St. Moritz - Diavolezza/Lagalb, Switzerland: March 12, 2020

ChrisC

Well-known member
I started at Diavolezza first thing in the morning. The previous day's warm temperatures started to consolidate the powder rendering a lot of the off piste worthless by mid-morning. The benefit to this stable weather was that Diavolezza's Morteratsch Glacier was open. \:D/ =D>

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Skied some front side runs in the AM - a little off piste in areas. Tram lines started to build throughout the day - likely due to Italians crossing the border to ski since Italy had shut all of its ski areas the previous day due to COVID-19.

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View to Lagalb
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After a couple of runs, I was ready to ski the glacier and take a train ride back to Diavolezza. It's a mini-Vallée Blanche with spectacular glacier views. The off-piste was OK-ish due to glacial cooling. The lower half was spring skiing.

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The trains back to Diavolezza run hourly. I just missed one - so I ate outside at the local cafe at the Morteratsch train stop. Temps were approaching 50f. Lots of hikers out to view the glacier on such a beautiful day. Playing dodge 'em a bit.

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Lagalb
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At Lagalb I just did high-speed piste laps on softening snow. Fun! The Off-piste was skunked by now. Too bad - looked like great terrain. At the end of the day did a drink at the summit. I was tired and decided to try the Italian Bombardino "The Bomb" - espresso/brandy combination.

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View to Diavolezza
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View to Italy
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Some evening alpenglow photos in St. Moritz
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After a great day, the world started going to hell and Trump decided to close borders to Europe. I think I had 12 flights canceled on me in 24 hours - either the European leg and/or US leg. I tried to ask Hertz if I could drop the rental car in Zurich as a global emergency courtesy. Sure if I wanted to pay a 5,000 Euro drop fee. No thanks. I'd rather go take my chances in Milan. :-k :oops: :evil: #-o =P~
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Aside from COVID, ChrisC has an enviable track record in the Alps. James and I both missed out on that Morteratsch Glacier run.

ChrisC":3v6mlodn said:
I was tired and decided to try the Italian Bombardino "The Bomb" - espresso/brandy combination.
Liz and I had a few of those in the Dolomites.

I did not know that ChrisC flew in and out of Milan on this trip. That would explain the COVID.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
Tony Crocker":34pmde9o said:
I did not know that ChrisC flew in and out of Milan on this trip. That would explain the COVID.
Had no idea that's how it happened and that we both flew back on the same day. I'm likewise jealous that ChrisC nailed the glacier run -- was really bummed that they closed it during my visit.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
Tony Crocker":3iclmys0 said:
I did not know that ChrisC flew in and out of Milan on this trip.

It was just slightly cheaper to fly in/out of Milan and rent an SUV vs. Zurich. I just thought I could pass through Milan's airport and avoid the flu with normal precautions. Like I had done in Japan 45 days ago while the virus was raging in China.

However, I really did not like the setup of Milan airport and rental car experience. I would never repeat it unless skiing in Italy.

Zurich is smaller, newer and more streamlined. In 2019, I was on the slopes of Engelberg almost 2 hours after landing ... immigration, customs, baggage, car rental, etc.

I don't really like Geneva's airport - I'm never sure if I rented a car from the Swiss side or French side??!!
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
Tony Crocker":gnt9t2d9 said:
Aside from COVID, ChrisC has an enviable track record in the Alps. James and I both missed out on that Morteratsch Glacier run.

This trip had the right amount of sun and snow - and no storm got too intense that prevented an enjoyable ski day. (My first couple of runs in Lenzerheide were rough - and luckily Laax had trees).

The Morteratsch Glacier is less about the skiing (relatively low/mid intermediate) and more about the scenery. It took me nearly 40 minutes to ski 6 miles/3500 ft according to my Ski Tracks App. That's slow and means I was stopping a lot for photos and glacier gazing.

I had no idea Diavolezza even existed until Tony reported on it 2 years ago. Only thought St. Moritz had two ski areas.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
ChrisC":2ca4f003 said:
I don't really like Geneva's airport - I'm never sure if I rented a car from the Swiss side or French side??!!
Departing GVA with a rental is fine; but you're right -- dropping off the car can be a headache with the French/Swiss aspect. I learned my lesson and make sure I have the right GPS coordinates before returning.


ChrisC":2ca4f003 said:
I had no idea Diavolezza even existed until Tony reported on it 2 years ago. Only thought St. Moritz had two ski areas.
As mentioned in my Diavolezza TR, I knew it existed because I saw this poster at a ski area in Quebec 15 years earlier; however, I assumed that it was in Italy (I didn't know at the time where Engadin was):

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ChrisC

Well-known member
jamesdeluxe":2eyoj279 said:
ChrisC":2eyoj279 said:
I don't really like Geneva's airport - I'm never sure if I rented a car from the Swiss side or French side??!!
Departing GVA with a rental is fine; but you're right -- dropping off the car can be a headache with the French/Swiss aspect. I learned my lesson and make sure I have the right GPS coordinates before returning.

Oh - I am a bit of a mess. I generally (accidentally) rent in France and return in Switzerland...never found the French rental car return area...I just give up.

Now I only rent from the Swiss car vendors.
 

EMSC

Active member
This GVA discussion brings up plenty of memories for me as well. The airport itself is modern and decent, but the whole French vs Swiss sectors thing is plenty confusing. All I really know is I have successfully returned rental cars at that airport somehow...
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
We went through Geneva airport twice in 2018 and once in 2019. Read your car rental reservation carefully to see which side, which we did not do the first time.

Returning a car to the French side is tricky. We studied maps very carefully and reserved a room in France close to the return road. Our return flights are usually around 7AM so we need to have a room close to the airport. After three tries we have finally figured out where we need to be.

Liz has that Diavolezza ski poster, so we have known of its existence for a long time. But yes we assumed it was in Italy until we were planning the time in St. Moritz.
 

jamesdeluxe

Administrator
ChrisC":2g4ip7c6 said:
Forgot to post this earlier - but this was an interesting story about how Lagalb was saved from closure. In short, a Greek shipping magnate traded his ownership of Corviglia's Piz Nair Tram for the ski area of Lagalb.
I had no idea that Lagalb almost closed.

From the Telegraph article: "The two lifts climb to almost 3,000m, but from a high base: the road’s altitude is 2,100m. Still, that meagre vertical drop packs in some wide open reds and blacks and it’s never crowded."

900 meters = 2,950 feet. The writer is clearly being a troll but I'll point out that very few of us would call 2,950 feet a meager vertical drop.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
I suppose some people in Europe would think 2,950 vertical feet is subpar. The reality is that at places with 5,000+ conditions on the lower 2,000 are often nothing to write home about. That can include Whistler. The elevation of Diavolezza/Lagalb makes it quite reliable though. Primary exposures are NE at Diavolezza and NW at Lagalb.

For North Americans it's certainly an unusual setup to see a ski area with just one lift of that much vertical comprising most of your ski day. Kicking Horse is the only North American example I can recall.
 
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