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zurich, first week of jan. best place to ski?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have a trip planned to zurich 12/27 to 1/05.  I've heard zermatt is my best choice to ski. have I heard correctly?  thanks

post #2 of 7

Depends on what kind of skiing you want, your skill level, budget, etc. Zermatt is great if you like steeps, pricy 5 star hotels, Swiss charm. But it is the busiest week of the year in these places and it's still too early in the season for all interesting off-piste terrain to be open.

 

Try Adelboden (Adelboden-Lenk) or the 'Jungfrau Region' (under the Eiger, with paces like Wengen). Less crowded, great skiing and I think more Swiss alpine charm than Zermatt.

 

Also important: Adelboden is 2.5 hrs from Zürich by train and bus (from Frütigen station); Jungfrau Region is 3 hrs by train (to Grindelwald Grund). 

post #3 of 7

I'd go to St Anton, personally. It's Europe's best all-around resort in my view and has a pretty good early-season snow record. If you're committed to staying in Switzerland, Andermatt gets more snow than just about anyplace else, though it's not a very big resort. I like Zermatt as much as the next guy, but it will be crowded there (I don't agree with comments citing resorts that will be less crowded, though. At Christmas season every resort in the world is crowded. Adelboden with its horrible lift system really feels the strain at peak time; Wengen is probably just as famous as Zermatt, hard to believe it's uncrowded that week). Also: when we say "crowded" here in Europe, we f'ing mean it, not like back in the States or Canada. 

post #4 of 7

Hmm Big plus for Zermatt is the glacier so you are virtually guaranteed to be able to ski. Very few hotels are within easy walking distance for the lifts you need the horribly crowded local ski buses. Some hotels are even a long way from a bus stop. Ski over to Cervinia one day take your passport! BIG MINUS I always felt I spent a lot of time on buses and lifts before skiing and again at the end of the day.

 

Davos is about the same distance and will be less crowded. Chance of seeing royalty and you will certainly see obscenely wealthy Russians.

 

St Anton is fine and a chocolate box Austrian resort. Make sure you stop off at the Crazy Kangaroo or the Mooserwirt at the end of the day. Best resort for powder IMHO but you have to be lucky you just cant count on it the way you can in Colorado. Links to Lech which is cruisy.

 

I like Ischgl [ same distance as St Anton and has a slightly better lift system and will be less crowded than St Anton. Also has table dancers for some bizarre reason. But it has been a while since I visited either.

 

Wengen for NEW YEAR NO NO NO Why it is low only 1275 m and for some reason is often the last resort in that area to get a decent dump. I have not updated my figures for a while but it's snow record for Christmas week was one of the worst in Europe. Not much difficult stuff and the lift queues will be really bad.

 

Wherever you decide BOOK NOW you may already be too late for a reasonable priced room in fact maybe any room in certain resorts.

post #5 of 7

Glacier a pretty dicey call in Dec/Jan though. Just minimal cloud or wind and it will be whiteout or closed. Being open/visible, the glacier does guarantee snow, sort of, though I'd be more worried about that in early Dec than toward New Year. Zermatt is great for holding snow but maybe not the best for getting it in the first place. My unscientific observation is that it snows more early-season in Lech/Zurs/St Anton than just about anywhere else in the Alps. There's also some terrain below treeline there, which is a plus too. 

I don't think the walking at Zermatt is that big a deal IF you have boots with vibram soles and a walk setting. Then it's pretty easy (though Europeans are much more used to walking around in ski boots than Americans are). BTW, I've been to Zermatt at the time of year this guy's thinking about going, and I had a good time. 

post #6 of 7
Quote = TQA:
I have not updated my figures for a while

What figures might those be?

 

Quote:
Zermatt is great for holding snow but maybe not the best for getting it in the first place.

That is absolutely true per http://www.weathertoski.co.uk/ 

Quote:
My unscientific observation is that it snows more early-season in Lech/Zurs/St Anton than just about anywhere else in the Alps.

Likely true also, in that Lech/Zurs is the second snowiest resort in the Alps to nearby Warth-Schrocken, per the same source above.  Last season was an exception for both Zermatt on the positive side and Lech/Zurs/St Anton on the negative because the big Christmas storm came from the south.

 

Quote:
Also: when we say "crowded" here in Europe, we f'ing mean it, not like back in the States or Canada.

If this is true you REALLY should try to choose a time other than Dec. 27 - Jan. 5. 

 

I am curious.  Zermatt reminded me a lot of Aspen in terms of upscale reputation and large-scale but  relatively uncrowded skiing, though my week Feb. 9-14 was not peak.  Does anyone know if Zermatt like Aspen handles holiday crowds better than other places?

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

What figures might those be? 

 

That is absolutely true per http://www.weathertoski.co.uk/

Likely true also, in that Lech/Zurs is the second snowiest resort in the Alps to nearby Warth-Schrocken, per the same source above.  Last season was an exception for both Zermatt on the positive side and Lech/Zurs/St Anton on the negative because the big Christmas storm came from the south.

 

If this is true you REALLY should try to choose a time other than Dec. 27 - Jan. 5.

 

I am curious.  Zermatt reminded me a lot of Aspen in terms of upscale reputation and large-scale but  relatively uncrowded skiing, though my week Feb. 9-14 was not peak.  Does anyone know if Zermatt like Aspen handles holiday crowds better than other places?

 

I took groups skiing in the 80s always at Christmas/New Year. This was pre WWW so it was delving into microfilm records of newspapers snow reports. I built up an analysis of early season snow depths and conditions. Val dIsere and Isola 2000 were the most reliable Wengen was about last.

 

Is every resort crowded ?  well it is peak season but some are more crowded than others. The resorts around the Sella in the Dolomites will have much shorter queues than the major French resorts. Which is why Arraba became my favourite destination but I would book at the last minute because the Dolomites are not snow sure.

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