Arosa-Lenzerheide, CH, Jan. 18, 2019

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Arosa-Lenzerheide, CH, Jan. 18, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:48 am

Sorry for the delay in TR’s, which is worse this year for a variety of reasons. Travel to Europe from the West Coast is never as easy as it is for James, with longer flights, connections and the 9 hour time change. This time our flight left LAX late and missed the connection in Amsterdam. The good news is that there are numerous flights from AMS to GVA so we only arrived in Geneva 3 hours late and we even had all of our luggage!

Like last year we flew into the wrong gateway airport for where the best skiing was, so we drove 4 hours across Switzerland to Chur, arriving 7:15PM. Liz handled most of that drive because I started a mild cold at home Monday that got much worse during the travel Wednesday/Thursday.

A few days before we left home we reserved St. Moritz as our first resort destination, but the 1.5 hour drive there from Chur goes through Lenzerheide, where James had skied in December 2017.
Arosa_Lenzerheide.jpg

It looked like we should start around Parpan, where the Obertor lift provides the only ski connection between the east and west side of the valley. But there was no parking lot with easy access to Obertor so we started at Heimberg.

This was the first of 10 days of nearly ideal conditions for European skiing. Austria and eastern Switzerland have deep snowpacks from three massive storms. There was tremendous avalanche activity during and in the wake of those storms but once settled the snowpack is stable with avy rating no more than 2, rather similar to what we see after massive dumps in the Sierra. The snowpack is less stable in France and western Switzerland, which suffered 3 dry weeks after a rain event just before Christmas.

The weather has also been ideal over these 10 days, mostly sunny but relatively cold in the -10C range (+14F). Thus the pistes can be maintained as packed powder and off piste now is also excellent unless wind affected (we have also seen almost no wind) or south-exposed. End of day runs to resort level are often slick from traffic and a snowmaking subsurface but we have seen little of that. I think the December manmade bases have been well buried by the first half of January natural snow.

Particularly with my health it made sense to follow the sun, should be easy to do at Arosa/Lenzerheide with primary east and west exposures. So from shady Heimberg at 10:30AM we ascended 3 lifts to the connector tram to east facing Arosa.
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It was a nippy -15C up here, fortunately with zero wind.

No question this was James’ kind of place, nearly all intermediate pitch, with broad faces of lightly if at all contested powder, including 4 inches overnight above that deep base. Dropping into Arosa we stayed mostly on the 2a and 2b pistes not knowing the topography, though we cut a few switchbacks here and there to test the powder. To survey the area we rode the Kulm gondola and skied to Mittlestation, where the 1,500 vertical Bruggerhorn chair and 2,000 vertical Weisshorn tram rose over wide open powder fields. Liz on Bruggerhorn face with Weisshorn in background.
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The steeper fall line here tilted a bit SE with an occasional crunch on the subsurface, but the powder was all good at lower angle or more direct east facing.
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The Weisshorn had a steeper entry where a few tracks converged, but was easily scouted riding the tram up.
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Now for the fun part:
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Sweeping out to the right into the sun the slope spread out into broad low angle powder.

The last pitch was perhaps upper intermediate/advanced, not as steep as it looks from below in this picture.
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The steep entry is behind the upper rocks at top right.

As it was almost 1PM we needed to head back to Lenzerheide if we wanted to ski much there. But we certainly hit the highlights at Arosa.

We rode the Hornli gondola and transfer tram, then skied navigated pistes 20 and 28 to the Obertor lift crossing the road.
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My plan was to take just one long run on the west side of Lenzerheide, and after a quick break ski the late afternoon on the east side which would have the last sun. Riding the Statzerhorn chair past 2PM was all in the shade and we were both getting cold. The off piste under that chair looked decent, but light would be flat so we thought it prudent to ski the 60 piste in the sun to Alp Lavoz for a soup and thaw break.

We left Alp Lavoz at 2:45 and now my navigation skills went awry. We skied the 54 piste to Avant Clavo, and worse beyond it into the beginner area served by a cable tow like Fernie’s old meathook. Due to the combination of cold, illness and fatigue I didn’t do too well with that tow.
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They had to stop the lift and I had to get out of my skis. Liz correctly commented that we needed to get on our way before I made any more mistakes. But I made another navigation error, skiing down to Valbella instead of to the transfer lift. It was past 4PM when we rode Obertor, and unfortunately Heimberg had closed so we had to walk to the car instead of skiing to it from the top of that lift. So after our break we skied all low elevation runs in the shade instead of high elevation runs in the sun. Fortunately the surface conditions down low were just as good as up high with the exceptional recent weather.

We skied 8,400 vertical in Arosa and 10,000 in Lenzerheide, about 4K total of powder. No surprise I was a zombie once we were in the car so Liz drove the scenic 1.5 hours over Julier Pass to St. Moritz.
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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Tony Crocker
 
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Re: Arosa-Lenzerheide, CH, Jan. 18, 2019

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:58 pm

A nice Day 1. Looks like we had almost identical experiences there.

Connecting those two ski areas was a great move -- they complement each other nicely. I wasn't aware of the Roger Federer compound:
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/ ... ins-Arosa/
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Re: Arosa-Lenzerheide, CH, Jan. 18, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:46 am

That's an interesting article, though 5 1/2 years old. I asked when the Arosa-Lenzerheide tram was built but the tram operator didn't speak English. It was built in summer 2013, same time as the Lech-Warth gondola connection. We also noticed that Arosa had more of a resort feel with lots of ski-in ski-out chalets even though it had less ski terrain than Lenzerheide.
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10366
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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