded in a side valley.

Schruns is the largest resort in the Montafon Valley, lying on the right bank of the Ill River. Tschagguns (a smaller resort) is on the left, and the hamlets are so close (less than 1.5km/1 mile apart) that they can be treated as one.

Although known for their winter sports, these towns are also popular in summer. The warm-weather allure here revolves around walking, hiking, and climbing in the alpine majesty of the Vorarlberg. Locals pride themselves on the nearness of Pizbuin, the highest peak in the Vorarlberg (more than 3,660m/12,008 ft. above sea level). Throughout the Montafon Valley, yellow-and-black signs point out natural attractions and destinations, and how long it will take to get there. For more information about climbing and hiking, call Bergfuhrer Montafon (tel. 066443/11445; www.montafon.bergfuhrer.at), a local climbing club. Ski lift passes are also sold in the summer (for hiking and climbing, not skiing). These passes include unlimited lift rides as well as free access to all the valley's public pools. For more information, call the tourist office.

Above Tschagguns, at Latschau, you can take a cable railway or chairlift to Grabs-Golm at 1,388m (4,554 ft.), a small but fascinating ski region with several lifts, including a four-person lift going up to 2,135m (7,005 ft.). These slopes attract both beginners and experts alike, and are known for World Cup races. While you're at Golm, you can stop at a rustic little restaurant or a modern self-service one, and then take the surface lift to Hochegga at 1,587m (5,207 ft.).

Ernest Hemingway spent winters at Schruns writing The Sun Also Rises.