Ski Jasna, questions for John Sherwood.
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tromano
February 24, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
John,

This is a great article. You deffinatly are making it hard not to consider SK for a trip next year. Just an info question more than anything... what is the ski season in SK? What month is the best month to get "good condtisions" if one were planning a trip in advance? Is it usually very cold there? Thanks!
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 24, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Tromano:

My first question is for you: have you skied in Europe? If the answer is no, I would not start in Slovakia. It will take a few years for Slovakia to develop lift systems and snowmaking that rivals what can be found in the Alps. It will take even longer for the country to develop interlinking ski domains, and those domains will never rival such places as Trois Vallees in France or Ski Amade in Austria.

This year we are seeing a 50-year snow record in Slovakia, but on many years, the snowfalls are significantly less in the Carpathians than in the Alps. At the same time, the demand for ski slopes in Eastern Europe is huge due to sizable populations in Poland and Hungary. Therefore, destination resorts in SK may remain crowded even as new lifts are installed.

With that being said, skiing in Slovakia is a unique cultural experience-an interesting and fun way to see Eastern Europe and interact with Eastern Europeans. Many famous cultural attractions are near the slopes such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Spis Castle, Banska Stiavnica, and the village of Vlkolinec. There are also some old spas worth visiting such as Piestany and Besenova. In Slovakia, avoid crowds by going to smaller mountains, some of which have verticals approaching 2,000 feet. For my next trip, I am going to focus exclusively on mid-sized and smaller venues.

A compromise might be to do what I did: spend three quarters of your ski days in the nearby Austrian Alps and a quarter in Slovakia. My next articles will focus on two Austrian resorts I visited: Dachstein Tauern (Schladming and Hauser Kaibling) and Bad Gastein.

In general, the best time to ski Europe is February and March. This is true not only in Slovakia but in the Alps as well.

Cheers,

John
tromano
February 25, 2005
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
John,

Thanks for the info. Nope I have never skied europe. But I would be with some one who lived in slovakia for a year.

You said you waited in line for 20 minutes for lifts. I assume this was on a normal weekend (not holiday, not week day!). Thats a pretty long time to wait. IIRC, Jasna is over 3000ft vertical. It would take many many people to crowd up a place like that. But then again if you were relying just a few modern lifts with an assortment of surface lifts then that could cause a few lines.

You frequently compare Slovakia to the midatlantic. How does Jasna compare to typical midatlantic ski areas in terms of skiers per acre and in terms of lift capacity. 7S has ~300 acres and ~ 20000 skiers per hour on a lift capacity.

So to sum up... other closer european destinations have better snow, more infastructiore (snow making, lifts, interconnected mountains, etc...) and are overall a better value.

Quote:


With that being said, skiing in Slovakia is a unique cultural experience-an interesting and fun way to see Eastern Europe and interact with Eastern Europeans. Many famous cultural attractions are near the slopes such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Spis Castle, Banska Stiavnica, and the village of Vlkolinec. There are also some old spas worth visiting such as Piestany and Besenova. In Slovakia, avoid crowds by going to smaller mountains, some of which have verticals approaching 2,000 feet. For my next trip, I am going to focus exclusively on mid-sized and smaller venues.

A compromise might be to do what I did: spend three quarters of your ski days in the nearby Austrian Alps and a quarter in Slovakia. My next articles will focus on two Austrian resorts I visited: Dachstein Tauern (Schladming and Hauser Kaibling) and Bad Gastein.

In general, the best time to ski Europe is February and March. This is true not only in Slovakia but in the Alps as well.

Cheers,

John




John, thanks for making it so cut and dry for me! Little out of the way mountians with only 2000 vertical. unique cultual items and other attractiosn to boot. Ahh... Me thinks Me will like this Slovakia place. Honestly I feel like the more I read these differnt forums and get more ideas abotu palces to go, the more I am like the kid in a candy story with only $.50 to spend and sooo many different options.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 25, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Tromano:

My advice: quit your job and head to Europe for the remainder of the season. The snow is that good and that plentiful. You'll get more of a taste when Scott publishes my articles on the Dachstein Tauern (Schladming and Hauser-Kaibling) and Bad Gastein. This is turning out to be a year people will be bragging about for many years to come. What is more, non-stop fights from IAD to VIE can be had for around $500 right now.

Where in Slovakia does your friend need to visit? That might help me make a recommendation. My ski experience is somewhat limited in Slovakia but I've visited most of the major centers there either in the winter or summer or both. The resorts I like are as follows:

Jasna: Mentioned in the article. Lines were twenty minutes ON A MONDAY, but it was the Polish school holiday when I visited. Lots of older, slow lifts combined with a lot of ski acreage mean that trails for the most part were not too crowded. Think Timberline but with three times the vert. and 10 times the acreage. In American terms, Austria is a better value because you get a lot more skiing accomplished due to limited lines and lots of 6-packs and high-speed "jet" gondolas. A lot of Slovaks go to the relatively nearby Ski Amade resorts in Austria, which I will be profiling in two DCSki articles. These mountains are about 3.5 hours by car from Bratislava and about three hours by train from Vienna.

High Tatras: a gaggle of places connected by a convenient electric tram. The High Tatras is the second most popular ski destination in SK. Except for Lomnicke Sedlo, however, the place is a snoozer for advanced skiers. Advanced skiers are better off with the steeper terrain and easier to access off piste at Jasna.

SkiPark Ruzomberok: a respectable mid-sized place the Velka Fatra mountains with a lot of new lifts, excellent snowmaking, and 2,100 feet of vert. It's my friend Roman's hometown resort. Its only negative is a lack resort accommodations, and staying in the wood processing city of Ruzomberok would be like staying in Westernport, MD. However, you can easily day trip it there from Bratislava on the 10 trains that run there daily and the convenient hourly bus that links the rail station with the mountain.

Donovaly: This place has great accommodations and is a short bus ride from one of the loveliest small cities in Slovakia, Banska Bystrica. The only downer about Donovaly is that experts may tire of the single red trail down Mount Zvolen. The rest of the skiing is tamer stuff on high elevation meadows up the road-called "Hungarian" ski area by the Slovaks because beginners from HU love it so much.

Martinske Hole: a great place with great views of the Carpathians. It's in the Mala Fatras Mountains and offers about 1,000 feet of vert and more for those who don't mind hiking a bit to the off-piste. Martinske is near Martin but a tough drive in snow-chains are not optional on that road.

Velka Raca: Some great new lifts, and respectable vert. This place is near Zilina.
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