First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in Europe and Asia, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Moderator: Tony Crocker

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Sep 04, 2021 6:20 am

ChrisC wrote:I liked James' reports from the Val d'Anniviers region.

That was going to be the first GVA circuit I posted for this thread; however, I felt that recommending additional ski areas the OP had never heard of would be overkill. To clarify, ChrisC is referring to my March 2017 visit to Valais, which rates as one of Switzerland's top skiing cantons along with previously mentioned Graubünden. The Val d'Anniviers/Anniviers Valley (pronounced ah NEE vee ay) is a "hiding in plain sight" insider tip that would get far more attention if the region weren't bookended by the world-renowned 4 Vallées (Verbier) on its western edge along with Zermatt, Saas-Fee, and Crans-Montana on its eastern edge.

Despite sub-optimal weather during a decent portion of my week there (you'll see that I subbed in a few translated reports from a German blogger featuring more representative pix), Valais lived up to expectations and lends itself to a varied ten-day visit within two hours of Geneva airport.

Central Valais
After landing in Geneva mid-morning, I drove east along the northern edge of stunning Lake Geneva, past Montreux, and into the Rhône River Valley, which is lined with vineyards on its northern and southern slopes. Within half an hour of arriving in the mountain village of Nax, the blue skies were invaded by fog and flat light, which was going to be a recurring theme on this trip:
-- Arrival day: Nax turned out to be an enjoyable local's mountain with nice views of the Rhône valley.
-- Day 2: I drove to the completely under-the-radar Val d'Hérens to hit its two larger ski areas Evolène and Arolla.
-- Days 3 and 4 were storm excursions at Anzère and Vercorin with noteworthy tree skiing at the latter.
-- Days 5 and 6 were flat-light outings at well-regarded Grimentz and Zinal.
-- Following four overcast days, I was finally rewarded on Day 7 with bluebird skies at incredible St. Luc/Chandolin.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Sat Sep 04, 2021 8:31 am

Hey James, actually thanks FOR adding this. I've been meaning to post to you about this very thing....unknown (largely) places near GVA that would be akin to the places you listed for ZHR that could be nice diversions away from industrial and good bail outs on bad vision days. I've been leaning a bit toward GVA solely based the sentiments everyone seems to have about Aosta/Monterosa being a great mix. Also when I began this journey of research, Sainte Foy was probably the first place I stamped on a map and said, "I wanna go there!" ...which ultimately opened the pandora box seeking 'another layer' if you will. So, definitely not overkill...I love it.
User avatar
jnelly
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:38 am
Location: madison wi

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Sep 05, 2021 7:17 am

jnelly wrote:I've been leaning a bit toward GVA solely based the sentiments everyone seems to have about Aosta/Monterosa being a great mix.

These kind of forum discussions often turn into people campaigning for their specific suggestions, similar to what Fraser mentioned earlier ("I WENT THERE; IT'S THE GREATEST AND YOU'LL LOVE IT TOO, GUARANTEED!!"). I've never been to Aosta/Monte Rosa so I can't comment other than that Tony has recommended the region to me. Unless you commit on lodging, which we're advising against during non-peak periods (with the exception of a justifiably high-demand hotel like the Sandhof in Lech), you'll probably change your mind a few times before the actual trip.

We've sometimes done "Upcoming Season Plans" threads -- a fun exercise to get the juices flowing by identifying target ski regions in September. It's always entertaining to circle back in the "Season Recap" thread and see which destination trips panned out or not for whatever reason. Look at this one from 2018-19, where I only went 1 for 3. The early season Cottonwoods visit went as planned; however, both of my Europe itineraries were re-routed: the Pyrenees trip (through Toulouse) became Steiermark/Salzburgerland (through Salzburg) and Gstaad/Chateau d'Oex/Les Diablerets (through GVA) became Graubünden/St. Moritz (through ZRH).

You never know.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Sun Sep 05, 2021 7:00 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:These kind of forum discussions often turn into people campaigning for their specific suggestions

You'll probably change your mind a few times before the actual trip.


Point taken and guilty as charged. However, it is fun to dream it all up in your minds eye though. Conditions and gateway will ultimetely rule the day...and dare I suggest...looming travel restrictions. 8-[
User avatar
jnelly
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:38 am
Location: madison wi

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Sep 12, 2021 1:26 pm

Paznaun Valley/Ischgl, AT
Here's a circuit dating back to late January 2013 (following a seven-year absence from skiing across the pond) in which I combined a ski trip to a popular region in western Austria with a business visit to Brussels.

Since I was planning to spend all of my ski days based out of a hotel ten minutes from Ischgl, I decided not to rent a car. I flew into Munich, took a train 2.5 hours to Landeck, then hopped on a local bus to my hotel in Galtür. It was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the scenery from the train; however, there was too much schlepping of ski equipment -- from the Munich airport onto the S-Bahn, through the Munich train station and onto the train, then transferring to the regional bus in Landeck. In retrospect, it would've been easier, faster, and about the same price to rent a car, even if I didn't use it much during the week

Here's a summary article I wrote for NY Ski Magazine, which includes a helpful :lol: youtube link that provides context for the Ischgl experience that many people associate with the village.

These are the individual trip reports with additional pix and discussion:
-- Galtür
-- Ischgl
-- Ischgl + Samnaun
-- Kappl + Ischgl
-- See

Here's a map to show how the valley is laid out: bookended by local's area "See" at the easternmost point and Galtür 15 miles away directly to the west. Interesting to note that there was a big effort in the mid to late 2010s to lift-connect Kappl with St. Anton's Rendl sector via a peak-to-peak tram (similar to Arosa/Lenzerheide); however, it was nixed due to environmental concerns.
Paznaun Valley.jpg
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Weathertoski » Sun Sep 19, 2021 1:02 pm

Ischgl is a remarkable resort, but not to everyone's taste. On paper it is, in many ways, THE perfect resort - a large, high, snow-sure ski area served by the most sophisticated lift system in the world. There are high speed 6 and 8 person chairs wherever you look, and nowhere in Austria can you rack up as many miles or vertical as quickly as you can in Ischgl. Nor does any Austrian resort have as much terrain above 2000m. It is also, on the surface at least, a cute Austrian village and prior to COVID was, arguably, the liveliest resort in the Alps. So what's the problem?

Ischgl is (or was) all about conspicuous consumption. Think mini Vegas in the Alps. The place is absolutely awash with money with new high speed lifts added every season it seems. However, it's also awash with sleeze - of the middle aged, middle class kind! By late afternoon, especially In high season, there are literally hundreds of drunken middle age men (mostly German) staggering around in ski-boots looking for next t*tty bar. How they manage to burn the candle at both ends for an entire week is beyond me, but ski hard, party even harder has long been the unofficial moto.

Now I should caveat the above in that post COVID, things are likely to be very different, which is why i should probably have changed "are" to "were" in some of the above sentences! It is well publicized that Ischgl was at the heart of the European outbreak, and with Austrian style après ski likely to be off-limits for some time to come (maybe forever?), the resort is undergoing a serious marketing rethink.
Weathertoski
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:22 pm
Location: London

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Sep 19, 2021 2:13 pm

Weathertoski wrote:post COVID, things are likely to be very different (...) It is well publicized that Ischgl was at the heart of the European outbreak, and with Austrian style après ski likely to be off-limits for some time to come (maybe forever?), the resort is undergoing a serious marketing rethink.

I look forward to any linked articles about the current marketing rethink. Perhaps my chaste "only about the skiing" visit in 2013 was an unintentional look into the future of Ischgl.
:bow:
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Sep 19, 2021 6:44 pm

Liz and I saw zero of the famed apres-ski in Ischgl. In all 4 Austrian locales in 2017 we were attracted by the family owned hotels that are very self contained. Ski all day, relax in their basement spas and enjoy the half board dinner, rinse and repeat. Only one night in Saalbach did we venture out after dinner.
Image

We also wandered around Kitzbuhel a bit after watching the Hahnenkamm Downhill.

weather-to-ski wrote:nowhere in Austria can you rack up as many miles or vertical as quickly as you can in Ischgl.

Based upon our 2017 trip I'd vote for the Saalbach complex: 101,900 vertical in 3 days with the max day being 40,500, nearly all very direct piste skiing with minimal inefficiency. Ischgl has an extremely dense core of lifts and skier density around Idalp but also some outlying areas that are more interesting skiing and involve a bit more exploring.

There's no question we had excellent conditions at Saalbach, which one cannot assume at its comparatively low altitude. We had good snow in Ischgl too, but also some pockets of bad visibility.
http://bestsnow.net
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10978
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Sep 20, 2021 1:06 pm

An article about Ischgl trying to fix its damaged public reputation. From March, but it's probably still accurate:
https://www.dw.com/en/austrias-ischgl-a ... a-56842089

"The devil arrived with all the booze and intoxication tourism. The system that's been set up is about bringing about a state of disinhibition every day, so that people lose control ― even over their wallets."
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Fri Sep 24, 2021 9:44 am

Hey all...a follow up to add into this entire conversation of logistics and such which something I havent seen a lot of fodder on... What is everyones sentiments or real-world experience with either taking or renting skis. The preface: I'm in the mini-van category of skis, Pinnacle 88 / Kastle FX84...never met a challenge either couldn't handle yet not too amazing at any 1 thing. (nor would I probably know if they were).. I don't care about what "tune" I have, or if my bindings are forward, centered or back .000001 of an inch.
That said I lean just taking them bc Ill have 50# of crap anyway and it saves clowning around at a rental facility. But I'd love to hear the argument.
User avatar
jnelly
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:38 am
Location: madison wi

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Sep 24, 2021 12:22 pm

jnelly wrote:What is everyone's sentiments or real-world experience with either taking or renting skis.

To me, it's similar to whether you bring your own or rent skis on destination trips in North America. If you're renting a car, you might as well. The only time I ever rented skis in the Alps was the Ischgl week mentioned above because I took public transportation inside Europe (trains and buses) instead of renting a car, and continued on to Brussels for a business visit, so schlepping a heavy ski bag through additional train stations, airports, streetcars, and hotels would've been no fun. Renting skis was fine; they have it down to a science there because so many people (especially casual skiers) do it, but I like to have my own planks.

I fly nonstop to GVA and ZRH so there's no worry about my checked-in baggage not making a connecting flight; however, when I've changed planes to smaller airports (Salzburg, Nice, Innsbruck), everything transferred through fine/even with very short layover times. Tony on the other hand has had numerous bad experiences with delayed equipment.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:35 pm

I think James has the first principle right: If you're renting a car, you should bring your own skis. The main reason you have the car is flexibility; you don't want to be dealing with the hassle of rentals at someplace you drop in for a day or two. And the rental situation at James' under-the-radar places might not be as extensive/convenient as at large resorts.

If you are on the one week package plan at a single large resort, there is a stronger case for rentals, especially if you would be paying baggage fees to the airlines.

The above considerations apply in both North America and the Alps.

The other consideration is a "mixed" trip that involves both skiing and other tourism. We will be storing ski gear at Venice airport while we go on a 10-day Balkans tour in late April next year. But with 3+ weeks of skiing in front of that, there's no question we want our skis on that trip.

Southern Hemisphere trips for me have always been "mixed." In Australia/New Zealand rental equipment is good and the nuisance of dragging ski bags through tropical Australia or Fiji/Tahiti is large. So I say rent in those places. Unfortunately the quality of rentals in South America is variable (like just about everything down there), so you have to suck it up and arrange storage as we did in Peru in 2007 before skiing in Chile. My first Las Lenas trip in 2005 was seriously compromised by rental skis.

In Japan I've read there can be issues in sizing of skis, especially if you are an above average western male. I suspect in well westernized Niseko that might not be a big issue anymore. What it really boils down to in Japan is whether you own powder skis. If so, you should definitely bring them, which I did on both trips. In 2011 I left them in a Tokyo hotel while I was scuba diving a week in Palau.
http://bestsnow.net
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
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 10978
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:25 am

With Tony's added info, renting skis is the smart move for any of these scenarios:
a) staying an entire week at a large interconnected resort or region with convenient public transport included in the lift pass
b) traveling from the airport to your hotel in a train/bus rather than a rental car
c) planning to do something else on your trip in addition to skiing

Tony Crocker wrote:there is a stronger case for rentals, especially if you would be paying baggage fees to the airlines.

Doesn't every passenger on an overseas flight, even without frequent-flyer status, get a free checked-in bag (thus a ski bag + boot bag)?
Last edited by jamesdeluxe on Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:38 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:With Tony's added info, renting skis is the smart move for any of these scenarios:
a) staying an entire week at a large interconnected resort or region with convenient public transport included in the lift pass
b) traveling from the airport to your hotel in a train/bus rather than a rental car
c) planning to do something else on your trip in addition to skiing


Perfect. Good.
User avatar
jnelly
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:38 am
Location: madison wi

Re: First time Europe. Looking for insight.

Postby jnelly » Sat Sep 25, 2021 5:41 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:Doesn't every passenger, even without frequent-flyer status, get a free checked-in bag on international flights (thus a ski bag + boot bag)?


I just called United about this the other day and they said 70$, although I've not been completely trusting on information from such places as of late. Swiss Air does appear to allow the 1 free as you state. (I havent verified it) The comedy being it said "Swiss Air, Operated by United" Go figure the airlines would have convoluted terms and conditions.
User avatar
jnelly
 
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:38 am
Location: madison wi

PreviousNext

Return to Europe & Asia

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests


All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use