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Live From Davos!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
At long last, we have finally arrived! This trip was a fluke. Mark found a "mistake fare" from SF to Zurich for $215, and it was too good to turn down, even if this was not the best time of the year to go. We used his Northwest frequent flyer miles to get us to SF- the catch: We had to go through Minneapolis! A few hours into the flight, NorthWorst announces that they have to land because their computers were not working. They had to land in Denver! Go back home, do not pass go, do not collect 215 dollars! A few hours later, they had a new plane. However, we arrived in SF at about 1:00 AM.

We spent the morning and afternoon there, and then headed to the airport for a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, with a three hour connection to our flight to Zurich. Then, from Zurich, it was a train ride to Davos.

Some practical advice if you ever plan to take this trip. Pack very light! There are three trains with tight connections from Zurich airport to Davos. The aisles on Swiss trains are very narrow. Even without skis, it was a challenge.

Fortunately, we are staying at Hotel Terminus, across from the Davos train station. I'm not sure either of us could have handled any more travel. BTW, we are travelling sans skis because this trip was linked to a London trip. See supporter's lounge for details.

This morning, we went to rent skis. The shop did not want to rent me their Burnin' Luvs, because they thought the 150s would be too short. The real reason is that they were worried that early season conditions would wreck the skis.

So how are the conditions. Well, it's sunny and there has been snow. However, conditions are somewhat icy, and only some narrow trails are open. The Swiss ski and ride incredibly fast. Being post ACL surgery, I found myself being extremely apprehensive. However, even though they are fast, Swiss skiers and riders are incredibly controlled! If I pulled any of the defensive moves I executed today iin Colorado or New England, I'd be trail kill!

I hope I don't offend anyone with this comment, but I absolutely hated the Stocklis that the shop guy convinced me to rent! I was having an unusually hard time making short radius turns. But it's like that cliched joke about the guy asking his doctor if he could play the piano after his accident: I was never good at very fast short radius turns on a crowded icy narrow slope, why sould I expect to suddenly become proficient. Nonetheless, I was having a particularly hard time turning left. It may be psychological- the injury was on the left knee. Also, all of my turns were going completely across the hill. I told Mark to ski some more and I down loaded on the tram. He skied one more run and came down with me. I went back to the shop and traded the skis in for the Burnin' Luvs.

If this sounds like I'm down, I'm not! I'm in Switzeland, for heaven's sake, how bad can life be! We took a walk through Davos. Tomorrow we meet Matteo in St. Moritz!!! Even if the skiing is not wonderful, this will make the trip well wrth it!
post #2 of 15
I Heart Switzeland TOO! I have not been there for awhile but remember the feeling. Enjoy.
post #3 of 15
Davos! Enjoy it! I doubt I'll ever ski in Europe, right now I'd rather be your house-sitter than a speed bump on the Swiss clear ribbon of death, but you're experiencing Europe and you'll be back in Colorado and deep powder soon enough. If the skiing is not great, also check out the other stuff, bobsleigh, shop, eat, drink, whatever they do in Europe. If Matteo can't show you a good time in St. Moritz, Nobody can!
post #4 of 15
Davos is a fantastic place.

For Europeans we can get our luggage sent on to the resort when we check in at the airport. Swiss trains are no bother then.

Last Davos hotel I stayed in was the Sunstar Park and I would definitely use it again.

I think it may be too early for great skiing though.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
We returned to Davos on Monday and it was an entirely different place. Since it was totally uncrowded, I did not mind the narrow runs. Granted, they are not usually narrow, but only part of the runs are open. It must be fantastic in the height of the season. However, if you are a fan of Killington, with long cat track connectors leading to narrow icy runs where people ski extremely fast, you will love Davos in early season. It's a great place, but I prefer St. Moritz. Perhaps it's because we got to meet Matteo.

Keep in mind that Switzerland is extremely expensive, even in early season. If it were not for the ridiculously low airfare that was only available at the time that we went, the trip would have been impossible.
I'm still glad we went, even the conditions were not optimal.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
However, if you are a fan of Killington, with long cat track connectors leading to narrow icy runs where people ski extremely fast, you will love Davos in early season. It's a great place, but I prefer St. Moritz.

Keep in mind that Switzerland is extremely expensive, even in early season. If it were not for the ridiculously low airfare that was only available at the time that we went, the trip would have been impossible.
I'm still glad we went, even the conditions were not optimal.
Snow is usually better in Davos than St Moritz. I prefer Davos anyway.
Never been pre Christmas so I do not recognise the 'cat track' description or the 'ski extremely fast' reference.

Also, from a UK perspective, Switzerland is good value compared to the big French resorts or even the US. Lift prices are cheaper and reasonable hotels do not cost an arm and a leg. I think the 'expensive' tag is a myth
post #7 of 15
too sad you ddn't come a week later. the weekend will bring powder conditions for sure.

davos vs. st moritz: even though close to each other, they are connected to opposite weather patterns. most of the time davos has better and more snow, but say 1 year out of 5 will be the opposite thing.

well, skiing the alps in early december is gambling. eastern austria is great this year, but is green in some other years, too. this goes for any region. gambling.

the davos region is outstanding when they have decent snow. the usually have. they will have from saturday on.

and yes, we euros can ski a bit, too.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
The trip was worth it just to watch how Swiss skiers ski! Absolutely phenomenal, and perhaps the best skiing I've seen anywhere!

Also, even with early season conditions being less than perfect, when I lived in New England, the conditions at early season Davos would have been considered excellent in mid-season.

BTW, when I say "expensive," keep in mind I now come from a place that has $275 season's passes, so everything is relative.
post #9 of 15
LisaMarie:

Which Davos ski area(s) did you ski. My memories of the Parsenn area (which I skied 11 years ago) remain indelibly sketched in my mine, to this day. And, as I recall, each of the 5 different ski areas at Davos has it's own distinct terrain.

In the mid-winter or early spring, when you can ski about 12Km down the backside into Klosters' for lunch, you really get the best of skiing/riding a place like Davos.

The food/meals at Davos are certainly very expensive-but very good.

Stan
post #10 of 15
This thread makes me want to go off on an important tangent - the pros and cons of taking a ski trip in fringe season. From experience I know there is a lot more to a European ski trip than just slopetime, such as cultural exchange, eye candy (humans and nature), romance, culinary delights, expanding personal horizons, etc. So I can understand Lisa's willingness to take advantage of super bargain airfare at this time, but personally if there is anything I'd splurge on when it comes to a major ski vacation it is timing. I want to be at a great, new place when snow conditions are peak or close to peak; given that, I can sleep in a dive and live off bread and water for a week. Having said that, I know there are a lot of satisfied, savvy ski trippers out there who are nimble enough to catch deep powder at Alta at Thanksgiving or packed powder and blue bird days in April at Squaw, or etc, almost always with less crowds than in peak season and usually fueled by more than bread and water.

BTW, I am a fan of Killington (on a light day) and have held an unrealized dream of cruising the Parsenn for decades...sigh...maybe one of these years?
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gostan
LisaMarie:

Which Davos ski area(s) did you ski. My memories of the Parsenn area (which I skied 11 years ago) remain indelibly sketched in my mine, to this day. And, as I recall, each of the 5 different ski areas at Davos has it's own distinct terrain.

In the mid-winter or early spring, when you can ski about 12Km down the backside into Klosters' for lunch, you really get the best of skiing/riding a place like Davos.

The food/meals at Davos are certainly very expensive-but very good.

Stan
short davos guide:

well, 5 areas as said.

PARSENN: connects with klosters, great tree skiing on the klosters and wolfgang sides, groomers wide but get boring quickly. great offpiste fropm weissfluh. quite a few dangerous spots.

JAKOBSHORN: mid-size montain, skaible 200 degrees or so. great marked ungroomed runs down to the neighbouring valleys. grommers a bit steeper than parsenn. the snowboarders mountain. efficient chairlift system.

RINERHORN: worst snow in the region. some great offpiste, but you get far away from the lifts. grommers not too exciting. one resort run is nice. some t-bars that you cannot avoid.

PISCHA: one big gondola that accesses a southernly exposed face with a number of long T-bars. very nice runs for carving. great offpiste in fresh snow, gets safe to ski quicker than other exposures. least crowded, prone to be closed in the furure. the gondola is very popular amopng AT skier, as eases access to some of the best AT itineraries of the region (pischahorn, isentälli, gatschiefer, kamel)

Madrisa: actually in klosters. family hill on first glance. great corn snow skiing in spring. acess to AT skiing as well. can be skied out in half a day, in terms of groomers.

if you are there only for a day or two, ski parsenn and jakobshorn. if the snow off piste is any good, hire a guide. there is so much terrain <ou will never find without.

the best groomers are on jakobshorn. but remember, this is wide open euro groomer skiing. no trees or so.

the areas are all connected by public transport. with a multi-day pass you can ski more than one resort a day.

i'd say davos needs 1.5 meters of snow to be good and 2 meters to be good everywhere. often the klosters area has significantly more snow. the published snow stats are very accurate and reliable. the swiss avalanche research institute is located in davos.
post #12 of 15
A few notes from me, since Lisamarie has pretty much covered the trip.

At Davos we only skied at Jakobshorn. Since there was not much cover, everything off-piste was basically closed, or in the "don't rip up your rental skis" mode anyway. We were staying at the Hotel Bahnhof Terminus right across from the Jakobshorn cable car, so for the 2 days we skied at Davos, we decided to be lazy and ski the nearer area.

Monday was awesome nonetheless. Far less crowded than the weekend, so it was pleasant just to do laps under the Usser Isch chair and some of the other pistes. Nothing black was open at the time, so we were doing laps on that and some of the other the uncrowded reds. Beautiful blue skies and mountain vistas.

I'd definitely want to come back when there was some real snow - cover is only about 20cm right now. Spend more time skiing the various other areas at Davos, be able to get out onto the then-covered off-piste areas, and ski between the areas where possible. But for a quick taste of early-winter Swiss skiing and just the experience of being there, it was well worth the $215 US airfare!

We would have had better conditions had we stayed in Summit County, but one of the great things about skiing in the Alps is that when you're done skiing, you're in the Alps!

Meeting Matteo and his uncle at the Corviglia are in St. Moritz was a great time also.

Re: rental skis. I do usually rent decent demos rather than take my own skis, for a European trip, especially with the airlines' tighter excess baggage policies these days. However I have to say that I'm dissappointed in the rentals from Swiss Rentasport in Davos. Very friendly and helpful, but the skis aren't tuned worth a damn. The edges on the Rossis I rented wouldn't have cut a stick of soft butter until I brought them back in to be tuned overnight, and even after that they were only marginally sharp at best for early-season hardpack conditions. The only reason Lisa's K2's had an acceptable tune was because the originally refused to rent out any of their new 2005-06 season skis. When she returned her badly-tuned Stocklis to swap out for Burnin' Luvs, and somehow got them to rent them to her (with dire "do not go off piste or we will charge you extra" warnings), they had never been used yet and so still had a decent factory tune.

The Swiss Rentasport shop, at least the one right by the Jakobshorn lift at the train station, didn't have any tuning equipment or a backroom shop visible. I'm guessing they don't tune their rentals with any regularity. So despite their friendly service I'd have to recommend either bringing ones own skis, or trying Intersport or one of the other rental companies instead.

Hotel Bahnhof Terminus was a great place - charming, friendly service, two good restuarants (Swiss, and Chinese), and a very good deal for the money. Affiliated with Best Western, and isn't it weird how in Europe, Best Westerns are often charming, rather well-appointed full-service hotels in the city, while in the US they are usually one step up (or down) from a Motel 6?

One last odd note: at least early-season, it appears almost to offend the Swiss if you enter a half-entry restuarant during dinner hours and want dinner without a reservation. Even if almost all the tables are empty, you get a "keine tische" refusal. Or a "come back in 2 hours." I really don't understand that when the majority of the tables were open. Perhaps it's a cultural thing that doesn't get mentioned in the guidebooks I read, or perhaps it's early-season low-staffing, but it was a consistent and odd occurrence.

Overall a great trip, and a nice taste of what I'd like to do as part of a longer trip to the Swiss and Italian Alps sometime in the future.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj
This thread makes me want to go off on an important tangent - the pros and cons of taking a ski trip in fringe season. From experience I know there is a lot more to a European ski trip than just slopetime, such as cultural exchange, eye candy (humans and nature), romance, culinary delights, expanding personal horizons, etc. So I can understand Lisa's willingness to take advantage of super bargain airfare at this time, but personally if there is anything I'd splurge on when it comes to a major ski vacation it is timing. I want to be at a great, new place when snow conditions are peak or close to peak; given that, I can sleep in a dive and live off bread and water for a week. Having said that, I know there are a lot of satisfied, savvy ski trippers out there who are nimble enough to catch deep powder at Alta at Thanksgiving or packed powder and blue bird days in April at Squaw, or etc, almost always with less crowds than in peak season and usually fueled by more than bread and water.

BTW, I am a fan of Killington (on a light day) and have held an unrealized dream of cruising the Parsenn for decades...sigh...maybe one of these years?
If we still lived back East, I would definitely have the same concerns when planning a European ski trip. However, since we now live in "ski country," our season lasts from October to June, so we can get good conditions any time we like. As I mentioned in the Supporter's Lounge, this trip was more about getting a bit of time "across the pond," with a bit of skiing as a side benefit. Once High Season comes to Summit County, it's financially unfeasible for me to leave my studio. Visitors looking for private lessons are a major source of my income.

However, for Easterners and Midwesterners, I would defintiely reccomend visiting the Swiss ski areas when there is more snow. Yet even if you don't, the trip will be worth it.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkXS
Overall a great trip, and a nice taste of what I'd like to do as part of a longer trip to the Swiss and Italian Alps sometime in the future.
If you think the Swiss are friendly, wait to you go to some of the valleys in the Dolomites (Italy), they're awesome One of my friends owns Dolomite Ski Tours here in Australia and I've had the pleasure of visiting and skiing Campitello (part of the Fassa valley) and the surrounding areas. As my friend is known in the valley, I got to know a few of the locals and found out how friendly they were. It has a different feel to that of the Swiss Alps - more laid back and less organised but this works surprisingly well. It's a nice addition to a trip when you return to Campitello after being out of the valley for 3 months and the bartender (in the busiest bar in town) welcomes you back by your first name!
post #15 of 15
Spent one of the best ski weeks of my life in Davos. It was a winter wonderland with snow most every day. Spent a day at Pischa with it just absolutely hammering with 2 feet of new pow and absolutely no one on the pistes. The locals were apologyzing to us about the aweful weather. Enjoyed a long ski from the Weissflujoch to Kublis where we took the train back to Davos which was memorable for sure. Have fun.
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