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Perhaps the best skiing in the Alps

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I would like to share with you'all my favorite ski region in the Alps thus far:
Gstaad, Switzerland.

I've skied in and around Garmisch, Germany and neighboring Tyrol, St. Anton- Lech and Zurs, Engleberg- although the snow was lacking, Verbier and it's 4 Vallies neighbors, Portes du Soliel- very nice, St. Moritz- Corvatch, Tignes/Val'd sere- epic, Ishgl- outstanding, and Kaprun.

I know this barely scratches the surface of skiing possibilities in the Alps, however the Gstaad region, particularly Saanenmoser and Glacier 3000 (late season) are truly fantastic.

I should mention that I'm all about off piste... the groomed parts are only for getting back to the lift. I don't care about night life, amenities or friendly lifties (are there any in Europe?) and although the village of Gstaad itself is about as shicky mickey as is gets, shopping for furs and caviar is not my thing. Skiing untracked lines is all I care about.

Here is why Gstaad rips:
  • lots of trees, except for the Glacier of course
  • hardly any rocks- its all cow pasture in the summer
  • no crowds- the jet-set knock off early and and leave the freshies alone
  • consistent snow despite the low elevation- it does'nt take much to cover grass.
  • endless short hikes with every exposure- Ishgl is good for this too.
  • Beautiful Swiss scenery- very quaint
Well the secret is out now... what do you think?
post #2 of 9
sorry, but i have to disagree. sannenmöser (the interlinked part between st. stephan and gstaad) is a bunny hill in comparison. the worst resort i have been to so far. hardly any challenging slope, low elevation, offpiste: yes, some, but not much by any means and short. nor does this resort hold snow well or have quality grooming.

heck, no.

to mention ischgl in the same sentence is a real shame. ischgl ist one of the best resorts in the alps, with tons of excellent terrain starting at elevations ABOVE where gstaad ends.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
I guess one needs to spend a whole season in my lovely Gstaad to truly appreciate it. I skied lap after lap after lap of bottomless powder on that St Stephan link. I had 4 inch icicles (sp?) sprouting from by beard from all the face shots. Granted it wasn't 3000' continuous verticle... more like 1800', lap after lap after lap.... Grooming?, you may have a point, but thats like meat to a vegetarian: I have a strict off piste diet. Had I spent an entire season at Ishgl, I might be singing a different toon... but what happens if there's an over-cast day or it's snowing? 0 vis like so many places over there. That's why the trees around shiesemoser are so special, and warm my heart.
post #4 of 9
If you like Ischgl that explains why you like Gstaad.:

Seriously you sound a bit 'impregnated' by the good conditions you might have hit there. True, Glacier 3000 offers great bc runs when conditions are right but that's lottery. There are plenty of other places which outstrip Gstaad/Glacier 3000 in verticals and thrill presuming powder conditions.

Eastern Suisse and western Austria get nuked on way more often on an average but at places like Engelberg or Arlberg you compete against way more bc skiers as well for first tracks. At Verbier you have to elbow your way onto the gondola early morning after a fresh dump when the resort gets invaded by the locals around Lake Geneva. It all depends.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Late season on saanenmoser, the snow was all but gone until it snowed about a half meter on grass and cow poop. That's not much of a base, but it was fantastic skiing.

I wonder about the thousands of other lesser known ski areas in Europe that don't get tracked out for days. It's shocking to ski in the States where people come out of the woodwork to line up at 7:30 for 6 inches of fresh... and then it's gone in 15 minutes! Literally! I need to marry a Swiss girl.
post #6 of 9
this image shows teh st. stephan side of the main gstaad ski area. taken from outside the resort. the nice hill on the left is reached by a traverse and very littel hiking.


the pic is from 1st week of january i believe, 60 centimeters (24") of snow reported. given the thin cover, the skiing was good. even moderate AT possible.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the photo. I might be at Alta this season. "Best snow on earth" I'm told. Looking forward to it.

Viel Spass!
post #8 of 9
Wow. I am surprized. I've been to Gstaad a few times. Great hotel, spa and food. Very mediocre skiing. Questionable snow; not that challenging; not that big. I can't believe that anyone (other than Liz Tatlor) would prefer Gstaad to the Arlberg region of Austria. WOW!!!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well if you like trees and powder it's not too bad. All the Liz Taylor types go for the spas and food.
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