European Skiing Experiences?
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lbotta - DCSki Supporter 
January 20, 2000
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,534 posts
That makes two. I'm on my way to Zermatt next month. Anyone has been there in the newsgroup who can shed some light on the area's particulars?


January 21, 2000
I'd like to hear a little from area skiers who've been to Europe to ski. I've skied a lot in the States, but never over there. Since I'm middle aged I really ought to take a European ski trip in the next few years before I'm totally shot. Curious about the Three Valleys area of France, the Vallee Blanche glacier run at Chamonix, Davos Switz, Cortina d Ampezzo Italy or any other significant European ski areas. Interested in quality of terrain and aesthetics. Went to Garmisch, Grindelwald and Zermatt one June, did not ski, but blown away by mountain beauty.
January 21, 2000
Member since 06/23/2000 🔗
61 posts
I went to Zermatt as a kid (many years ago). I was amazed at hte beauty of the place. You could see the Matterhorn on most days and the hiking was outstanding. I didn't even mind having my ego crushed by having some senior citizens blow by me as I labored up a trail. Although I didn't ski, I'm told that you can year round and that in the winter, you can ski down into Italy and then back around into Switzerland. I guess you need your passport when skiing there. ;-)

The town was car free with wide avenues to walk down and the restaurant selection was fantastic.

January 22, 2000
Member since 11/22/1999 🔗
317 posts
My wife and I skied in Switzerland a couple of seasons back near Grindenwald and Wenden in the Berner Oberland area. If you thought it was lovely in summer, you'll think it breathtaking in winter. The skiing was first rate with acres and acres and acres of beautiful terrain. We happen to hit an "off" season where snow did not come all the way down to Grindenwald (where we stayed). Nevertheless, it was not hard to find snow at higher elevations. We went up to the famous chalet where "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was filmed (James Bond flick) and had incredible views of the mountains - we even saw an avalanche on the next mountain over (rugged area wilderness area - no skiers or others were threatened). I also had the thrill of skiing the same run as 007 (or at least the run skied by his stunt double)!! Being an intermediate skier, the wife took the cable car down - although I thought she could have skied it easily. It is definitely worth getting out there!

There are, however, some down sides. First, expect everything to be EXPENSIVE!! And expect to be charged for EVERYTHING. We were even charged for sitting on lounge chairs on the deck!! Also, remember that Switzerland is an old old country. Lifts at the very top are often t-bars or other types of tow mechanisms. This is also due, in part, to the fact that you are above the tree line and high winds may occassionally occur. Europeans also do not understand the concept of lift LINES. Everyone crowds into the lift area en masse. Its not uncommon to have people step all over your skis in an effort to move past you. Be prepared to be a little pushy - especially with little ones that will literally duck under you to get ahead in line. Finally, ski patrol charges - really. Unlike the US, where all NSP ski patrols provide emergency care gratis, European ski patrols will charge. Its not uncommon to be asked for a charge card or other proof of ability to pay before being treated. We bought insurance at the ski area to take are of that - not bad price-wise.

Despite the downsides, skiing in Switzerland was a wonderful experience overall. I would easily do it again. In addition to wonderful scenery and darn good skiing, the European experience was truly fun. The food was excellent and unlike most other things, wine was dirt cheap - sometimes, a decent bottle of wine was cheaper than the bottled water being offered!!

My wife and I would definitely ski Europe again - perhaps someplace different like the French Alps. Good luck and have fun.

JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 28, 2000
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,941 posts
Ibotta: I didn't ski at Zermatt either, I was there for two days in June about 15 years ago on a Eurailpass train vacation. Could have skied Klein Matterhorn, but didn't have my eqmt or time. My wife and I took the cogwheel train into Z, it was great. Everything Gill said is true, if you have a car you park it at the edge of town and go on foot or carriage. Scenery is special. The valleys in the alps can be as low as 2-3k above sea level, adjacent mtn tops 14-15k. That vertical difference is about twice that of geography in Colorado or Utah and the visual impact is incredible. When you're standing on a sidewalk in Zermatt and you look up at the Matterhorn it seems to block out half the sky!

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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