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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    seattle
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    Skiing/lodging recommendations for Chamonix/Zermatt?

    Looking for some advice from the collective here. I'm heading over to Europe in early April for some lift-served/touring and an Ortler tour with my wife and a few friends. We're flying into Geneva with a plan to go to Chamonix, and possibly Zermatt for a few days. Does anyone have some recommendations for cool places to stay in either for 3-4 days each? Looking for mid-range price, cool history/culture, and convenience for skiing. How easy is train travel from Chamonix to Zermatt, and how long does it take? From either of those places, any can't-miss detours or daytrips that we should bump up? If conditions are good, we'd like to hire a guide for a classic like Vallee Blanche, but would love to hear other ideas with a focus on skiing. Advanced skiing group, not all are into "you fall, you die" kind of terrain.

    Everyone is set on Chamonix, but is Zermatt worth it? I've heard awesome things about town/culture, but know it's not cheap. Should we scrap for something else in that region, and any recommendations for little areas that rock? What to expect for early April for skiing?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Bavaria
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    239
    Sounds like fun, loads of links if you check this page:
    http://www.nosiesta.com/Links.html
    that's not bad...
    www.nosiesta.com
    IFMGA Ski & Mountain Guide

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    London
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    I had great luck in Zermatt contacting the tourist office and seeing what they came back with. Ended up with a very cheap, cool apartment just behind Grampi's which worked for us. Reasonable walk to the lifts though...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    truckee
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    I liked Hotel Crete Blanche--around the block from the Compagnie des Guides which is very handy when you have to go there after 6 to book for the next day. If you don't want to hire a private guide the CDG will put you in a group for guided skiing other places besides the Vallee Blanche--Grand Montets (guide highly advisable to ski from the top off piste), Brevent, Courmayeur (the Italian side of Mont Blanc--easy drive from Chamonix). There's enough to ski in Chamonix that it seems a waste to spend a day travelling to Zermatt (where I've never skied.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Oz
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    942
    I stayed at Hotel Faucigny on recommendation from this forum, but it has been sold & refurbished and the prices have gone up. Staying there again next week so will report back.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Oz
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    Oh and another vote for the CDG groups. We found the pace a little slow and ended up hiring the guide for private guiding, but they operate a great program and will transport you to the best snow on the day.

    re: Tourist Offices - for the most part they are amazing. On a road trip through Europe in 2004 we gave up on guidebook and the net - we just drove straight to the tourist office in each town and they sorted it all for us.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    A Chamonix of the Mind
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    I feel like I have seen this thread several times already.

    I have people stay in the Hotel l'Arve in Cham. Nothing special but nice enough and close to shit.

    In Zermatt I just get a room at the Bahnhof. Even a further walk from the lifts than Grampi's but the town isnt that big and they have a kitchen and laundry in the basement. Another one I like is the Hotel Helvetia, which is on the Bahnhofstrasse (along with everything else.) Saas Fee is one valley over and more romantic, so bring your mistress there next time.

    Train is easy enough, takes 4 hours or so, and you need to make 3 changes.

    If you are planning on skiing the Ortler, I am guessing that tour is guided? If you are doing that yourself and are competent you won't need a guide for VB or GM. Where a guide in Cham is good for resort-oriented skiers is showing you the goods while all the punters are skiing suncrust.
    "Buy the Fucking Plane Tickets!"
    -- Jack Tackle

  8. #8
    Hugh Conway Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by JoeStrummer View Post
    Where a guide in Cham is good for resort-oriented skiers is showing you the goods while all the punters are skiing suncrust.
    They can also differentiate between the "advanced" tracks, the "expert" tracks, and the "non-mortal" tracks.

    If you've 4 people, rent a car, public transport to the Ortler region sucks anyways. And ski somewhere other than Chamonix, Zermatt, and the now popular with American ski tourers for some bizarre region Ortler (maybe because they think it's Italian? dunno)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    A Chamonix of the Mind
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    They can also differentiate between the "advanced" tracks, the "expert" tracks, and the "non-mortal" tracks.

    If you've 4 people, rent a car, public transport to the Ortler region sucks anyways. And ski somewhere other than Chamonix, Zermatt, and the now popular with American ski tourers for some bizarre region Ortler (maybe because they think it's Italian? dunno)
    Having consumed liters of grappa in the Branca and Casati and Marteller Huts, it seems Italian enough. Even if they speak German-ish!

    But I agree, Chamonix to the Ortler is sort of a weird combo. Lots of skiing between those two places!
    "Buy the Fucking Plane Tickets!"
    -- Jack Tackle

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    blissful ignorance
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    493
    stayed in zermatt at hotel antares - wasn't too bad price-wise with the half-board (breakfast & dinner inc.) - as the restaurant in house was so fucking amazing. totally outstanding, top-notch food. oh, it's a minute walk to a cable car that leads to a cable car which leads to another... next thing you know, you're at 3800m. Didn't get sick of seeing the matterhorn each morning either...
    http://www.hotel-antares.ch/ausblick_e.htm

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Nr the sea , on the other side of the pond..
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    927
    Argentiere: Hotel Le dahu http://www.hotel-argentiere.com/ - cheap and cheerful,(50 a room per night) you can walk to the argentiere lift or the train station plus the bus stop is just outside for the ski bus.

    you can get drinks and food at le rusticana down the road. nice and cheap ski food plus happy hour drinks. good local atmosphere.


    Zermatt: go to www.sbb.ch ..... they will give you the train times to get to zermatt. takes about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. be aware, if there is lots of snow, they can close the tunnel to switzerland for the train. have a backup plan or just stay put.
    Semper in Pulveris .... Only the depth varies

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    1
    Zermatt has a hugh amount of accommodation and there should be good availability on April - zermatt.ch has the comprehensive listing. Getting from Chamonix to Zermatt without a car means a return to Geneva - depending on the weather, you could get a taxi from Chamonix to Martigney and pick up the train to Zermatt there - would take an hour max.

    I ski Switzerland any day over France. Give it an hour or two from a powder dump for everything to be skied out in France, whereas Switzerland is quieter so a day or two later there are till some fresh lines. Plus, no heli-skiing in France. Zermatt can suffer from snow droughts however.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    risin up to paradise...
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    Hey, not to hijack this thread but a quick question.

    We're flying to Geneva and going to Cham to start the Haute Route on the 3rd. We've made reservations in all the huts except the Vignette which is claiming they're booked and no chance for a reservation on 3/7. I'm kind of thinking of just showing up and hoping there will be space??? I don't want the wrath of a Swiss hutkeeper, but is this reasonable?? I'm calling tonight to try to talk to someone there. Anyone have this experience??

    Oh and we're staying at Hotel L'Arve in Chamonix...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    A Chamonix of the Mind
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    Theoretically, SAC huts will make you ski to the road if you can get there in 90 minutes or less. From Vignettes, they can make you ski to the road since you can be in Arolla fairly quickly. Generally, instead of doing this, hutkeepers will express displeasure and then find you a space. Usually there are no-shows, since Vignettes has reasonable access you might not be able to rely on this.

    I have showed up twice at full huts without a reservation and once I got the winter room and once we found space no problem since there were no-shows. There was some minor wrath and tsk-tsking, but I have not had to ski out yet.
    "Buy the Fucking Plane Tickets!"
    -- Jack Tackle

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Summit County
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    1,129
    my two cents given some of the advice you have gotten...

    many great "off the tourist grid" ski areas in CH. but given you don't have car it would be time consuming and frustrating to get between them. Also, unless you hit them on powder day you may not be thrilled to be there multiple days.

    Saas-Fee we preferred over Zermatt for a few reasons, but no train access. Unless you seriously considering Saas-Fee...
    here is where we stayed in Zermatt: http://www.europe-zermatt.ch/

    Family-run and proud of it. Ruedi is an excellent chef. His dinners are some of the best I had in CH. Brkfast buffet was killer. Normally, I like to hit slopes first bell but upon seeing the spread we realized that we should just slow down and relax. Smoked salmon, omlets, fruits, various sausages & breads, etc. Kids loved it, too.

    Zermatt and Cham would give your party plenty to ski/skin and a wide variety of tech complexities. Both world-class destinations for a variety of reasons. Both provide access to skiing/skinning into Italy. Both have very different cultures & ambience.

    On a clear day the trains between Cham to Zermatt take you thru Valais and the views are worth the ticket. Take a day off and relax on the trains.

    So, if I had only a week or 10 days and wanted to experience 2 very distinct ski areas/towns (or, many be ski "cities") and have access to world-class terrain then stick to your plans.
    when not on the snow what else do i do...

    http://www.jatho-craftsman.blogspot.com/

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