Advice needed Proposed Euro Alps 2016 intinerary

Centago

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Hi all,

I realise there are a lot of Europe "advice needed" threads out there already, however instead of a blank canvas I'm attempting to come in here with a reasonable idea of what I'd like to do and where I'd like to go, so I'm hoping for more specific advice tailored to this. I’ve been having a tough time narrowing down my original list to just a few resorts and coming up with any clear idea of an intended itinerary for my trip next year. I’ve never travelled to that part of the world nor skied overseas before so I’m finding the sheer number of options a little overwhelming!

At this stage I intend to have ~4 weeks in the Euro Alps. From that I’m thinking 1 week in Austria, 2 weeks in Switzerland and 1 week in France. I thought to leave late-January so that those 4 weeks in the Alps will be in February. So a little about me (this might help you give me some advice based on what I outline below). I’m 27 from NZ and travelling alone. I don’t mind a drink and late night partying. But on this trip for the most part I’m more keen to keep a lid on the drinking, i.e. a beer on the slopes at lunchtime, and a couple drinks in the early evening sound great, whereas I’m not so keen on drinking/partying late into the night (to help limit spending and also to avoid feeling like shite on the slopes the next day). I think I’m a strong skier, and am confident on all piste and pretty much all off piste (the steepest and most exposed off piste would put me out of my comfort zone but I’d like to think I could still ski it). I’m quite content cruising groomers and popping into the off piste as the opportunity arises on this trip – not too worried about scoring the freshest untracked and gnarliest off piste terrain all the time (although I’ll get amongst that if/when I can). I really appreciate mountain scenery and will love seeing the landscapes over there – the more scenic the better.

So for week one in Austria I’m thinking Lech. Q1: What’s the main differences (if any) between Lech and St Anton? Both in terms of ski terrain and the towns themselves. Lech is top of my Austria list, but Sölden and Serfaus are 2nd and 3rd. Q2: Would you recommend Sölden or Serfaus over Lech, and if so, why?

Weeks 2 and 3 in Switzerland. Week 2 - At this stage I’m thinking of a bit of non-skiing time so that I can sight-see a little of Switzerland as I travel from Austria to Zermatt, but I’m likely to ski where/when I can. This week would be my most flexible of the trip. A couple places I’d like to see are Grindelwald (for Eiger and Jungfraujoch) and Lauterbrunnen. I have a friend in Davos so it’s a possibility to head there. I also like the idea of taking a dedicated scenic train trip or something like that during this time. Although I assume I am likely to get plenty of scenery as I travel though the Alps over the whole trip. Q3: Is this sort of sight-seeing possible in winter or is it a logistical nightmare, and would I be better to spend this time just staying at one place?

Week 3 – Zermatt. This has been recommended to me left right and centre and looks an amazing village to stay, with great skiing. And I like the idea of dropping down into Italy on skis during the day too which I understand is possible from Zermatt. Zermatt is top of my Switzerland list, but Verbier is 2nd. Q4: Any reason why I should seriously consider going to Verbier instead of Zermatt?

Week 4 – Chamonix, France. This place is like Zermatt to me – a name/place I’ve known about since I was young and so I’d love to see it with my own eyes. Also keen to ride the cable car up Augille du midi and ski down (that’ll test my comfort zone I’m sure! And I understand a guide is critical to do this). Val d’isere (Espace Killy) is 2nd on my France list, Meribel 3rd and Les 2 Alpes 4th, with an honourable mention to La Grave (which I’d probably prefer to leave until a day I can afford to have along a guide with me at all times). Q5: I’m quite set on ticking off Chamonix and leaving those other resorts for subsequent trips, unless there’s a major reason I should re-think that?

As I understand the Alps are very busy during February due to Euro school holidays. Q6: How busy is it (e.g. what influence does this have on lift lines and accommodation availability), and is it a deal-breaker (i.e. should I seriously consider switching my trip to a different time of year)?

I realise the places I’m looking at are pretty mainstream. I do like the idea of spending time at smaller resorts and getting a more ‘cultural’ experience, but I figured it would be good to tick some major resorts off the list on my first trip and I can start branching out to the lesser known resorts on subsequent trips.

This is quite an essay so thank you for taking the time to read it. I’ll be most grateful for any insights and advice offered.
 

Pat42

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if you have the flexibility why not book a flight to zurich or geneva and then see where the best snow is and go there.

Thats what i am thinking of doing this year.

Would suck to be paying big bucks in lech while it is puking in italy or vice verca

also since the swiss unpegged the franc it is ridiculously expensive over there like 550 swiss francs minimum for a guide and the exchange rate is the same as the euro!

Some of the smaller french/italian/austrian resorts you can get a guide for like 280 euro a day.
 
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piolet

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Drop zermatt for verbier if you prefer a more free ride kinda place. Zermatt is bloody amazing for postcard piste horing. If you must spend that second week in schwiez
4 weeks should be good for a recce in any of those places ;)
Have fun
 

piolet

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Oh and as others have said and will say i would recommend seeing what the conditions do
Also, i know shit all about forex but a lot could happen to the euro between now and then and perhaps really skew your plans between the euro zone or the franc....
 

Kletterer

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Choose Serfaus/Fiss over Lech and Solden. . The Big reason is the others get tracked out REAL fast. Love the Arlberg but it turns into a shit fight whenever there is fresh. Consider Italy/ South Tirol too.... Monte Rosa ,.. Dolomites
 

Pat42

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Oh and as others have said and will say i would recommend seeing what the conditions do
Also, i know shit all about forex but a lot could happen to the euro between now and then and perhaps really skew your plans between the euro zone or the franc....

if anything the franc will get stronger as people panic and stash their cash, was expensive when it was pegged now it is just beyond ridiculous, no idea how they will survive

your average guide in verbier is 600 francs a day, i just did a conversion and that is $860 aussie!! thats almost a heli day
 
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Heinz

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Ah yes, the dilemma of a first time Euro trip. So many great options and different countries. You have obviously done a bit of reading already and quite understandably keen to visit some of the famous big name resorts. It is hard to resist as they are famous for a reason. So even though there are many other areas which are probably as good if not better in some respects these are places you really need to visit at least once. I've been to Europe skiing 8 times and am still always looking at different interesting places to ski. Which is basically what you said in your last paragraph.

On your specific questions.

Q1. I've never been to the Lech side of then Arlberg, only the St Anton side. But my understanding is that Lech is the more upmarket side and probably one of the more expensive places in Austria. St Anton is very international, big on the Apres side, can be expensive also but there are plenty of affordable options also. Terrain in the Arlberg is huge and plenty of advanced terrain. You can access the whole region on one ski pass whichever side you stay.

Q2. Sölden is also very good. You also have the option of the glacier although in February you probably won't need that. Obergurgl down the valley is also very good. I've never been to Serfaus but Kletterer rates it highly. Again so may options, any would be good.

Q3. Train trips through the Alps will be scenic any time of the year especially Switzerland, although I particularly like it in spring when the mountains are still snow covered but the valleys are green. The trip up to Jungfraujoch through the Eiger is not cheap but certainly worth doing. You won't be able to do any boat trips on the lakes but the trains running alongside the lakes around Luzern to Interlaken are very nice. Rail travel in Switzerland is pretty amazing and just work so well. Davos is nice and has some long runs. Another option for some good freeriding would be Engelberg.

Q4. Zermatt is that picture perfect postcard sort of place that you do need to see though. Skiing is pretty good as well but as piolet suggests Verbier may be better fro free-riding. Again - hard to do it all in one trip...

Q5. I have always said that Chamonix is one place any serious skier mist tick off, so definitely do it. There are plenty of others that are probably better all round resorts and much better linked etc. Spend a few days skiing Argentiere/Le Grand Montets and a couple of the other areas in the valley and most definately line up some sort of guided trip - eg. Valle Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi. La Grave is certainly worth doing on a later trip as you say you need a guide most of the time.

Q6. School holidays and Fasching in Austria will definitely be an issue. Accommodation will be hard to get at late notice and it will be more crowded. Specifically how much though I can't say as I generally have avoided those periods. Probably best to find out specifically when those holidays are for each region. eg. French, Austrian, British etc. You may be able to work it such that you can ski in Austria during the French (I think Paris one is the main one to avoid) and vice versa. As a general rule Austrians and French will only ski in their home countries. The Germans and Dutch will head more to Austria, the Swedes more to France, the Poms more of a spread.
You could consider January which will be quieter after the New years period and will be winter conditions. Or go in March which will be more spring conditions but less crowded, better weather, more relaxing.
 

Kletterer

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Just a note that Fasching is a great experience in Austria. Good memories of joining groups of costumed revellers and cruising around the circuit (Skicircus ) from hut to hut.
 

Hermannator

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More or less what Heinz said.

My take: Don't be bothered by when busy school holiday periods are, you're flying 18,000km to go skiing, go when the best conditions are most likely, i.e. 1st 2 weeks of Feb. As you're going solo, you will find accom pretty easy in a single room with shower at a Pension or B&B even in peak times.

AT: Start here and head west, get the jetlag out of the system by vibrant apres. Don't know about Lech but St A is where it's at. Take the advice of flying to Zurich and train it out to St A, I've rocked up with no booking, seen the accom board in the tourist office and found cheap accom where I could ski down the hill to the lift, all in peak season. If this fails just get back on the train and go to Innsbruck.

CH: I've been to Verbier but not Zermatt. Find accom in Verbier using B&B switzerland, or go big and rock the casbah. B&B is cheap, book ahead 1-2 weeks prior, you'll need to waste a day to get there by train from St A although you want to do a scenic train ride anyway.

FR: Chamonix is a big spread-out collection of ski areas which aren't lift linked so you need 1 week + to do it properly. You are likely to get weather interruptions up high so hence the longer period req'd. Stay at UCPA (applies to many French ski areas) - when I did this it was empty in early Feb as French snobbery dictates that many do not wish to share the slopes with Parisians and the joint was fairly empty. I also did Val d'Isere via UCPA. Can highly recommend, know that Val is more apres focussed (lots of English uni kids hitting the clubs) If you go to Verbier and Cham, they aren't far apart and can be done on the same lift pass.
 

Chester

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As I understand the Alps are very busy during February due to Euro school holidays. Q6: How busy is it (e.g. what influence does this have on lift lines and accommodation availability), and is it a deal-breaker (i.e. should I seriously consider switching my trip to a different time of year)?

I realise the places I’m looking at are pretty mainstream. I do like the idea of spending time at smaller resorts and getting a more ‘cultural’ experience, but I figured it would be good to tick some major resorts off the list on my first trip and I can start branching out to the lesser known resorts on subsequent trips.

This is quite an essay so thank you for taking the time to read it. I’ll be most grateful for any insights and advice offered.

How busy depends on when and where you go.

The general rules are pretty obvious ...

'Big name' resorts attract more people than lesser known resorts.
Peak periods attract more people.
Accommodation has higher occupancy, and is considerably more expensive during peak periods.
Queues will obviously be bigger during peak periods. How much bigger depends on a number of different variables.

What time of year you go is entirely your decision. Factors that could influence your decision are things already discussed like crowds and cost, but also the type of weather you'd prefer and snow conditions you're looking for. For example, do you want to ski groomers in sunny weather, of would you prefer to be skiing powder in very cold temperatures with possible bad visibility.

So many considerations!!
 
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piolet

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How busy depends on when and where you go.

The general rules are pretty obvious ...

'Big name' resorts attract more people than lesser known resorts.
Peak periods attract more people.
Accommodation has higher occupancy, and is considerably more expensive during peak periods.
Queues will obviously be bigger during peak periods. How much bigger depends on a number of different variables.

What time of year you go is entirely your decision. Factors that could influence your decision are things already discussed like crowds and cost, but also the type of weather you'd prefer and snow conditions you're looking for. For example, do you want to ski groomers in sunny weather, of would you prefer to be skiing powder in very cold temperatures with possible bad visibility.

So many considerations!!
Yes, i tend to just go.
 
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Chester

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I guess I'm biased towards off-peak periods. If you have experienced long periods of both, the difference between peak and off-peak is noticeable.
 

Kletterer

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My experiences are very similar to Hermanator regarding not booking ahead . 5 extra mins on the ski bus wont hurt and there are bargains in outlying hamlets . Europeans have hols at different times so it kinda evens out ok. One country one week, another next week or two. PS. Fasching at Bobbys Bar in Saalbach is a once in a lifetime must do
 
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Centago

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Ah yes, the dilemma of a first time Euro trip. So many great options and different countries. You have obviously done a bit of reading already and quite understandably keen to visit some of the famous big name resorts. It is hard to resist as they are famous for a reason. So even though there are many other areas which are probably as good if not better in some respects these are places you really need to visit at least once. I've been to Europe skiing 8 times and am still always looking at different interesting places to ski. Which is basically what you said in your last paragraph.

On your specific questions.

Q1. I've never been to the Lech side of then Arlberg, only the St Anton side. But my understanding is that Lech is the more upmarket side and probably one of the more expensive places in Austria. St Anton is very international, big on the Apres side, can be expensive also but there are plenty of affordable options also. Terrain in the Arlberg is huge and plenty of advanced terrain. You can access the whole region on one ski pass whichever side you stay.

Q2. Sölden is also very good. You also have the option of the glacier although in February you probably won't need that. Obergurgl down the valley is also very good. I've never been to Serfaus but Kletterer rates it highly. Again so may options, any would be good.

Q3. Train trips through the Alps will be scenic any time of the year especially Switzerland, although I particularly like it in spring when the mountains are still snow covered but the valleys are green. The trip up to Jungfraujoch through the Eiger is not cheap but certainly worth doing. You won't be able to do any boat trips on the lakes but the trains running alongside the lakes around Luzern to Interlaken are very nice. Rail travel in Switzerland is pretty amazing and just work so well. Davos is nice and has some long runs. Another option for some good freeriding would be Engelberg.

Q4. Zermatt is that picture perfect postcard sort of place that you do need to see though. Skiing is pretty good as well but as piolet suggests Verbier may be better fro free-riding. Again - hard to do it all in one trip...

Q5. I have always said that Chamonix is one place any serious skier mist tick off, so definitely do it. There are plenty of others that are probably better all round resorts and much better linked etc. Spend a few days skiing Argentiere/Le Grand Montets and a couple of the other areas in the valley and most definately line up some sort of guided trip - eg. Valle Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi. La Grave is certainly worth doing on a later trip as you say you need a guide most of the time.

Q6. School holidays and Fasching in Austria will definitely be an issue. Accommodation will be hard to get at late notice and it will be more crowded. Specifically how much though I can't say as I generally have avoided those periods. Probably best to find out specifically when those holidays are for each region. eg. French, Austrian, British etc. You may be able to work it such that you can ski in Austria during the French (I think Paris one is the main one to avoid) and vice versa. As a general rule Austrians and French will only ski in their home countries. The Germans and Dutch will head more to Austria, the Swedes more to France, the Poms more of a spread.
You could consider January which will be quieter after the New years period and will be winter conditions. Or go in March which will be more spring conditions but less crowded, better weather, more relaxing.

Thank you for your detailed response Heinz, and you've added some useful food for thought. The impression I get is that there's no "best" way to do such a trip, particularly as it's my first time, so I'll be going with an open mind and relatively low expectations knowing that this will be a precursor to (hopefully) many return visits, and I'll be using the experiences gained from this trip to guide future plans. I say relatively low expectations, however, I've only ever skied NZ so I do hope to be impressed in one way or another by the size of the resorts and quality of snow! I also like the idea of seeing decent snow cover down to the valley floors as that's something that we don't get often in NZ, and it will be great to be able to ski to the valley floor where available as opposed to the lower runs being melted out which I assume may happen in spring.
 

Centago

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More or less what Heinz said.

My take: Don't be bothered by when busy school holiday periods are, you're flying 18,000km to go skiing, go when the best conditions are most likely, i.e. 1st 2 weeks of Feb. As you're going solo, you will find accom pretty easy in a single room with shower at a Pension or B&B even in peak times.

AT: Start here and head west, get the jetlag out of the system by vibrant apres. Don't know about Lech but St A is where it's at. Take the advice of flying to Zurich and train it out to St A, I've rocked up with no booking, seen the accom board in the tourist office and found cheap accom where I could ski down the hill to the lift, all in peak season. If this fails just get back on the train and go to Innsbruck.

CH: I've been to Verbier but not Zermatt. Find accom in Verbier using B&B switzerland, or go big and rock the casbah. B&B is cheap, book ahead 1-2 weeks prior, you'll need to waste a day to get there by train from St A although you want to do a scenic train ride anyway.

FR: Chamonix is a big spread-out collection of ski areas which aren't lift linked so you need 1 week + to do it properly. You are likely to get weather interruptions up high so hence the longer period req'd. Stay at UCPA (applies to many French ski areas) - when I did this it was empty in early Feb as French snobbery dictates that many do not wish to share the slopes with Parisians and the joint was fairly empty. I also did Val d'Isere via UCPA. Can highly recommend, know that Val is more apres focussed (lots of English uni kids hitting the clubs) If you go to Verbier and Cham, they aren't far apart and can be done on the same lift pass.

Thanks Hermannator. So in your opinion should I not concern myself too much with pre-booking accom? Also, I may as well ask you but happy for anyone else to respond, I'm probably going to be taking my own ski gears (i.e. lugging a ski bag around with me), is this an issue at all (aside from the inconvenience) when travelling on trains and getting from one place to the other?
 

Centago

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How busy depends on when and where you go.

The general rules are pretty obvious ...

'Big name' resorts attract more people than lesser known resorts.
Peak periods attract more people.
Accommodation has higher occupancy, and is considerably more expensive during peak periods.
Queues will obviously be bigger during peak periods. How much bigger depends on a number of different variables.

What time of year you go is entirely your decision. Factors that could influence your decision are things already discussed like crowds and cost, but also the type of weather you'd prefer and snow conditions you're looking for. For example, do you want to ski groomers in sunny weather, of would you prefer to be skiing powder in very cold temperatures with possible bad visibility.

So many considerations!!
Thanks Chester. Having only skied NZ I'm pretty content skiing 'variable' snow conditions, if anything I quite enjoy skiing chopped up slushy crap or better still corn, certainly as opposed to slick sheet ice pistes. However if I was to get off the fence, and seeing as I'm heading so far from home to ski, I certainly hope to enjoy some nice dry wintry snow, and decent powder if I get lucky. So therefore I thought Feb offered my best chance of that combined with decent snow-bases so that most/all runs are skiable. And I hope I get a bluebird day or two at each resort so that I actually get the chance to enjoy the mountain vistas, but as I mentioned earlier I'll be keeping my expectations relatively low and treat the bluebird days as a bonus!
 

Heinz

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Thank you for your detailed response Heinz, and you've added some useful food for thought. The impression I get is that there's no "best" way to do such a trip, particularly as it's my first time, so I'll be going with an open mind and relatively low expectations knowing that this will be a precursor to (hopefully) many return visits, and I'll be using the experiences gained from this trip to guide future plans. I say relatively low expectations, however, I've only ever skied NZ so I do hope to be impressed in one way or another by the size of the resorts and quality of snow! I also like the idea of seeing decent snow cover down to the valley floors as that's something that we don't get often in NZ, and it will be great to be able to ski to the valley floor where available as opposed to the lower runs being melted out which I assume may happen in spring.

Yes you are correct, there isn't really a best way of doing such a trip. There are many different ways of doing it you need to do a few to work out your own preferred approach. Your initial one is probably as good as any - the main consideration will be the timing. After that you may decide to just concentrate on one country or region, pick a base and road trip etc.

You will be blown away by the comparison to NZ. There isn't the same remoteness. If you imagine places like the Cardrona valley or the Matuki, in Europe there would be several villages all with gondolas up to the ski areas and linked up on a massive scale. You may not always get snow to the valley floor, that will often depend on quality of snow making. You may miss the NZ mountain roads.
 
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Centago

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My experiences are very similar to Hermanator regarding not booking ahead . 5 extra mins on the ski bus wont hurt and there are bargains in outlying hamlets . Europeans have hols at different times so it kinda evens out ok. One country one week, another next week or two. PS. Fasching at Bobbys Bar in Saalbach is a once in a lifetime must do
Thanks Kletterer. Excuse my naiveté but I don't know anything about Fasching - can you let me know more about it?
 

Heinz

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So in your opinion should I not concern myself too much with pre-booking accom? Also, I may as well ask you but happy for anyone else to respond, I'm probably going to be taking my own ski gears (i.e. lugging a ski bag around with me), is this an issue at all (aside from the inconvenience) when travelling on trains and getting from one place to the other?

Re accommodation - depends on where and when you go. If you are going to the big resorts in the peak holiday periods of Christmas, February or Easter you will definitely need to pre book. But if you are going in quieter periods like January or March (outside of Easter) and to smaller resorts you can book at fairly short notice.

Travelling with skis is not too hard. Most trains in the alpine countries will have a ski/bike rack at the end of the carriage to store your skis. Otherwise if you have just a single ski bag you can use the overhead rack.
 

benchives

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Just found this 10 year old pic of me in Le tour, Cham, when I was, God forbid, a snowboarder.

Nothing quite a sunny day looking out to the best Europe offers
image.jpg
 
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Kletterer

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Fasching was the time before Lent when the last of winters stored meats were collected for celebration/ feasting . The youths would go door to door in masks and yahooing. Also a farmers bid to the end of Winter. A few variations in different regions
 

Kletterer

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Seems like quite a number of members will be doing the Europe thing 15/16. Better get our Photo posting skills up to scratch.
 
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davekinkead

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I've done a few seasons in Austria inc St Anton so would offer the following advice:

St Anton vs Lech

- Young & travelling by yourself, stay at St Anton. Lech is more upmarket & less crazy than St. Anton. Far more likely to meet people in similar situation in St. A. Pettneu & Schnann further out will be cheaper but very quiet after 7pm.

- Off piste is better on the Lech side (and with the new Wrath-Schroken connection even more pow). The lift ticket gives access to both the St. A & Lech sides. You need to catch a bus to get between them (or ski a gnargly couloir and jump the arlberg road).

- If you are skiing without a guide and sticking to lift visible off-piste, then St. A will be tracked out within 30sec of lifts opening. Lech less so. If you are thinking skiing o/p without a guide or hiking to side country alone, then don't. People regularly die doing this even inbounds (Aussie couple last season on Rendl) and avies often close pistes. In my last season, even 2 guides died in avies.

Serfaus

Haven't skiied Solden but love SFL. Just as much off-piste as the arlberg but a quarter of the crowds (off piste crowds that is). SFL isn't on the anglo radar and is populated almost exclusively by dutch & german tourists. Great for kids but still has the typically rowdy afternoon austo-apres. I would choose SFL over St.A any day (now that partying isn't a priority). It's also on a high plateau so isn't as dark as St. A in early season. And you don't have to put up with as many drunk Brits.

Can't help on the Schweiz and to confuse you even more about school holidays...each country has different holiday breaks and in Austria at least, each resort attracts a different nationality of tourist. So peak times are going to be resort specific.

One other option to think about is club med. It was pretty good value once you factor in everything that's included and the adult villages are a blast. http://www.clubmed.com.au/cm/resort-val-thorens-sensations-france_p-14-l-AE-v-VTHC-ac-vh.html I spent 3 weeks going to different ones on my first Euro ski trip and loved it.
 

Hermannator

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Thanks Hermannator. So in your opinion should I not concern myself too much with pre-booking accom?
FR, CH book ahead (but weeks ahead not months), AT can get away without
Also, I may as well ask you but happy for anyone else to respond, I'm probably going to be taking my own ski gears (i.e. lugging a ski bag around with me), is this an issue at all (aside from the inconvenience) when travelling on trains and getting from one place to the other?
If you end up using UCPA and take a accom/lift deal, ski hire is included. Else get a ski bag with wheels! All the trains have dedicated ski storage areas. When you go to FR, you'll likely be bussing it.
 

cin

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Just found this 10 year old pic of me in Le tour, Cham, when I was, God forbid, a snowboarder.

Nothing quite a sunny day looking out to the best Europe offers
image.jpg
Seems like quite a number of members will be doing the Europe thing 15/16. Better get our Photo posting skills up to scratch.

10 years down the track and I'm still not taking them any better
By the end of that trip I had the chives on skiis and he has never gone back, thank fkin god!
 

Heinz

Have skis, will travel - Once borders open again..
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The Austrians call this 'Talabfahrt'. Look for this in the reports or the depth in the 'Tal' (valley)

and resorts always like to be able to claim 'Talabfahrt möglich' as a selling point. This oftens depends on how good the snow making is. Shouldn't be an issue in February, but can get interesting late March and April.
 

Budgiesmuggler

Part of the Furniture
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Not many comments on Davos - Here are mine, I've been there a few times.

Easy to get the train there from Zermatt and it's a really nice ride.

Long runs on the mountain and endless off piste, if you hit the right side it all ends at the village (or cliffs).

Can ski klosters too which is joined at the base.

Some good après. On piste has long runs but I find the top a bit annoying as some of the key lifts don't link up.

The youth hostel there is probably one of the nicest places to stay in Davos. Best view and beautiful old building.
 
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Heinz

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A long time ago, but I did like the 'home' run from Parsenn down to Küblis - 15km? - then train (included in ski pass) back to Davos.
 

greensnow

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Geeze, I am surprisingly pretty well placed to answer these questions. Visited all them bar Davos, in February, in the last 3 years.

For the casual 27 year old I would pretty much agree with everything already discussed. Few other points to note:
- Chamonix and Verbier, popular because of the off piste terrain. Only go if you are at least willing to join a guided off piste group for roughly 100 euro a day, pretty much every day. Not the sorts of places where you rock up and ask the guy on the lift what is good that day. Stretch to some proper guiding of the Aguile Du Midi toward the end. Sobering.
- If you fly economy, don't stay in Lech. Cool for a day trip from St Anton. Eat at the upmarket restaurant with DJs on mountain, forget the name, everyone knows it.
- At the current exchange rate, pass on Switzerland. Visit Matterhorn from Cervina if you want to see it.
- Note all the places you are going are popular because of the aggressive terrain they offer. You'd want to be ripping up the Otago resorts if you are to get the most out of these places as ski destinations.
- However travelling alone, they also happen to be the type of places international and european skiers visit solo with good villages/vibe so best social opportunities. So I couldn't suggest many better alternatives.
 

Heinz

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Yes, Switzerland is expensive. Need to take that into consideration.
 

greensnow

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School holidays. I have a counter-intuitive theory that got a 'you are on to us' smile from my guide. Maybe he was just being polite....

Chamonix, Courmayeur, Verbier, all packed the third week of Feb in terms of accommodation and finding a table for dinner. Main pistes are a bit busier, yes. Though the off-piste terrain, the stuff with a guide, I found it if anything less busy. Even the Vallee Blanche on a sunny powder day! My theory being, that your typical off-piste focused skiers follow conventional wisdom and avoid the period. Could be off the mark, but so long as you book in accomm and even tables in advance, no problem with visiting in the school holidays if you have an off piste focus.
 

Snorkler

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The one thing have to be careful of is like Japan, whilst the area may seem small, getting around it is a different story and takes up a bit of travel time from place to place. The biggest place you'll see that is getting into France. you'll have to get to Geneva and then bus it from there.

Disclosure, I have never skied CH or AT (only been AT in summer). I'm saving Cham for when I save up and are prepared to go out with a guide everyday and maybe have a little kit as well to get around with.

Even within France, the options are endless though the beauty is that you can base yourself in an area and have access to much just around there. Tarentaise is the big one. Top of the list Val D'Isere and it's there for a reason. It's a great place to sample french off-piste and you can get guides at quite a good price. I did it through the local Youth Hostel and got great value. Tignes also provides a cheaper option for on-mountain accommodation.

Head back into the Valley and you can go up to the 4 Valleys. Meribel is pretty good higher up the Meribel Valley, though jump over the west side to Les Menuires and Val Tho and there is some great off-piste as well. Guides out of Les Menuires come at a really good price as well for the day.

I'm just saying that you might want to cut back the places you go to. As others have suggested maybe steering clear of CH and instead make it 2 weeks in AT and 2 in FR. At least then there is only a single serious displacement to happen (this will probably take 2 days to happen).
 

Heinz

Have skis, will travel - Once borders open again..
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What you could do for Switzerland rather than 1 week each in 2 locations is to do more of a rail trip and hit multiple spots and get in a bit of sightseeing as well. I did similar on one of my early Swiss trips. Rail in Switzerland makes this doable. eg. I stayed a couple of nights in Brig and did a day trip to Zermatt, likewise in Martigny for Verbier, Interlaken for Jungfraujoch. Maybe Engelberg & Andermatt. Gives you a change to look at these places, stay an extra day or so if it appeals otherwise move on. Then from Martigny catch the really cool cog railway over the border to Chamonix.
 
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piolet

Better make it three
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- Chamonix and Verbier, popular because of the off piste terrain. Only go if you are at least willing to join a guided off piste group for roughly 100 euro a day, pretty much every day. Not the sorts of places where you rock up and ask the guy on the lift what is good that day. Stretch to some proper guiding of the Aguile Du Midi toward the end.

Yes, the OP didnt state his offpiste training/skills/exp and this is a pretty big consideration.
Guided group days are good for assessing the metal of potential ski buddies for the rest of the week, has worked very well for me. Also guided group touring (chamexperience.com) works too, you can work out if the guy is a clown whilst out with a guide then find other partners.

Had a ring in along for a day out this past season who was just a classic; good skier but zero care/knowledge for avies/crevasses riding LGM daily. Was a 1/5 day so whatever.

The risks are very real, another partner fell in a crevasse in january right off the lift at LGM.... was guided, even they cant avoid all risk but he was in good hands
 

cin

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Not many comments on Davos - Here are mine, I've been there a few times.

Easy to get the train there from Zermatt and it's a really nice ride.

Long runs on the mountain and endless off piste, if you hit the right side it all ends at the village (or cliffs).

Can ski klosters too which is joined at the base.

Some good après. On piste has long runs but I find the top a bit annoying as some of the key lifts don't link up.

The youth hostel there is probably one of the nicest places to stay in Davos. Best view and beautiful old building.

Yeah Davos has been on my shortlist for a few years now.
 

Kletterer

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Yes, the OP didnt state his offpiste training/skills/exp and this is a pretty big consideration.
Guided group days are good for assessing the metal of potential ski buddies for the rest of the week, has worked very well for me. Also guided group touring (chamexperience.com) works too, you can work out if the guy is a clown whilst out with a guide then find other partners.

Had a ring in along for a day out this past season who was just a classic; good skier but zero care/knowledge for avies/crevasses riding LGM daily. Was a 1/5 day so whatever.

The risks are very real, another partner fell in a crevasse in january right off the lift at LGM.... was guided, even they cant avoid all risk but he was in good hands
Yep... A good scenario for off piste is 3 parties. If there is a lesser experienced rider you can put him in the middle
 
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Centago

One of Us
May 20, 2008
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Yes, the OP didnt state his offpiste training/skills/exp and this is a pretty big consideration.
Guided group days are good for assessing the metal of potential ski buddies for the rest of the week, has worked very well for me. Also guided group touring (chamexperience.com) works too, you can work out if the guy is a clown whilst out with a guide then find other partners.

Had a ring in along for a day out this past season who was just a classic; good skier but zero care/knowledge for avies/crevasses riding LGM daily. Was a 1/5 day so whatever.

The risks are very real, another partner fell in a crevasse in january right off the lift at LGM.... was guided, even they cant avoid all risk but he was in good hands
Plenty more food for thought, thanks everyone for your contributions.

In terms of my off-piste training, I have my avalanche safety stage one, and I spent 6 weeks up Craigieburn Valley in NZ in 2012 doing fieldwork looking at snowpack stability which contributed to my post-grad qualification. So I have a solid theoretical knowledge regarding snowpack stability, and in 2012 my practical application of that knowledge was developing nicely as I was also getting into some backcountry touring. However I've been stuck in an office job in the North Island since 2013 and for various reasons haven't had the opportunity to apply those skills, so I'm feeling a little undercooked as it stands. I've had minimal experience with glacier travel in 2011/2012 (a couple fieldtrips moping about on Brewster Glacier in NZ) where I learnt a little about ropework etc, but I'd say those skills are back to square 1 for me now.

So we're now addressing the crux of why I originally alluded to not being too phased on the off-piste stuff on this trip: 1. I'm not going to be able to afford to utilise guides the whole time, 2. I'm aware my skills/lack thereof may constrain my ability to access the 'hard-core' off-piste terrain. Nevertheless, I had hoped I would still be able to ski something like Valle Blanche (with a guide of course), and I assumed I would still be able to ski some off-piste at most ski areas without needing a guide (or is that assumption misguided)?

I must say I haven't yet addressed the idea of how much a trip like this is going to cost me all up. And it doesn't help that I have zero previous trips under my belt so I have no yardstick. My plan was to make a plan, figure out roughly how much it would cost, then make adjustments to that plan accordingly. I'm determined to make it work but at the end of the day if I don't have enough money to do all I want then I'll have to compromise.
 
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