Eastern Alps Recommendations?

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Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby ChrisC » Sun Nov 18, 2018 8:03 pm

I was starting to plan an Arlberg ski trip and wanted some recommendations on other areas to add? Also, I was tempted to break up the Arlberg trip with a few days in St. Anton and a few days in Lech?

Some candidates for an additional two days: Ischgl, Davos, Kitzbuhel or Andermatt. Even Innsbruck areas. Was not sure what people liked better.
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Re: Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:02 pm

See my TR's from January 2017 (page 2) and January 2013 (page 4). Liz and I hit most of the major Austrian ski complexes in 2017: Arlberg, Ski Welt, Kitzbuhel, Saalbach/Fieberbrunn, Ischgl. After the Arlberg in 2013 Richard and I skied Davos, Flims-Laax and Andermatt. Both trips we flew into Zurich.

From a ski perspective Lech is a much more desirable base in the Arlberg than St. Anton.
1) Now that the Flexenbahn lift connection is there, traffic/liftlines are much worse for those daytripping from St. Anton to Lech/Zurs than the other way around. Coming from Lech Liz and I skied one way to St. Anton, had an apres drink at the Underground, then took the pay bus back to Lech.
2) Warth-Schrocken is easy to reach from Lech but could take all day out and back from St. Anton. It's very easy to ski Warth half a day from Lech. Warth is modest in scale but the snowiest resort in the Alps with not much competition for its powder.

The one caveat is that some guide services like Piste-to-Powder which I used in 2013 are based in St. Anton and from Lech I had to take the pay bus at 8:06AM to meet them by 8:45AM.

All of the other Austrian places we visited in 2017 were more intermediate oriented. Ischgl has a much higher altitude range than the others for snow preservation, so more likely to be able to ski off piste there. Ischgl is closer to the Arlberg than the other Austrian places and thus more convenient if you fly into Zurich.

At the other Austrian places (closer to Munich than Zurich) 95+% of our skiing was on-piste. That's not necessarily a criticism as weather was nice, pistes were well maintained and I set a bunch of vertical foot records that week. There is interesting and accessible off piste between Kitzbuhel and Pass Thurn and between Saalbach and Fieberbrunn, but you have be lucky with timing due to the low altitude where ungroomed snow does not preserve well. Ski Welt is lower still, barely reaching tree line, a snowmaking dependent trail complex like many in North America but on a much larger scale.

Coming from Zurich eastern Switzerland options are more convenient after the Arlberg than continuing east in Austria past Innsbruck. Davos has one large area (Parsenn) and a bunch of smaller ones, thus logistically like Chamonix. I did get a good powder day at Parsenn, though it's intermediate oriented. Off piste fall lines are short by Euro standards even though some of the pistes have huge vertical.

Flims-Laax is a big well-integrated complex, but heavily south facing. Based upon James' and other TR's, Arosa/Lenzerheide (bottom page 1) would be a better choice. I can't comment much about Andermatt because the weather was so severe I skied only one day there and visibility precluded venturing more than a few feet off piste.

The complex south or east out of Zurich that interests me most now is Engelberg. It rises to 10,000 feet, mostly north facing, has a good off piste reputation and its snowpack reputedly reached 6 meters last season.

I recall you planned to take a train from Zurich to St. Anton, which I've always heard is easy. Getting from St. Anton to some other ski resort may not be so convenient by train. If this is your Jan. 26 - Feb. 3 trip, that's only a week and the Arlberg may be enough. Our 2017 trip was 3+ weeks, included a 4 day detour to Venice between Saalbach and Ischgl. The 2013 and 2018 January trips were 2+ weeks, as will be 2019. We fly home the same day as ChrisC but we arrive in Geneva 10 days before he arrives in Zurich.
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Re: Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby ChrisC » Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:01 pm

Yes it's a one week trip. Last year was a bit insane since we were in a different country every day for a week: Val d'Isere -2 days, Courmayeur heli, Chamonix/Vallee Blanche, Zermatt, Cervinia.

We are sticking with the train to St. Anton and stay for the week - especially with the Warth addition - and the total Arlberg interconnection. Also, I think it would be fun and scenic - No real reason for a car. If there is a down storm day, I always wanted to see Innsbruck which is just an hour down the tracks.

Kitzbuhel - if the snow is not good, then I would not really want to be there.
Davos - looks like a bunch of connections
Davos - I hear the town
Ischgl - looks great, but really need a car

I did want to do guided skiing - the goals being the obvious ones - Valluga and North Face of Rendl. So we will sign up for 2 guided days with Piste to Powder.

Finishing up lodging: Was trying to split the week - 4 nights St Anton, 3 Lech. Of course most places want you to do the full week, but there are options.

After the Arlberg, I will have knocked most of the interesting major Euro resorts off my bucket list:
(Zermatt/Cervinia, Chamonix/Courmayeur/Megeve/Les Contamines, Verbier, Val/Tignes, Les Arcs/La Plagne, 3 Vallees, La Grave/Serre Chevalier/Les 2 Alps).

This is likely the total antithesis of James' list :) But I like the iconic massive resorts with HS Lifts.

I was interested last April of going to Engelberg and Andermatt - but abandoned the idea after seeing lots of green pastures in the valleys that might have limited the famed off-piste return routes. I would like to see these two.

Also, Cortina/Sella Ronda looks super scenic, mellow - and likely could be done anytime in life when lunch is more important than vertical.
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Re: Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby ChrisC » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:46 pm

Re: Engelberg

I found a very cool guide offering for Engelberg today. Their guide association runs a group tour of the 5 major off-piste itineraries.
http://www.engelbergmountainguide.ch/en ... the-big-5/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This would be great since you get to hit all the big lines and you do not need to build your own group. This greatly reduces cost. It's not cheap ($170/per), but I would not go near some of the glaciated, steep terrain myself without a guide. And a couple of lines are look simply epic and 3-5k. I had hear of The Laub - but never researched the others.

Engelberg Off-piste route descriptions http://offpisteroutes.com/engelberg-off-piste-routes/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Engelberg_offpiste_ski_map.jpg
Off piste in red


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Re: Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:12 pm

Engelberg is now near the top of my desired but yet unskied list. It was one of the few places in this year's Warren Miller movie that I have not skied. Thanks for doing the guide research for me!

With the banner year in the Alps in 2017-18 it's hard to believe Engelberg's off piste would not have been awesome. Fraser http://www.weathertoski.co.uk/ said it had the highest base depth in the Alps at over 6 meters, but I'm sure that was up high.
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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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Re: Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby ChrisC » Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:39 am

I wrote the Engelberg guide office:

"Group guiding:
Do you want to join a mixed freeride group? CHF170 (we need at least 5 participants to run the group). From 2019 Thursday to Sunday freeride or skitour group from 1 person. This could be a great option for you. What is your skiing level?
Duration: 1 day (08:30-17:00)"

That did not make total sense to me, so I asked again:
"So from Thursday to Sunday we run groups with one person. From Monday to Wednesday, we require a minimum of 5 participants."

I guess it's easier for them to pull guides on the weekend being so close to Swiss cities? Anyways, that sounds like a good deal. Outside the super large resorts, it's hard finding guides for on or two people to join a larger group.
Last year - I did private guides for my brother and I at Val d'Isere and Aiguille du Midi - but I had specific lines I wanted to try - and did not want other skiers potentially slowing us down.

If snow and weather look good - I may try to tack Engelberg onto this trip instead of hanging out in Zurich for a day - and push flight for a day. We'll see.

I wish Andermatt had a program like this.
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Re: Eastern Alps Recommendations?

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:24 am

Chris: Peter Niederberger, Engelberg's Overseas Sales Manager, was recently part of a Swiss Tourism webinar for the ski area. He may be helpful for additional queries: pniederberger@titlis.ch

Worth going to Andermatt just for this: :-D
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