Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Europe and Asia, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:38 am
Arriving from Corvatsch at noon, we rode the Signal tram and J chair, then skied to Corviglia central to catch the Piz Nair tram to just over 10,000 feet. There’s a clean steep descent off the front side here.
However it’s been in direct sun for at least 3 days and there’s long traverse left down below to return to the lifts/pistes.
The #16 piste drops briefly NW off the back with a panoramic wilderness view before curving around to the east.
We rode the W chair up to Fuorcla Grischa, where it is met by the V chair emerging from this tunnel exit.
The U and V lifts have Corviglia’s highest ski terrain and most reliable snow. It’s all above 8,500 feet with more east exposure than the direct south of much of the mountain. We started with the long Val Schlattain piste #17 with short tests of the untracked next to it. Riding the U chair we spotted numerous tracks coming out of a notch onto a fairly steep shaded face. We rode the V chair shown below and I found the traverse track leading there.
Liz on the traverse, U chair in background:
Looking down to the base of U chair through the chute I’m about to ski.
Liz continued the traverse out into the broad open bowl.
Lower down she got this pic of me skiing below the chute.
Liz is a speck in the wide open here.
My chute was the obvious line just right of center.
We then skied a piste from Gluna down to a short break at Marguns. From there we ascended to Corviglia’s easternmost point Las Trais Fluors. Off piste snow over here had some wind effect so we stuck mostly to piste #24. We saw some tracks dropping off to skier’s left into a gully with more tracks on the other side.
We continued on piste past Marguns to #25, which you can see at dead center of the above picture.
Piste #25 goes to a satellite base at Celerina, and at 3:30PM on Sunday it was quite busy including some racer kids carving it up. Fortunately the snow even here was forgiving packed powder so it was easy to ski as fast or slow as you pleased.
Riding the Celerina gondola gives a bird’s eye view of this tasty looking face, about 2,500 vertical if you traverse from the top of Las Trais Fluors.
It’s moderate pitch but with the south exposure there’s likely a narrow window between declining avalanche risk and increasing sun effect.
We rode up to Plateau Nair, skiing pistes #5&6 in the afternoon sun overlooking town.
Here’s the funicular coming up from the center of St. Moritz.
We then took L chair, where we had a nice view over Lakes Champfer and Silvaplauna to Corvatsch.
Our run to El Paradiso is now in the shade but Piz Nair is still in the sun up top.
We skied pistes 3 and 28 down to the Signal tram base, where a free bus takes skiers back to the Corvatsch base and our hotel. We skied 18,000 vertical at Corviglia between noon and 4:15PM with just some bits and pieces of powder.
Corviglia rivals Flims-Laax as the most south facing large ski area I've ever seen. Obviously I skied Corviglia in more favorable conditions, but there are a few reasons that the exposure is less of a flaw here.
1) Both are primarily intermediate areas but the more interesting terrain at Corviglia is up high. Flims-Laax' steeper topography is down lower and on my visit I could only ski it on piste because the lower mountain was all frozen granular.
2) St. Moritz' microclimate is about as close to Colorado as you can get in the Alps. Storms have to get over other mountains first, and while that limits quantity of snow, it enhances quality, keeps the temperatures down some and probably makes St. Moritz the most rain-proof resort in the Alps. Overall ski altitude is not as high as Zermatt and Val d'Isere but it's higher than most. There was an anomalous storm off the Mediterranean at the end of October 2018 that poured rain over the Dolomites but dumped a few feet of snow at Zermatt and St. Moritz. That provided a base for the more modest recent snows when areas farther north in Austria and eastern Switzerland were getting pounded.
3) Corviglia may be the most popular skiing in St. Moritz but it's not the only game in town. Corvatsch and Diavolezza/Lagrab have comparable altitude and extremely favorable exposure. Overall you can make a case that St. Moritz is one of the better March destinations in the Alps.