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Alps in January?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
There is a chance I'll be in London for a business trip in early to mid January. What are some potential options for skiing in the Alps at that time of year? I have heard there is a 'snow train' that leaves from Waterloo for some skiing on the continent.
post #2 of 12
Although the train can be fun and would be a good bet if heading for the 3 Vallees or Val D'Isere...If your time is limited then you may want to consider going by plane rather than train? In addition to the major carriers we have a few budget airlines that are doing good deals.

I just picked up a couple of bargins with bmi Manchester-Geneva return £38 (-$50ish) (though that was on an offer than ended last night). If you take your chance and book now you should be able to get fixed for around $100 rtn. If you get in around the $50 mark then snap it up and take the risk on being here and there being snow!

As for where to ski?

For a quick trip....Chamonix is 1 hour from Geneva, Verbier 1 1/2 hrs. There are also loads more opportunities within an hour and a half of the airports. Depends what type of skiing you want really. Make a few notes and I'll see if I can come up with more recommendations.

One word of warning..Jan can be a lean month in Europe as far as fresh snow. If high pressure gets settled it can take a lot of shifting. Having said that last year was bumper and there will always be some snow at pretty much all of the resorts. Just don't come expecting Utah style powder and pick your resort based on prevailing conditions. That way you won't be disappointed. On the plus side as Jan is the coldest month, what snow there is stays around reasonably well and as the start of Jan is also the quietest time on the slopes what snow there is gets 'used up' less by skiers pusshing it down the mountain.
post #3 of 12
Talisman, the snowtrain runs direct from Waterloo Stn in London to Bourg St Maurice on Friday nights and Sat Am throughout the season. It stops at Moutiers, Aime as well as Bourg so you've got access to the Trois Vallees, La Plagen and the Haute Tarentaise. You can stay in Bourg and ski Les Arcs which is a great area in its right and buses run from Bourg to Tignes, Val D'Isere and La Rosiere.
The train does get booked up pretty quickly and it can be noisy, there's usually a disco and bar so don't expect much sleep. The SNCF (French train system) run regular night trains, Service De Nuit from Gare d'Austerliz in Paris to Bourg St Maurice, you just catch the Eurostar from Waterloo direct to Paris Gare de Nord and take a taxi to Gare d'Austerliz. I've used this service and the couchettes are comfortable enough to sleep, don't expect privacy. That said if you time it right you can get an extra two days skiing on your break. Take a look at www.raileurope.com for more details. The flight advice is good there are lots of special offers at the moment and whilst most flights go to Geneva, Lyon is also a possibility because there is a rail station next to Lyons airport which connects via Chambery to the line to Bourg. The only directs access from Geneva to the Alps is by bus. The geneva airport website give details.
If you want any more info give me an email.
post #4 of 12
If you make it to London, you could always come to my local ski hill and experience indoor skiing. It's only 40 minutes by train from London.
Also, if you wanted, we could have a Bears gathering in London, or at Xscape in Milton Keynes for you.
Maybe I should contact BobB about having a Mini Academy...

post #5 of 12
I´d recomend Val Thorens or Avoriaz in France(650 km of marked trails eacho one), Zermatt in Switzerland, St Ankton in Austria.
It´s easier going by plane, if you get the tickets with enough time, it´s quite cheap.
Hope you enjoy it, January´s probably the best month for skiing in Europe.
post #6 of 12
Dultimo..The only direct access to the Alps from Geneva is by bus...sorry but need to clarify this.

Although this is true for many of the resorts, it is possible to get to Chamonix, Zermatt & Wengen (Geneva or Zurich), St Anton (Zurich and others) along with a host of other resorts by train.

The train station is right undeneath the airport in both Geneva and Zurich. It's truely fantastic to arrive from a short hop by plane, then head up to the resort in comfort whislt enjoying a meal and wine/beer on the train.

Note: For Chamonix from Geneva by train you'll have to get the train/local bus to Geneva city then hop on the train to Cham.

Note: Bus transfers from the airports can cost as much if not more than the flight from the UK! Geneva to Val D'Isere or 3 Vallees £40+ each way! Consider hiring a car.
post #7 of 12
Forgot to mention that if you decide to take the Snowtrain you'll still have to get a bus from Bourg St Maurice or Moutiers to your resort. This usually adds 3/4 to 1 hour to the trip.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. It sounds like a cheap flight to Geneva may be better than the snow train. If I understand the posts above from the Geneva airport I can access alpine resorts via the train system fairly easily.

I am a pretty good skier, but my skiing has been limited to North America. If this serves as a gauge, I enjoy skiing expert slopes, bowls and glades at places like Whistler, Lake Louise and Mammoth. I don't like straight lining chutes and cornice jumps over 3 or 4 meters.
post #9 of 12
Verbier sounds like a fairly sound option.

Chamonix would suit you -head for the Grand Montets in Argentiere. In a weekend a pretty amazing trip is the Valle Balnche -a 14km off piste trip that takes you right into the heart of the Mont Blanc range. If you enjoy a challenge have a word with the guide and encourage them to take you off skiers left at the top. You'll aviod the hordes and be rewarded with some steeper skiing than the normal route which is accessible to intermediates.

Other than that the Alps is your Oyster.

For info on Swiss Rail travel http://www.sbb.ch/pv/index_e.htm
post #10 of 12
Good info above, but depending on the snow, I would avoid Chamonix in January unless they are having good snow year. Even though it is an absolutely incredible area, if it doesn't have snow ( which is possible in Jan) it can be a frustrating place to ski.

Verbier, Val Thorens and Val d'Isere are all high resorts with glaciers, so you're pretty much guaranteed decent skiing. All three are top notch resorts with excellent terrain, dining and night life.

With my recent experience I would recomend France over Austria in Jan.
Austria seems to get good snow early and late in the season, and as someone above mentioned France ussually stay colder during Jan so the snow it does have holds up better too.
post #11 of 12
Sorry for my earlier mistake re the buses from Geneva airport but as I only ski France & Italy now, I hadn't considered the Swiss resorts. In fact Zurich is a more convenient gateway for most Swiss & Austrian resorts. Verbier is one of the most expensive resorts you would find, especially now Intrawest have taken a stake. Check out the comparative pices of Swiss lift passes and compare to French resorts. If you go to Chamonix in Jan expecting to ski the Vallee Blanche you'll be disappointed, it uually doesn't open until the first week of Feb. It's a much better ski later in the season in my opinion. What ever you do don't delay too long as New Year always gets booked up quickly.
post #12 of 12
Fair comments about Chamonix...but let's not do the place down too much. Even in lean snow years 1993, 1995 (Very! little Jan snow after initial dumps in Dec) I've skied every day at Grand Montets.

Dultimo, you are bang on about the Vallee Blanche being better later on, but I've been lucky enough to ski it mid Jan and earlier. So don't lets put Talisman (who is on a set time frame) off what is one of the great skiing experiences for want of doing it in mint conditions. Even in that lean year of 1993 we skied it right down to Cham in mid Jan thanks to the cold weather holding the snow. If you do manage to catch it you are gauranteed a fantastic day in awesome scenary.

Head out with an open mind and go where your spirit (and the snow report) takes you.

[ September 15, 2003, 09:47 AM: Message edited by: freshtracks ]
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