Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Europe and Asia, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:46 am
Liz has had a copy of this ski poster for nearly 20 years, though she knew nothing about the ski area until now.
Diavolezza and Lagalb are on the road from St. Moritz SE toward the Bernina Pass into Italy, maybe a 15 minute drive from the center of St. Moritz. Bus and train service is available if you don’t have a car. On the drive there’s view up to the Morteratsch glacier.
Skiroute 31 is marked on the map descending that glacier, but it was closed as the toe of the glacier has receded and made the lower part of the run treacherous. It could probably still be skied with a private guide. There’s a train stop at the bottom to return to Diavolezza.
The ski areas are on the left side of the map below.
Each area’s main or only lift is a top to bottom tram, but that’s 2,900 vertical for Diavolezza and nearly 2,600 for Lagalb.
The Berghaus hotel and restaurant is at the top of Diavolezza’s tram at 9,767 feet.
We skied down to this chair, which serves maybe the upper 1,000 vertical with a couple of pistes.
Views from top of the chair:
The upper half of tram vertical is mostly too rugged to stray from the piste. But this short cutoff of a piste #2 switchback was an easy call.
Our next two trams we took piste #3, which opens up to some off piste skier’s left about halfway down. I’m on our first run there.
After that run we got a quiche up top in the Berghaus, where we also watched a 6 minute virtual reality video of helicopters, skiers and climbers around Diavolezza, Corvatsch and the Piz Bernina between them. Liz is on the Berghaus view deck with head of the Morteratsch Glacier in background.
View down the glacier, Piz Bernina is probably the high peak at left.
On our last Diavolezza run we took then highest traverse left from piste #3.
Liz scored the first untracked pitch.
I pushed farther out the traverse to get a much longer but quite mellow untracked face.
We regrouped and skied the #25 piste to a moving ramp that took us under the train tracks to the Lagalb base.
From the Diavolezza tram, Liz took this picture of Lagalb.
Also this picture looking past Lagalb to the Bernina Pass:
Lagalb offers a challenge to join the 8848 Club. That’s the height of 29,021 foot Mt. Everest in meters. They give you an RFID armband and you must climb this peak about 200 feet above the top of the Lagalb tram 4 times.
Add that to 11 runs off the Lagalb tram and you join the club. We got to Lagalb after 2:30PM and were content with 3 tram runs. The view off the back of Lagalb deep into Italy shows a small ski area at distance right center.
We skied the two main pistes 22 and 23. The view from the bottom of those wide open slopes shows that surely Lagalb is the St. Moritz area of choice for an uncontested powder day.
That face is illuminated with NW exposure in late afternoon, and I was a bit cautious how the snow might be 5 days after the last storm. So we ventured out there only on our last run. Liz was off piste for about the middle third of the descent and had no trouble making some fresh tracks.
I skied first near the edge of tracks at far skier’s right.
Finding the powder still excellent I continued through the lower section, which yielded powder turns even in its more constrained sections.
We skied 18,400 vertical, about 4K of powder.
I am quite confident that Diavolezza/Lagalb is James’ kind of ski area, likely overlooked by 90+% of St. Moritz visitors.
Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:19 pm
You don't say, so I have to assume "No" based on past history....
But you and Liz both had full avi gear, read daily avi bulletins and discussed the slope, aspects, consequences, skied independently so only one person could be caught, etc... for each different run while in off piste terrain correct? (cutting off the corner on a pisted section of the hill generally excepted).
Otherwise looks like good conditions and love the no crowds part of things.
Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:04 pm
In my first post from Arosa/Lenzerheide I discussed the weather/snow stability history leading up to our trip.
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.
During those 10 days we saw avy maps color coded yellow (2) for the entire region at the base areas. And yes we carried full avy gear. Most of the unguided powder we skied was fairly low angle in any case.
Thanks by the way to ChrisC, who posted the WePowder link. https://wepowder.com/en
This site goes into more detail than Fraser about upcoming weather and discusses off-piste conditions and snow stability.
Tue Jan 29, 2019 5:17 am
Gorgeous and empty. Years ago, I saw Liz's poster in an on-mountain restaurant in Quebec -- I still remember the devil on skis.
I'd like to assume that similar to other expensive resorts like Lech, there are lodging options such as the Sandhof for people with mere-mortal budgets.
Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:52 am
The Nira Alpina was about $300 per night, same as the Evaldo in Arabba same time last year. Fraser has a good idea of relative expense of Alps resorts. Val d'Isere is overall more expensive and Verbier much more. Last year we were spending no more than $200 per night in the Monterosa, Cervinia and Chamonix. Overall Switzerland is still somewhat more expensive than the Eurozone for lodging and food.
Fraser has I'm sure noted we value convenience and spa facilities and thus recommends fairly upscale places. Most are rated 3-star but in reality are somewhat nicer. The Tsanteleina in Val d'Isere and the Champs Fleuris in Morzine where we just arrived are 4-star.
Our strategy of chasing snow and weather, making last minute reservations for 3-4 days in each resort could easily be implemented in cheaper hotels. But the road warrior aspect of these trips do make us appreciate convenience and amenities once we settle in for a few days.
The Nira Alpina had a $55 per dinner half board option, but you needed to commit to it for every night. We wanted to go to that Gourmet Festival Grand Finale dinner, but it sold out publicly and we only got in with the assistance of Claudia at Nira Alpina
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