Originally Posted by Skiandgolfnut
I will be spending 6 days in early March in Europe. As of right now solo, but probably will wind up with a buddy. At western ski resorts like Snowbird and Big Sky I basically ski all in bounds double blacks, but steer clear of back country, hiking, sign a waiver at ski patrol hut type stuff. I like doing fast laps so prefer a good lift system as opposed to trams etc.
Am trying to pick a mountain relatively easy to reach from a major international airport and that meets my ski preferences (and doesnt break the bank).
Chamonix appears to be the most affordable and convenient, and the terrain doesnt daunt me, but the lift system does not seem ideal for me and it seems like a guide would certainly be necessary. I think I would prefer a mountain with off piste more accessible via lifts and less requiring of a guide. I like to ski fast and alone and dont like the idea of worrying about crevasses and avalanches.
St Anton and Verbier have been suggested to me as well. Any advice would be very appreciated!
You have been given great advice. As you have been to Zermatt, for a day, will only add, that place has the longest continuous vertical when it comes to on-piste runs in the world and not just one, but there are so many, and on the Cervinia side, they are perfect for firing on your turbo-chargers, which you clearly can, being an experienced all-mountain skiers. Verbier, having never been, cannot comment, hear a lot of good things of the Mont Fort area and as this article from pros attests, venturing off-piste you are on a glacier more often than not http://www.ultimate-ski.com/ski-resorts/switzerland/valais/verbier/advanced.aspx
As for the Arlberg, we thought Lech-Zurs was incredible but went at a time where the new connecting gondola to Stuben and hence St. Anton was not in place. They have excellent snow in March, and the terrain gives you broad alpine experience, in-bounds and out, and the food is 'generally' better than Zermatt (an opinion), though Zermatt has those funky music bar-resturants way out up on the mountain like at the Fluhalp above the Findel Glacier etc. Now off-piste in Zermatt is almost always done with a guide, even just veering off the trail can get one in trouble in the Alps (Michael Schumacher's ski accident in Meribel while skiing with his kids and their friends is a good reminder, they just veered off to the side of the groomer)
Loved the Arlberg personally: This is from a long time ago, but what a beautiful place, and I would say there is something of substance in poster 'Skiii's observations, he makes a fair point: while we were treated with grace, and friendship by all, and were the personal guests of a local legend. In a bar in Lech, this poster being of a hue a few shades darker than the others in the area, ran into a few neo-Nazis in the bar, and before things got ugly, our blond teutonic hosts made sure those characters left for the night without incident. Adolf's swastika and fist-salute was prominent on their t-shirts, tattoos and headgear. Not sure what it's like today but Europe is not exactly brimming with love and good cheer in the current epoch. But here is video of a trip which started the life of memories , and today the Madloch which was off-piste then, is on-piste now I understand:
But the king of the block in this occasional ski traveler's opinion, is Val D'Isere/Tignes hands-down, nothing like it. First its just bigger than Lech-Zurs-St. Anton and Zermatt-Cervinia by a considerable amount, and it is almost all off-piste. But make no mistake, the on-piste in L'Espace Killy is big and steep, the Red runs in Val D'Isere are definitely steeper than anywhere we have been, and they are steep for a long ways not some rinky-dink short shot. When icy and bald in the spring freeze-thaw, its quite a slide-o-rama staying in control. Put a long tome of a TR on this site about Val D'Isere/Tignes with a 12 year old, but to cut to the chase :
The most beautiful Vallon de La Sache in the video above, is as picturesque as it is deadly, skiers left which the 12 year came down is prime avalanche terrain, and if you miss the last exit, your only hope is rappel, or chopper evacuation because you arrive at a gorge with no out..but you have to know that before getting there.
On a separate note, about guides and group lessons: First clearly you are a very good skier, so simply the scale, beauty and challenge of where you end up will exert that inexorable pull to go off-piste. Just given the scale of the terrain of your candidate areas, a guide is recommended and basically mandatory just from a self-preservation angle. Or a simply less expensive option, such as joining an advanced group lesson will take you to off-piste in the company of others and a local ski professional, and that education is worth every penny, and it is rather inexpensive. L'Espace Killy off-piste anywhere needs a guide, no question, but that totally depends on your true personal risk tolerance. There are parts like when you come off the last station from the Funicular Gran Motte or Les Lanches Lift in Tignes and there are Red and Black runs veering right from the exit like Descente which feed into a Red called 'Double' M. If you now veer skiers right, you take nice big broad good gradient Blues Genepy etc. but soon on skiers left you see this beautiful powder field, of usually untouched snow. There is a sign , normally buried under a few feet of snow in French politely warning 'Cliffs Dead Ahead'. Apparently many a skier has charged that powder field and gone straight over, and it's about a 500+foot drop ! Just saying...
And even the Ski Routes in the Arlberg are dangerous for the pros :
And the Dutch Prince of the House of Orange who is an expert skier died on the Ski Route to Zug (he died later, never woke up from his coma as a result of an avalanche)
Enjoy, you cannot go wrong at any of the places mentioned, and for a good skier like you, these places are simply all paradise in one form or the other. Zermatt is the most boring of the lot unless you live the life of a Russian Oligarch !-)
Edited by dustyfog - 10/9/16 at 2:38pm