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Where to Ski in the Alps First Week in February for Intermediate Skier?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm considering skiing in the Alps during the first week of February, but I'm having some challenges choosing where to go so would love to hear recommendations based on the following criteria:

 

- Intermediate to advanced intermediate who mainly enjoy reds and easier blacks with some blue cruisers once in a while. Some off-piste can be fun, but isn't a master of moguls so would stay on groomed trails most of the time with varied terrain.

- Really don't like standing in lift queues or ride in slow lifts - hoping that the first week in February won't be as busy as later in the month

- Would prefer resort that you can easily get to from Zurich or Munich as I can fly direct to those two cities, other airports such as Geneva would require connections, but isn't a deal-breaker for the right place. 

- Snow-sure for this week

- Prefer the traditional alpine village with nice scenery

- Prefer to have reasonably priced accommodations near lifts. Ski-in/ski-out is ideal, but if I can step on a bus outside the place that is runs frequently and is reliable without being too crowded that can work as well. Enjoy having a self-catered apartment, but being on half-board would be nice too as I'm looking for something for 2-4 people.

- Apres isn't important, but would like at least some options to have fun outside of the slopes even though the skiing itself is the most important experience.

 

So far I'm thinking of going either to St. Anton or Lech (maybe better suited to stay there and then go over to St. Anton a couple of days), maybe Zermatt (concerned about lift lines, far walks to lifts, closures), or the Three Valleys (Meribel-Mottaret where the big con is that I would have to go through Geneva and can't take a train), so I wonder how those compare on these criteria and if you have any suggestions for other areas?

post #2 of 14
One place worth checking out is Arosa (short TR here http://epicski.onthesnow.com/t/95320/photos-from-arosa).

You can get there from Zurich pretty easily on the train (one connection in Chur). And since it's now connected to Lenzerheide, it will have loads of blues and reds to cruise on, in addition to some blacks and some easy-access off-piste terrain. Also, it shouldn't be too crowded since it's not one of the big name resorts.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestion about Arosa, it looks quite nice from the pictures and I hear that it's very sunny and having less crowds is of course a big plus. It may be a little small and too easy for a full week, but maybe you an get over to other areas such as Davos and Klosters? 

 

I think Zermatt is the right kind of terrain for us and having the linked areas it's appealing to be able to go over to Italy for lunch for example and for the iconic scenery as long as the weather doesn't go bad, or if you are in Lech go to St. Anton one day and try the more difficult runs, but with Zermatt I'm just worried that you end up with five runs in the day due to lifts and lines, but how are the crowds the first week in February?

post #4 of 14

Have you looked at the Ski Amade region? Something like Schladming offers tons of intermediate cruisers right from town and a free bus that accesses dozens of ski lifts at nearby areas. It's a larger town but very nice. I stayed for a week at nearby Flachau, which was a decent sized intermediate mountain with lifts leaving from a smaller town and busses that got to a half-dozen other mountains in about a half hour. Flachau and nearby Radstadt offered package deals of bed, breakfast, and lift tickets at least in January, and perhaps in February too. It's not as fancy or big at St. Anton, but it's less crowded and cheaper.

 

Flachau is about 3 hours or so from the Munich airport. IIRC, there was a train to a suburban station, where you switched for Salzburg, where yo switched for Bischenshoff (or something like that) and then a bus to Radstadt. I just showed up and bought a ticket, but perhaps with some advance planning you could cut down on the number of changes.

 

Zauchensee, about 15 minutes up valley from Radstadt, is higher elevation and should be fine for snow, but then in February I think you'd be unlucky not to find at least something skiable.

 

St. Anton would fit your bill though it's a bit farther of a ride from Munich, it will be more crowded, and it does have bustling nightlife. From St. Anton you rode a few lifts and then took a short bus to Lech.

post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonMolle View Post

Thank you for the suggestion about Arosa, it looks quite nice from the pictures and I hear that it's very sunny and having less crowds is of course a big plus. It may be a little small and too easy for a full week, but maybe you an get over to other areas such as Davos and Klosters?

I think Zermatt is the right kind of terrain for us and having the linked areas it's appealing to be able to go over to Italy for lunch for example and for the iconic scenery as long as the weather doesn't go bad, or if you are in Lech go to St. Anton one day and try the more difficult runs, but with Zermatt I'm just worried that you end up with five runs in the day due to lifts and lines, but how are the crowds the first week in February?


 



Arosa on its own would be too small for a week. But starting this year, they have a direct link with Lenzerheide, so the two put together have plenty of terrain to keep you entertained. You can get more details here http://www.arosa.ch/sites/special_experiences/winter_2013_2014.html. I haven't seen a new piste map yet for the combined area, but you can look at the two old maps side by side to get an idea of the size of the place.

Zermatt is more difficult to get to because it's in a corner of the country that's not particularly close to either Geneva or Zurich, so the transfer times are longer. It's also going to be more expensive.

Lech is going to be more crowded than Arosa because it's more famous. Also, it doesn't have a train station, so getting there inevitably involves a bus, taxi, or rented car. But, it does have a lot of nice terrain to ski on, including a new connection to Warth-Schrocken.

St. Anton is easier to get to without a car than Lech, since the train stops right in town. It actually has quite a lot of reds and blues to keep you happy as long as you don't mind occasional blues that turn out to be just as difficult as reds and reds that have small sections that are as steep as a black. Most of the difficult terrain is off-piste or marked as a ski route (black or red dashes on the piste map), so you shouldn't get stuck in a mogul field unless you put yourself there on purpose. The lift lines will be similar to Lech.

Oh, the off-piste terrain will be a bit more intimidating in Lech and St. Anton compared to Arosa.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you again for these suggestions and explaining the differences between the resorts, it's very helpful. I looked more at Arosa and with the new connection I think that is becoming a lot more appealing and this may be the new piste map. It may not have a vertical of 1,500-2,000, but with 225 km of pistes, lots of sunshine, less than three hour train transfer, and less crowds I'm looking into it further. If anybody has any tips for accommodations/packages for 2 that are reasonably priced I would love to hear those as well.

 

http://www.arosalenzerheide.ch/en

post #7 of 14

I highly recommend St. Anton. Stay in St. Anton and not Lech. Lech is more expensive, less accessible (but still easily accessible by for day trips from St. Anton) and St. Anton has a better town, at least in my opinion.  Enough housing options in St. Anton to satisfy your budget and it is easily accessible by train from Zurich.  Crowds should not be too bad that week as you have only a partial German school holiday that week (Germany divides their school holidays but region) and no French or British holidays.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

After a lot of discussion and studying of the piste map I think we have settled on Aroza-Lenzerheide as I think it's suited well for the level of skiing and with the connected area will provide variety for a week.

 

I've been looking at a few options for accomodations, but do you have any tips on if it's best to stay in Innerrosa or Arosa itself? Innerrosa is closer to the Horli lift that can take you across to Lenzerheide, but it's further up and the bus only seems to go to the lift. However, it appears as if you can ski back to the lodging options so maybe not be that difficult getting to the lift. On the other hand, I would think there is a bit more going on in Arosa and that the more advanced terrain in Arosa at least is associated with Weisshorn.

post #9 of 14
I've looked at a few accommodation sites, but I haven't seen anything that comes out cheaper than the accommodation search on the Arosa homepage. If you switch that search over to holiday apartments and then sort the results by daily price, it should bring up a few that are close to the main lifts for fairly reasonable (for Switzerland) prices.

The main lifts from town aren't a bad place to be. When you want to get on the Hornli lift, the #13 blue will take you there pretty quickly. It's almost a straight shot.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the tip, I was able to find something reasonable via the Arosa homepage close to Obersee. I like the fact that you can ski back to most places even though you may have to walk a bit to the closest lift or to take the bus over to Hornli.

It will be interesting to see how the new cable car that takes you across to Lenzerheide will be, if there will be busier, but I'm guessing we'll try to get an early start the days we head over there. I also like the fact that the ski pass now cover all public transportation between the two resorts so you don't have to catch the cable car back but could potentially take the bus and train back to Arosa if you decide to stay a little bit longer on the Lenzerheide side.

The snow 'n rail ticket also seems like a good deal to buy a train ticket from Zurich airport to Chur + the ski pass as it pretty much gives you a free train ride, so I'll let you know how that turns out.

Now the wait starts, can't wait for February to come!

post #11 of 14

From what you described the resorts in the Paznaun valley (Kappl, Ischgl, Galtür) above Landeck would fit best when flying into Zürich or Munich. The area is as vast as the Arlberg region with same amount of snow but for an intermediate less intimidating terrain wise. Modern extended and contrary to the Arlberg interlinked lift system when staring from Ischgl (or Samnaun on the Swiss side). Kappl, See and Galtür each have got their own smaller lift system (with individual ticket) but commute to Ischgl is short and easy by car or shuttle bus. Entire lifts in that valley can be used with the common Paznaun valley ticket though if desired.

 

As expensive as the Arlberg though, therefore you might consider not to stay in Ischgl directly if you are on a budget. Hope that helps.

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

I should post a proper trip report, but my trip to Arosa-Lenzerheide turned out really well. It was an easy and scenic train ride, the town was quite nice with free buses to everywhere you needed to go, and the terrain was just right for me. 

 

The big plus was that the connection to Lenzerheide opened a couple of weeks before we arrived and that really extended the skiing to fill an entire week as we spent two full days on that side where skiing really was terrific. Most of the time the weather cooperated, but with almost all the skiing above the tree line it made it a bit challenging when the weather turned worse.

 

All in all it was fabulous though and thank you for all of the tips. I can't wait until I can go skiing in the Alps again!

post #13 of 14

Did you end up using any of the buses between the two sides? If so, were they running frequently enough to be convenient?

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

We didn't use the bus/train connection as it takes about 1.5 hours so the 5 minute lift across is far more convenient. However, it could be a good option if you want to stay after the lifts close. The train from Chur to Arosa runs hourly and I assume the 30 minute bus ride from Lenzerheide to Chur is timed with this train, but I'm not sure since we didn't try it out.

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