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Bad News for Me

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My normal early-season plans have been thrown into disarray.

 

Apparently New Man, who was hired to do one of the jobs I've been covering lately in the office, already had the middle 3 weeks of December booked off. Now, the only time I can take off to do my first trip of the season is the dreaded week between Christmas and New Year.

 

My normal early-season first-trip destination gets pretty packed over the holidays, so I'm looking for other options. Who here can help me out?

 

Conditions:

 

1. Easy to get to (no 3-hr taxi/bus rides from the airport if possible); extra points if there's a train station in town, 'cuz I likes ridin' da train.

2. Plenty of terrain for me to potentially kill myself on over the course of a week (i.e., off-piste/side-piste action).

3. Small number of people who could potentially kill me; i.e., reasonably small crowds on piste.

 

Is there such a resort that meets Condition 3 over the holiday period? Am I destined to spend the week in a jam-packed resort that gets tracked out within 30 minutes of a storm?

post #2 of 15

In NA you just described Whitefish (Big Mountain), Montana. 

 

On your side of the pond, I would like to find out.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stranger View Post

In NA you just described Whitefish (Big Mountain), Montana. 

 

On your side of the pond, I would like to find out.



The one place like this in the Alps that I know of is the Monterosa area, though it might be packed with people from Turin and Milan over the holidays. Since I'm already planning a trip there later in the season, I'm hoping to see more suggestions.

post #4 of 15

Being from Whitefish, I have to concur.

 

BUT, are you looking for European areas or North America?  Or it doesn't matter?

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Being from Whitefish, I have to concur.

 

BUT, are you looking for European areas or North America?  Or it doesn't matter?



Just in the Alps. I know the big names, but then so does everyone else. I want to find more hidden gems.

 

If my brother ever talked me into a Christmas trip in NA, we already know of several places to go there to beat the crowds.

post #6 of 15

We went to Champoluc last year and it gets a big thumbs up from me.

But if you want less-busy and in France, Flaine

If you want train, then St Anton (no, don't laugh), then stay in one of the surrounding villages.

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post

We went to Champoluc last year and it gets a big thumbs up from me.

But if you want less-busy and in France, Flaine

If you want train, then St Anton (no, don't laugh), then stay in one of the surrounding villages.



I will most likely be in Champoluc in late Jan, so I'm already in the know on that; it's definitely a great place to ski. I wouldn't mind going twice in one season, but I'm looking around for other options.

 

I'm a bit surprized Flaine wouldn't have big crowds. I thought it was one of the more popular places in France (behind the really big names of course). I'll check it out.

 

I do like the train ride to St. Anton, and I know some parts of the Arlberg area to get away from the crowds. Also, I haven't been there for a couple of years, so it might be time for another visit.

post #8 of 15

I spent that same period last year staying in the Surselva valley in Switzerland (2.5 h by train from Zürich Airport) and skied various reports in the area from a base in Ilanz the valley. Within one hour:

 

Flims-Laax: Big resort; surprising lack of character; major commitment to boarders and park skiers; lots of terrain, but often closed; overpriced; crowded in spots, not in others. Obviously not my favorite, but I'll admit there's some good terrain there and not much competition for it away from the motorway pistes.

 

Obersaxen: Surprisingly large area, mostly empty; mostly intermediate, but some nice and easily accessed spots just off the pistes; crappiest grooming I've ever seen, that's not something I'd usually complain about, but it's like the operators were drunk and blind; some nice mountain huts; cheap. It's good for a day or two.

 

Vals: Tiny area (one gondola followed by three successive t-bars), but you can ski what you see, so outside of the two pistes it's actually huge; nobody there; dirt cheap; shockingly beautiful; friendly locals; world class spa in the village (really, don't miss it, it is awesome). If I were a tourer, I'd be doing everything in my power to move there as soon as possible. If sticking to the lifts, it makes for a fantastic day, maybe more.

 

Brigels: Medium sized resort; bafflingly over-priced; lots of tourers heading out of the resort; kind of a waste of time for anyone above an intermediate resort skier.

 

Disentis: Awesome. Go there. Not too crowded, either.

 

Within 2 hours:

Klosters: don't have anything to say that you don't probably already know. It was insanely crowded on Boxing Day.

 

Andermatt: See above for Disentis. More vert than Disenties, but the lifts have a harder time handling crowds, of which there are more.

 

Other close areas I didn't go to: Lenzerheide, Arosa, probably others.

 

I don't think I'd go to any of those places for a full week, but a central base and making day trips to various resorts worked great if you're willing to give up the convenience of staying in a resort.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

That's a good run down of places.

 

I might be able to put together a Disentis + Andermatt trip or something of that nature. I had to cancel my trip to Disentis last year, so I've yet to ski there.

 

Obersaxen looks good for a cold year; it might be a bit low for a warm winter. I'll keep it in mind.

 

Thanks for the tips.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by CerebralVortex View Post





I will most likely be in Champoluc in late Jan, so I'm already in the know on that; it's definitely a great place to ski. I wouldn't mind going twice in one season, but I'm looking around for other options.

 

I'm a bit surprized Flaine wouldn't have big crowds. I thought it was one of the more popular places in France (behind the really big names of course). I'll check it out.

 

I do like the train ride to St. Anton, and I know some parts of the Arlberg area to get away from the crowds. Also, I haven't been there for a couple of years, so it might be time for another visit.


St. Anton is one of my favorites. Never a bad choice. You might also think about St. Jakob am Alberg. The lack of intermediate terrain keeps people away.

Also, 3 years ago I went to Bad Kleinkirchheim and was pleasantly surprised. Might be worth looking into.  
 

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by CerebralVortex View Post

That's a good run down of places.

 

I might be able to put together a Disentis + Andermatt trip or something of that nature. I had to cancel my trip to Disentis last year, so I've yet to ski there.

 

Obersaxen looks good for a cold year; it might be a bit low for a warm winter. I'll keep it in mind.

 

Thanks for the tips.


It was -17° our first day at Obersaxen, which was a bit too cold for my taste. One side of the ridge is in the sun and the other in the shade. You can guess where the crowds are. But yeah, it's rather low so you have to worry about coverage.

 

Disentis + Andermatt would be a good plan. I believe a multi-day ski pass for Andermatt even covers the train to Distentis (but sadly not the lifts). With almost all the skiing off one cable car in Andermatt, crowds can be an issue. Disentis distributes poeple around the hill a little better, and fewer people go there in the first place.
 

post #12 of 15



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ami in berlin View Post

 

Disentis + Andermatt would be a good plan. I believe a multi-day ski pass for Andermatt even covers the train to Distentis (but sadly not the lifts). With almost all the skiing off one cable car in Andermatt, crowds can be an issue. Disentis distributes poeple around the hill a little better, and fewer people go there in the first place.
 


 

I'd go with Disentis. Always had good luck there.  As for Andermatt, it's usually fine if you stay above the Gurschen Station. If the Tram gets crowded you can always head over to Cuolm Val (part of Andernatt). Obersaxen isn't high on my list. Can't point to a specific thing, just kept thinking I could have chosen better the 2 times I was there.

 

ami in berlin: Any opinions on Braunwald? We were supposed to go there a few years ago but ended up going to Elm instead because it was the home of Vreni Schneider.


 

post #13 of 15

I have not been to Braunwald. For some reason I have it in my head as a cross country area. Maybe I need to take a second look. I understand your opinion about Obersaxen. It's good for a day or two, but I'd want to combine it with some of the other resorts in the area.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ami in berlin View Post

I have not been to Braunwald. For some reason I have it in my head as a cross country area. Maybe I need to take a second look. I understand your opinion about Obersaxen. It's good for a day or two, but I'd want to combine it with some of the other resorts in the area.


It's definitely got a variety of skiing there. My cousin's husband is from Linthal. He's been trying to get us to go there. Too many other things. He said there's express trains and ride is just over 1.5 hours from Zurich. Unfortunately this year I'll be in US so it'll have to wait until I go back for Fasching in 2012.

post #15 of 15

I'll have to give Braunwald another look. Work keeps me largely limited to weekend trips, and proximity to an airport is key, so 1.5 hours from Zürich sounds good.

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