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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Vancouver, BC
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    38

    Trip Advice: Chamonix + ?

    My girlfriend to me as I woke up yesterday: "My family's going to Zermatt and Chamonix for Christmas and New Years, wanna come?"

    ...

    So, looks like I'm skiing Europe for the first time this December, and I could use two pieces of advice:

    1: what to ski in and around Cham (I'm joining only after doing Christmas with my family in BC, so missing out on Zermatt), and
    2: where to go after (the two of us are taking a little extra time on our own, as long as we're over there).

    Part 1: I'll ski with my girlfriend and her family some, but we'll be there for 6 days, and I want to ski at least a couple fun / iconic lines. It'll be pretty early season, so assuming some lines will be too exposed (and i probably won't be feeling top knotch). As far as backcountry, I'd love to get after it, conditions permitting. It seems like guides are pretty popular over there, so if it's not stupid expensive, that might be a good way to go? Recommended early-season, and inbounds lines? Good single day off-piste and recommended guides? I know people do solo stuff but that just goes against every bit of backcountry safety knowledge I have. Is it just that the scene there is busy enough that you're never really "alone?"

    Part 2: After new years, the two of us want to go somewere else, as long as we're in the area. Just looking at a map, I was thinking either the Pyrenees (Andorra), Dolomites, or mid-Switzerland (I was in Chur once, 7 years ago and I remember wanting to come back and explore the small lifts around the area). Not married to any one place, and certainly open to any other suggestions. Having access to big resorts in the US, and coming from Whistler then Chamonix, would prefer a pretty small town vibe. She skis, but nothing crazy, and on this part of the trip we'll probably be ripping laps together, so the goal is more just a reasonably priced, beautiful place, ideally with good food, and reasonably accessible by train / bus.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    Seattle
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    30,108
    I'm pretty sure this has been covered numerous times already. particularly part 1
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Vancouver, BC
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    Fair. Had searched and came up with 90% Feb-Apr reports. Dug deeper and and found a handful of late Dec ones.

    Still interested in current guide recs, and pt 2. I know there are a million options, just curious what you would do, esp if you've been to some place groovy that won't show up in a "Best of the Alps" list.

    Sent from my PH-1 using TGR Forums mobile app

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
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    New Years week will be mobbed most places and snow is not sure.
    That said, consider the following towns:

    0) Bourg St. Maurice. Access to Les Arcs/ParadiSki/La Plagne, La Rosiere, l'Espace Killy/Tignes/Val d'Isere. If snow is shit LEK is high and has snow making but will be mobbed, La Rosiere is off the main, cool hotel near there called l'Auberge Sur La Montagne.
    1) St. Michelle du Maurienne - The Maurienne valley has a load of cool lesser known places like Val Frejus, Val Cenis, easy acces from train line. Bonneval is way up the valley head, hard to get to. Also can get to Val Thorens/Trois Vallees from Orelle in the Maurienne. Lots of little hotels strug up and down that valley.
    2) Oulx - TGV stop there with access to the Milky Way. Voie Lactee. Look it up. Neat old town down in Cesana, taxis available near the gare.
    3) Poke through Mt Blnac tunnel to Courmayeur, hang, drink eat, ski the south side.
    4) Verbier - Will be mobbed, expensive, tres chic. One of the best ski areas in the world. My globe trotter buddies claim it's better than Cham!
    5) Gstaad - Very old money elegance, tons of skiing, easy access, low altitude. G3000 is the big spot there.
    6) Zinal/Grimentz - Tricky access, use the Swiss Post Bus. Can be thin on snow until late.
    7) Engelberg. Search for it.
    8) Andermatt/Disentis/SkiArena. Search for it, stay at mt-lodge.com in Sedrun, run by one of us. Dan Loutrel, http://www.andermatt-guides.ch/EN/about.html .
    9) Davos/Klosters. HuDge, expensive, mobbed, amazing sidecountry, wonderful small chic gourmando hotel at https://wynegg.ch/en/ . Tell Cedric the old guy with the long hair sent you.
    10) St. Moritz. High, will have good snowmaking, can be drier. If snow is good, lap the Corvatsch. Corviglia has better snow making. Have a drink at Badrutts.
    11) Schruns. Hemingway, Hotel Taube, Silvretta-Montafon.
    12) St. Anton. Massive, mobbed, expensive, try either Das Elizabeth for an older classic lodge, just 4 blocks up the hill W. of the walking center or the Kirchplatz at the East end of town.
    13) Bad Gastein, Bad Hofgastein, Sport Gastein, classic old Austrian ski area with dowdy 19th century hotels and that filmy vibe of old ski culture. Stay at the hotelechobadgastein.com . Eat and drink at the Hexenhausl.
    14) Val Gardena - again will be mobbed, amazing food, big slope skiing. Train to Ponte Gardena, taxi up from there. Good hotel is www.la-tambra.com .
    15) Briancon & Serre Chevalier - Search, access is tricky.

    Search tgr for any of this stuff for more info.

    resources:

    https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html - will give connections, prices and times for anywhere in Europe.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Seattle
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    6,367
    BRRUUUUUUCE!
    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    If I lived in WA, Oft would be my realtor. Seriously.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    For a day or two of guided off piste just go to the Cham ex office half a block from the Midi tram. Its easy to arrange a guide and can probably get onto a group if you need cheap. Other offices in town can do the same, but Cham Ex seems to cater to English speaking clients.

    For the rest of the trip, just chase powder. That early in the season, who knows who as snow. Or, just go somewhere fun. I did Annecy at the end of a Cham trip and had a blast.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
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    38
    Amazing thank you!

    Tried to book La Tambra, but looks like it's booked up for our dates.

    Got a flight out of Milan, so have some good options for skiing.

    Annecy is beautiful! Not a bad idea.

    Will report back with an actual TR in the new year.

    Sent from my PH-1 using TGR Forums mobile app

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Wasatch Back: 7000'
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    I have a family obligation in Frankfurt on Jan. 4. Then, I have a flight from AMS back to UT. on Jan. 9. My gut tells me that I should just stay in AMS from the 5-9th, but I would love to get a couple of ski days in, either in Cham., Engleberg or St. Anton. However, to go 6 hrs. south just to ski a couple of days and then travel 12 hrs. north seems like a stretch
    A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.
    ― Milton Friedman

  9. #9
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    Sep 2001
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    Quote Originally Posted by camhard View Post
    Amazing thank you!

    Tried to book La Tambra, but looks like it's booked up for our dates.

    Got a flight out of Milan, so have some good options for skiing.

    Annecy is beautiful! Not a bad idea.

    Will report back with an actual TR in the new year.

    Sent from my PH-1 using TGR Forums mobile app
    Snow will likely be better here: https://www.mt-lodge.com/
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OW
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    614
    Quote Originally Posted by schindlerpiste View Post
    I have a family obligation in Frankfurt on Jan. 4. Then, I have a flight from AMS back to UT. on Jan. 9. My gut tells me that I should just stay in AMS from the 5-9th, but I would love to get a couple of ski days in, either in Cham., Engleberg or St. Anton. However, to go 6 hrs. south just to ski a couple of days and then travel 12 hrs. north seems like a stretch
    Easyjet! 39 CHF Basel-Amsterdam on January 8. Similar from Geneva.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Squaw valley
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    2,590
    I moved to the French Pyrenees recently
    Skied they for two years, and, if you like to hike and like couloirs, best place in the world. Approaches are 10 minutes to an hour, 600 to 2000 ft couloirs, 40-50 degrees, Maritime snow pack and untracked a week after a storm

    Bareges/la mongie

    Sent from my Armor_3 using Tapatalk

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Wasatch Back: 7000'
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    Thanks! Too bad EasyJets has nothing from FRA to Geneva.
    A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.
    ― Milton Friedman

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Nashville TN
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    389
    Quote Originally Posted by camhard View Post
    Amazing thank you!

    Tried to book La Tambra, but looks like it's booked up for our dates.

    Got a flight out of Milan, so have some good options for skiing.

    Annecy is beautiful! Not a bad idea.

    Will report back with an actual TR in the new year.

    Sent from my PH-1 using TGR Forums mobile app
    so you will be in Cham and your are flying out of Milan? How many days between when you leave Cham and your flight out of Milan? That's going to heavily impact the advice because unless that's a relatively long period of time, you are going to eliminate a good chunk of the Alps just because I wouldn't recommend you spend 2 of your x days traveling if x is relatively small. The Alps look sort of small on a map, but the terrain can be so massive that it takes a lot of time to get between places that aren't that far apart as the crow flies. The good news is that even a small chunk of the Alps is going to provide more than you can ski in a full season.

    so, let's us know a little more about your logistics and we can provide some input.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Land of the Long Flat Vowel
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    804
    There's a stupid amount of skiing between Cham and Milan, i.e. all of the Aosta Valley.

    Just down from Courmayeur is Morgex, which is a beautiful and quiet place to stay, and up the hill from there La Thuile. Great skiing on the N face towards St Bernardo pass, and often has much more snow than other spot in the vicinity - incl Cham. Insane touring at Lago D'Arpy off Colle San Carlo.

    Down the valley is Pila, which will be busier, and lots of other smaller resorts. Chamois, on the way to Cervinia, is a tiny gem, if there is good snow. Champoluc-Gressoney-Alagna is Monterosa Ski, and it is very good with southerly storms.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Between a rock and a soft place. Aberdare and The Brecon Beacons, Wales
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    2,721
    Quote Originally Posted by hutash View Post
    For the rest of the trip, just chase powder. That early in the season, who knows who has snow.
    This +1 million

    Unless powder isn't your priority.

    If that's the case, there's snow underfoot, and there's a high pressure system delivering wall to wall sunshine then the Dolomites every time.

    Unbeatable views, unbeatable food & drink, unbeatable value.

    And if you get lucky powder on terrain to die for.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Sea Level
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    3,625
    Had pretty good skiing and a great lunch in La Thuile. I had great skiing and a great lunch in Courmayeur.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    679
    Quote Originally Posted by camhard View Post


    I know people do solo stuff but that just goes against every bit of backcountry safety knowledge I have. Is it just that the scene there is busy enough that you're never really "alone?"


    Thanks!
    Didn't you watch Blizzard of aaaaahhhhhs? They said making a mistake, means you are checking out for good!

    And while that sounds overly dramatic, it is actually true for a lot of the classic cham lines. Soloskiing classic lines in cham like the glacier round, comiques couloir, le grand envers etc, is a terrible idea!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Posts
    3
    Mate, this is Europe. In-bound lines/safety not really a thing. You need all the gear and at least a buddy. Guides are a must if you are going up the Valle Blanche, it's dangerous even if touristy. If you don't look like you know what you are doing and with a guide they might not even let you through the gates.

    For the second part, I'd chase the snow see where's best. If you want good food and wine head to Italy, wins hands down every time.

    Also worth checking out the Magic Pass if you want access to lots of small resorts in Switzerland. There's another multi-resort pass called SnowPass I think. Untested though, some in UK forums fear it's a scam.

    If you have an IKON or EPIC pass you can access SkiRama (Italy), Les 3 Valleys (France), Verbs (but need to stay in pre-defined accommodation) and Zermatt

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