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  1. #1
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    Where to Ski in Europe in December?

    Where to ski in Europe in December?

    We promised our kids a trip of their choice when the graduate from high school. My eldest is about to graduate and has a dream trip of skiing in Europe over the winter break (Dec 21-27) and then catching the Chelsea-Arsenal game in England before we head home. I'm guessing late December is hit or miss, where would you suggest us going that would give us the best chance of good snow. My teens are great skiers so we are looking for more of the ski hard then the party hard scene. He's thinking Verbier or Cham. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    St Anton may be a better bet at that time of the year.

    Ticks all your boxes.

  3. #3
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    Kaprun or Solden ����
    “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by schindlerpiste View Post
    Kaprun or Solden ����
    Hintertux and Stubai both have glacier areas as well, might be the your best bet for early season coverage. Not exactly radical terrain though.
    More cowbell!!!

  5. #5
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    Apr 2003
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    First of all, go Gunners! Got to see them raise the Premier League trophy at Highbury which was amazing! Seeing a game in Yurp is awesome, and that would be a great one to see!

    Skiing, you are rolling the dice. The traditional advice of wait and see where the snow is becomes tough during the holidays. You better start sending emails out now to hotels. I fire off a ton to various hotels in English looking for rooms. Copy / paste or BCC a whole bunch of hotels to see who has availability. Many have the same repeat guests year after year and only in the fall open it up to new guests so your timing is good. We do have one we really like in St. Anton for a certain type of trip. Feel free to PM.

    We have hit St. Anton during the week between Xmas and NY'ers probably 5ish of the 9ish times we have been. I think one time we were completely skunked (brown w/ ribbons of death) and actually aborted, I had also broken my collar bone the previous week in Serfaus on a rock hard groomer ribbon of death. DOH! The rest of the times we have had good to excellent conditions and enough snow to go off-piste, albeit sometimes somewhat gingerly due to thin bases. You can search my old trip reports for an idea of the pow and fun! We love it there and highly recommend it. For a non-glacial resort I think that is definitely one of your best bets. High elevation (by Austrian standards), gets a lot of natural snow, and has pretty solid snow making on-piste. Get up early to get out of the resort to avoid the holiday crowds, but other than that it hasn't been too bad. You could also look into the opposite side of the Arlberg (Warth/Schroken) for a more mellow, quieter vibe and likely a bit cheaper. It is way to far to stay there and get to Anton though, other than to just pass through, but they get the same or better snowfall.

    At that time of the year in St. Anton, and any major resort, you will struggle to get anyone to rent you a room for less than a week and it will have to be Sat. - Sat. Some years depending on how the holidays fall, they try to get you to do 2 weeks. H-man helped us out one year on this front. Not sure if he is around these parts much, but he is the Mang!

    We have been to Solden / Obergurgl 2x in November. Both times were abnormally good snow years, especially for November with nearly everything open at Obergurgl and a good amount of the winter resort + the glacier at Solden open. Great experience being in the high central ridge of Austria, gorgeous, good food, but almost nearly all on-piste as it's pretty rocky, needs a pretty good base for off-piste, and they get a lot less natural snow than St. Anton. They do have the backup of the glacier, but I would still hit the Arlberg over the Otztal if at all possible.

    To me, Cham is better later in the season, but it always depends on the snow. I prefer to let the snow cover the crevasses and to me the point of Cham is the glacial skiing. You could always try someplace like Val d'Isere which is also high and has a reasonable snow record and is mind blowingly big. You are statistically less likely to get pow there than the Arlberg, but it would still be a killer experience for the crew.

    Verbier has amazing terrain, is super expensive (at least in our experience), and gets less snow than the Arlberg. Totally depends on the year, but we like the Austrian atmosphere and larger quantities of natural snow in the Arlberg, but the terrain of Verb is certainly mind blowing.

    The other angle is to pick someplace less rocky that needs less snow to give good coverage. The winter areas around Hintertux actually qualify for that and the glacier is there as a backup. That said, if the only skiing is on the glacier during that time of the year, it's gonna be super crowded. Not sure I would want to experience that... It gets crowded enough in November...

    What an awesome family trip! We have taken ours when they were 5 and 7 and then younger, but I look forward to taking them again when older. Enjoy!
    He who has the most fun wins!

  6. #6
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    another thought is to hunker down in Hallstatt, AT. You will find no more festive and beautiful place to be near x-mas anywhere. It is close to resorts like Schladming, Zell am See and St. Johann,Kitzbuhl and also Kaprun. We did this one year and it was fantastic. You won't be skiing gnar, but you need to be very lucky to ski gnar anyplace in Europe in Dec.
    This year, I will be in Germany for a few weeks over the holiday. If it dumps, I will head south for a few days
    “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

  7. #7
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    Apr 2010
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    Thanks everyone for your input. And thanks to @comish especially for all your insights -- I hadn't realized lodging might be so tight. I may PM you about more questions.

    Cheers

  8. #8
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    Jul 2018
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    Northern Switz (my “home” resort of Klosters Davos, Flims Laax) should have similar snow coverage as St Anton (been good last couple of years, but never know). Tends to be a bit pricier, but loads of fun too. If any interest, I can ask around Klosters... just PM me.


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  9. #9
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    In Klosters, the https://wynegg.ch/en/ is super nice with a gourmando restaurant run by a bunch of young entrepreneurs.

    Lodging will be difficult anywhere at that time, especially at the popular places.

    Snow wise it's a catch 22, because if you go to a glacier place with sure snow and it storms, you're screwed because it's such a whiteout up on the ice. But if you stay lower, then you could get completely skunked. So you have to pick a place where you can likely get lodging that has both tree runs and a glacier accessible.

    Tignes - Val d’Isère has that terrain with a glacier up in Tignes and good snowmaking on treed slopes out of Val, but lodging will be expensive, if available at all. There's a bunch of villages around there and Bourg St. Maurice, but then you'd have to drive.

    Cervinia might be possible, with glaciers and Zermatt access up high and lodging around Cervinia and Valtourneche.

    Saas-Fee has glacier skiing and a bunch of trail skiing lower down, plus if you're down in Grund or Almagell, the swiss busses can reliably get you up to Fee for the glacier.

    I like the SkiArena a lot, no glaciers, but they get a ton of snow, plus you could stay at https://www.mt-lodge.com/ which has a great rep around tgr. I can recommend.

    Zillertal in Austria is huDge with glaciers up high at Hintertux and a series of other places strung down the valley. A train goes up there which makes access easier from down valley: https://www.zillertal.at/en/service/...ere/train.html .

    Kaprun/Kitzsteinhorn has both glaciers and trees down low, train access nearby.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
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  10. #10
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    Buster consistently wins.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bw_wp_hedonism View Post
    Buster consistently wins.


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    An amazing source of information

  12. #12
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    Val Thoren?
    Skiah for life

  13. #13
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    Sep 2019
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    A few questions.
    What is your budget?
    Where are you planning to fly to in Europe?
    What sort of accommodation are you looking for?
    What is the make up of the group (ie numbers & ages)?
    How are you planning to get from airport to resort?

    Try asking on snowheads dot com with answers to the above questions to help people advise a resort.
    For my own part (though I'm biased - I did four seasons in there & know the place well) I'd recommend Tignes (part of Espace Killy with Val D'Isere) for what you want at that time of the season. For Chamonix you'd be much too early in the season if planning to ski the classic off piste route Vallee Blanche.
    re Chelsea-Arsenal game. It is currently fixed for 3pm, Saturday 28th December, but be aware that fixtures can be moved a few weeks before they are due to played for live TV purposes - keep an eye out for that! And as a London derby match over the Christmas period expect tickets to sell out quickly.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by devon View Post
    Where to ski in Europe in December?

    We promised our kids a trip of their choice when the graduate from high school. My eldest is about to graduate and has a dream trip of skiing in Europe over the winter break (Dec 21-27) and then catching the Chelsea-Arsenal game in England before we head home. I'm guessing late December is hit or miss, where would you suggest us going that would give us the best chance of good snow. My teens are great skiers so we are looking for more of the ski hard then the party hard scene. He's thinking Verbier or Cham. Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.
    well if he has his eye on verbier and chamonix.. i like chamonix village way more than verbier village, huge pedestrian village.. but i like verbier skiing way more than chamonix skiing. chamonix is very disjointed not a lot of awesome terrain for mere mortals. there's endless "you fall you die" terrain, but imo "great" skier doesn't cut it, you should be in the "amazing" skier category. you need a guide to make the most of limited time in chamonix, much like la grave. verbier is like blackcomb on steroids, endless challenging terrain any great skier without a death wish can enjoy, all visible from the lift, you see you ski it. no guide needed.

    verbier costs a fortune anytime, i can't imagine what a week during christmas holidays would cost. chamonix lodging is much cheaper. even cheaper is nendaz on the other side of verbier, probably 1/5th the cost of verbier, though still part of the same lift system, but absolutely no party scene.

    if you're filthy rich, spend a week in verbier (have a plan b if snowpack is awful), then go to chamonix for a day, hire a guide and ski the vallée blanche with a guide if there's enough snow. though someone else will have to chime in about the odds of it being skiable that early in the season, chamonix is typically a late season destination.

    as far as snow, i was in verbier first week of january the year i went and everything was open and filled in, even mont-gelé. another year my buddy went first week of february and there was visible grass everywhere. it's a crapshoot.

  15. #15
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    May 2017
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    IMHO there is no point to go to Cham early in the season (most interesting runs involve traversing crevasses and they are most probably not in great condition). Verbier, Saas, Zermatt and others if Snow is falling low are more appropriate. Cannot talk about French and Austrian resorts so much...

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
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    23
    is there a farmers almanac for skiing? may be a good after x-mas roll. early season is seemingly tuff in the states. bunch of driveable areas in the alps, zurich & milan.

  17. #17
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    Apr 2010
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    186
    So much great info here. Been looking at St Anton, and unfortunately not sure we'll be able to find lodging. F*#@K! May need to look at Klosters Davos or Tignes - Val d’Isère area. Ugh.

  18. #18
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    Apr 2010
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    186
    Thanks, this is helpful. Not only are we trying to find lodging, but as you say, tickets (especially from the US) are hard to find unless you are willing to risk StubHub.....

  19. #19
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    Jan 2013
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    209
    Obergurgl / Hochgurgl should be good. Soelden right down the street. A lot of skiing between the two of those.

  20. #20
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    I would choose altitude/glacier then figure out where you want to be in terms of country, language, food, culture, public transport, etc. Choosing a town in early October by the criteria of snow/skiing is very risky, ime.
    The good news: the week before Christmas is an awesome time to ski Europe. The Euro tourists in most places won't start to arrive until the 25th or 26th. And all the restaurants and lifts will be open the week before so you'll have the place to yourselves. Obviously, ski a full-ish day on Christmas (slopes will be empty) and call ahead to make sure the restaurant is open for lunch or dinner

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