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Magicpass - deadline extended

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead


The guys have been in touch to say the deadline is going to be extended for purchases, they neglected to say for how long.

https://www.magicpass.ch/

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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@ise, Okey Dokey - here's some incentive:

Now that people are locking on to the Magic Pass, perhaps a few resort outlines and reviews might be in order.

Crans Montana
Relatively big resort, 300 days of sun, about 120km of piste with a lot of accessible off piste. I bumped into some English people who said ‘…God we’re so bored, we arrived yesterday and we’ve skied the whole resort…’ – they had just hurtled everywhere and thrashed past all the good bits. It’s the wrong mental set. There’s a lot here. You just need to lose the ‘cover distance’ mentality and look at what the locals are doing. The skiing ability is high, the density low, and no lift queues at all outside Christmas and New Year. One particularly huge area of off piste called Les Faverges, accessed from the Plaine Morte top station. Ask pisteurs at the top station for direction or hire a guide from Swiss Mountain Sports (SMS) in Montana (website http://www.sms04.ch/index.php/en/accueil) - I’ve had great experiences with Bixio Galera, a guide from Lens who works with SMS. For on-piste, the run from Plaine Morte gives a significant 1200m drop and stays in good condition. The steep womens’ downhill course from Cry D’Er provides icy excitement, while intermediates can have huge fun on the tree-lined runs from Cry D’Er to Crans and down the Nationale piste to Marolires and Montana. Beginners are well-catered for at Grand Signal, with moving carpets and a good restaurant for breaks. The back runs to Bella Lui and Col du Pochet maintain excellent snow, being mainly North facing. Decent snow park with HUGE halfpipe often inhabited by locals Nico Vuignier or Derek Wedge (Red Bull) – good to watch. Excellent ski school in Swiss Mountain Sports, maximum group size of 5 people – excellent instructors. Great restaurants: Chetzeron (world-class modernist ex-gondola station), Cabane Violettes, Vache Noir, and the Raclette Shack under Toula (a cow shed in summer and 5 chf raclette all day in winter). Also nice local stop Chez Irwin – again an ex-cowshed – over on the red down to Crans. In bad weather gondola and covered chair circuits are possible from Cry D’Er and Violettes. Parking is around 8chf/day, at Barzettes (east end), Montana (middle) and Crans (west). Some good free parking in the big layby up the road from Barzettes, 200m back to station. Don’t miss the brilliant bread in the various Taillens bakery shops. Accommodation in the surrounding villages is very cheap, with some b&b available. Camping at Lac De Moubra, in woods about 5 mins drive from nearest access station.

Nax (mt Noble)
Small and perfectly formed. 35km but don’t let that fool you – covers a huge area of the mountain – snow stays in excellent condition on piste. And then there’s the off-piste. Friend Alain will be furious - I could lie and say the off-piste is terrible, and that would mean we could keep the endless rolling offpiste to the right of the chair all to ourselves, since few know about Nax. Alain hits Nax from Crans the moment his instructing schedule allows it. The offpiste is wonderful for beginners – easy access, good preservation of the snow because of northern orientation of the slopes, and amongst the trees but well-spaced trees so absolutely perfect. And I mean perfect. It all looks really small and antique, but this is completely deceptive. Once up the chair everything opens up, with fantastic sweeping reds from the top station. This place looks tiny but feels big. For all abilities, wonderful tree line piste skiing with excellent piste maintenance. Never eaten in the restaurant as we tend to arrive and ski, and ski, and ski – but good reports of local food in the single restaurant. This is not a resort for bad weather skiing if you worry about sitting on chairs in low temps. We are fine about it, but there’s no respite from the weather by sitting in gondola, and no scattering of refuges. On good weather days it is sensational, and on bad weather days after a storm, there are excellent stashes. Obey all avalanche warnings and use terrain knowledge to the hilt; tempting off piste at the top, to the south of Mt Noble had some high slips this season. Tracks going in at the top and mid points of the slides showed that making wrong decision (ie to ignore avi rating) would be a very bad idea. Tiny bottom station – park in the top car park and ski down to the access chair. Not sure about winter camping, but b&b and self-catering accommodation cheap in the surrounding area.

St Luc and Chandolin
60km – ranges widely over the mountain. St Luc can get very icy, and people associate the place with that. But take the winding link to Chandolin, and you find brilliant tree-lined pistes which maintain excellent condition.

After the funicular up from St Luc, all chairs and drags, so not ideal in really bad weather. But you can take refuge breaks in the restaurants at St Luc and near the Illhorn – the Tsape restaurant. Great plat du jour – I upset eldest offspring by eating fluffy bunny stew. Extremely good, marred only by outrage from my right.

Parking at St Luc is possible but a pain, and we drop people and kit off at the funicular (included in the pass) and then go round the huge one-way system to park the car, walking back and hiding my walking shoes at the top station. Again local knowledge – we just go a few kms further up the hill to Chandolin and there’s loads of free parking and great access to the two long chairs, one east and one south.

Long toboggan run for non-skiers and non-skiing fun. Great two-hour winter walk to Weisshorn Hotel, which is on the Haut Route – fabulous place at 2300m. Not sure about winter camping, but b&b and self-catering accommodation cheap in the surrounding area.

Grimentz-Zinal
70km linked by the huge gondola with glass in the floor (whoooooah) during the summer, metal floor in the winter. Parking at Grimentz fine but best to drive to lifts and drop people off, then driver walk back. No free parking so bite the bullet and use the card – 10chf all day. You can drive a further 30mins up the valley to Zinal and there’s cheaper, closer parking – and also the family feel to the cable car up to the top station – and naturally an ill-tempered scrum from various non-locals when the lift gets crowded on the descent at the end of the day. Families with infants advised to leave 15 mins early or very last lifts to avoid irritating pushing by visitors.

Again, all chairs and drags, so no respite in bad weather, restaurant Bob has great hot goat cheese salad. Doesn’t get crowded in winter during bad weather even though small, since locals stay off the hill in clag.

Great free-ride area in Zinal. Z very icy this Christmas – endless boilerplate. Grimentz much better. Overall, I prefer G to Z, but still worthwhile going to Z for the freeride area. Weird pricing policy in the Z restaurant – altogether different to the nice restaurant Bob in G. Grimentz snow just first class and stays good when all else has gone rotten in the Spring. A new and very well-maintained snow park which has a lot in it, for all abilities. My son spent a long time ars=ing about and had a truly great time. Local kids really nice and very competent. A beautiful village with excellent accommodation – nice park for camper vans close to the town.

Vercorin
35 kms great rolling pistes with good interlinking off piste. The weeniest snowpark in the world. Great tree level skiing. You can park right down in the valley and get the gondola from Chalais near Sierre but it’s not included in the lift pass and there’s a schlep from that to the bottom station. Best to drive up to Vercorin and park at the new, big bottom station. Lots of great runs at the top, all good for one or two days. Lots to explore just off the piste. Great top restaurant but the hall always smells of poo, don’t know why. Pisteurs wonderfully friendly. Great marmots in the Summer, all sleeping under the snow in the winter. Wonderful empty pistes down to the middle station. Buvette at middle station but never eaten there. Again, really cheap b&b accommodation and self-catering in and around Vercorin but book early.


For all these resorts, drive from Geneva is around 2-2.5 hours. Train to Sion or Sierre and then postbus up to resort, or funicular from Sierre to Montana. Flights now from UK to Sion, close to Sierre.

_________________
is it snowing yet?


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Sun 2-07-17 10:11; edited 1 time in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
We just got our passes today, so keen! Thanks for all the info! We're taking our self build camper and plan on exploring every bit of mountain!
This just seemed like too much of an enticing deal to pass up! I've spent the money I would have spent on a season pass for PDS on a pre ordered Never Summer Proto, bring on the snow! Much excite!


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 28-06-17 19:10; edited 1 time in total
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
PS any local knowledge regarding places close to lifts we can park the van would be very gratefully received!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
PS any local knowledge regrading places close to lifts we can park the van would be very gratefully received!
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
We just got our passes today, so keen! Thanks for all the info! We're taking our self build camper and plan on exploring every bit of mountain!
This just seemed like too much of an enticing deal to pass up! I've spent the money I have save on a season pass for PDS on a pre ordered Never Summer Proto, bring on the snow! Much excite!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@WhiskeyJack, I replied about the camper on your other thread. I bought magic passes a few months back so we too will be out there during Jan and Feb in our van, probably bump into you somewhere? I don't have any local knowledge like Valais2 has but I've had a good search through most of the resorts, cross referencing with motorhome spots and now have a pretty comprehensive list of where we can stay and where the nearest servicepoint is. I've sent you a pm (personal message) with my email address, if you get in touch I'll send you a scan of my list.

I am planning on something like 25 nights in lift carparks at the smaller resorts where the carpark is away from houses (eg the 3 Jura spots, Jaun, La Berra. Leysin, Moleson. Nax and Ovronnaz), 10 nights at aires (Grimentz, Charmey and possibly Villars/Gryon. The remaining time at campsites in Crans Montana (where I'm hoping some pals will turn up for a week), Villars/Gryon, Les Diablerets, Les Mosses. There are several servicepoints in the linking valleys and numerous places to get the local gas bottles (will cover that by email).

I've got a new board for 2018 as well but it's not as flash as a Never Summer Proto!

Of all the resorts the one that I'm most looking forwards to is Moleson. Tiny; one cable car, a funnicular and 2 drag lifts but it looks great, anyone been there? Just hope there is enough snow for the smaller low lying resorts as they are great for rocking up at in the van for a few days.

ps Thanks Valais2 for the resort detail.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@BoardieK, that sounds like a very cool road trip - let me know your dates in Crans Montana - if there's any need for instruction or guiding in Crans Montana or around do use Swiss Mountain Sports - Yves Caillet's excellent independent outfit - the staff include excellent guys like Chris Cotton Russell - currently riding in the leading pack in Superbike competition in Spain but also top guide and instructor in the winter - here's the SMS website....with excellent testimonials....when booking mention 'tim from Cambridge'....

http://www.sms04.ch/index.php/fr/
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Our MagicPasses have just arrived in the post. They are still available at CHF399 so are still only a little more expensive than the initial release price of CHF359.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Hopefully mine is waiting for me at my mother's house in the UK! Going to pick it up when I'm back in Britain on my way to the Alps for mid November, hoping for some early snow!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
If you look at the map, there are really three areas you're likely to stay: In the valley of the Valais (VS), or the mountains of the Vaud (VD) or (FR). This post discusses the first of these options. If you stay in the VD or FR then you'll probably confine yourselves to trying the resorts closest to you, within those areas.

For those of you with a car and intending to reside in the Rhone valley of the Valais (VS) and then do excursions up into the associated mountain resorts, you have a number of choices about where to stay. The two big towns in the Magic Pass area are Martigny and Sion. Powdair and Swiss fly into Sion airport, and it's also used by a number of the tour operators covering Nendaz and Verbier (so worth checking with them to see if you can piggy-back on one of their Sion charter flights). If you're mega-rich, then Sion is increasingly preferred by private jets, as opposed to Geneva (e.g. Brighton Airport->Sion private jet is about £1200 pp single).

The offiial Swiss Tourist site often has special deals for accommodation and travel that would be worth researching: https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/home.html - the region that you'd be interested in is the Valais. The London Swiss Travel Centre (STC) also has a similar range of offers and agents who are usually themselves Swiss and know the area: https://switzerlandtravelcentre.co.uk/

If you fancy staying at a thermal spa in the valley, then the Bains de Saillon are located between Martigny and Sion. https://www.bainsdesaillon.ch/en/ This is more family-oriented than some of the better-known luxury spas like Leukerbad, but still do the whole Wellness thing, if that's what you like. The other advantage is that if the weather is bad, you can happily spend the day at the spa. It may also appeal to a mixed group where not everyone is keen to ski all and every day.

Sion is towards the eastern end of the valley. It has a central Old Town area surrounded by a more modern ring, with good underground parking and a market fridays/saturday. Plus the usual range of restaurants and cafés you'd expect. Sion station is on the outskirts and obviously, the airport is nearby.

Martigny is at the western end of the valley and is much larger than Sion, and an old Roman town with a famous modern art collection at the Giannada Foundation, including a big outdoor sculpture park. http://www.gianadda.ch/ It's also a rail hub so lots of trains stop there, including direct to GVA airport. You can also do a very scenic train ride towards Chamonix (although you might not opt to go all the way if you just want the scenery). There's a range of accommodation available, as you'd expect from any large town.

Further up towards Lake Geneva (Lac Lémain) there are a number of smaller villages/towns before you reach Montreux on the lake itself. This is a proper city, with a number of attractions but I'd be in two minds about making it the base for a skiing holiday. But see what you think. I mention it more as a nice day-trip for someone who doesn't want to ski. En route just to the south of Montreux is the famous Chateau Chillon.

Martigny is just a short drive/train away from Le Chable, where the télécabine takes you up from a large valley car park to Verbier. I would think that someone will inevitably say that since you're so near, why not try a day in Verbier, even if it isn't covered by the Magic Pass. I'd have a think about this before you go so that you decide whether you will/won't and if there's a possibility, then do some planning: http://www.verbier.ch/en/index.htm?val_33=200065&hide_data=33;200065&tri=1026&Tri=1026. I wouldn't drive up to Verbier - Le Chable has a station and massive free car park for day-trippers to the resort. Personally, although you can get to Chamonix by road and train from Martigny, I wouldn't think it was worth it, compared to doing Verbier, which would be much easier.

The alternative to staying in the Rhone valley - roughly equidistant from the various resorts - is to chose to base yourself in a resort. If you do, then consider one of the spa+ski resorts like Ovronnaz, so that you've got the thermal baths dimension as well as the skiing: http://www.ovronnaz.ch/en/?season=winter However, the downside will be the time it takes just to get back down to the valley, before going somewhere else.

Finally, don't assume that the Magic Pass covers every resort. For example, opposite the Magic Pass resorts of Ovronnaz and Crans, and abutting St.Luc, on the opposite side of the Rhone Valley, are the inter-connected 4 Vallées resorts of Verbier, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Les Collons. We were in the La Tzoumaz ticket office last winter when someone with the predecessor to the Magic Pass turned up to collect their free passes and got a shock to be told they'd have to pay. So just check first!
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