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Europe destination . . .

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Any reccommendations for European resorts from experience? A friend and I would like to visit Europe this winter for a ski trip. We would like to visit Italy in particular, but we will not disregard other options. All the resorts out there look phenomenal, so it's hard to decide. Thanks!
post #2 of 27
Schniggens
I checked your profile for clues as to what kind of skier you are, but you're a little coy!
Here are a few of my favourite Euro ski resorts/areas, based on 40+ years' experience:
Zermatt: superbly scenic, spectacular terrain, wonderfully atmospheric and historic town
Val d'Isere/Tignes: finest skiing in the world? Most of us Euros think so. Big busy resorts.
St Anton: great off-piste, great town, can be busy.
Italian Dolomites: more mellow terrain than the above. Exceptionally beautiful mountains. Selva is a good resort to stay in.
Les Arcs: big ski area, spectacular skiing and very long runs off the Aiguille Rouge. 2000m+ vertical.
Chamonix: legendary high skiing, down to a relatively low resort altitude. Amazing pitches, but the various ski sectors are not linked too well.
When to ski Europe? April skiing this coming winter could be very interesting, because the Easter crowds will be gone by 5 April. Days are longer, and there are few people around. But make sure the bulk of the terrain you're skiing is over 1500-1800metres in April.
post #3 of 27
I second all those destinations.

I would hit it in late February\early March for optimal snow conditions.

You can access Zermatt from the Italian side for skiing but the Zermatt village life is fantastic. (no cars, great bars)

Morzine\Avoriaz in France is another good one. Morzine is a lively town and Avoriaz is an on snow destination resort. They call the whole area "portes de sol" (ports of the sun) with an adventure to be had staying o\n in 20+ linked villages along the Suisse\French border. Try the "wall of death" varies from "mmmmm" to "space walk" access. Also excellent intermediate\beginner terrain in Morzine.

Verbier in Suisse = huge area, great snow and all the terrain you will ever need. Try the dam run or Mont Gele (um how do you spell that again) glacier plateau. A knife-edge ridge traverse + vert couloir climb but worth the snow and views. (watch the blue crevasses though)Lots of poms and Aussies here as well.

Snow conditions will always vary due to the vertical drops and the sun aspect so be prepared. (good edges and wax)

Take a local guide for to get the most from the adventure.

"Do not look down"

Oz :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 21, 2001 03:16 AM: Message edited 3 times, by man from oz ]</font>
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks David. You seem to know your stuff when it comes to Euro-skiing. I should have been more descriptive in what I like to ski. I like the most challenging terrain that I can find. That's about it for my criteria . . . when I'm skiing in the states.
I'm intriqued by the gargantuan size of some of the resorts in Europe. I would like to visit one of those resorts that seem to cover an entire mountain range. The more challenging the terrain, the better. Of course food, nightlife, and culture will all be important since it's not that often that I get to Europe (I've only been there once before, and that was in Holland which doesn't have much mountains.)
Anything fit that bill?
post #5 of 27
I forgot.

Agentiere near Chamonix. You will find all the scarry stuff you want in this place.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #6 of 27
Um I forgot again.

Hop ... fall ... ten ... feet ... hop ... fall ... ten ... feet .... hop ... fall ... ten ... feet .... etc ... etc ... etc

get your skiing in before lunch and then do lunch till midnight......

if it slides .... go with it .... no choice required

I close my eyes and I am there.

Oz :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 21, 2001 03:26 AM: Message edited 1 time, by man from oz ]</font>
post #7 of 27
Don't forget about Les 3 Vallées (Val Thorens, Meribel, Courchevel, Menuires) 3 valleys, 4 villages, my favourite place in the alpes. Val Thorens is the main resort of the area with a great nightlife. The village is pretty ugly though. This is a HUGE skiing area with great off-piste skiing and usually very good snow-conditions.
post #8 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by shniggens:
Thanks David. You seem to know your stuff when it comes to Euro-skiing. I should have been more descriptive in what I like to ski. I like the most challenging terrain that I can find. That's about it for my criteria . . . when I'm skiing in the states.
I'm intriqued by the gargantuan size of some of the resorts in Europe. I would like to visit one of those resorts that seem to cover an entire mountain range. The more challenging the terrain, the better. Of course food, nightlife, and culture will all be important
Anything fit that bill?
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I'd go for Zermatt, Val d'Isere or Chamonix then, and get a couple of days off-piste with a guide. If you're feeling really fit and strong look at the top ski class in the St Anton ski school which spends all day off-piste, and is therefore great value. The level of skiers in this class is around instructor ability.
If you're in Europe at a quiet time (i.e. not February) and snow conditions are looking good in the southern Alps, the resort of La Grave (over the back of the better known Les Deux Alpes) is 100% off-piste, ungroomed, unpatrolled. Exceptional 2000 metre vertical pitches. Sustained tough skiing requiring good stamina!
post #9 of 27
Do a search for previus posts on the Dolomites. Selva is good, so are Canazei or Campitello in the Val de Fassa. Also Cortina is a very nice town but the ski area is a bit remote from the main Dolimiti area.

Also no one has mentioned Austria yet. How about St Anton, Lech or Zurs?
post #10 of 27
Hi man from Oz from a previous Copa resident. (think back 3 years or so from PB Masters) Are you still working in the US and if so where? And where in the Australian winter?
post #11 of 27
Man from OZ. Just read the "Denver to Vail" thread so guess that answers one of my questions!
post #12 of 27
David, man, either of you skied Saas Fee? and if so, how does it compare to Zermatt?
And which of the areas you recomended have the most reliable snow in early season (Christmas/New year holiday)?
thanks
post #13 of 27
JW

I have never done Saas Fee.

Zermatt like all of Europe can have flaky snow early. Zermatt does have high (very high) glacier skiing but it is not too challenging.

I personally would not commit to a resort as a single destination too early. It is very esy to get accomodation and travel by train to different areas\countries to find the snow.

Keep a weather eye out and commit to the actual location as late as possible. Airfairs into Zurich, Munich, Geneva etc are all pretty similar.

If you are skiing back country and steeps then late in the season is better as the snowpack sets up. Ski early in the day and move with the sun to be same.

Oz
post #14 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by shniggens:
Any reccommendations for European resorts from experience? A friend and I would like to visit Europe this winter for a ski trip. We would like to visit Italy in particular, but we will not disregard other options. All the resorts out there look phenomenal, so it's hard to decide. Thanks!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
post #15 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by shniggens:
Any reccommendations for European resorts from experience? A friend and I would like to visit Europe this winter for a ski trip. We would like to visit Italy in particular, but we will not disregard other options. All the resorts out there look phenomenal, so it's hard to decide. Thanks!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
post #16 of 27
Hi

Italy is good but quite often the lifts do not link up even on the same run. By far one of the best resorts in Europe is St Anton Austria.
Best known resort in Europe is of course Chamonix on the French and Italian border. go to www.skiwildfire.com for info!!

Tom
post #17 of 27
On reading all these posts and your requirements I would agree St Anton is probably a great idea. Lech, Zurs, Stuben, St Christoph, St Jacob, St Anton all linked.

Big, good snow, lots of off piste steep (on piste steep too), excellent food and the creme del la creme the Bundersportiem. The Austrian Ski University. Man can these guys ski. They also run programs.

Enjoy; you will return after your first visit.

Oz
post #18 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by man from oz:
Morzine\Avoriaz in France is another good one. Morzine is a lively town and Avoriaz is an on snow destination resort. They call the whole area "portes de sol" (ports of the sun) with an adventure to be had staying o\n in 20+ linked villages along the Suisse\French border. Try the "wall of death" ...
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Tried the wall and it nearly killed me, somebody said it was Dangerous so I had to give it a go. ;(. It was late on a sunny day and badly cut up. The first mogul was a nightmare with a sharp V at the base and an icy top with very little to set your edges on. One day I will return and ski down it. Until then I just have the fond memories of the moguls hitting the back of my head like a woodpecker ......
post #19 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JW:
David, man, either of you skied Saas Fee? and if so, how does it compare to Zermatt?
And which of the areas you recomended have the most reliable snow in early season (Christmas/New year holiday)?
thanks
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I've skied Saas Fee a couple of times. Sweet village, spectacular scenery. Far fewer lifts than Zermatt, but a superior glacier in terms of pitch (it's used quite a lot for pre-season ski testing and race training).
Requires a fair depth of snow cover because the lower terrain is fairly rocky.
The skiing in Zermatt really out-classes that of Saas Fee.
Another couple of excellent Swiss alternatives are Flims/Laax - big area, great skiing. And Engelberg (smaller, but with some superb off-piste). Both these areas have glaciers and big vertical. Both are easy to reach from Zurich.
post #20 of 27
thanks for the info
can you recommend a good English language web-site with reliable and current ski/snow conditions for most of the major Euro resorts?
post #21 of 27
For webcams - snoweye
For good snow reports - snow reports
post #22 of 27
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JW:
thanks for the info
can you recommend a good English language web-site with reliable and current ski/snow conditions for most of the major Euro resorts?
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

JW
These are pretty good: http://www.born2ski.com http://www.skiclub.co.uk/home.asp

If you raise this enquiry again in early December I can list a number of other specialised European snow report services. Some of them seem to be re-jigging their sites at the moment.
post #23 of 27
I can't tell you much about suitable resorts for your level of skiing, but as a frequent European skier I can give you the following hints:

Stay away from the Alps during the English half-term holidays (Feb 16-23 next year I think). Very crowded, prices double any other time. The week before is French half term I think, also quite busy (but of course one of the best weeks to go skiing).

General rules for picking a country: France has ugly but specially built ski resorts; Austria and Switzerland have much older prettier villages but as a result they are less well organised for skiers (e.g. Verbier really has no ski-in/out accommodation). I can't comment on Italy as I've never been (most Italian resorts have very long transfer times from the airports which puts me off). Food is best in France, while it relies heavily on dumplings in Austria and cheese in Switzerland.

While the European resorts can be huge compared to N American ones, they are often quite low (particularly in Austria, where they had a disasterous year last year). Don't commit yourself to somewhere low until you are certain they have snow.

Be prepared for people to push in front of you in queues (line-ups) for lifts - young children especially. I'm told by regular visitors to the US & Canada that everybody is ruder in the Alps. The Swiss are probably the politest.

If you go anywhere in Euroland in January (this includes France, Germany, Austria, Italy but not Switzerland) be prepared for delays and problems trying to sort out the notes/coins in the new currency.
post #24 of 27
Just a quick note that may help anyone going to Europe, in particular France.

To avoid complete chaos french school vacations are divided into 3 zones, They last the whole month of February the one to really avoid is the Paris zone holidays. A useful link is this .French school hols

at the bottom of the page look at the winter 2002 in the table.

The 'English' ,meaning British, school vacation is from 9th february for 2 weeks.

Alps in February is not much fun but jan and march is

Bergerac
post #25 of 27
Shiggens&Frances, re: currency, there's one
easy way out, bring your credit card(s)!
post #26 of 27
Credit cards don't help if everyone in front of you in the queue is arguing about coins - it's more the long wait I'm worried about. Also credit cards not always popular when spending small amounts on a drink / soup only.

Look on the bright side though, I persuaded my husband it would be a good idea to go skiing in France December to use up the piles of soon-to-obsolete currency we have at home.
post #27 of 27
Frances

Ah, soon to be obsolete currency. Do not trouble yourself. Graciously I assist with exchange for a small fee. Spellbound by discerning talk of poetry and politics, a piano concerto pianissimo, we will deal.

Sounds like a European destination ….. I know a warmer place.

Oz :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 14, 2001 02:45 AM: Message edited 2 times, by man from oz ]</font>
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