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post #31 of 95
This is a problem a lot of American skiers have when they travel to Europe.  I lived in Southern Germany for 6 years and skied most of the alps and I can tell you that it far exceeds anything we have here.  Why?  Because like most Americans you stuck to the marked trails, which in Europe are almost always the cruisers.  But in Europe unlike the America, everything is ski-able, marked or unmarked!  A novice American traveler to Europe should hire a guide for a day to truly show just what the mountain has to offer.  Sorry you had such a bad time but whatever you do, don't discount the vast variety and ski experience you get from a European mountain.  I would venture to say that if you had a guide, Snowbird would feel like a bunny hill in comparison.    
post #32 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post

. I've been there and skied untracked powder runs late in the day...something you can't find inbounds around here anymore.


 

Me too. Part of it is that there are no (few) trees, and vast expanses of space in which to ski, but the other part is that most everyone else sticks to the piste. Oh well!
post #33 of 95
I remember skiing Kitzbuhel. Completely put down for its advanced skiing cause of its lack of challenging pistes, and no one skied off piste there, giant off piste bowls below lifts that existed right next to pistes had untracked sections after a full day of skiing. It dumped 5-6 feet whie I was there for 5 days. I barely ever had to ski a tracked off piste route. Truly amazing.
post #34 of 95
Great trip report and enjoyed reading your perspective . I know absolutely nothing about skiing in the Alps and I'll add to my resume of being an ugly American and state I have little desire to go . I used to work with a guy who tagged on to a business trip to Europe a couple of days in Chamonix. As you pointed out, you're on your own, no patrol to protect you from yourself and you can get hurt if you're adventuresome. He met up with some"locals" and skied off piste. He came back sporting a huge scab on his forearm from a fall that ripped his jacket . This same guy was a superb snow and water skier.

He told me that if the skiing Griswalds took a skiing vacation and got off the tram and didn't know whwere they were going its very possible to get seriously hurt.  Skiiing 5,000 ft.continous vertical runs would be outstanding however.
post #35 of 95
One of the great things about skiing Europe and having the entire mountain as your playground is that you can't sue the ski area if you hurt yourself, in other words, you take responsibility for your own actions.  BUT on the flip side, I did break a leg in Wengen and ski patrol was fantastic in getting me off the mountain and in the hospital. 

I don't know who you people skied with in Europe but the people I skied with only skied the piste to get back down for a beer! 
post #36 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post


Me too. Part of it is that there are no (few) trees, and vast expanses of space in which to ski, but the other part is that most everyone else sticks to the piste. Oh well!

 

Something like this?










post #37 of 95
Yes, like that!
post #38 of 95
 As others have amply stated, later in the season is key, as is a guide. We skied off-piste in Zermatt 2 years ago in March with a guide. Every run was boot top to knee deep powder, 1st tracks all day long- every run!-, in 30-40 degree couloirs. It was amazing. The weather was foggy and snowing, so we had limited terrain, too.
post #39 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post




Me too. Part of it is that there are no (few) trees, and vast expanses of space in which to ski, but the other part is that most everyone else sticks to the piste. Oh well!

 

What happened to their trees anyway? The tree line in the Alps is thousands of feet lower than in the US. Did they burn them? Global warming kill'em a few hundred years back? There are trees all the way to the top of Vail or Aspen but you get in the Alps and they run out at 7,000 - 8,000 feet! Heck we even have a few trees up high at Big Sky and they grow without any dirt!
post #40 of 95
Vail 36 degrees north
Big Sky 45

Zermatt 46 degrees North
post #41 of 95
Thread Starter 
Hoping to let this thread die, but it continues to live, and I have to respond to "bad time", where did you get that?
Sorry you had such a bad time but whatever you do, don't discount the vast variety and ski experience you get from a European mountain.  I would venture to say that if you had a guide, Snowbird would feel like a bunny hill in comparison.    

I had a terrific trip and I can't wait to get back to ski Europe.  No regrets whatsoever.  I enjoyed the cruising and even though it was not my kind of skiing, it was thoroughly enjoyable.  The only thing that would have ruined my trip would have been huge crowds to deal with, and I beat that!  It is expensive enough(1K complete w/o air) to do this kind of trip and I want to keep the costs down, so for a few short days hiring a guide is bogus.  These Alps mountains are so huge that I should have plenty of good fun exploring even if I don't feel the pull of gravity.  But, I think Zermatt is not the best for on piste expert, but was the only place with snow, and I lucked out having very good snow and weather for mid-Dec.

I continue to dream and scheme on how I am going to put it all together again.  Next trip will be either Chamonix, Verbier, Tignes or Engelburg.  Luckily, I live only two hrs from Newark which has direct flights to Geneva/Zurich which with my Continental miles allows me to get to most of the Alps resorts.  (only other one on my list is St. Anton which you use Innsbruck to get to, but doesn't seem to be any direct flights). 
post #42 of 95
I think the takehome lesson from this thread is that your next trip would be best timed from late January to mid-March, just as in the USA, and that unless you want to replicate your less-than-completely-satisfying on-piste ski experience, you would do better to ski with a guide (or guided group). And my vote would be for Chamonix, where I've been about ten times.
post #43 of 95

Well put.

Further more, my 3 recent trips in the last 2 years to the Alps were all under 1k (also excluding air) FOR A FULL WEEK! So there's definitely room for guide's fee if that's your budget.

In other words, there's been a few suggestions that would make your "terrific" trip a FANTASTIC one next time!


Edited by at_nyc - 12/26/09 at 12:51pm
post #44 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post

What happened to their trees anyway? The tree line in the Alps is thousands of feet lower than in the US. Did they burn them? Global warming kill'em a few hundred years back? There are trees all the way to the top of Vail or Aspen but you get in the Alps and they run out at 7,000 - 8,000 feet! Heck we even have a few trees up high at Big Sky and they grow without any dirt!

The tree line at Baker is 5,000 feet.
post #45 of 95
Thread Starter 
>your next trip would be best timed from late January to mid-March
well yes!  but aaahhh.  I sit here with the satisfied grin of one who has a very nice ski trip under his belt for the year, makes Xmas dinner taste so much better.  This is my fourth year in a row where I beat the snow gods and had good snow in mid-December, but for next Europe I will wait until the snow is in for sure, because i don't want to do a lot of traveling for lousy snow.

Under 1K for a week?  Hmmm.  Was that in a hostel with p&j.
For my 2 days of skiing - Well, Newark parking was like $70, add $30 for gas to airport, the Swiss train was about $170 (thought it would be cheaper), the tickets were $70 a piece, 2 nts hotel was $190(I stayed in the cheapest place i could find), I didn't short myself on food and it was $70 a day.  The free ticket was $40 customs fees.  Add some sundry items, It adds up.

Why are there no trees?  That's a good question?  Global Warming? Whats Up With Dat - this is a sports forum, religion should not be discussed here.  Real skiers pray for global cooling anyway.
Actually Global Cooling might? have something to do with it.  Because 150 years ago, the glaciers were at their longest and were roaring down the valleys, literally burying some towns in the Alps.  I saw a pic somewhere of how far down they were in Chamonix, way down.  The scenery was actually pretty nice, even w/o the trees.  But I think some of those european hills look a little beat up with lifts running this way and that. 

Actually this whole thing started out because I read some article about the Haute Route and I'm 51 and think maybe I had better get to it sooner rather than later.  But then reality hit and I cheapskated out because it would take quite a bit more time and I would have to have special skis for climbing.

I'll take all comments under consideration...and then do whatever.  I haven't had a bad ski trip for many, many years.  The only bad snow ones I had out West were to Mother  Snowbird in Mid or late March in the early 90's when there was slush and nothing I hate worse than slush!  We actually went sightseeing to Park City and the Great Salt Lake.

Now why is it snowing in the Great Plains/Texas/OK when it is supposed to snow in the Rocky Mtns?
post #46 of 95
 This may be a stupid question, but did you experience any issues due to language differences? I know that's always a fear when traveling abroad.
post #47 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

Under 1K for a week?  Hmmm.  Was that in a hostel with p&j.
For my 2 days of skiing - Well, Newark parking was like $70, add $30 for gas to airport, the Swiss train was about $170 (thought it would be cheaper), the tickets were $70 a piece, 2 nts hotel was $190(I stayed in the cheapest place i could find), I didn't short myself on food and it was $70 a day.  The free ticket was $40 customs fees.  Add some sundry items, It adds up.
 

No, I'm not talking about hostel. The hotels I stayed in ranges 3-4 stars.

But I usually stay a week. And that usually qualify me for some sort of package, which often includes lift ticket and/or food (and if you're willing to walk a bit by stay away from the lifts, the cost drops quickly) Basically, all inclusive deal. So far, I've managed to get that for $800-950 range (for a week!)

The best part of European hotel is the single room option, which is usually at 1/2 or at most 60% of a double room. No sense paying for bed not used.

And yes, the train tickets should NEVER be more than $100 because that's the cost of Swiss Transfer Ticket, which will get you from the airport to ANYWHERE in the mountains (and back). But that's a small item. The only issue is, by skiing only a couple days, your transportation cost end up much higher per day of snow time.

So you just have to shop smarter next time.
post #48 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13 View Post

 This may be a stupid question, but did you experience any issues due to language differences? I know that's always a fear when traveling abroad.

Coach, the Swiss, especially those in the tourism/hotel business, speak better English than 95% of the denizens of the Old Dominion! 
Seriously, the language barrier thing is absolutely no issue for anyone moving in the typical tourist circles throughout the Alps.  Too many Brits have been there before us.
post #49 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post




Coach, the Swiss, especially those in the tourism/hotel business, speak better English than 95% of the denizens of the Old Dominion! 
Seriously, the language barrier thing is absolutely no issue for anyone moving in the typical tourist circles throughout the Alps.  Too many Brits have been there before us.

Thanks for the reply. That's good to hear.
post #50 of 95
There're actually "language issues" though not of the kind you think of.

Terminology can be different. The "brits before us" unfortunately, call things differently than we do... :(
post #51 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

There're actually "language issues" though not of the kind you think of.

Terminology can be different. The "brits before us" unfortunately, call things differently than we do... :(
Can you expand a bit on this?

Thanks.
post #52 of 95
Easy, for me as I ski Europe and often in Rockies

  • Brits wear trousers, Pants are mens underwear
  • We sit on our bums, not buns
  • Shorts are short trousers
  • We eat chips, not fries, and eat Salt and Vinegar crisps rather than chips
  • We have tramps who live in boxes on the pavement, we dont have side walks
  • We have Beer, America doesnt (apart from a few micro breweries, ie fat tire), What you have we call Lager, its illegal to call it beer in the UK
  • Because of the higher brewing standards, many skiers consider no run complete without stopping on the mountain to drink
  • We put our litter in the bin, we may be trashed at the end of a hard day
  • Our roads have corners and Euro cars can actually go round them cos they have tyres, rather than tires
  • We use petrol for petrol cars and gas in LPG cars, most use diesel though
  • Cars do 0-60 in around 8 seconds with 1.6 litre engines while returning 40+mpg
  • The route between a and b is pronounced "root" (just like in the song "route 66", a "Rawt" is a groove in a piece of wood or the confusion at the end of a battle
  • We use an s in most words instead of z (which is pronounced "zed" not "zee"), ie Rendevous
  • We dont hyphenate words ie apres ski not apres-ski
  • We use sarcasm A LOT, and expect peple to recognise it without needing a smiley

Piste Standards
Green = Beginners
Blue = Easy = US red
Red = intermediate = US Black
Black = Advanced = US Double Black

  • Each resorts grades differently so you may find blacks that are easier than reds, also depends on snow cover, A run may be black because or gradient, ice , moguls  or any combination of this
  • Some countries (Andorra), grade on average gradient, so you may get a blue run with a near vertical half way down it
  • Most resorts are huge and often interlinked so you can spend a week in resort and ski different areas each day. Many European resorts would eat 5 or 6 US resorts pretty easily and cover more than one mountain
  • Most resorts are above the tree line, but there are planty with tree's if you want them (La Plagne, Les Alpes 1850, Souze D'oulze etc)
  • Resort areas, tend to turn every available way down into a piste, The real off piste areas are often over the other side of the mountain.
  • It is common to have to take a bus back from one area to another, the ski pass covers this
  • Not all pistes are groomed, many resorts leave some ungroomed (etc the Tunnel at Alpe D'Huez, famous for moguls)
  • All resorts have Moguls, just like yours
  • The piste ends at the poles along the edges, we have no inbounds or outbounds.
  • Avy control only extends to cover the piste. Many avy deaths accur alongside and close to the piste!!!
  • Go 1ft off the piste and you are off piste and need different insurance
  • Some resorts have a ton of areas you would consider in bounds, areas between pistes that are safe ish(Alpe d'Huez), Beware hazards are not marked
  • We often have large  drop (5000ft+) runs and sonme long runs ie the Sarenne at 16km
  • Ski patrol are really there to help after accidents, they dont police the runs much
  • On mountain food is horrendously expensive ($20 for chips and can of coke in france)
  • Beware the Italians in lurid fart bags who ski perfectly with feet together in 20 year old style
  • Oh, many Europeans dont do queuing, All's fair in some lift queues, this is especially true in Bulgaria (Were wodka is extremely cheap)
  • The Russians like white outfits with fur trim
  • Only Americans ski wearing down Puffa jackets
  • English all wearing Dare2Be stuff they got cheap at TKMax
  • Some Europeans still think silly jester hats are cool
  • Europeans also laugh at Bladers
  • Head and Rossignol provode most of the hire skis
  • K2 etc are rarely seen, Metrons, Nomads etc are rare as are most  All mountains skis, most folks are on piste Carvers

post #53 of 95
Generally true, excepting the part about beer. And that only half the Brits wear Dare2b. The other half wear Animal, which are equally useless...but oh, so stylish. And most of the cars run on gazole. Or benzina. And Brits like to queue their way down the hill as well as up it.
post #54 of 95
Thread Starter 
Quote:
The best part of European hotel is the single room option, which is usually at 1/2 or at most 60% of a double room. No sense paying for bed not used.

And yes, the train tickets should NEVER be more than $100 because that's the cost of Swiss Transfer Ticket, which will get you from the airport to ANYWHERE in the mountains (and back). But that's a small item. The only issue is, by skiing only a couple days, your transportation cost end up much higher per day of snow time.

What about that train ticket?  I just got off the plane and went to the window and purchased a one way ticket, second class was like $85 and I wasn't sure about when I was getting back, so I didn't think to get round trip.  If I get a round trip ticket under $100 next time, I'll try to remember and split the savings difference with EpicSki. I could have never put it all together w/o the help from the EpicSki>Eurozone, someone gave me the good advice to switch to Zermatt at the last minute for better snow.

I might make it out again this year, but likely I'll have to wait till next year to give it another shot.  The jet lag going that way is a killer too.  I stayed in tiny single rooms!  (also I forget to add $100 for last night airport hotel to my cost summary above, nice, but again the cheapest I could find). 

There was no problems whatsoever with English language.  Mostly everyone spoke good English. (not all though) They speak Swiss German in Zermatt, I only had one short conversation with one American and only heard one other American the entire time. There weren't many Brits there either.  I did get a little sick of all the eichst and sweinchtz I kept hearing, and I heard it until 4am loud as can be outside, 3 stories down to the street below my hotel room, at some kind of outside bar, but I couldn't sleep anyway.  The food was interesting and delicious everywhere.

This was my first trip traveling alone for skiing.  I'm no loner while skiing and have enjoyed many group guy trips over the years.  But this trip turned out just fine and there was enough variety while skiing around the place that it was a constant adventure.  (even if there was not one mogul or rough patch on the hill, even though about 70% was open). The ski pals drop by the wayside over the years, esp here in Pa.  I want to keep skiing and exploring new territory, so I hope this is the first of a few European ski vacations, (if you could call it a vacation instead of an ordeal).  Though, the wacko's riding those planes with bad intentions sure don't make flying back from Europe appetizing!

Thanks MadMole for explaining things.  Luckily I didn't have any ques so I missed the fighting in line part.  AND the food prices in Zermatt were fair and maybe just a tad more than US for comparable quality, but not much.  I had a delicious gourmet salmon pasta plate for lunch, about $23.  
Edited by SnowbirdDevotee - 12/27/09 at 4:21pm
post #55 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by madmole View Post
  • We put our litter in the bin, we may be trashed at the end of a hard day

Piste Standards...
 

And when your skis are trashed, you bin it. :D  (sorry, can't help)

Piste standard. In Sweitzerland, yellow is an "itinerary" which means marked but un-groomed route, often full of moguls.
post #56 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post

What about that train ticket?  I just got off the plane and went to the window and purchased a one way ticket, second class was like $85 and I wasn't sure about when I was getting back, so I didn't think to get round trip.  If I get a round trip ticket under $100 next time, I'll try to remember and split the savings difference with EpicSki. I could have never put it all together w/o the help from the EpicSki>Eurozone, someone gave me the good advice to switch to Zermatt at the last minute for better snow.

Zermatt is a long way from any city so you can save a lot by getting the Swiss Transfer ticket. It's actually not a ticket but a train pass, on which the train conductor punch a date. It's good for round trip from the airport to a mountain resort. YOU NEED TO BUY IT OUTSIDE SWITZERLAND. The Swiss railway site sbb.ch have info.

Other destination like Andermatt is actually cheaper just buy the ticket at the airport.

You might want to look into group trips to see if it works out more economically.

Edited by at_nyc - 12/27/09 at 9:13pm
post #57 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by madmole View Post



  •  there are planty with tree's if you want them (La Plagne, Les Alpes 1850, Souze D'oulze etc)
  •  Many avy deaths accur alongside and close to the piste!!!
  •  
  • We often have large  drop (5000ft+) runs and sonme long runs ie the Sarenne at 16km

 

And what, may I ask, is your first language?
post #58 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post

Originally Posted by madmole View Post

 there are planty with tree's if you want them (La Plagne, Les Alpes 1850, Souze D'oulze etc)
  •  there are planty with tree's if you want them (La Plagne, Les Alpes 1850, Souze D'oulze etc)
  •  Many avy deaths accur alongside and close to the piste!!!
  •  
  • We often have large  drop (5000ft+) runs and sonme long runs ie the Sarenne at 16km

And what, may I ask, is your first language?

Maybe the entries about beer, lager & wadka are to blame.

I skied Zermatt 25 years ago and still have very fond memories of the time I spent there. From skiing an intermediate piste covered in chest-deep powder for hours on end to sipping gruppa in restaurant on our "international adventure" into Italy.
post #59 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

Piste standard. In Sweitzerland, yellow is an "itinerary" which means marked but un-groomed route, often full of moguls.
 

They have those almost everywhere... not yellow, but still usually itenerary (ex. dotted line on a piste map).
post #60 of 95
Good report, but next time you ski in europe, i'd suggest going to one of the 100s of ski resorts/villages that aren't glacier dominated. Even that early in the season there's lots and lots of places you can go and ski freshies all day without fear of disappearing into a crevasse.
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