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Backpacking Europe, want to ski the Alps in March: Tips?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm currently planning to spend three months in Europe (March, April, May) after going on a Birthright trip to Israel. I'm an advanced-expert skier

 

I'm looking for the best combination of. Affordability (good hostels), Best chance for good snow, and probably most importantly unique alpine experience I wouldn't get skiing in the U.S. I will need to rent gear (maybe some clothing too). I'm primarily looking to avoid insane crowds and being price-gouged

 

I'd rather spend 2-3 days doing something amazing than a week cruising down blues with 5,000 other skiers around me.

Ski-Touring the Haute Route would be amazing but I certainly don't have $2,500 to spend on one week of the trip.

 

Mod note: moved to International Zone

post #2 of 16

I don't know much about backpacking Europe but I'm stoked for you. 

post #3 of 16

Here's an example of the kind of place that could fit your needs, http://www.rifugiolagazuoi.com/indexUK.php. It is accessed via cable car.  There are many similar type rifugios throughout the alps.  Cost are reasonable.  The facilities are very clean and the food (particularly in Italy) is very good.  Dolomites can be sketchy snow-wise, but at the higher altitudes (like this) there will be plenty of snow in March.  There are other good options in the Monte Rosa area where you can find hostel/dorm type accommodations and amazing alpine terrain.  You can join up with a local guide for group ski tours or off piste days that will give you folks to ski with and keep the  costs more manageable.  As you said, a few days of this vs. skiing pistes with the masses make for a more memorable experience.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips!

 

From going through the rifugio's website. I take it the rifigio's are not located near any resorts/lifts, so you need to hire guides/ go on a tour? The cheapest price I found was 195 EUROS for two days? does that seem normal?

post #5 of 16
The easy option is to go for a week at UCPA somewhere in France - good guiding , all in, young social scene.
post #6 of 16

Well the Haute Route Ski Tour Verbier version is a pretty unforgettable experience and you can do it without a guide but you will need the guide book.allow 6 to 10 days depending on the route.

 

I have not done the whole tour jusr a couple of overnights in mountain huts. If I was to pick one hut to stay in it would be the Vignettes hut. Amazing view.

 

But it involves a fair amount of skinning so you need to be fit. 

 

​If that does not appeal then Chamonix would be my recommendation. You can find a cheap hostel without too. much trouble and there is some amazing skiing off Argentiere. The Vallee Blanche is a great day out if you get good weather although you should have a guide and full avalanche kit. Not that demanding but impressive. 

 

La Grave is also an experts paradise and has lower costs than many resorts.

 

I skiied in Europe for years and my two top memories are the Vallee Blanche especially the first bit and sunset from the Vignettes hut. 

post #7 of 16

You can expect crowds in the first few days of March (up until the 5th) due to school holidays in a few European countries. And from the 25th onwards, due to Easter holidays. The weeks in between are usually very nice snow-wise and not very crowded.

 

High up in the Dolomites (Arabba, Val Gardena, Alta Badia etc.) and Monte Rosa are great suggestions. I would like to add some Austrian resorts as well: St. Anton am Arlberg, Obergurgl, Obertauern, Ischgl are just a few. Offer nice authentic villages, great infrastructure, good nightlife (especially St. Anton and Ischgl), great skiing, both on and off-piste and accessibility.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ahhh thanks for all the suggestions... that is a lot.

 

The UCPA option is enticing in large part for it's simplicity. You mention the guiding is good and included... will guides take you off-piste?

 

the UCPA is $705 for a week... can anyone estimate what I would be looking at spending for a week getting it all together on my own?

post #9 of 16
Another option is to try the Adamello. Plenty of snow to roam and refuges, as an example check out the "Lobbia" high mountain refuge (aka "rifugio caduti dell'adamello") reachable on foot or skins only (but lift service is available up to Passo Presena, 3120 mt asl. Then from there...
post #10 of 16

Nick,

Yes the UCPA will take you off piste if you're on one of their off piste courses. They are pretty good value for the money but like most things in life you get what you pay for. In this case big guest to guide ratios. Don't expect to much in the way of "expert" skiing.

If you're looking for something more adventurous then sure the Haute Route is an absolute must - once you've done some ski touring beforehand.

 

More info can be found here: Haute Route

Happy to help

Francis

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post

Another option is to try the Adamello. Plenty of snow to roam and refuges, as an example check out the "Lobbia" high mountain refuge (aka "rifugio caduti dell'adamello") reachable on foot or skins only (but lift service is available up to Passo Presena, 3120 mt asl. Then from there...

Here's an example :

http://mountainguidesitaly.innobit.it/eng/adamello_ski_touring/index.php

post #12 of 16

Hi,

 

It looks as though I might be a bit late on advice if you were planning a trip around now but I noticed you were interested in doing the Haute Route.  I have just completed it for the second time - the first guided (v.expensive) and the second unguided.  If you wanted to cut costs I would suggest (obviously depending on ability) in doing it unguided since it is the most popular ski route in the world it is heavily tracked whatever the weather.

 

When we finished it last week, we were the only unguided group in huts of c.100 people.  Technically speaking, it is not too difficult, there are a couple of cols that require booting up with crampons but again there is usually a well cut track.

 

If you wanted, have a look at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ncg--q3GkpY) it is the video we made on how to complete the Haute Route.

 

Hope you had a good trip, and if you wanted any more information don't hesitate to drop me a DM.


Tom

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMountain View Post
 

Hi,

 

It looks as though I might be a bit late on advice if you were planning a trip around now but I noticed you were interested in doing the Haute Route.  I have just completed it for the second time - the first guided (v.expensive) and the second unguided.  If you wanted to cut costs I would suggest (obviously depending on ability) in doing it unguided since it is the most popular ski route in the world it is heavily tracked whatever the weather.

 

When we finished it last week, we were the only unguided group in huts of c.100 people.  Technically speaking, it is not too difficult, there are a couple of cols that require booting up with crampons but again there is usually a well cut track.

 

If you wanted, have a look at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ncg--q3GkpY) it is the video we made on how to complete the Haute Route.

 

Hope you had a good trip, and if you wanted any more information don't hesitate to drop me a DM.


Tom


Welcome to EpicSki!  Thanks for the video trip report.  When did you start planning the tour?

 

post #14 of 16

That's some pretty poor advice. Nearly the entire route is on glaciated terrain - love to see what happens when you're in need of help....

post #15 of 16
Thanks for your comment. To be clear we are both experienced mountaineers with an extensive knowledge of procedures for safe glacier travel as well as snow and avalanche conditions. We of course only propose that unguided groups take on this route with adequate knowledge, training and equipment.
post #16 of 16

well thanx for the reply but if you re-read your first post it doesn't come across at all like that. "heavily tracked whatever the weather" and "not difficult technically" 

There's a very good reason you were the "only" un guided group. But I do appreciate you posting the second thread. It just would have been better in the original one :)

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