Klosters Madrisa & Parsenn, Switz. Jan. 27, 2013

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Klosters Madrisa & Parsenn, Switz. Jan. 27, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:44 pm

As many of you know the Davos Economic Forum was last week. We drove over there Saturday afternoon and the main street was in near gridlock with police restricting driving up to the Promenade where the ritzy hotels are. So I thought there was a risk of crowds on the marquee hill Parsenn Sunday. Parsenn is huge but initial access is only from a funicular on the Davos side and a 2-stage tram on the Klosters side. There are 4 smaller hills in the area and I thought it would be best to hit a couple of those. We started with Madrisa, where the base was close to our Hotel Silvapina in Klosters Dorf. We got up its access gondola with no problems only to find that 4 out of 5 upper lifts were T-bars, which Richard does not like. He did like the wide pistes, which were in good shape despite sunny exposure. The back valley of Madrisa was really deserted and had a long scenic run from the top of its T-bar to the Zuggerhuti chair which returns skiers to the main part of the area.

Trail map:
Image

With questionable weather predicted for Monday we decided to change plans and leave Madrisa at 11AM after a modest 5,300 vertical and at least sample Parsenn for the afternoon. At least the access tram would not be busy midday and we were up to Gotschnagrat by noon despite me retrieving my camera from the hotel and having to take the bus from there to the Klosters tram base. Views from Gotschnagrat, first north to Madrisa in the upper left quadrant of the pic below, above the tree line.
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The town at lower right is Klosters Dorf, where we’re staying. There is a long runout from Madrisa down that valley center right to town but we did not try it.

View east:
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And west, where Richard and I are about to ski to the Schwarzealp lift:
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Partway down that run, view SE to Davossee, the frozen lake at center distance.
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The city of Davos is hidden behind the mountain center right. The opposite end of Parsenn drops into Davos.

Next run was down to the Grubenalp lift, where there is also a well regarded restaurant. The layout is such that from Grubenalp you can’t quite make it to the Totalp quad or Parsenhutte tram without first using one of the T-bars to get there. We rode the Furka T-bar, Richard got off it late and it got stuck in the wooden device designed to funnel it to the upper bullwheel. I was barely able to swat it loose swinging a ski pole over my head. The top of Furka is on a saddle with the backside Schifer gondola in view.
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We skied down to its base, a wide open cruise of 2,900 vertical. Richard just approaching tree line.
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View down valley from Klosters towards Serneus from same spot.
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The gondola itself is 3,600 vertical and if you ski to it from the top of the mountain it’s 4,200. We took the Gipfelbahn tram up there.
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View NE from the top.
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Several of the Parsenn lifts converge at the secondary Weissfluhjoch peak just out of view to the right. Richard starting down from the top.
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This time we skied under the gondola just to the Schifer midstation. Now it was close to 2PM and Richard wanted a break. As the previous Sunday on the White Ring at Lech/Zurs I knew there was questionable weather on the way, so I headed back out after a quick $12 bowl of soup.

Many days we have been taking a pass on lunch with the crazy prices. On the Piste-to-Powder days in Austria lunch was typically $25 to $30. Particularly obnoxious are $5+ sodas and the occasional charge for tap water or a ketchup packet for French fries. Quality of food has been excellent, and the superb $90pp four course dinner we had at Restaurant Steinbock Sunday night was probably no more expensive that a comparable meal at home. But if you want a basic cheap meal either on the mountain or for dinner, that’s not so easy to find. So that’s one reason to do half board with dinners included as we did at the Sandhof in Lech. Today we decided to take that option for our 2 nights at the Bellaval in Laax. The board dinner charge is “only” $50pp, but by our experience that’s less than you will pay at most Swiss resort restaurants including all 3 of our nights in Davos/Klosters. I have read that thanks to the 2008 financial crisis and the ongoing issues in the Euro zone, the Swiss franc has been unusually strong, currently = $1.09US.

After the break I sampled one run each on the Hauptertali T-bar and the Meierhoftali and Rapid quads. The latter parallels the funicular coming up from Davos.
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I also took 2 runs on the carving piste under the Totalp quad and Parsenhutte tram.
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Then I rode the Furka T-bar up and once again skied down to Schifer, this time on the deserted #24 piste which bypasses the mid-station.
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I had read in the guidebooks of meandering trails from there down into the valley, catching a bus or train back to Klosters. I could not find the trail to Serneus and took my chances with the 12km trail to Kublis. On that trail I passed a few farmhouses, I assumed by occasional cattle odors.
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By dumb luck I reached Kublis at 4:11 and the train to Klosters arrived at 4:15.
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20,600 vertical on Parsenn, starting at noon with no waits in line despite all that traffic we had seen in town. My last run was 5,300 vertical and if you did it from the top it would be 6,700. Parsenn is famous for its long cruisers and we were quite impressed. Snow quality was better than on the Arlberg pistes and you could really let the skis run.
1) The carving piste and the gondola runs face north to northeast.
2) The pistes are cut much wider than in the Arlberg, contributing to
3) Lower skier density, so not so much mogul formation. Both 1&2 above mean fewer scraped off hard spots.

What about the off-piste? I was pleased to sample that Tuesday after some new snow Monday. There are not as many sustained pitches as at Lech/Zurs, but I got the new snow here and not there and finally had the experience James touts of skiing untracked snow within easy access from lifts for most of the day. It was not a big dump, just a few inches, so the more north exposure probably made for better skiing near the lifts/pistes than after a comparable light snowfall in the Arlberg. I suspect due to intermediate reputation Davos/Klosters also is less competitive for powder than St. Anton, though not necessarily Lech/Zurs.
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Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: Klosters Madrisa & Parsenn, Switz. Jan. 27, 2013

Postby jasoncapecod » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:23 pm

I have been following James and your trip. For the life of me , i don't know how you are able to find your way home. The size of the areas in mindbogglingly.

I experienced the same food and soda sticker shock . When I was in Zermatt 3 summers ago..
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Re: Klosters Madrisa & Parsenn, Switz. Jan. 27, 2013

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:40 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Many days we have been taking a pass on lunch with the crazy prices. On the Piste-to-Powder days in Austria lunch was typically $25 to $30.

All three days here, I've been able to get away with a lunch consisting of a decent-sized visit to the salad bar with a Weissbier and it hasn't run over 11 Euros for any of them.

Yep, unless money is not an issue, you absolutely have to go with half-board accommodations; otherwise, you're opening yourself up to a huge amount of restaurant-tab exposure. Moreover, it's one less thing to have to decide every day, knowing that you'll be eating breakfast and dinner at your hotel. Similar to the experience of traveling on skis to different villages, I'd love to have the experience of checking out different restaurants, but not with my current financial reality. Same with visiting Switzerland -- it looks fantastic, but unaffordable.

I remember the salad bar and breakfast bar at the Sandhof (eight years ago) to be quite extensive -- is it still like that?
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Re: Klosters Madrisa & Parsenn, Switz. Jan. 27, 2013

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:56 pm

The evening salad bar (and the fresh bread and cheese along with it) at the Sandhof are outstanding. If I get a reasonable breakfast I can easily blow off lunch, particularly if I know a Sandhof quality dinner is upcoming. I've had no lunch on the 3 short ski days (tomorrow will be another one) and just a bowl of soup on 3 other days. I don't mind paying up for gourmet quality, but $6 sodas, $9 french fries, and $17 for a burger or a plate of spaghetti I'm not going to do that. After observing dinner prices in Klosters we went for the half-board in Laax. On the bus rides today I did see more in the way of casual restaurants here. Flims/Laax may be a different market; there are a lot of families with kids here. It will be interesting to see what Andermatt/Goschenen are like over the weekend, more under the radar places maybe not as expensive dining as the well known resorts?

jasoncapecod wrote: For the life of me , i don't know how you are able to find your way home. The size of the areas in mindbogglingly.

Sometimes it's a taking a train or bus back from a long way from where you started. Navigation depends upon a few things. Parsenn does not a have massive number of runs, it just that the ones it does have are very long. With so much above tree line it is fairly easy to figure out where to go if you pay attention riding lifts, watching the guinea pigs ski somewhere that might interest you. The trail maps are not great; you need to examine the topography in person. Where you're in trouble is when you get the bad visibility in a new place. We had to deal with this at Stuben and Jakobshorn, deliberately choosing smaller places on bad weather days. We were lucky to have mostly clear weather for the initial days at the big places in Lech/Zurs and Parsenn.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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