Alps Trip Late January

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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Dec 25, 2019 11:19 pm

Good point by James.

The Skihütte Gruobenalp at Davos Parsenn didn't take plastic. I was limited to a bowl of soup as I didn't have enough cash for many scrumptuous alternatives.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Dec 26, 2019 6:54 am

Whereas the Alps are years, often decades, ahead of North America in so many parts of the ski and public-transportation experience, German-speaking regions (as mentioned, specifically Switzerland) often have an odd relationship with credit cards and it's not only on-mountain restaurants. Many B&Bs and restaurants in towns are cash-only as well -- and they don't necessarily have a big sign at the entrance communicating that point, so if you don't see the credit-card decals displayed anywhere, it's best to ask. During my visit to the Salzburg region last winter, I had to run to an ATM at the end of a five-night lodging stay to pay the (very reasonable) 250 euro bill.

When asked, they always claim that the fees from the credit-card companies (and not just AMEX, which isn't accepted at many small businesses in the U.S.) make it an untenable proposition for them. If that's the case, I understand; however, you'd think that tourist-heavy regions would let visitors/guests -- who may come from places where virtually no one uses cash anymore -- know how payment is expected to avoid an embarrassing situation.

OTOH, French-speaking regions are 100% credit-card equipped. I can't speak for Italy.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:14 pm

Restaurants in Japan often don't take credit cards either. Before we settled in at Beef Impact in Sapporo for Wagyu beef, I had to find an ATM first.

I do not recall any problems in Italy in 2018, even in the more rustic Monterosa region.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Fri Jan 03, 2020 2:01 pm

Given my window of the 18th-30th, I am beginning to get concerned by this massive blob of high pressure that has kept most of the alps sunny the past week and seemingly will for the foreseeable future. If this keeps up, I may need to shift gears from a trip focused on off piste to one focused on good piste network, good snow preservation, and good food. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to explore the Dolimites as in better conditions we probably would not head there any time soon. If this forecast holds does this change my calculus and are there any other suggestions? Generally our preferences are for more high speed lifts than cable cars, good length runs and uncrowded. Some of the pistes at some of these resorts seem like just get so moguled up and crowded. Hopefully going midweek could mitigate that. Anyways, thanks for the advice, bummed about the lack of snow.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Jan 04, 2020 12:48 am

Our 4 days in the Dolomites in 2018 were exactly in your time frame. The Dolomites probably have more snow on the ground now than then but most of this season's came in November. Nonetheless that huge snowmaking system can be used for resurfacing so I would expect conditions to be good.

Zermatt might be worth consideration. It has had above average snowfall and preservation is outstanding if it hasn't snowed for awhile. It's a very rugged mountain so takes a deep base to cover some of the off piste.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:55 pm

Thanks Tony. As we have been to Zermatt already we want to try something else. It seems like if off piste is not great given the lack of snowfall than this could be an ideal time for the Dolomites. From what I can gather, even with three weeks of no snowfall we can still probably get close to a quintessential experience there due to the snowmaking whereas other destinations we probably would have a less than ideal time. Is there a base area you can recommend? I would say our priorities are whichever resort has best long stronger intermediate/advanced pistes and are least crowded. Obviously a charming village and easy access to the slopes and good lift infrastructure would be great. We are less concerned with completing the sella ronda than we are with just having a good quality ski trip.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jan 06, 2020 5:57 pm

We liked Arabba (SE corner of Sella Ronda) as a base. It's on both the Sella Ronda and World War I circuits. It's also relatively close to the Marmolada Glacier and we thought the piste above Arabba were of good quality with better snow than the busier slopes at Selva (NW corner). Fraser says Selva is more expensive than Arabba. Corvara at the NE corner is much mellower terrain but both Arabba and Selva are easily skied form there.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:46 am

thanks. our plans have changed slightly. we now plan on leaving this sunday and it looks like our best option is a air Italy flight to milan that lands at around 630 am. we will need to leave on Friday. it seems like there are a few options closer to milan which make more sense given the tight timeline in working with. it seems like both the aosta or monte rosa resorts might work. given the lack of snow in the last two weeks and seemingly lower elevations than the geneva resorts, am curious how you think the conditions might be holding up there. I've read the trip reports and they seem like potentially fine destinations.

there is still a chance we fly through geneva but the award availability is slim pickings. unfortunate as I preferred the geneva resorts. but with sunshine predicted I think we will have a pleasant experience regardless
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:10 am

I should add that we are down to just two of us. My cousin who is in to off piste dropped out so it is just me and my father. Which really means a lot of piste skiing or gentle easy access off piste. Given the lack of snow I would imagine most easily accesible off piste is long tracked out so chalky northern facing is probably the best we can hope for. A limited piste network is probably not best.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:16 am

Here is a current multi-day trip report from the Dolomites. He updates the thread as-it-happens while there. It ain't looking too bad for high-speed cruising. Run it through Google Translate for the descriptions and tips.
https://www.alpinforum.com/forum/viewto ... 48&t=62859
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:18 am

now that some of my parameters are locked in I think the dolomites are too far. for 3.5 days of skiing I'd love to keep it under 2 hours driving from milan. based on my last few hours of research, champoluc/alagna or aosta/courmayeur seem like good options. I just cant get a sense for how they may be holding up in this dry weather spell.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:49 pm

And if worth it, could widen the drive radius to 3 hours which would add in St Moritz and Verbier as options as well. I will have the option of returning through Zurich but as of now am committed to arriving in Milan.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 09, 2020 8:59 pm

The Dolomites are not too far from Milan IMHO. In 2018 we landed in Geneva Thursday afternoon and were skiing in the Dolomites Saturday after skiing 4 hours at Pila on Friday! The Autostrada east from Milan is fast as is the one going north toward Brenner Pass. Once you get off the Autostrada it was about an hours' drive to the western edge of the Dolomites and another hour from there to Arabba.

We skied the Monterosa on that trip too. The eastern half (Alagna, east half Grosseney) is off piste oriented and not much of it is north facing. The west side Champoluc has more pistes but is far from the scale of the Dolomites or even Cervinia which could be another option.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Fri Jan 10, 2020 9:58 am

For those reasons I think the Monta Rosa areas are out.

I land in Milan at 6 am Monday.

The two options I am weighing most heavily are:

1. St. Moritz
2. Stay in Courmeyeur--do our first day on piste, hire a guide for the 2nd day, ski grand montets the 3rd day, and play the 4th day by ear. Maybe ski the vallee blanche from the italian side which sounds mellow and maybe something my dad can handle.

Both options are a 1 to 2 hour drive savings over the Dolomites.

Flights are booked and it looks like sunshine!

If this plan seems poor I am all ears but I think 4+ hours driving on a 4 day triop is just too much for us to handle.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Staley » Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:37 pm

I’m wrapping up my third day in the Dolomites right now; was based in Arabba which I think is ideal for skiing, although some other towns may be more exciting (especially if you don’t do a hotel with half board). All pistes are perfectly covered and have great snow quality in the morning. By 1pm, they get a bit more scraped, but I’ve had no issue holding an edge on any piste at any point during the day, no matter the aspect.

Crowds are generally low right now, it’s rare to wait in a lift line. Marmolada did get about a 10 minute wait by noon, but it was walk-on before then.

Overall, this is the best place I’ve ever been for on-piste skiing. Long runs with good pitch, incredible views, excellent food. Top to bottom laps on the Marmolada were the best groomers I’ve skied ever, without a doubt. There’s just no off piste skiing to speak of at present.

I recommend full-on race skis if you come here at the moment, and every shop rents them, so you could easily leave skis at home and have easier travel.
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