or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ever skied in Europe?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Just wondering if any of you US/Canadian guys'n'gals have ever skied in Europe & how it compares to back home?

Also many posts refer to the differences between East & West skiing in US & Canada. Can anyone pleae explain these differences.
post #2 of 50
I've skied in Europe several times: the Sella Ronda while staying above Selva and Garmisch-Partenkirchen when in Bavaria. Have also seen Bardonecchia, which is quite charming. Loved the people in the towns and on the slopes. Found the instructors to be excellent. Food was the best. Prices are lower than in the States. Would recommend it to anyone stateside. Gonna try to get to either Soelden or Val Senales next September, if I can.
post #3 of 50
Yeah, Myerhoffen and the Hintertux. Skiing is great but the lift lines were unbearable. Nice folks while skiing but they'll cut your balls off in line. I should add, all together too crowded for my personal taste. As i get older, I crave open slopes and no humanity. I won't ski Vail, Aspen etal for the same reason. I ski the best places noone has ever heard of.
post #4 of 50
Not the Alps, but Pyrenees and Spain. In general, good snow, wonderful vistas, but not challenging enough in the Intermediate range. My major gripe is FOG and high winds, which, at least through early March seems to be prevalent in these areas. Also, I rather like trails cordoned off at each side by trees, gives you more perception; the ones in Spain,Pyrenees are basically pure white with jagged peaks, hardly any trees, and it makes for a bit of "too-openness", IMHO.

My choices: Baqueira-Beret, Cerler, Sierra Nevada and Candanchu when they upgrade the lifts. In Pyrenees, Soldeu and the smaller Ordino Arcalis.

The East US is ice, grey trees and skies, cold, but very nice fall-lines.

The West, long, steep, sunny, beautiful, wide, etc., etc.

Then again, on a crappy day no mountain is good!
post #5 of 50
I'll take a crappy day skiing over a beautiful day behind a desk.
post #6 of 50
i skiied at madonna di campiglio in the dolomites (northern italy) in dec 85...a breathtaking alpine environment, above the clouds, with jagged spires all around...but alas, the winter weather hadn't quite set in yet, so the 'snow' was ironically very northeast-over-groomed-ice in consistency...no real crowds to speak of, and at least back then, it was worlds cheaper than skiing a small hill back home...maybe $8 lift tix and $12 a day to rent equipment. in spite of the less than ideal conditions, a nice 6 days of skiing, eating and crashing hard early...
post #7 of 50

Europe vs US skiing

I've skied many places in France on vacations - La Plagne, Courcheval / Meribel / Val Thorens, Tignes / Val d'Isere. I've taken a professional class in Switzerland - Verbier. I skied in Italy when I lived in Milan and Germany and Austria when I lived in Munich. Now I live in US and have skied quite a few areas. Some differences that I've noticed, to generalize, ...
  • The big resorts in Europe are enormous compared to anything US has to offer. You literally ski from village to village. Connect up all the Tahoe areas to get a feel for how large some interconnected areas are. 100+ lifts is not uncommon, but ...
  • There are many more drag lifts in Europe
  • There are no crowd controls in Europe and the tops of your skis get trashed
  • Everyone is a foreigner to someone else and some nasty confrontations can happen in the lift lines
  • Skiing is only part of the experience in Europe. Food and drink is also important
  • Piste maintenance is an afterthought at many European ski areas
  • Liability laws are far more lax in Europe and hence safety considerations are similarly lax
  • Runs without snow are marked as open (like the run back to St. Anton) !
  • Ski equipment is cheaper - it needs to be given how trashed it can get, top and bottom
  • People dress-up more to ski (and apres-ski) in Europe - with some noteable equivalents in US
  • Snow conditions can be very unpredictable in Europe at any time of the ski season
Neither North American nor European skiing is better in my experience. Just different. It's all good.

East vs West Coast skiing
  • Ice vs snow
  • Clounds vs sun
  • Hills vs mountains
  • Skill vs fun
  • Edges vs bases
post #8 of 50
Originally Posted by stoweguy
I ski the best places noone has ever heard of.
Like Stowe? (Where is that place, I've never heard of it??? )

post #9 of 50
I skied Zermatt:

here are my observations :

1) huge areas. just imagine starting out at sugarbowl in the morning, skiing
across to squaw, alpine, homewood, northstar - ski down to incline - have lunch - ski over to Mt rose in the afternoon and ski back to sugarbowl in the afternoon. You may not do this - but this is a possibility.

Zermatt has 5 mountains linked across 2 countries (switzerland and italy).

2) Lifts - in the 3 days i skied - very rarely did i take a ski lift (twice) or a drag lift (once). most of the time i was on Trains, underground funiculars, trams, gondola's. Swiss engineering is amazing

3) Food on the mountain is expensive and great. none of the shitty $7 bowl of chilli and $10 burger.

4) I did not see anybody jumping lift lines or pushing and shoving.

5) I did not see anybody smoking in the gondola.

6) Downside - the long flights and jet lag sucks.

7) Most people stick to groomed runs.

of course - my experience is based on skiing at only one european resort.
post #10 of 50
Notice the post count of all the polite replies, how sweet.

post #11 of 50
Check any of the 850 previous threads dealing with those questions.
post #12 of 50
I'm tempted by Europe. But, with the US dollar sinking beyond belief, who can justify it?

The US dollar dropped dropped 37% against the Danish Kroner (closely linked to the Euro) in 28 months.

That means the Euro, which used to be a tad lower than the US dollar is now almost 50% higher.

I plan to ski Europe at some point. Just not now.
post #13 of 50
Hi Spiderjon. I'm an English skier responding to the US responses:

Yes, many Alpine ski areas are enormous, sometimes covering 3 or 4 big valleys and several villages, especially in France where the majority of the resorts have been purpose-built since the war in virgin mountain areas (rather than, as in Switzerland and Austria, based on existing villages). This also means they are less picturesque, but often have a better balance of beds to slopes so can often be less crowded.
The mountains are generally higher (though further east, in Austria especially, this may not be true). I know one black run (double black diamond is the rough equivalent, though this may vary from area to area: a red run in a tough resort might be a black in an easier one) which is about 7,000ft (2,100m) vertical.

Some resorts, such as St. Anton, have been forced by the recent culture of litigious skiing (unfortunately spreading here from the US) to reclassify many of their black runs as off-piste itineraries, which are not groomed or patrolled but are cleared for avalanche danger. This was because they were so often having to be closed because of a few exposed stones or some ice that all the good skiers who wanted to ski them were getting frustrated.

The off-piste is the most different aspect of European skiing. There is no Out of Bounds: you can ski anywhere (except a few National Park areas where you need special permission). However nothing off-piste has been cleared of avalanche risk. You ski it at your own risk, making your own assessment of danger. If you want to ski a 60ยบ slope above a cliff you can. Also consequently there is no sign-posting of off-piste runs and gullies. You just have to know where they are.

Don't expect West Coast US type powder, except if you are very lucky. You'll often need to be able to cope with crud: heavy wind or sun affected "powder" or wet snow or crust. Though a good guide will probably find you decent powder long after most people in the resort think it's all gone.

The consequence of all this is that to get the best out of the off-piste you really need to go with a guide. In many resorts there is a huge amount of very challenging off-piste skiing if you know where it is and which are the best resorts to find it.
Sometimes, as in Chamonix (an old town and several ski areas along the valley - the most famous being Argentiere - linked by a free bus service), there are so many good skiers in these places looking for powder that the obvious stuff gets skied-out within half a day of a snow fall.
Others take a bit longer (for example La Grave or Alagna which are essentially tough off-piste only, though starting this year the latter has one groomed run which outrages the purists). But perhaps the surest is often to go to a resort considered easy that has some good off-piste: but only if you have a guide who knows where it is (But those who know such places aren't keen to divulge where they are) or, as in the Dolomites, where hardly anyone skis the steep-off piste between the pinnacles (But there the snow is chancy and you may find there isn't enough snow to ski these rocky routes). In these places you can often still make the first tracks on a slope a week or two after the last snow. But, as always, especially in these days of climate change and rapidly retreating Alpine glaciers, it helps if you are prepared to walk a little to find it.

Some resorts, such as Tignes / Val d'Isere have off piste guiding companies which will put you into a group of similar standard and this can be very good and relatively cheap (for example TopSki in Val d'Isere, one of the very best companies, charge 65 Euros per day for a full day or you can ski mornings - 9am to 1pm for 50 Euros. Another, smaller but very good company there is Alpine Experience who are all English speakers - some British or Australian - though if you want semi-extreme skiing go to TopSki).

Many (perhaps most) other resorts only have guides who can be privately hired and you have to make up your own group or it will be extremely expensive. In general groups are limited to 6 and if you can make your own group of 6 this will be the cheapest option of all (probably about 50-60 Euros per day each, in my experience - and that's with top guides).
post #14 of 50


After skiing in France and Austria, all over the American West and New England, I feel now that I don't have to go any futher than the Mt. Washington valley to enjoy myself. Yesterday and the day before, I was up at Bretton Woods and the view of the Presidentials was incredible. It rivals anything I have seen elsewhere. The tree skiing and glades there can be quite challenging if they have good snow. There's no experience that tops skiing amongst their birch trees.
post #15 of 50
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato
I'm tempted by Europe. But, with the US dollar sinking beyond belief, who can justify it?

The US dollar dropped dropped 37% against the Danish Kroner (closely linked to the Euro) in 28 months.

That means the Euro, which used to be a tad lower than the US dollar is now almost 50% higher.

I plan to ski Europe at some point. Just not now.
The advantage to skiing there now would be you won't run into so many American tourists as you will when you wait for the dollar to gain value. That also assumes that it will gain value vis-a-vis the Euro which isn't a given. I, for one, go to Europe to mingle with Europeans, not Americans. By the way I want to return to Rome, but I hope some of it will be left after the current horror show going on there.
post #16 of 50
Horror show?
post #17 of 50

I skied just over the boarder in Italy - other side of the Matterhorn. It was July 1978. Skied there for 3 weeks. Winter conditions, powder dumps, avalanches and sun.

While waiting in line this big guy slid past me and gave me a full shot with his elbow. It didn't knock me down but did cause me to fall back and loose my balance. His wife, dressed in all white with white fur lining warious parts, snuck by right behind him. They got on the lift and were gone before I knew what hit me!

Later that day I was skiing a real steep shot that curved away getting steeper. There was about 10" of dry powder on top of a firm but pleasant base - perfect for avalanch. The snow fractured and slid away from me and I watched it fall out of sight. I did yell a warning - useless. I skied over the edge and could see the reckage. A small group had been overtaken by the slide and they were a mess - yard sale! I came down to say I was sorry and that same big guy got up and started yelling and beating me with his pole. Everyone else was ok so I left.

At the end of the day I stopped at the bar, a deck, and this same guy was there telling the story. He looked up and saw me and suddenly I was his best friend. I gave him the story and now I was the hero. Those Italians are a lively bunch, free drinks!
post #18 of 50
I used to have an apartment in St. Anton, Austria. I have skied there about 100 days. I have also skiied Kitzbuhl, Kaprun, Hintertux, Solden, St. Johann, Warth, Lech , Zurs and St. Christoph, Obersdorf, Garmisch, Oberjoch, Gstaad, and St. Moritz.
Generally, the snow in europe resembles the east more than the Rockies. I think that this is because there is a very low timber line, and the snow gets wind blown. Also, there are more crowds in europe than Utah/Colo. The pow (on piste) gets washed out pretty quickly. The altitude is on par, or even higher than many western US areas. Skiing Germany and Austria can range from 4000'-11,000'. There is less tree skiing in europe, but more "off-piste" skiing. "Off-piste" in european terms frequently means skiing the ungroomed areas between the marked groomed areas. IMO, european skiing, for the most part, is more about carving, and less about free-riding (although, the folks in Chamonix will certainly tend to differ). Remember, skiing is a way of life to many in Europe. I have frequently skied with men in their 70's who rip.
Why get into lift line behavior. Same goes for ski fashion.
I love skiing europe. The mountains are breathtaking, and the mountains...challenging. Having said that, I prefer UTAH!!!
post #19 of 50
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato
I'm tempted by Europe. But, with the US dollar sinking beyond belief, who can justify it?

The US dollar dropped dropped 37% against the Danish Kroner (closely linked to the Euro) in 28 months.

That means the Euro, which used to be a tad lower than the US dollar is now almost 50% higher.

I plan to ski Europe at some point. Just not now.
Most lift tickets at major european resorts cost no more than $30. Mountain food is great and not expensive. Lodging is very reasonable when compared to the US. Don't stay home because the value of the dollar vis-a-vis the EURO. This applies to most places outside the big cities, not only ski resorts.
post #20 of 50
" Having said that, I prefer UTAH!!!"

God bless you.
post #21 of 50
Never skied Europe but have plenty of Euro friends, they all say they prefer the snow conditions in Utah over Europe and they enjoy the terrain as well.

I would give my left coco puff to spend a year or two in Europe skiing all she has to offer.
post #22 of 50


There used to be a sign at Alta or Snowbird which states that they have the best snow conditions in the world. In actuality, Colorado has a lighter powder but not as much of it falls as in Utah. I found the snow in the French Alps, although not as light as the U.S. West, quite enjoyable as powder goes. Skiing is more exciting there, too. Every serious skier should go at least once.
post #23 of 50


Originally Posted by Mainiac
Horror show?
I don't want to open a religious argument, but I find this mob death cult rather horrifying from a tourists point of view.
post #24 of 50
Originally Posted by paul jones

I skied just over the boarder in Italy - other side of the Matterhorn. !
Freudian slip ?
post #25 of 50
swiftskier, when you make your exit, how would you like it to be?
post #26 of 50
Originally Posted by Mainiac
swiftskier, when you make your exit, how would you like it to be?
Is that pertinent? Whatever, I seriously doubt if it will matter to me what happens to my corpse after I die. Neither do I believe it mattered to John Paul the second. Eventually we are obliterated and nothing but molecules scattered to the Universe. People who respect the dead more than they do the living seem rather deluded IMHO. Of course escaping reality has to be the most common human activity. Another interesting thing to look at here would be that the only Catholic U.S. President never met the Pope. However, he started a trend which hasn't stopped. Lyndon Johnson was the first to have an audience with the Pope and most others have followed.
post #27 of 50
Originally Posted by Latchigo
Freudian slip ?
That's funny. At first, I though he meant to let us know he was a living in a boarding house in Italy. However, now I see that some snowboarder was there to slip over. Sort of like slipping on a Banana.
post #28 of 50
Originally Posted by Canyons
"Off-piste" in european terms frequently means skiing the ungroomed areas between the marked groomed areas.
Although some of it is like that (and areas between groomed areas might be half a mile wide), much more involves skiing off the back of mountains or down gulleys or whole valleys not otherwise skied, sometimes arriving many miles away and needing to take a train or taxi back.
In a couple of resorts I know (St Anton and Courmayeur) there is a tiny top lift you are only allowed to take with a guide (or without your skis).

(Incidentally , as a newcomer on this forum I wrote my long post this morning (European time) on this thread partly to answer some questions on old threads I've been reading that never seemed to get answered.)
post #29 of 50
Each to his own.

The Alps are easier to get to if you are in Europe. I need at least a fortnight to justify a trip to the US or Canada. I would not consider the East coast skiing - it just holds no interest for me. Even with the cheap dollar, I did not ski in America this year.

The same considerations work in reverse. A week in Europe is no good if you are based in America

Last trip I had was Saalbach in Austria, in the week commencing Easter Sunday. It is not an expert's resort, but there is a lot of skiing - more than enough to keep me entertained for the week . The snow was soft - but you could ski down to the village. The mountain restaurants and scenery were absolutely fantastic and the whole area was well served by lifts. It is only 90 minutes from Salzburg airport. I skied on the morning of departure and was back home that night with no jet lag.
post #30 of 50
Has anyone ever participated in a European Summer Ski Camp?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion