Tesla, Euro and South America Ski Trips

Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.

Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:27 am

Tony and I have had discussions offline about the pros and cons of targeting the larger/high-profile Alps ski areas vs. the off-the-beaten path joints that I lean toward. Sölden is definitely not on my hit list although it gets decent reviews across the pond. Of course, going anywhere during low-tide conditions where you're confined to groomers is not a recipe for success.
http://www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/resorts/solden
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Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby kingslug » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:01 am

Wasn't my choice at all. There are areas in Europe I want to hit that I've seen in movies. Not easy to get to some but an adventure would be had. Speaking the language would help. Andora looks interesting.
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Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:23 am

kingslug wrote:Wasn't my choice at all.

Sorry, wasn't implying that you proactively decided to go to a place with nothing but groomers on the menu. :-D If my eastern Switzerland trip hadn't been canceled by passport issues, I may have been dealing with similar conditions after a multi-week drought.
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Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby kingslug » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:33 pm

Was a club trip, my wife picked it. Her last trip as a trip leader. Have to admit the last day was cool with 2 feet on the ground.
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Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:14 pm

kingslug wrote:except for Chile this August

If you think the Alps are erratic and unreliable, South America is on a completely different level. Their ongoing drought is as severe as California's was (meaning some seasons with less than half normal snow) and has lasted longer. The last above average season was 2009. I would avoid committing $$$ until sometime in May/June if you can see there is actually some snow on the ground. As least you're going during the highest probability month. Where are you going, I assume not with Diamond Dogs?

Our second week in Austria this January was all groomers, but they were in good shape and the Saalbach complex was massive and well organized to spread people around. It also helped that we had an abundance of powder the first week in the Arlberg. Liz' knee got worked hard that first week so the second week needed to be dialed down a bit anyway.

Fraser Wilkin actually gives Solden good marks for snow reliability.
http://www.weathertoski.co.uk/european- ... n-austria/
Of course that's based mostly on the glacier access. Glaciated ski terrain tends to be on the flat side, because if it's not it will be riddled with seracs and be unsafe. The long T-bars at the top of Zermatt's Klein Matterhorn were a good example.
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Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby kingslug » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:56 am

I went to Valle Nevado 2 years ago 2 weeks before closing. Thankfully they got 10 inches to cover the rocks. It was still a pretty cool trip and had plenty to do. Yes, its a gamble but we got a good deal so had to commit. It seems to snow everywhere I go so lets hope that lasts.
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Re: Mammoth, Apr. 10-12, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:18 am

Valle Nevado is where they have the most package deals to lure customers. Unfortunately the lifts are situated so there is relatively little easily accessible terrain above the intermediate level. I would definitely choose Las Lenas, Portillo or Chillan over Valle Nevado if returning to South America. The other key destination, Bariloche, is better for skiing than Valle Nevado too. Bariloche also has by far nicest resort area, but has the least reliable snow.
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Re: Tesla, Euro and South America Ski Trips

Postby jasoncapecod » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:10 am

The above is a prime example why one must have a plan B...Either the ability to cancel or divert with out taking a major financial hit..

Too much money is a stake to ski crap conditions or deal with crap weather.. Weather forecasting good enough a week out, to know what your are getting yourself into..
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Re: Tesla, Euro and South America Ski Trips

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:05 am

jasoncapecod wrote:The above is a prime example why one must have a plan B...Either the ability to cancel or divert with out taking a major financial hit.. Too much money is a stake to ski crap conditions or deal with crap weather.. Weather forecasting good enough a week out, to know what your are getting yourself into..

Sez the guy who books a family trip to Bachelor at Xmas!
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Re: Tesla, Euro and South America Ski Trips

Postby jasoncapecod » Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:28 am

Bachelor was a successful trip, except for one day..
I had a viable alternative in Zermatt , when I had to bail on Le Gets..

When Tahoe went ballistic , I bailed with a 200 hit...
I refuse to charge head first into a s%ht storm hoping that it turns out ok..
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Re: Tesla, Euro and South America Ski Trips

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:57 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:Sez the guy who books a family trip to Bachelor at Xmas!

That's one of the safer bets in terms of both having adequate early season snow and minimizing holiday price gouging. But I recall jason going to the Alps at Christmas also, which can be a fail on both counts. Zermatt may have had snow but it was mostly manmade on-piste, a mere fraction of its potential later in the season.

kingslug wrote: ...mediocre conditions, more like 200 hundred miles of flat groomers....

If that's what kinglug thought of Solden, I can't imagine why he's taking a second trip to Valle Nevado, especially booked before there is snow on the ground.

jasoncapecod wrote:The above is a prime example why one must have a plan B...Either the ability to cancel or divert with out taking a major financial hit. Too much money is a stake to ski crap conditions or deal with crap weather.. Weather forecasting good enough a week out, to know what your are getting yourself into..

I endorse this sentiment, but it's a whole lot easier to delay as long as possible in pulling the trigger than try to get out of a commitment you have already made. Thus the prime advice for South America: don't book until there's some snow on the ground with the demonstrated sketchy history of the past 7 years.

South America doesn't have lot of wiggle room once you have committed. Las Lenas is at the ends of the earth, you have to go Saturday to Saturday both for hotel bookings and that's when the flights or overnight buses from Buenos Aires operate. Staley was headed into a total debacle at Las Lenas in 2014, cut the potential losses by spending his first week in Buenos Aires, then got lucky with a big storm right before his second week.

Bariloche is a real town where you can probably score lodging on short notice but it's still a flight or long overnight bus from Buenos Aires. And Bariloche's snow reliability is probably worse than the US Northeast.

Chile has somewhat more flexibility. You can rent a car and choose among Portillo, Valle Nevado and Chillan. But there are still pitfalls. Portillo has just the one hotel that often sells out, so if you want to be flexible you're probably commuting from Los Andes. Portillo and Valle Nevado are not that far apart and thus have the same good and bad years. Chillan has the best track record in South America, but even it had an awful year in 2016 with maybe two weeks in mid-August of decent skiing.

When Richard, Adam and I went to Chile in 2007, it was through a Chilean tour operator and included a private van and driver. We met Patrick in Portillo and he had just come from two powder days in Chillan. We were going halfway there for Colchagua Valley wine on the trip anyway and so asked for our other ski days to be moved from Valle Nevado to Chillan. But even in this scenario we couldn't get out of the hotel reservation in Valle Nevado.

jamesdeluxe wrote:If my eastern Switzerland trip hadn't been canceled by passport issues, I may have been dealing with similar conditions after a multi-week drought.

James' strategy of hitting the under-the-radar areas in Europe ought to be ideal for flexibility. Surely these are the kind of places where you can score last minute lodging, so why not just book the air to Geneva or Zurich and a car far in advance, then choose the destination later based upon snow?

In our case this year, I wanted to show Liz the Arlberg, and you aren't going to get into the Sandhof in Lech if you don't reserve a full week by October. Two weeks ahead we were looking at the nearly bare ground disaster scenario, though we had only paid a deposit and could have walked away losing just $700. But at least we were going to a high snowfall area, and it was probably not entirely a coincidence that when there were finally a couple of January storms, the Arlberg was the region that got the most snow. The remaining destinations over the next two weeks were booked on short notice based upon weather forecasts.

Returning to the fundamental advice here:
jasoncapecod wrote:The above is a prime example why one must have a plan B...Either the ability to cancel or divert with out taking a major financial hit. Too much money is a stake to ski crap conditions or deal with crap weather.. Weather forecasting good enough a week out, to know what your are getting yourself into..

What fraction of destination skiers have a plan B? I'll bet less than 5%. It took much exhortation on these boards to divert johnnash with his Epic Pass during 2012 when both I-70 Colorado and Tahoe were having disastrous skiing. To his credit he diverted much of his I-70 time to Wolf Creek and all of his Tahoe plans to Utah. But sadly most people are like the infamous GPaul and doggedly
jasoncapecod wrote:charge head first into the sh%t storm

One core piece of advice here: when in doubt, have a rental car. New Zealand has erratic snow reliability, but there are lots of things to do there besides ski. On our first trips there, I in 1982 and Patrick last year hit poor ski seasons but spent well under half our time skiing and so still had enjoyable trips. Europe has lots of options too (see our Venice excursion this year) but if you don't have a car it's not so easy to take off and do something else when weather is unfavorable for skiing.

Just to demonstrate that I'm not being holier than thou here, I too have
jasoncapecod wrote:charged head first into the sh%t storm

viewtopic.php?t=606
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
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Re: Tesla, Euro and South America Ski Trips

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:52 am

Tony Crocker wrote:James' strategy of hitting the under-the-radar areas in Europe ought to be ideal for flexibility. Surely these are the kind of places where you can score last minute lodging, so why not just book the air to Geneva or Zurich and a car far in advance, then choose the destination later based upon snow?

True. For that trip, I booked my hotels a couple weeks in advance, but I could've actually waited until the last minute given it was an off-peak period and that part of Switzerland isn't a major tourist area. My excellent luck (skill? :-D ) in choosing Alps destinations over the years made me go on auto pilot. Even with my 11th hour misfortune, I only lost a couple hundred dollars on hotel cancellations; the flight (FF award) and rental car didn't incur kill fees.
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