Are there trails that are equitable to our skill level? Or are we going to be way over our heads?
Travel plans include traveling from Venice (I know you can't ski in the canals !) to Munich to Switzerland to Paris. We're considering going to Jungfrau Region, as much for the scenery as the skiing, specifically (Gimmelwald) but the Murren slopes may be too difficult.? I've also read the Grindenwald might have easier slopes. Are they easy enough, given our skill level?
Is there another resort/area that might be a better fit?
Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Some tips about skiing in Europe:
1. Buy insurance - unlike the U.S., ski areas charge for patrol services. The first thing patrollers will ask you if you get hurt will be for a charge card. Insurance is cheap and can be bought at the base.
2. Trails are not marked well. Again, unlike the overly litigious U.S., Europeans don't mark trails very well. That includes not marking obstacles or cliffs too well. The mind set is that skiing is dangerous - the responsibility is on you to mind where you're going - not the area's.
3. Be prepared to take lots of surface lifts. Towards the peaks of the ski areas, there are many many surface lifts (T-bars primarily). Don't be surprised to see surface lifts in funny places. Not always where you need them - sometimes where you don't.
4. Europeans don't stand in line. Don't know why, but Europeans don't believe in standing in lift lines. Instead of the semi-neat, semi-orderly lines where people take turns, Europeans tend to mash through all at once. Be prepared to have people step all over your skis to get ahead.
5. BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS. These thieves can spot a tourist a mile away. Hang on to purses, wallets, etc. Better yet, invest in one of those pouches that you where UNDER your clothing.
* If you have Blue Cross/Blue Shield, they do cover Europe and have several providers available through their web site including several in Switzerland. I downloaded the information and had it with me with my passport just in case
* DON'T HANDLE THE FRUIT at fruit stands. Especially in Germany. You'll get an angry look and if the stand is staffed by a corpulent Helga, you'll get your hand slapped and told "You must not handle the fruit, point to it instead"
* Carry your rock skis. Better yet, rent them there. Some of the resorts have huge verticals, and 5 to 6 thousand feet makes for very different conditions between the top and bottom of the areas. At Zermatt, the lower third of the mountain close to the town was basically ground and rocks covered by a thin layer of snow.
* Learn the posting of the trails in case of a blizzard or low visibility conditions. The poles that serve as trail markers are painted red and yellow, and they are different between the right and left edge of the trail. That's about the only thing that may keep you from falling into a cravasse or down a cliff when the visibility gets to near zero.
* Your ski poles are also enforcement implements to delineate your position in a gondola line if they're strategically placed in front of others' skis. That, and as Jim says, stepping on someone elses' skis. More the reason to bring your rock skis.
* Instruction in Europe stresses parallel skiing and good form. If you want to get really good at these, Europe is an excellent place to get some lessons.
We've decided to skip Switzerland this trip. In a few years, we'll take a skiing vacation there. Then, we'll have the proper clothes, skiing skills, and the time to really enjoy the experience.
The other issue is the gear. There's nothing more miserable than trying to ski when you're cold. With us traveling by trains, we don't carry alot of extra equipment nor clothes. 1 backpack for each of us.
The good news is that Europe isn't going away. I think a ski vacation would be ideal if properly prepared. I still want to go hiking in the Swiss Alps during summer. Can you say 2 vacations. Oh, Ireland, England, Scotland. er. 3 vacations. Spain and Portugal, 4. Never been to Chamonix (sp.), Cinque Terre 5 vac. Croatia supposed to be lovely. You see my point.
Thanks again for your insight.
Any tips on Munich, Florence greatly appreciated...