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First time skiing in St Moritz, Switzerland [beginner, early April]

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,


I am going to St Moritz on the weekend -- it'll be my first time skiing outside an indoor ski place.


I think we will be mainly checking out Corviglia as it has a good mix of easy, medium and hard slopes plus it is the nearest to St Moritz. I have a couple of questions in my head.


1. Parking - we are staying in a hotel which is 30-mins car drive from St Moritz. What parking options are available near the lifts, for example St.Moritz Bad-Signal?


2. Snow type - what is the difference between 'hard powder', 'wet powder', 'snowy', 'powder slush', 'icy'? I can see these in the St Moritz snow report but make no sense to me. Is one type of snow more difficult for beginners?


3. Schedule - how long does it take to take the lift up from St.Moritz Bad-Signal to slope 06 Standard? How much time shall I allocate to actually ski down on 06 Standard? This is my first time skiing so have no sense of time. Also, how much skiing would you do in one go? Say from 8 am to 1 pm with a few breaks in between?




Mod note: moved to International Zone because OP is a beginner asking about a place outside N. America

post #2 of 4

Welcome to Epic Ski, and welcome to what will hopefully turn into a life long passion for the sport of skiing. As far as the snow is concerned, I see that they've received about 9 inches of new snow, and it appears that it's spring skiing conditions.  Meaning, overnight temps fall below freezing, and during the day, temps are well above freezing.  I'm making a bit of an assumption as far as defining the types of snow you have indicated, but, here goes...  Hard powder---probably groomed by machine which will leave the run looking like a pair of corduroy pants.  Or it could be ungroomed, and the snow has been packed down by skiers and snowboarders.  Us westerners often call this "crud."  Wet powder--- perhaps they are indicating that the fresh snow that fell had a lot of moisture in it.  The kind of snow that's good for building snowmen or having a snowball fight with some friends.  Powder Slush--- often at ski areas, even though you're on a down hill slope, there are depressions or low spots where the snow will partially melt creating a pool of waterlogged snow.  Ice---this is not ice in the truest sense of the word, unless there is a puddle of water that has completely frozen over, but rather hard packed snow.  It is a condition of the snow created by repeated grooming and skiers and boarders riding over it.  In the mid-west, where I live, the hard pack, often called "boiler plate," is the type of snow I ski on most of the season.  The temperatures are still well below freezing during the day, and even when the sun is out, the snow never softens up.  Just too cold for that to happen.  Often, the snow is so hard, that when you stop for a minute and want to stand you pole up, you literally have to pound it into the snow with a closed fist.  Hard pack skiing makes for very fast conditions, although each type of snow presents it's own challenges.


How much skiing you do during a single day will depend on your fitness level and how you acclimate to higher altitudes, not to mention you will probably be sore if you've never skied before.


Since you indicated you were a beginner, I would highly recommend taking a lesson from one of their ski school instructors, unless the person/people you are going with are willing to dedicate their time to teach you, and more importantly, keep you safe.  I think back to my first time skiing with some friends.  The took a whole 10 minutes or so teaching me to do a snow plow or wedge, and then they were off.  It was up to me to try to keep up with them, which I couldn't, and the whole experience was a miserable time filled with fear and frustration, and falling down more times than I can count.  Also, don't be bullied or persuaded to ski runs that are beyond your skill level.  Stick to the beginner area and enjoy the scenery of the beautiful place you will be at if you decide not to take lessons.  It is not my intent to crush your enthusiasm, but becoming a good skier will take time and practice.  It's not going to happen overnight.  Your safety and proper instruction should be your main concern.  I wish you the best, and hope you have a blast!!!         

post #3 of 4

First of all re parking. Don't worry your hotel should give you general directions to the lifts. When you get there, there will be signs directing you to the car park in current use. If you are a long way from the ski lift a shuttle bus will be running.


It will be a SERIOUS ERROR to just pole up to St Moritz, choose a ski lift and an area to ski in at random. The freeze thaw cycle is well established and this has been complicated by the recent snowfall. Conditions will vary from boilerplate ice [ impossible to ski ] to heavy leg breaking slush. There will be good snow but you will need to be in the right place and at the right time of the day. Life for you is further complicated by the broken up nature of the ski area and the lack of connections.


I beseech, you beg you, plead with you TAKE A ONE HOUR PRIVATE LESSON. Aim for 9am  if you are a real early bird but 10 am will do just fine. The instructor will take you somewhere the snow is good and slope matches your skill level. At the end of the lesson ask the instructor where you should ski for the rest of the day. Make sure you have a trail map and a pen. It is likely he/she will say ski here before lunch and somewhere else in the afternoon as the sun moves round.


At the end of the day take the cable car down, when you have one good run left in the tank. That last run down to bottom into the porridge when you are tired is the leg breaker.


Cable cars take about 10 minutes. N.B. at Easter expect queues. If you are with an instructor you may get to jump the queues.


Go enjoy the mountains.

post #4 of 4

There is parking next to the Signalbahn but it could be crowded this weekend.  Take the bus.  There's a stop right across the street from the lift.  If you've never skied, I don't recommend jumping on the lift and figuring it out from there.  Agree on getting into a lesson right away.  Safer for everyone and more enjoyable too.  The lower slopes got very soft, wet, mashed potato like by mid day when I was there two weeks ago.  The upper slopes stayed in better shape but since Corvigila is south facing, most of them softened up by afternoon.  With the new snow this week, it will be a mix of everything.   Again, have an instructor get you on snow and terrain that you can handle.  I'd also strongly recommend downloading at the end of the day.  Runs to the valley are no fun for anyone at this time of year.  

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