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Ski Europe on the cheap

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I am in the extraordinarily lucky position of being able to take off for Europe and ski the rest of the season. I've never skied there, instead mostly Western US (Utah, Colorado, Jackson Hole) and the Northeast (Vermont, NY). Where would you recommend flying into and where would you recommend skiing? I'm thinking about flying into Geneva and skiing Chamonix and Zermatt since they're such classics. I'd also like to travel through Italy (non-skiing) so was thinking about flying out of Rome. I've seen tickets from NY for about $830. In terms of loding, I've done a lot of CouchSurfing and was hoping to ski in places where I'd meet other young people (I'm 27 and male). If Couch Surfing didn't work out some of the days, are there cheap hostel options? And do you know of any multiple mountain lift passes or cheap lift ticket deals?

 

What can I expect in Europe re: snow and skiing? I'm an advanced to expert skiing and mostly like skiing on-piste. I love moguls and fast, groomed runs. On the other hand, has anyone skied Whistler and think that that would be a better ski trip? I know conditions are good in Europe but I really have no sense except what you read in snow reports.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 10

Go to Europe.  I've been to Whitsler many times.  It's very nice but, go to Europe.  If you can get a ticket from NY to Geneva for $830, jump on it.  For a first time trip to Europe, Chamonix and Zermatt are are the top of everyone's list.  Chamonix has more young people and is less expensive.  Zermatt is spendier, has lots of old people, and is overly touristy, but it's a special, spectacular place that you have to see.  The cheapest lodging that I know in Zermatt is the Hotel Bahnhof.  Dorm style rooms and communal kitchen.  It's where the climbers hang out.  Between the Chamonix and Zermatt areas are places like the Porte du Soliel, Verbier (and it's offspring areas),and  Zinal ( and the other places up that same valley). Go to the big places.  If you have time, hit the lesser known resorts.  You'll be amazed by what they have to offer in the way of lower prices all around, fabulous terrain, and a more local skiing culture.  Snow at less famous places can often be better than snow at famous places.

post #3 of 10

Daily lift tickets are not as expensive in Europe, but things will likely add up as it is likely too late to get a season pass.  Some places have good deals for certain spring weeks.  

 

In addition to couchsurfing, you could also airbnb.  I like Chamonix and had a great time the week I skied there, but liked living most of a year in Bourg St. Maurice even better.  Cham is better for mountaineering and more extreme BC like off piste, but the individual resorts are not as interconnected as places like 3 Vallee, Porte du Soiel, Espace Killy or Paradiski- these areas are truly massive compared to most US resorts.

 

I would suggest posting at Snowheads to see what they say.

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

Daily lift tickets are not as expensive in Europe, but things will likely add up as it is likely too late to get a season pass.  Some places have good deals for certain spring weeks.  

 

In addition to couchsurfing, you could also airbnb.  I like Chamonix and had a great time the week I skied there, but liked living most of a year in Bourg St. Maurice even better.  Cham is better for mountaineering and more extreme BC like off piste, but the individual resorts are not as interconnected as places like 3 Vallee, Porte du Soiel, Espace Killy or Paradiski- these areas are truly massive compared to most US resorts.

 

I would suggest posting at Snowheads to see what they say.


Re: lift ticket prices vs season pass
It depends what "the rest of the season" means.
Is he going to ski every day from now on?
Or only during the weekends?
Or...
And what's more:
Always in the same place?

In Italy a season pass can cost anything from 300€ on a small hill to 800ish€ at a larger resort (Lombardy and Valle d'Aosta have "Region season passes" that enable a skier to ski everywhere in that region)
As an example the "Lombardy Season pass" costs for the 2011-2012 680€ and will allow the owner to ski in 28 ski areas, amongst which Chiesa Valmalenco, Livigno, Madesimo, Ponte di Legno Tonale (part of the AdamelloSki area, which is an inter -regional ski area on the border with Trentino) Bormio, Santa Caterina.

A season pass on the Adamello ski area is costing €590, and will allow 5 days access to the nearby Aprica ski area. A "year-round season pass" sold from May first and valid till April 30th was costing only slightly more (€ 620-640 IIRC) up until ski season opening (after which, the price went up to the regular € 740, IIRC) but would allow for unlimited use of any lift open during the summer season, for any reason (downhill MTB, escurions, glacier skiing) plus unlimited access to the Folgarida-Marilleva-Madonna di Campiglio ski area plus 5 days on the SuperSkiDolomiti....

The Valle d'Aosta equivalent costs a bit more (900-1100 €) but will allow to ski Zermatt (CH) and La Ròsiere (F) as well (these two areas are linked respectively to their Italian counterparts of Cervinia and La thuile)

References :
http://www.skivallee.it/interna.asp?CodPage=tariffe2 (English version)
http://www.anefskilombardia.it/default.htm (Sorry, Italian version only, Lombadry is not an autonomous region as the Valle d'Aosta or the Trentino Alto Adige/SuedTirol and as
such we've got more bureaucratic leashes, less, much less administrative discretionary powers and less, much less money to spend in stuff
like websites etc...)

What am I getting at? Surely there will be similar things in France, Switzerland and Austria.
Comparing with the price of a day lift ticket in the same area, if he's going to ski at least 20-22 days, a season pass might still be a convenient purchase.

Even though, usually, better off places like Madesimo, the Adamello ski area with its "glacier" and such usually can offer lift operation till end of April (up to 04/25th, celebration of WWII end in Italy)
this year I fear that the Winter Season 2011-2012 in Italy won't last that long. I expect resorts to shut down operations soon after the Easter break (school holiday from 04/05 till 04/10) because of too high temperatures, consequent lack of snow and people willing and eager to start to go to the seaside...
But on the Northern half of the Alps?
And again, this has not been a good season in terms of tickets/passes sold. I guess that, if someone were to appear at the ticket office at any area, and ask for a season pass, he/she would promptly be satisfied (again, I'm speaking about the Southern side of the Alps)
post #5 of 10

For affordability, Austria bar none.  My favorite is St Johann - Alpendorf where you have access to both ski areas.  You will not get bored.

 

Zermatt -- definitely, even though pricey, just to say that you skied under the Matterhorn.

However in Switzerland for pure enjoyment with "super" long top to bottom run my favorite would be Grindelwald where you also have a view of Eiger.

 

Enjoy!!

post #6 of 10

You can shave a couple hundred of air fare by flying into Zurich. You can still get to all the mountains from Zurich just as easily.

 

The most "famous" mountains (for Americans) are in the region between Switzerland and France. One small problem is Switzerland is quite expensive this year due to currency fluctuation.

 

You have to make a decision of roaming vs staying put. Staying put will be a lot cheaper because you can get weekly (or even season passes if you plan on skiing a lot). If you're moving around a lot, you might want to look into European rail pass to get you around.

 

The suggestion of snowhead.com is spot on. Read first before barging in with clueless questsions though. You really need to figure out a bit more detail of what you want first.  

post #7 of 10

Sounds like a nice problem to have. Surely the end of the season will bring deals on lodging. You can check with the tourist office to see what is available. Probably be able to find a room with breakfast at most places, or even those off the beaten path. Geneva or Zurich are good airports to fly into, as they allow access to a wide range of ski areas within a few hours radii.

 

Buy food at the local grocers and save a few dollars over eating out. But you should treat yourself a few times to the on mtn food, and local brews!

 

Snowheads is a good spot to start, and get a very good idea of where conditions are decent.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all your great posts and suggestions. Do any of you know a) How much it costs to send skis to the US (plan to travel afterward) and what service to use, and b) How long the season is expected to last in the Southern Alps? I wonder if I should just rent depending on the answers to both. MEfree30, I saw you had some posts related to a) but not sure if you found a solution.

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschuss View Post

Thanks for all your great posts and suggestions. Do any of you know a) How much it costs to send skis to the US (plan to travel afterward) and what service to use, and b) How long the season is expected to last in the Southern Alps? I wonder if I should just rent depending on the answers to both. MEfree30, I saw you had some posts related to a) but not sure if you found a solution.



My solution was to leave a pair that friends sold the next season and removing the binders from the others and jam into a double ski bag- not perfect as we drove up to Germany before flying home, but it ended up being cost effective as I didn`t have any extra bag charges- I might have been flying Lufthansa which, at least at the time, gave a 2nd bag free if is was skis.  

 

When you say Southern Alps, are you talking down by Nice- when I left in Feb they had a lot less snow than the Northern Alps closer to Geneva.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Sorry, I meant Northern Alps by Geneva, Chamonix, the rest of Switzerland, and even Austria re: number of days left in the season.

 

The problem for me wouldn't be second bag fee -- it's that I wouldn't want to lug around my skis if I traveled on through Italy, Greece, and potentially Turkey. Thanks.

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