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European resorts...

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'm basically the trip organzier for my group of buddies. We take a week off every Super Bowl week and leave the women and kids at home. A few of my buddies want to try to put together a trip to Europe. Although the prices seem enticing, I've always been disturbed about ONE thing that I ALWAYS seem to hear over and over about resorts in Europe....how rude people are when it comes to liftlines....or lack thereof. I have problems here sometimes with idiots who can't seem to figure out how to wait their turn. I think I may blow a gasket if what I hear about the Euro resorts is true.

Are some resorts better than others in this respect over there?

I've always wanted to go to Innsbruck after watching Franz Klammer win the gold medal in the Olympics. However, I'm open to going pretty much anywhere. My first priority would be consistent snow and #2 would be avoiding the people trying to push thru me to the front of the lift.
post #2 of 30

Need some info...

How good is your crew at skiing?
Do you need a good apres ski/dining scene?
What about nightlife/clubs?
What language(s) do you speak, besides English?
Ski Europe has some info on many of the aspects you should consider.

BTW: No matter what your abilities, if you're going to Austria, you'd probably like St. Anton better than Innsbruck. I had a great time in Innsbruck, but I'd ski in St. Anton every time over Innsbruck.

As for lift lines, you'll need to develop a little thicker skin about lift lines, especially if you're just with the guys. Understand, that people will generally crowd into open spaces, and may get on the backs of your skis, but they are not super-aggro about it. They're very matter of fact about the fact a space is open.
post #3 of 30
Check here , all that has been widely discussed before.

Hope that helps.
post #4 of 30
we went to zermatt, switzerland last year. Nobody pushed me around in the lift lines.
nor did i see anybody smoking in the cable cars. people were generally quite friendly.
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 
PowHog....thanks. That thread did help a great deal. I guess the only thing it didn't address is if some areas are better than others in my area of concern.

Marty.....thanks for the heads up. Zermatt may be a good choice. I've read it may be a lil pricey compared to others but has awesome scenery and food.

Dino....we vary in abilities. We're all boarders in our 30's & 40's. Here in the US, (2) of us seek out the steep trees but most of the others would stay on the groomers. As mentioned in the other thread, we area the "typical' Americans who start early and then ride til we drop. Food/dinner would be more important than drinks/clubs. One of us speaks a lil German and we all speak a lil Spanish...but not coversational Spanish!!

**As I stated above, consistent snow/coverage is my 1st priority. After that scenery and being in a location where I could get some variety of areas would be next up.
post #6 of 30
Dude, bad news. What you've heard is true. They have no clue how to line up, or how to be polite. More of them than not chain smoke and have rancid BO.

From what I've heard, Italy is the worst in this regard.

But all that said, if you expect it, and just accept it as part of the experience, it will be fine. For serious skiers, skiing Europe is not an option, it's an obligation. And no amount of shoving in the line will outweigh the memories and images you'll leave with.
post #7 of 30
I agree with Xdog1, you need to go to Europe. I went to Lech, Austria last year, my first trip ever to Europe, and it's worth the trip just to go for the experience of being in Europe. I like my personal space, and I've had worse violations of it in the U.S. than I did in the lift lines there. It just wasn't an issue, you just inch up in line like everyone else is doing, and I didn't experience anything like actual pushing. In a week, I can't remember seeing anyone I'd think of as an a-hole, which is more than I can say for most *days* skiing in the U.S.

If nothing else, go for the gluhwein.
post #8 of 30
Hey rider, do not listen to that crap about European impoliteness.
You will not be asked "your doing" 100 times a day without real care
but other than that you'll be ok. Go to Chamonix!
post #9 of 30
Originally Posted by xdog1
Dude, bad news. What you've heard is true. They have no clue how to line up, or how to be polite. More of them than not chain smoke and have rancid BO.

Don't forget to mention we 're all dirtbags, fartbags and forget to wipe our ass all the time. So no one should ever consider coming to the ol' smoke.
post #10 of 30
Hey K2 Rider Which week is the SuperBowl week ? I know probably a very stupid question 'we don't know nothing over here'!! But obviously queues etc depends on the school holidays. In Alpe d'Huez the conditions are generally fabulous in Jan and March, also the cheapest months, when snow conditions can be pretty much guaranteed and the queues are non-existant. We also just had a new lift installed moving 2000people every hour up to Peak Blanc (3330m/is that about 12,000ft?)
post #11 of 30
Sarah, in addition to "'we don't know nothing over here'!!" don't forget this also:

Originally Posted by xdog1
Dude, bad news. What you've heard is true. They have no clue how to line up, or how to be polite. More of them than not chain smoke and have rancid BO.

From what I've heard, Italy is the worst in this regard.
Xdog1, the same can be said about a lot of you people (having no clues how to behave and how to be polite, that is) and the second part of your statement too....

Originally Posted by xdog1
But all that said, if you expect it, and just accept it as part of the experience, it will be fine.
Anyway, thanks , pass that around, the less people will come to the Alps, the more room for me, my family and my friends, and the lower the prices!!!
post #12 of 30

Flat world syndrome

Just go dude

Chamonix, St Anton, Verbier, Couremyer, Meribel. Ditch Zermatt, no good for boarders.

You will meet every nationality having a huge amount of fun skiing, relaxing, laughing and taking the piss out of each other.

Practise being a citizen of the whole world with the best "so what" shrug you can muster and get amongst some BIG mountains.

Just go dude
post #13 of 30
I'm impressed that you are considering Europe from CA, that's a long way. If you can find airfare that fits your budget - go for it. Any negatives will be greatly overshadowed by the positives. A lot of Americans think of Innsbruck as a viable ski destination because of old Olympic fame and usually cheap prices, but, consider this: flying from CA to Europe to ski/board the local Innsbruck areas is like flying from far away into Tahoe to ski Diamond Peak and Mt. Rose. Not bad, but sort of missing the bigger, more renowned stuff nearby. There are a great number of tremendous ski areas in Europe, just to throw out a few names of Alpine ski areas that are so large and diverse that they fall in the "will please everyone" category: Austria - St. Anton, Ischgl; Switzerland - Zermatt, St. Moritz, Davos; France - 3 Valleys (Meribel, Val Thorens, Courchevel), Val d'Isere. As already mentioned, the ski info in www.ski-europe.com on dozens of resorts is real good, and I think they sometimes address boarder friendly terrain/resorts in their resort profiles. Tons of stuff here in Epicski on European skiing. Here are a few more relevant threads.



post #14 of 30
Snow conditions can vary enormously between countries and time of year. If you can I would just book a flight and leave the decision where to go to the last minute to make sure the snow is good. January is the quietest/cheapest month.
My favs (as a skier), I agree with Philay:
st anton - very snowsure, great atmosphere and facilities, only resort I would consider in Austria
chamonix - the birthplace of alpinism, but quiet low and there is never any snow in the village but the mountains are BIG and scenery is fantastic.
Verbier - plenty skiing and excellent nightlife
val d'isere - snowsure but too many Brits and too modern.
zermatt - great scenery (matterhorn) and the best food/ambience on the mountain in the world. someone here mentionesd that it's not so good for boarders, i do not know.
trois vallee (meribel/courchevel) huge modern ski area and snowsure.

I would go for chamonix or st anton.
Enjoy whereever you are going.
post #15 of 30
Having skied in America/Canada and quite a lot of Europe (I'm coming over there this season). My observations and sweeping generalisations would be:

Being American you'll be up too early for us Europeans and it's generally the first lift in the morning that is a particular problem. Superbowl week is normally towards end of January (?) and avoiding the school half term (mid-Feb) is crucial so that should help.

Verbier (Switzerland) may be a good bet. Lift lines aren't so much of a problem as the main lift up is a bubble and the queue is well defined. Huge ski area.

If you want the best Apres ski then St. Anton, which is also a challenging resort. Also if you don't want the Apres ski, being American and going to bed at 9 each night (joke) then you're guaranteed to beat everybody up in the morning. Austrian's are nice people.

Three valleys in France is the biggest linked ski area in the world. It really is huge.

Val D'Isere/Tignes is also a big ski area and it has everything and somehow a bit more.

Never been to Chamonix but it has a great reputation.

In Italy avoid the Sella Ronda or Sauze D'Oulx because if you don't, you'll feel like you're taking part in the Superbowl. In fact avoid Italy, apart from Cervinia, as it can be dodgy for snow.

The Italians push in with a smile on their face, the French push in as if they think they're invisible.

Oh, and American lift passes are extortionate.
post #16 of 30
Originally Posted by NickW
Verbier (Switzerland) may be a good bet. Lift lines aren't so much of a problem as the main lift up is a bubble and the queue is well defined.
I beg your pardon?

Be there on a day with freshies and the locals around invading the resort elbow you out of the way for the lift up. Make sure you are on your way before 8.30 a.m. and expect the resort to be tracked out within a day. It has become extreme compared to the old days, really.
post #17 of 30
Originally Posted by PowHog

Don't forget to mention we 're all dirtbags, fartbags and forget to wipe our ass all the time. So no one should ever consider coming to the ol' smoke.
I didn't know about the "no wiping" thing bro, that's foul!
post #18 of 30
Originally Posted by Nobody
Sarah, in addition to "'we don't know nothing over here'!!" don't forget this also:

Xdog1, the same can be said about a lot of you people (having no clues how to behave and how to be polite, that is) and the second part of your statement too....

Anyway, thanks , pass that around, the less people will come to the Alps, the more room for me, my family and my friends, and the lower the prices!!!
Hey Matteo,

I'm not gonna hijack the thread to do the "Rude Euro" thread for the umpteenth time.

But I'll just say a few things on that note. I didn't say all the folks I encountered fit that description, just more than not. Or more accurately, enough folks to be very statistically significant.

And in my 6 or so years of skiing at over 30 US, Canadian, Chilean, and Swiss resorts, the folks in Switzerland were the rudest, smelliest, and had the least regard for my personal space and the well being of my topsheets. They also smoked the most in the lift line and trams.

I have never had someone in the US step on my tails intentionally in a liftline, or actually ski between my skis and almost up my ass just to be 2 ft. closer to the lift entrance.

These are just my experiences. And I've heard of many similar stories.

Europe still rocks as a ski destination, and I'll go back for sure. I just gotta tell it like I see it.
post #19 of 30
I have done a lot of skiing in resorts located in Austria (Hintertux, Kaprun, Kitzbuhl, Lech, St. Anton and Zuers) , Germany (Obersdorf and Oberjoch) and Switzerland (Davos, Gstaad, and St. Moritz). FIrst, Europe is like skiing the east USA with altitude 8000'-10,000 (and attitude). There is a low tree line.
St. Anton is, by far, the most challenging and most fun, that Europe has to offer. There is plenty of soft snow, and an abundance of sunshine. Likewise, there is plenty of terrain for advanced skiers. There are about 80 lifts and 180 groomed slopes. There is also countless "off-piste" terrain which is located in between the groomers. (This is where you will find some deep pow., plenty of crud and moguls the size of volkswagons). ALso, it is a lot of fun skiing from one town to another.
As far as atmosphere...the town is very nice. A tiny church in the middle of town. A wonderful sport hall that includes a new indoor/outdoor swimming pool, ice rink, and all the bells and whistles. Great restaurants and bars. Plenty of European babes. (Mostly Austrian, Dutch and british). Plenty of obnoxious European dudes.
The only downside (if you can call it that), is the way some Europeans act when coraling in the lift line. Some are just rude! (Some are not). It's like the difference in attending a catholic church in the USA vs. Europe. Europeans ALL want to be the first to receive the host. There is no such thing as a line. I guess they think that the quicker they receive communion, the quicker the gates of heaven will open for them. All in all, St. Anton is a GREAT ski destination. If you are of the Deer Valley crowd, try Lech of Zuers.
post #20 of 30
Looks like me and you - Nobody, will have to stick together! I'm not sure what nationality you are but it seems that our 'superbowling buddies' are counting Brits as Europeans and using sweeping statements for the rest.
post #21 of 30
Sarah, welcome to Epicski.
Yes, sweeping statements are the norm sometime here. Don't let it put you down
Epic it's a superb place to hang around, full of nice people.
post #22 of 30
Skiing in Europe, you are skiing with people who are hungry to ski, and really want to get up the slopes. You need to keep your wits about you.
Skiing in America, you just need to keep your lawyer about you.
post #23 of 30
I can provide a little insight about Zermatt. We spent 4 days there last year the week after new years. Remember you can ski both Zermatt and Cervinia on the same lift ticket. This place was the most beautiful place i've ever been..and i've skied all over the US. The food and night life was amazing. However, if you are looking for the steeps this is not the place for you. The grooming is good and most of the terrain is very mild. When we were there everything was open but they did not get alot of snow so we could not really go off-piste. I suspose if they had more snow this place may have been different.

The crowds were pretty non-existant and the lodging was not too outrageus. You can pay top dollar or find reasonable hotels for a fair price. Great place if you are looking for good food, amazing scenery and only care about cruisers. Also, even after skiing both cervinia and zermatt I was bored after 3 or 4 days. The place is huge vertical/acarage wise but they only have so many runs. Not going offpiste limits your options big time.
post #24 of 30
Not sure what exact week you are planning on going but it it is during January, it should be fairly crowd free. I skied there in early January last year and had pretty much the Alps to myself. Never encountered one single line at a lift.
post #25 of 30
Originally Posted by xdog1
....that's foul!
...so are you....
post #26 of 30

St Anton

I went to St Anton last season in January and had a great time. They have a proximity card system that opens the turnstile at each lift which works most of the time. People do tend to crowd around the entrance to the lift; not lining up in an orderly way like they do in the US. When I was in St Anton, I never had to wait in line; most of the time I just skied up to the lift gate, slid through the turnstile without stopping and got right on the lift. And this was on a powder day.
There is some great nightlife in St Anton (loads of crazy Australians), but I was too tired from skiing to check them out. There are some great mountain restaurants that have genuine character, not like the cafeteria style places we get in the US.
Possibly the best feature of St Anton is how easy it is to get there by train. You can fly into any of the closest airports (Munich, Zurich etc.), get on the train and get off the train right in the center of St Anton (walking distance to lifts).
The skiing is amazing and very different from the US. Many of the pistes are above tree line and are just groomed tracks between vast tracts of powder. Once the powder is tracked up, the fun thing to do is to link together a long series of runs to get somewhere good for lunch and then come back a different way (St Anton - St Christoph for lunch etc.)

Here are some photos from my trip:

Typical on piste conditions.

Off piste at Rendl. I spent all morning riding the Tobel T-bar and skiing the knee deep powder until the upper Rendl lifts opened. Then did some great runs in the area to the right of the avalanche fences (R5
- Wannele). The snow was much deeper even a little higher up. http://img1.photobucket.com/albums/v...w/cbc7c0dc.jpg

View from the top of the T-bar at Rendl. Good off piste to the right down to the bottom of the T-bar. http://img1.photobucket.com/albums/v...w/8a6df51b.jpg

Riding the Valfagehr lift from Alpe Rauz back up to the Ulmer Hutte. http://img1.photobucket.com/albums/v...w/e6623cad.jpg

On the Valfagehr lift. http://img1.photobucket.com/albums/v...w/94151550.jpg

View from the Valfegehr lift. http://img1.photobucket.com/albums/v...w/40d6e04a.jpg

View from the Arlenmahder lift to the upper peaks.
post #27 of 30

In Europe, the best way to avoid crowds is to choose an expensive resort. Places like Lech and St. Moritz tend to have minimal lines whereas crowds can develop at more reasonable places like Soelden--especially on weekends. The downside of the expensive resorts is that the crowd tends to be old and stodgy, the beer, expensive, and trails, too easy.

STANTON is a nice compromise because you can shuttle to Lech or Zurs on a more crowded weekend day or simply ski Rendl or Stuben--huge areas rarely visited by STANTON skiers with incredible off-piste and steep terrain.

Another good compromise is Ischgl. While the main access lifts to Idalp and get a little crowded in the morning, once you get to Idalp, lifts fan out, and allow one to easily find nice, un crowded piste. Also, the Ischgl card is good at Galtur--a place I never made it to last year because Ischgl's terrain was so extensive (I skied 4 days at ischgl).

While I've never been, I hear Val Thorens is a nice, less crowded base for Three Vallees, and Tignes is the best bet for avoiding crowds at Val D'Isere.

To narrow your list, look at these resorts:

Arlberg--Lech, Zurs, Stanton
Trois Vallees--Val Thorens or Courchevel 1800
Val D'Isere

Ski-Europe or some other consolidator can probably get your group a good lodging, air, and ground transportation deal. That's most of your expense right there. Food will be expensive but not much more than eating out at US ski area restaurants, and the food will be better. And booze is generally less expensive than in the US--especially wine.

If food and scenary are a major issue, you might also consider the Dololmites (Cortina), but from what I've heard, the slopes are not very challenging and the snow conditions, less reliable than Austria or Switzerland. Having just returned from a bike trip in Italy, I will also admit that logistics in Italy are tougher there. Train stations in Italy can be chaotic, and Milan's Malpensa (which means bad thought) airport is one of the worst run gateway airports in Europe--terrible services, very few bathrooms, and crowds, crowds, crowds.

Matteo may scold me for being critical of his homeland, and I truly love Italy. It has the greatest food, art, and scenary in Europe. However, for "anal" Americans, it can often be frustrating to get around. Perhaps the "Northern" ski areas are the exception. I'll let Matteo comment on that one.
post #28 of 30
Nah, I will not scold anyone for telling that Malpensa it's horrible, that's the pure truth!
I will not scold for saying that logistic in Italy is bad and that the dolomites have easy runs, plus, snow conditions arereally less reliable than say, Austria...for the reason that the snow carrying clouds come from ...North, and deposit their load in Austria, and when reach the southern peaks...Italian alps do get good dumpings when the perturbations come from the south...
Yes, we're messy, entropic and noisy. In a word, we're different. Simply different, not rude, different. I get upset when someone makes wide generalizations, that's all.
Is a Texan the same as a, say, Vermonter? Do they behave exactly the same way in exactly every situation of life?
post #29 of 30
Did some furiner jest compare us to them Yankees again?
post #30 of 30
I skied Europe about 14 years ago but unfortunately have not been back to ski since. Having reviewed the posts about rude Europeans in lift lines, I honestly do not remember this as having been an issue. I do remember that skiers tend to bunch up a bit tighter than they do in the States or Canada but I have also witnessed young skiers trying to slip or cut into lines in North America. Although smoking is more prevalent in Europe, I still see people smoking on the lifts hear in the states. Nothing like the smell of cigarette smoke on the quad chair in the beautiful fresh alpine air. At Whistler a lot of the teens light up on the gondola.

I have very fond memories of skiing at Chamonix and in Austria. I definitely will go back at some point to relive that earlier experience. But there are still a lot of places I have not skied here in the states and I'm currently working on that list.
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