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Surselva (Graubunden) CH: What do you know?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just soliciting any info from anyone while biding my time waiting for winter.

We've booked two weeks over Christmas and New Years in an apartment in the tiny village Castrisch, in the Surselva valley. That's a couple km from Ilanz, maybe 20 km from Chur.

We'll be visiting different resorts each day, including Flims/Laax, Obersaxen, Vals and Disentis. Andermatt and Klosters are also possible, although a bit of a schlep especially considering that we'll be relying on public transportation.

I'm a downhill skier and my girlfriend is a cross country skier. I'll do a couple days of cross country as well.

I'm also probably going to take an Avi course in Desentis, and maybe a day at the spa in Vals.

So, has anyone been to this region? Any comments/tips on the skiing or stuff to do off the snow?

I don't think this is a region that gets a lot of visitors, especially outside of Flims/Laax. But hey, maybe someone on there has been there before.
post #2 of 14
Sorry, I can't help you, but I'd just like to post in your thread since you have gone to the bother of starting it.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Something to do at work, anyway.
post #4 of 14
Ah, bored Euro types. How many posts have I done today?

I've been to a number of the resorts you listed and Andermatt is by far my favorite. You might want to consider Engelberg too. Oh, and Lenzerheide.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
When I go to sleep and night and dream of moving to the Alps, Engelberg is where I'm living. I was sad not to make it there this past summer, but skied there the previous two. I'm determined to get back this coming winter as well. Not only is it the best little resort I know, it's also the easiest to get to from Berlin for a short break. Evening flight after work and an evening return from Zurich (€99 on Swiss) ensures maximum time of the slopes, the train is quick and efficient getting me into bed across the street at the Bellevue at a reasonable hour (sleep depends on how hard the Swedes in Yucatan are partying, though). Wake up early and grab something tasty from the Jacobs Konditori before walking to the lift (beat the bus, beat the crowds). Lunch of Rösti and a hot chocolate with Grand Marnier for dessert at Untertrübsee (stay out of the overpriced Titlis Bergbahn owned places). Ski my brains out left with only enough energy to hit happy hour at the Yucatan. Sleep and repeat. Best long weekend I can think of.

Lenzerheide is also on my list, but despite being relatively close to where we're staying as the crow flies, it's actually a real pain to get to via Chur. Andermatt is I think 1:20 on the train, so not undoable for a day or two.

So what can you tell me about the Surselva resorts?

I'd say I'm advanced skier, but I'm sure an instructor would have a litany of things I'm doing wrongly. I like getting off the groomers, but having grown up a resort skier in the US where that is easily and safely doable, I have no avi training and am therefore wary of venturing far off piste in Europe. As mentioned, I'm going to take an avi course at Disentis to start rectifying this. Laax seems to have a lot of itineraries. At Vals it appears there is a daily guided off piste tour down to the lake that looks interesting. I'm oddly fascinated by Vals; it just sounds so damn pleasant.

I don't suppose you have any info on cross country in the area? Flims seems to have a fairly large trail network above the Rhein gorge. Other than that it looks pretty spotty in most places.
post #6 of 14
This may not be much help, but we skied Lenzerheide (with 2 small children) a few years ago and found it to be very much intermediate-terrain, but very, very freindly, the small village had everything you needed, there was nordic skiing, sledding, lots of family-freindly stuff everywhere.  Not a high-glitz resort, but more of a family area.  Nearly no English spoken (since it does not attract too many tourists away from the mega-resorts), but they do host the WorldCup there on the race trail, so there are some speedy runs if you want.  Very pleasant and pretty, but no real challenging skiing that we could see...but then again, we did not venture too much since we had little ones in tow...
post #7 of 14
It was 9 years ago, & I'm not sure if these areas are within your reach, but I really enjoyed both.  Since you mentioned Chur & Klosters these might be worth looking into. 

First,  Arosa is up a steep winding road out of Chur, but i believe there is also a train that goes there.  Beautiful, modern, clean resort.  A 2-stage tram accesses the skiing & I would call it a medium sized area by euro standards.  Lots of different exposures & a nice variety of groomed and off piste runs.  Second, we spent a few days in the village of Kublis at the Hotel Posthorn I believe.  In the morning we we would ride the train up the valley & load the tram at Klosters & connect with Davos.  This area is one of the big ski circuses of the Swiss alps with endless possibilities.  The cool thing was skiing the very long Parsenn run back to Kublis at the end of the day, stopping along the way for drinks & rosti potatoes.  I tried to find my journal, but found a few pics instead.

Looking down from Klosters

Hotel in Kublis

Refreshments at the top of Davos-Dorf

Edited by 4ster - 7/16/2009 at 12:15 am GMT
Edited by 4ster - 7/16/2009 at 12:17 am GMT
Edited by 4ster - 7/16/2009 at 12:31 am GMT
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
@ExoticSkis: nearly no English spoken is a major plus factor in my mind. I have Lenzerheide in mind for a possibility at Easter this year.

@4ster: from what the swiss rail website tells me, Arosa seems to have the same difficult connections as Lenzerheide. We initially looked for accomidations in Chur, which as a transport hub would have opened up a lot more resorts. We couldn't find a reasonably priced apartment from those two weeks, though. Castrisch is on the main east-west rail line that goes through Chur, so accessing anywhere from Andermatt to Klosters is easy and does not require a transfer. It's once we try to get off that main line that journeys get long. I think Arosa is about a 2 hour ride from where we're staying (Lenzerheide similar). It looks lovely, though.

The Klosters pics are great, thanks for that! Kublis looks so quaint. I much prefer staying in those traditional villages rather than international resort centers even if it means travelling a bit back and forth (hence our decision to stay in Castrisch rather than Laax proper). That picture of the hotel pretty much sums up what I'm looking for in a holiday. I bet the food in their restaurant is great, too.

Not having been yet and only based on online research, I'm having a hard time imagining a better ski region than Graubunden. I wonder what the job situation in Chur is ...
post #9 of 14
You'll get to Andermatt and probably want to stay for a week. Just warning you. I looked at a map and, it turns out, one of the closest resorts to where you'll be staying is... Madesimo. But that's only as the crow flies; no winter roads to take you there, unfortunately.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
I didn't realise Italy was that close. I always forget about that part that juts up into Switzerland. I've never actually been to Italy despite peering into it from Stubai and Chamonix. I need to rectify that one of these days.

Regarding Andermatt, would it make sense to get off the train at Sedrun and ski to it, or is it better just to stay on the train all the way to the village? That's probably a nonsense question. I guess the good stuff is on the Gemstock, right?
post #11 of 14
If you get off the train at the main station, it's not that far a walk to the Gemstock. I did it in ski boots.
post #12 of 14
Actually there are some lifts at Splugen, on the Swiss side of the Splugen Pass (between Italy and Switzerland).
Theorethically one could drive back to chur, then take for Thusis and reach Splugen.
1)The mountain pass is closed during wintertime,
2)There's no link between the two ski "areas" (Madesimo and Splugen), now that I think of it, that would be a nice, but impossible feat. Oftentimes it's not possible to make two towns or two counties (Provincie) agree on a "project", I don't want to think about having two towns in two different countries to start a plan this ambitious. Probably the Swiss would be ready and done before on our side someone would start to think to do it.
To cross on skins once exploited all the lifts...mmmmh, don't know whether the border patrols would like it that much...

No, best bet is to stay on the CH side and ski Andermatt, Flims etc...
post #13 of 14
There's been talk of that Splugen/Made linkup for years. The snow around pass level must be pretty dependable, but heading back down to Made to hook up with the resort's existing lifts would be problematic as it's all south-facing. There were lifts there years ago but snow is too unreliable now. I've not toured over the pass, but I'm sure it's good. A bit flat from what I remember from having biked it.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I think I'll be sticking closer to home base. Italy will have to wait for another winter, sadly.

I do like the sound of a "nice, but impossible feat", though.

sbb.ch is also telling me that Andermatt is a longer trip than I thought (I guess the train does not exactly move quickly through the Oberalppass, which sparked my thought of getting off at Sedrun and skiing down). I may have to shortlist Andermatt for our Easter trip and give it a miss over Christmas/New Years. I'm not sure I really want to spend four hours a day on a train during my holidays, although that's exactly what I did last Easter while staying in Lausanne. Beers on the train is not the worst Apres in the world. Not the best, either, mind you.
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