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Alps Ski Vacation Help - Page 2

post #31 of 58
Espace Killy vs 3 Valleys... tough call!

Both are huge areas but with the odd awkward connection between the different parts. If you can get somewhere near the centre, Val is pretty but my vote would be for the 3 Valleys. To me the terrain is more interesting and varied with perhaps more opportunity to come up with some creative routes. And besides, the transfer time is shorter!
post #32 of 58
I found the on-piste skiing in Europe to be quite tame, even to the point of disappointment. Most Europeans ski for "holiday", and few ski like it's a athletic pursuit.

Even my 11 year old son had a hard time finding any real challenge without going off-piste. Of course, his home mountain does not have a real distinction of on-piste vs. off-piste, so he has grown up skiing everything in sight.

When we skied Zermatt, we skied mostly off-piste and many of the Europeans would stop and watch him from the pistes...I don'tr think most of the UK tourists there had seen that kind of skiing in real life.
post #33 of 58
I found the on piste - off piste distinction confusing.In the middle a a vast lift served ski area there would be groomed runs and sometimes what amounted to a wide groomed road that ran right through the middle of an otherwise ungroomed snowfield. The groomed section would be marked PISTE and the ungroomed area carried warning signs. It was similar to calling the wide groomed run down the middle China Bowl at Vail the piste and everything else off piste.
On the very same trail map I saw a glacier also noted as off piste! On our trip we also used a guide for a day to take us where the faint of heart dare not go so there are all types of off piste.
post #34 of 58
There are some steep marked trails in Europe. Verbier, for example, has a number of them. But yes, most of the toughest skiing is either fully offpiste or in the netherworld of what they call ski routes in the German-speaking countries and variations of the word ski "itinerary" here in Italy and in France. These are accepted routes down the mountain, sometimes marked with posts but not groomed and on which rescue may be at your own expense.

Europeans don't make nearly as big a deal about leaving the resort boundaries as Americans do (Harry, I doubt your son skied anything at Zermatt that the regulars there don't ski all the time, particularly if it was visible from a piste). A lot of skiers in Europe (I'm one of them) ski pretty much entire seasons offpiste, but having said that, I note that this is not necessarily akin to backcountry in the US, it's just that marked pistes are generally groomed and therefore uninteresting. Where I ski a fair amount of the offpiste might be considered "sidecountry" in the US.

To take an example, it would be rare for something as steep as the Alta Chutes at Jackson Hole to be a marked run in Europe. Resorts like St Anton or Verbier or even Madesimo might have dozens of chutes as steep as that, well within the lift-served area, but they're usually technically offpiste, even if they're often indicated on maps and even get bumped out sometimes.
post #35 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
Harry, I doubt your son skied anything at Zermatt that the regulars there don't ski all the time, particularly if it was visible from a piste.
Oh, I agree. We found a few locals who knew where the goods were, and skied a bit with them. But in general, the on-piste skiers were not as aggressive as we're used to. And the pistes, even at Zermatt, were somewhat disappointing.

What was nice is things tracked out much more slowly than they do here. We are so used to skied as hard as possible on a powder day to get the goods, it was kind of amazing how long it lasted at some of the areas over there.

It just seemed to me there were more holiday skiers and fewer adventure skiers at the areas I've been to.

Of course, that just means I need to spend more time over there disproving that conception.
post #36 of 58
Zermatt is definitely that way. Some other resorts a little less so. Generally in Europe, it's less snow-oriented, in the sense that we just don't get as much powder as the western US or western Canada. If you're just into the powderhound thing you end up feeling much less fulfilled here than you would over there. Touring is huge here, though it's not always powder-oriented. There's often more of a technical aspect to it. For a lot of guys who tour here, the descent is almost secondary.

And given the less frequent fresh snow, the going hard thing is less frenzied. If there's no pow to compete for, it really doesn't matter what time you set out, does it?

All bets are off on days it does dump. Though, again, over here with less blasting and less tree cover, there are more closures after storms than I think you get in the US (and forget about skiing during a storm in the Alps, it's just total whiteout).
post #37 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post
Apparently, we are down to 3 resorts... actually the only three that are available (except for Verbier... don't want to go there)

My opinion (just by looking at the ski maps) (from least favorite to favorite):
3) Meribel
2) Courcheval
1) Val D'Isere
You won't go wrong with any of them, but I'm a Val d'Isere addict and I would take that too. You'll have a blast.

Now, where to stay?

I COMPLETELY agree with Sandgroper: YSE is the best ski company you could wish for and, all other things equal, is a tremendous choice. I've had some really good holidays with them. They aren't always as flexible as I'd wish and, if they don't have availability, there are other possibilities.

My money this year is going to Finlays: http://www.finlayski.com/. They're another excellent company. Not quite as luxurious as YSE, but, like YSE, friendly and helpful, run by people who really care about their guests and their staff. (And this matters a lot: happy and hardworking staff make all the difference to a chalet holiday.)
post #38 of 58
if you are between meribel and courchevel check out meribel mottaret which is 10 minutes bubble car ride to top station of courcehvel and gets you all the high altitude meribel skiing and easy access to meribel town centre.. also very easy to get to Val Thorens for a days skiing
post #39 of 58
Thread Starter 
I think I've crossed off Meribel, so down to Corchevel and Val D'Isere. Thinking of doing group ski lessons though so I get to learn, skip lines, and ski off piste!
post #40 of 58
Можете вы поговорить русского?
post #41 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post
I think I've crossed off Meribel, so down to Corchevel and Val D'Isere. Thinking of doing group ski lessons though so I get to learn, skip lines, and ski off piste!
That's not such a good idea:

so I get to learn... If you're the skier you say you are, it's unlikely that you'll find classes at your level.

(For your little sister it's a different matter. Recommended Ski School in VdI: Oxygene: http://www.oxygene-ski.com/english/homepage.lasso)

skip lines ... "Lines", what's that? Seriously, if you go to Val or the 3 Valleys, even at peak holidays, you'll spend very, very little time in lines. The area is vast and the lift systems are ultra-modern. Sure, you may have to wait five minutes here and there, but it really isn't a big deal.

and ski off piste ... Again, so far as I know, none of the ski schools in Val or Courchevel take regular groups off-piste.

Now, if you're a decent skier, check this out:

http://www.alpineexperience.com/index.htm

or

http://www.topskival.com/

They take guided groups off-piste every morning.

And here's a YouTube of what they do:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVOQB...eature=related
post #42 of 58
Thread Starter 
So is there anyway I can ski off piste without paying lots of money for a guide?
post #43 of 58
If you are lucky, and are around Courchevel, you may hit Simon Christy's "Teen Week". I can thoroughly recommend him as both instructor and guide.

He doesn't have his 2009 dates sorted yet but they probably will be soon:
http://www.offpisteskiing.com/
post #44 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post
So is there anyway I can ski off piste without paying lots of money for a guide?
Do you ski with a shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver (and know how to use them)? If not, don't think about going off piste on your own. You're a keen young skier -- I would hate you not to become a keen old one.

But what's this about "lots of money"? Did you look at the Alpine Experience/Top Ski web sites? I haven't checked the exact prices, but I bet that if you skied (say) four mornings in one of their groups, it wouldn't cost you more than group lessons for a week. And, believe me, you'd have fun ...
post #45 of 58
Thread Starter 
Top Ski looks a lot cheaper... 5 euros less to add on 4 days? Did I read it wrong?

So if I did a course at Top Ski, does it include lift ticket and would I be able to do an adult lesson and not a junior? The junior lessons don't seem to interest me as much as the adult lessons do...
post #46 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post
Top Ski looks a lot cheaper... 5 euros less to add on 4 days? Did I read it wrong?

52 Euros a morning for Alpine Experience; 60 for Top Ski


So if I did a course at Top Ski, does it include lift ticket no!

and would I be able to do an adult lesson and not a junior

I don't see why not, if you're competent and follow instructions

The junior lessons don't seem to interest me as much as the adult lessons do...
Factor in the cost of hiring skis with skins and AT bindings (if you don't already own them) but they will (I think) lend you an AVY transceiver.
post #47 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by altis View Post
4) In Europe, the edge of the piste is always well defined by a string of poles and the piste itself will nearly always be groomed. In Canada I sometimes had trouble working out where we were supposed to go!
You are suppose to go straight!

In N. America, YOU decide where to go, not the piste markers!!!

There're ski are boundaries, which you are not allowed to cross. Otherwise, you're free to go anywhere.

Now, where you WANT to go, or where you have the skill to go down it, THAT is a totally different story.
post #48 of 58
I would like to throw in Zell Am See. A good family orientated resort with good transport connections to Saalbach and Kaprun. I know, not the most advanced of resorts (skiing wise) but family friendly.
post #49 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post
I found the on piste - off piste distinction confusing.In the middle a a vast lift served ski area there would be groomed runs and sometimes what amounted to a wide groomed road that ran right through the middle of an otherwise ungroomed snowfield. The groomed section would be marked PISTE and the ungroomed area carried warning signs. It was similar to calling the wide groomed run down the middle China Bowl at Vail the piste and everything else off piste.
On the very same trail map I saw a glacier also noted as off piste! On our trip we also used a guide for a day to take us where the faint of heart dare not go so there are all types of off piste.
And so many would insist that snowfield will burry you with avalanche but magically miss the groomed path in the middle of it!!!
post #50 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiking4 View Post
Top Ski looks a lot cheaper... 5 euros less to add on 4 days? Did I read it wrong?

So if I did a course at Top Ski, does it include lift ticket and would I be able to do an adult lesson and not a junior? The junior lessons don't seem to interest me as much as the adult lessons do...
Top ski have a well-deserved reputation for high-end ski instruction with an emphasis on off-piste skiing.

I can't think of a ski school in France which includes a lift ticket. The assumption is that you go on holiday, buy your pass and then buy lessons on top.

And despite the comments here, yes there can be long lines in the resorts - particularly at the start of the day and particularly when the ski schools are getting moving. I have skied 3V and Espace Killy a total of about 50 weeks ... there are lines. Ski schools get to avoid them.

Up the hill, of course, it is indeed less of a problem. But at any access point - certainly during half-term holidays - you will find lines.

And from my memories of ski schools in those two locations particularly, any one will cater to your level of skiing. Group lessons will be somewhat harder - but in Europe you often find more upper-level skiers having lessons than is necessarily the case in the US (at least, in my experience over the past two seasons). You will surely find other teenagers who can ski having lessons. Good schools include (Val) Top ski, Oxygene, Snow Fun, ICE ... (3V) New Generation, Snow Systems, Magic.

Keep doing your research and send these schools emails. Ask them. Can they give you what you want? The old days of the ESF giving you whatever they wanted are long gone. It's competitive and you will benefit.
post #51 of 58
A good read on Val d'I
http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wik...sere-Off-Piste

Avalanche can happen close to the marked runs. It's a rare occurence of course, and common sense will get you a long way, but be more cautious that you would be inbounds in a US resort.

For your sister, I had good experience (my kids had, actualy) with evolution 2 in Val.
post #52 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandgroper61 View Post

And despite the comments here, yes there can be long lines in the resorts - particularly at the start of the day and particularly when the ski schools are getting moving. I have skied 3V and Espace Killy a total of about 50 weeks ... there are lines. Ski schools get to avoid them.

I guess I have only skied them about half as much, but I was in the Espace Killy over New Year last year and in Breck over Presidents' Weekend and it was much, much worse. It's true that I was catching first lifts in the morning in the EK and staying high and it probably gets more crowded later on, but it also seemed to me that there were fewer bottlenecks. Just my experience.


Up the hill, of course, it is indeed less of a problem. But at any access point - certainly during half-term holidays - you will find lines.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandgroper61 View Post
And from my memories of ski schools in those two locations particularly, any one will cater to your level of skiing. Group lessons will be somewhat harder - but in Europe you often find more upper-level skiers having lessons than is necessarily the case in the US (at least, in my experience over the past two seasons). You will surely find other teenagers who can ski having lessons. Good schools include (Val) Top ski, Do they do lessons apart from the off-piste group guiding thing? Oxygene, Snow Fun yes, ICE don't know them but add Mountain Masters ... (3V) New Generation, Snow Systems, Magic.

Keep doing your research and send these schools emails. Ask them. Can they give you what you want? The old days of the ESF giving you whatever they wanted are long gone. It's competitive and you will benefit. Absolutely
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post #53 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by philippeR View Post

For your sister, I had good experience (my kids had, actualy) with evolution 2 in Val.
My daughter had a good week with EV 2, so good that we booked her for the next year and paid for it in advance.

Then, when we arrived in Val and went to the ski school, they told me in an arrogant and indifferent tone (yes, my French is good enough to pick that up) that they didn't have enough kids of her standard to make it worth-while (lessons were due to start next day) and they would refund my money or I could book one of their instructors privately (at far higher cost). So they left me in the lurch and having to cover the exchange costs on the credit card transactions. I ended up paying a lot of money for a private instructor (though I'd rather kiss a pig than put that money in their pockets).

Of course, from a business point of view, their behaviour was extremely stupid. Not only have they royally p*ssed off a previously satisfied customer, but the instructors who were working over the New Year or in the school holidays would have been unemployed. Welcome to France -- where customer service is so bad that even the Europeans notice!
post #54 of 58
^ My experiences has been nothing but positive. That's a shame. (Now, you even had the bad luck to face one of the very few non-british Evo 2 employee...)

When was that ?
post #55 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by philippeR View Post
^ My experiences has been nothing but positive. That's a shame. (Now, you even had the bad luck to face one of the very few non-british Evo 2 employee...)

When was that ?
The winter before last (I think).
post #56 of 58
Being a resident Brit and frequent visitor to the French Alps I can perhaps share a bit of inside knowledge with you. I went all around the Alps looking for a resort where I could buy a ski chalet which offered a whole variety of runs for all abilities. Finally I decided on a little known resort, which is in fact the oldest ski resort in France, called Montgenevre. It's situated on the French / Italian border, an hour from Turin airport. The resort is fantastic for families, reasonably quiet, a range of apres ski activities, a few bars/restaurants for your parents, and clear access for you to ski straight into Italy to the resorts within the 'Milky-Way' ie. Clavier, Sestriere. I visit there at least 3 weeks a year and can't see the point in going elsewhere as it offers everything the whole family needs for our range of abilities with plenty of off-piste should yu want it.
post #57 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by altis View Post
Можете вы поговорить русского?
Еще как можем! Правда, по-русски, а не "русского".

Are there skiers from Russia here on the forum?
post #58 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodeWarrior1241 View Post
Еще как можем! Правда, по-русски, а не "русского".

Are there skiers from Russia here on the forum?
Yes,but...35 years ago
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