Alps Trip Late January

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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 10, 2020 2:48 pm

I would strongly vote for St. Moritz over Courmayeur for you and your dad. Piste skiing is far better in St. Moritz and I would not expect off piste in Courmyeur to be good, again due to questionable exposure, other than the Vallee Blanche. And you will have to commute through the Mont Blanc tunnel at least one way if not both.

But really you should listen to what Staley and I have told you and suck it up to drive to the Dolomites. Staley is a dedicated steep, off-piste skier, so it speaks volumes that he's that impressed with the Dolomites. While we preferred Arabba as a base, Selva/Val Gardena is a bigger town and at least 45 minutes closer to Milan so maybe that would make you more comfortable.

Links to my 3 St. Moritz TR's from 2019 are on the first page of this Euro section and my 4 Dolomite and 2 Monterosa reports are on the second page.

Links to most of my Euro reports are now grouped here as well: http://bestsnow.net/vft_euro.htm

Google Maps drive times from Milan:
St. Moritz 2:34
Val Gardena 3:42
Arabba 4:30
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:25 pm

Say no more, St. Moritz over Courmeyer, I agree with you. Thank you.

I am not going to reserve anything today so maybe I will change my mind. Perhaps even reserve nothing and if our flight lands earlier than expected make a last minute decision to take on the extra driving to Dolimites. The roads should be in good shape due to no snow. His review is definitely compelling though your and James trip reports to St. Moritz were as well.

Tony, the Nira Alpina is available. Curious, did you find staying slopeside in Corvastch to take away from any of the charm/village ambiance of perhaps staying more in town? The reviews are excellent...We would also consider the Waldhaus which is priced well given what seems to be the level of luxury but that seems even more isolated in addition to being a short drive from the furtschellas tram at corvatsch.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 10, 2020 6:36 pm

The Nira Alpina has a strong convenience factor being ski-on for Corvatsch. You can also ski to Corviglia from there though you will need to take a bus back to the hotel at the end of the ski day.

The Nira Alpina also has an excellent dining room and nice apres ski amenities. The isolation from town might be an issue if you don't have a car, but we did and you will. Most of the hotels will sell you steeply discounted lift tickets for each night you stay there, as both James and I found out.

Diavolezza/Lagalb is a 20 minute drive. It is served by train and bus but very quiet so easiest to drive as you can park very close.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Sbooker » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:12 pm

If considering the Dolomites we stayed in Arabba at https://portavescovo.it/en on a half board arrangement. Fantastic in every respect.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:22 pm

We arrived in Milan yesterday morning at 6 am and were on the lifts at Corviglia by 10:15. No travel hiccups and an easy transfer.

We decided to stay at hotel monopol at the base of the corviglia funicular. The draw of staying in town ultimately swayed the decision. We are very happy. Affordable rate, great location, great rooms and great spa. It is easy to get to the funicular and though not as easy as ski on ski off it is as convenient as it is going to get in this town.

Day 1 at Corviglia went great considering the tired legs and the fact that is has not snowed in 3+ weeks. Off piste is not an option but we found the lift system to be modern and well spread out and the pistes to be long, varied and relatively empty. We racked up a lot of mileage. Though parts were a bit bare, for the most part we still were able to have a great day cruising. We thought we were happy...until we got to Corvatsch.

Day 2 at Corvatsch was as incredible as the previous trip reports on this site have conveyed. Blue skies, perfect grooming, cold grippy snow, long wide runs, spectacular views and most importantly, not a soul there. It was probably the best cruising day of our lives. It was tough to see what looks to be an incredible and easily accessible off piste be unskiable but so it goes. Even with the northern exposure, there has been a lot of northern winds recently per our guide which made most of the off piste unenjoyable. I can only imagine being here in the right conditions. Competition for powder Id imagine based on the demographics is relatively low compared to the Arlberg and all of it is dead smack in front of you and easily accessed. The runs off the top tram as well as the run back to Corviglia were standouts but really every piste we did was fantastic. Coupled with a glorious sun terrace italian lunch and we were ecstatic.

As for the town of St. Moritz, we are not as impressed as we have been with Zermatt or St. Anton (or Stuben where we stayed). We do not care to shop at Bogner and Cartier or stay at hotels that require blazers for dinner. We find the vibe to be a bit too stuffy and lacking much life (though that can probably be attributed to the time of our visit). The skiing and food more than make up for it though. The value of our lift pass and room and board are as great as previously discussed on here.

This is now my 4th trip to the alps. 2 have had great off piste conditions 2 have not. Regardless, my love for skiing here continues to grow and I find being out here to be exhilerating in a way that the Western US cannot compete with. New Yorkers are missing out continuing to trek to vail and park city...

We are happy with our decision. Thank you all for the help.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:20 am

Glad to hear that you enjoyed Corvatsch as much as Tony and I did in our separate visits. It seems like most people come away from a day there with a similar impression. Are you going to Diavolezza or Zuoz, also on the St. Moritz pass? If you really want to mix it up, drive the 20 minutes over Julier Pass to Bivio/see my report.

skiandgolfnut wrote:As for the town of St. Moritz, we are not as impressed as we have been with Zermatt or St. Anton (or Stuben where we stayed). We do not care to shop at Bogner and Cartier or stay at hotels that require blazers for dinner. We find the vibe to be a bit too stuffy and lacking much life (though that can probably be attributed to the time of our visit). The skiing and food more than make up for it though.

During my four days there, I found a number restaurants that were pitched at people with "mere mortal" social status and budget.

skiandgolfnut wrote:I find being out here to be exhilarating in a way that the Western US cannot compete with. New Yorkers are missing out continuing to trek to vail and park city.

That's basically my rap to people here as well.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:30 pm

I have a constructive restaurant suggestion in St. Moritz: Veltlinerkeller https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_ ... _Alps.html

It's local cuisine with strong Italian influence, notably the regional pizzocheri pasta (3rd and 8th pics in Trip Advisor review above).

Corvatsch powder was tricky because most of it is in boulder fields with many terrain traps. But it was dry and very high quality a year ago. It's astonishing how lazy some visitors are (including my friend Richard many years ago), never taking the bus from St. Moritz to ski Corvatsch: impeccable soft north facing groomers, wide open, scenic and empty on a blue ski Saturday last year.

You should check out Diavolezza/Lagalb, although it will be diminished somewhat if the off piste is wind hammered. Lagalb's off piste is very visible and accessible.

Both of you are right about the East Coasters overlooking the Alps. From out here it's best done on longer trips so in my case those have been since retirement.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby skiandgolfnut » Wed Jan 15, 2020 4:02 pm

What a coincidence we ate there last night! Some tripadvisor research led us there even though it was about a 15 minute walk over to St Moritz Bad. It was fantastic. Authentic food and great wine. Definitely a good recommendation. We splurged at Chez Veglia tonight which is an outpost of the Palace Hotel and it was fantastic too. The mountain restaurants have all been fantastic as well.

The guide we took for our first day at Corvatsch based on seeing my dad ski and the current conditions told us we should pass on Diavolezza until next time we are back. He does not hold up so well taking his skis off and on so the lift network is probably better for him than tram laps.

We spent another day at Corvatsch today before another at Corviglia tomorrow. Again, it was brilliant. Did not want to use the app on my phone to track our distances as to not drain battery but it was definitely one for the record books for us. I found some easily accessed wind smoothed off piste that was nice. The views are substantially nicer than at Corviglia and the quality of the pistes lasted well into the afternoon. The day was unfortunately marred by seeing someone go off one of the massive terrain park jumps and quite possible paralyze or kill themselves. A humbling experience and reminder to be safe. We commented that perhaps if the lift passes were more than 35 francs a patrolmen might have been able to get down to help sooner, so far as we could tell it took about 6/7 minutes. The relative lack of lift/safety staff relative to the US is very apparent.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:03 pm

Did you do the valley run that ends at the Hotel Kempinski?

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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:27 pm

skiandgolfnut wrote:The runs off the top tram as well as the run back to Corviglia were standouts....

I interpret this as a YES to James' question.

skiandgolfnut wrote:...as far as we could tell it took about 6/7 minutes. The relative lack of lift/safety staff relative to the US is very apparent.

I think it was about 6-7 minutes before anyone attended to Liz at Mountain High West a week ago. That hill (a close analogy to Hunter for you East Coasters) gives ski patrol a workout. I've never skied a day there and not seen an active meat wagon.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:36 am

skiandgolfnut wrote:The relative lack of lift/safety staff relative to the US is very apparent.

I've never thought about it but you're right -- you see ski patrol everywhere at U.S. areas/rarely in Europe. And if you get injured in the Alps, it's almost always an automatic heli ride for treatment. They don't mess with meat wagons.
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Sbooker » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:10 pm

Lots of rain to high elevation in Europe right now. :-(
I'm still procrastinating about whether to buy flights to Canada or Europe this Christmas and January. So many positives for both locations and roughly the same cost too.
Anyone want to help out with pointing me in the right direction?
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:21 am

This just in from our Alps weather expert Fraser Wilkin. The subtext is: don't panic.

It rained to 2700 in some exposed northwestern parts of the Alps yesterday and to about 2200m in the western Austrian Alps today. It even rained in Obergurgl today, not something I can recall happening at this time of year with its very enclosed inner-alpine location.

Tomorrow, by contrast, will see snow down to 400m later in the day in parts of the northern Alps!
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Re: Alps Trip Late January

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:30 pm

Canada’s Christmas snow record is certainly more consistent than in the Alps. 14-5, 15-16 and 16-17 were very bad in the Alps. This year was record low for Whistler though some of the interior Canadian areas were OK.
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Ski Records
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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