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Zermatt or elsewhere?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I´m currently on a study abroad program in Spain. After the program, the first week of December, I´m planning on getting in a few days of mid-week skiing somewhere. I´m generally an on-piste guy, competent, good skier, but haven´t done anything off-piste. Zermatt has been recommended to me. Tignes as well. Where would people suggest for a single college student to get in some decent skiing? Which resorts are shaping up to have the best snow the first week of December?

post #2 of 13
How many days you planning to ski? On-piste only Zermatt is far smaller than Tignes/Val d'Isere (or other places).
post #3 of 13
I would really recommend Zermatt over Tignes/Val d'Isere for college student first week of December.

1. Glacier/Snow. The Zermatt/Cervinia glacier is larger than the Tignes glacier. Both are good at making snow. Val/Tignes is larger at 100% open. But early season, probably Zermatt. See when the runs into Cervinia open - they are 2000' vert upper intermediate cruisers. If they are, Zermatt is a definite winner here.

2. Cost/Ambiance. Zermatt is pricier than Tignes. However, there are 2 hostels in Zermatt (where I stayed). And Zermatt is far, far more attractive than Tignes. (Tignes is unsightly 60/70s cheap modernist, Zermatt is an ancient, preserved, moneyed village). There is also a Coop grocery store to keep meal costs down in Zermatt.

3. Access. Zermatt is on the rail system. Although I think you have to pay a supplement to get up to Zermatt if you have a EuRail pass. The Zermatt link is off the high-speed Zurich-Milan train, so access via rail is fast. Tignes is a bus trip - most likely from Lyon/Geneva. You can do the math to see what is best here.
post #4 of 13
First week of December is pretty early. Keep an eye on the British Ski Club website http://www.skiclub.co.uk/skiclub/default.asp for conditions. Tignes is a pretty good bet for snow, but remember, World Cup races get cancelled in that part of the Alps in December like every year or so. There's no guarantee of good conditions anywhere in Europe so early. Also, be aware that European skiing is mostly above tree line and December can be pretty grey. Paradoxically, December can often be a little late to be skiing glaciers, both for visibility and other weather reasons.

The good news: In Europe, bookings are really low that time of year. Stay flexible and go last-minute wherever conditions sound good.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
I´m going to ski for two, possibly 3, days. Íf I head to Zermatt, I´m looking to fly into Geneva from Madrid, and then take a train, a transfer, and then a local train to Zermatt´s station.

I´ll check about Cervinia. As for where I can read about conditions at all the resorts, the British Ski Club is the best resource? Also, I´ve never skied in Europe before. Is there any sort of "beginner´s guide" that I can take a look at so I have a better idea of what exactly I´m doing, where I´m going, etc. Just from reading, it seems like a whole different setup than resorts on the East Coast.
post #6 of 13
You absolutely must have a copy of Where to Ski and Snowboard, though it will keep you awake on the plane coming over...
post #7 of 13
If you really look into just skiing midweek out of Spain then take a look at the Pyreneean resorts for quick access. As long as you stick to groomers it doesn't really matter too much where you ski.

In case you really want to fly out then consider resorts closer to major airports like Geneva, Lyon, Zürich to minimize commuting time.
post #8 of 13
The Pyrenees is unlikely to have too much snow at the beginning of December. Snowfall is currently best in Austria and Switzerland and Zermatt does have some runs open at the moment.
post #9 of 13
Fly to Zurich and train to St. Anton.

Austria is been dumped on right now. Some years back I went to St. Anton in early December, there's a lot of terrain open.
post #10 of 13
Try snow-forecast.com for Euro weather. However, they tend to inflate potential storms.


<FONT face=Calibri size=3>And here is their latest email: High pressure over Western Europe over the past two months meant that snow fell heaviest over Austria and neighbouring parts of Switzerland and Italy but with little further west. Conditions in
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by chrisc View Post
they tend to inflate potential storms
post #12 of 13
My message got cut off.

You really need to look into Austria. Dry glaciers in western Europe are no substitute for some Eastern Alp powder madness.

St. Anton is on the major train line....so just get to an airport between Zurich-to-Vienna.

Rooms will be cheap.

Airlines - yes, cheaper if booked early. But Spain is more about supporting summer tourism, not Dec-to-ski country. So it cannot be too bad of if booked last moment.

Try reading the blog at snow-forecast.

For some reason....Epic and Snow-forecast will not let me post latest email....but there is eastern Alp snow.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
St. Anton looks great, especially if they´re getting "dumped on" as has been said. Prices are decent too. 80 euros for 3 days when I´m there. How´s the cheap lodging/hostel situation?
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