Sunday, July 27, 2014

Resort Skiing 2013-2014 Ski Season

When conditions are not right for ski touring (backcountry skiing) or when we have friends visiting, we get to enjoy European resort skiing. Compared to resort skiing in the US, generally the resort food in Europe is better, the ski runs are longer, and you are not forced to cross country snowboard while skiing.

Since buying a season pass for one resort is much more expensive than in the US, we took the opportunity to try out multiple places. Here are the resorts we were able to ski this season.

Zermatt Matterhorn: November 23-24, December 14-15, March 15-16
Three years before we moved to Switzerland, we had visited this resort and now we were excited to go back. The area is a glacier with skiing available all year, so we headed there shortly after our skis arrived by cargo ship from San Francisco. With long groomers, several restaurants throughout the area, and plenty of intermediate to advance pistes, we made several ski trips there. This has become our go-to spot to take visiting skiers or snowboarders friends to show its large network of pistes, iconic peaks, great food, and charming ski town.
The mountain view never gets old.
Skied with Llew over to the Italian side ridge for a delicious, rustic Italian lunch.
Llew making his way back to Switzerland after a long day of riding.
Great food, great coffee, great views - that's what skiing Europe is about. I think Peter will be back.
Always time to stop at the Igloo bar for a warm drink.

Dachstein West, Austria: December 8
No fancy frills at this place since it's geared for the locals. We made a stop here after the Krampus Laufen in Bad Grosser on the way back to Zurich. It was two days after a major storm passed through and the snow was still in great condition. It was a cool quaint resort was super friendly locals.

Engelberg: December 1
We did a day trip to Engelberg on a beautiful day and got to enjoy the views along with some fresh snow. We arrived at the resort within two hours. This place has some wonderful views and it is worth waiting for clear weather to visit.

This place is a popular day trip for tourists from the neighboring cities of Lucerne and Zurich, although they are generally not skiers. Tourists flock here to visit Mt Titlis, which is easily accessible for even a non-skier in the dead of winter. A fancy rotating tram takes skiers (quite a surprise to us) and non skiers to the top where there's Europe's highest suspension bridge, a glacier cave, a watch store, and couple eateries. We were surprised to see billboards advertising watches written in Chinese. But the biggest surprise was the ski lift set up for non skiers to ride - with a photo camera set up to take your picture.
This is starting to feel more like Disneyland than a ski resort.
Of course we had to cross Europe's highest suspension bridge.
Best way to escape from the grey cloudy weather in the city valleys - go skiing!
Check out that layer of clouds below us.

Davos Klosters: January 11

Unlike many European ski resorts, this place was definitely snowboarder friendly. No long flat traverses, no T-bar lifts, and no unexpected uphills that force riders to have to take off their boards. I was definitely impressed with the level of snowboarders here. Everyone was bombing down hills or showing off their stuff at the terrain park. Definitely worth coming if you snowboard.
Roof top lunch.
And the view during our lunch.

Flumserberg: Januray18-19
In less than 70 minutes we can walk from our apartment to the train station where we catch a direct train to a gondola that brings us to the base of this resort. This is amazing! Getting to a ski resort quickly by train was part of the reason we decided to move to Switzerland.

Flumserberg is a nice sized resort with enough variety of winter activities to keep the many families that visit from Zurich busy. They have a nice sized beginner area, a cross country and sledging track. If you have some ski touring gear, you can leave the resort on the backside and have lunch at a mountain cabin. After skiing around the resort, that's exactly what we decided to do.
Enjoying a relaxing and cheaper lunch just outside the resort boundary.
We brought our ski touring gear in order to get back up hill to the resort. Others did not and had to get creative.

Andermat: January26
We read through Outsider that Andermat has the best powder in Europe and it did not let us down. A storm passed through during the preceding night and dumped plenty of snow. The morning fog didn't stop us exploring the mountain in order to get our powder runs. This might be Q's second favorite resort, right after Zermatt.
The sun finally joined us right before lunch. And just in time to find the fresh powder just outside the piste.
Riding fresh powder can be exhausting and by 2pm we were pooped.
We took an early train home and both sat back enjoying the landscape.

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