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Spring skiing in the Alps via Vienna or Zurich

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi all 
We need advice about our upcoming ski trip to Europe.  My wife and I are going to Vienna for a conference between 20-28 April.  After the conference, we thought that we should ski for about a week or so.  More about us.  My wife is a strong intermediate and has backcountry touring ability (she can ski in-bounds black diamond, but struggles in difficult conditions with a pack).  I am a strong in-bounds and backcountry skier, with professional avalanche experience. 

We would leave Vienna on 28 April.  It seems most if all ski areas on Austria are closed by late April or early May.  So we thought that we would fly via Zurich and take train to Zermatt or Saas Fee.  Last year, we skied in the Valle de Anniviers, on-piste and off-piste via a few huts.  The ski tour from Valle de Anniviers to Zermatt was not great, given the low snow cover and avalanche hazards due faceted snowpack.

So the my question is for only a week of skiing, what are our choices.  Zermatt and Saas Fee should be open during the first week of May.  I'd prefer ski areas that have good off-piste skiing without crowds or party scene, but in the end we want the best snow and terrain. After a long day of skiing, we have a nice dinner with wine and get to sleep, so we can ski the following day.  I assume both areas are expensive.  I will bring my skis and boots, but my wife will only bring boots (we only have AT boots). 

 

Could my wife rent AT skis, mostly because her ski boots are not compatible with alpine bindings.  We will also bring day packs for probe, transceiver, and a shovel...


We will mostly ski on-piste, but enjoy hiking or use skins if appropriate.  We understand hazards while skiing on glaciated terrain.   What are our choices? 

 

Thanks for the help and support.  cmr

post #2 of 10

Could you ski before your conference instead of after? I was researching a similar question (possibility of skiing Chamonix May 3 or 4, 2012 after a meeting in Geneva), and found the last day for which they sell passes on-line is 25 April.

 

I'm still trying to determine whether it might be possible to ski the Vallée Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi tram with a guide at that late date.

 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

This year I can only ski after the conference.  So I will arrive in Zurich on 28 April.  It's late, but Zermatt or Saas Fee might be still open.  thanks, cmr

post #4 of 10

It will mostly be resorts with glaciers that are open then, although there is a decent chance that they will have some non-glacier terrain open as well as it has been a big year- Zermatt, Stubai, Hintertux may be worth a look.  There are other places in France and Italy as well.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/holidaytypeshub/article-589647/Summer-skiing-Europe.html

 

The only one I have skied is Tignes in May and the upper part of the glacier was closed that day due to high winds, but there was enough snow to do some nice skiing lower down.

 

Jeff- if you have at least a few days, I would suggest going to either Tignes or Val Thorens- about 3 hours from Geneva, but they are both open until in early May.  

post #5 of 10

I've skied Saas Fee a couple of times in season. It's a beautiful place but the ski area is really quite limited. As you are aware of glacier issues I don't need to tell you about using a guide etc. but there are some great off piste opportunities here and of course an extension of the Haute Route terminates here.

 

I've just come back from Austria and skied a couple of days on the glacier at Hintertux. This is a great ski area and much more challenging than most glacier terrain with some nice decent European black runs worthy of their billing and numerous nice reds. If conditions are still good there are some nice routes from the glacier to various levels either down to the valley at 1500m or to the first stage of the gondola at 2100m. These are marked but generally unpisted runs unique to Austria. There's not much in the village, just a gathering of a few hotels and restaurants. I skied the whole Zillertal area and it's the one part I'd return to. A couple of the hotels have pools and saunas etc. and looked really good. I believe Pitztal is ood to.

post #6 of 10

Should have mentioned to just check the dates on the resort websites as they generally close for a months maintenance at some point in Spring.

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

Jeff- if you have at least a few days, I would suggest going to either Tignes or Val Thorens- about 3 hours from Geneva, but they are both open until in early May.  


Thanks for the suggestion. Both of those look great from the trail map. Can one just go there and ski alone for the first time, or would a local guide be recommended?

 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions.  Given that its late season and our airline reservations, we will go to Zermatt, arriving on 28 April.  Its seems to offer more terrain than Saas Fee.  I am so used to staying a small out-of-the-way ski areas, so Zermatt will be a change.  Can you recommend relatively affordable accommodations (I know this is Zermatt).  Also, on a separate note, my wife would rather not bring her skis, but she has AT boots.  Does anyone know where to rent AT skis in Zermatt (either standard step-in bindings or dynafit)?  Thanks, cmr

post #9 of 10

There's a lot of backcountry skiing in Austria. Spring snow and mountain huts offer some great touring through wilderness. 

 

It's harder work than a chairlift, but could be a wonderful experience.

 

http://www.ontopmountaineering.com/oetztalskitraverse.php is an example of what is available. 

 

Search for ski touring in Austria.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff2010 View Post


Thanks for the suggestion. Both of those look great from the trail map. Can one just go there and ski alone for the first time, or would a local guide be recommended?

 


For Europe, a local guide is recommended if you want go off piste, but some of the resorts have good pisted terrain that may or may not be groomed.  

 

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