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Best Skiing for U.S. student abroad in Europe

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Whats up ya'll, I'm a U.S. student studying abroad right now in Copenhagen. I'm from North Carolina and have grown up skiing the NC and West Virginia mountains my whole life. I'm looking for somewhere to go in March or April in Europe but can't really decide with all the options. I'm hoping to find some mountains with some long runs and a lot of intermediate/advanced slopes. Growing up on the East Coast I've also never seen mountains like the Alps or anything so really hoping for some sweet views. And being a student over here not trying to get crazy expensive, but willing to spend some money still for great skiing. some places I've considered are Livigno, Cauterets, Andermatt, Vogel, Interlaken and a few others. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Just looking for good skiing and getting up on some really high moutains. Preciate it yall


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 14-02-18 23:26; edited 1 time in total
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Tignes, Chamonix, Val Thorens are quite high in the Alps.
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@CarsonPotter, Welcome to snowHeads! snowHead

Of the places you mention Livigno could be a good introduction to Alpine skiing -it's snow sure and pretty cheap, it's also a duty free area so alcohol is cheap too, don't know if that is of interest to a student though wink . It's quite a long transfer time from most airports though (you didn't say what mode of travel you were considering (flying from Copenhagen, driving or using rail)?

You also mentioned Interlaken. The Jungfrau region of Switzerland has some awesome scenery (the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains) and the 3 ski resorts in the area are Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren. Interlaken itself is not the most convenient place to stay if you want to ski these resorts as it's some distance away- either stay in one of the 3 mentioned ones or, to save money, you could stay in the valley in Lauterbrunnen which is midway between Wengen on one side and Murren on the other. Getting to the ski slopes from Lauterbrunnen will take you about 20 mins for Murren and a few minutes longer for Wengen. If you want budget accommodation there are a couple of hostels in Lauterbrunnen e.g see https://www.hostelworld.com/findabed.php/ChosenCity.Lauterbrunnen/ChosenCountry.Switzerland . One tip if you do decide on the Jungfrau region, you can order the skilift pass on the internet at up to 20% discount if you do so at least 21 days in advance, see https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/jungfrau-ski-region/earlybird-skipass/
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I'd more than likely fly into an airport in the region and then look to bus/train to the destination. I've looked into Livigno but I'm not exactly sure thats where I'd like to go, seems somewhat spread out with the slopes being on both sides of the city but I'm still interested. And the Jungfrau is where I have been looking into the most, I've had friends go there and they said it was incredible. Just a little worried about the prices in flying into Switzerland and getting there and staying. The trail map does look appeasing though.
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@CarsonPotter, have a look at the UCPA centres in France - they are all-inclusive hostel type centres for young people - good socially, there would always be someone else to ski with.
https://www.action-outdoors.co.uk/winter/find-your-holiday/skiing/skiing

Andermatt is great, particularly if you like to ski off-piste.

Jungfrau is a really fantastic place to visit - the scenery is stunning. I think the skiing is better in other places, though, and much more convenient, and it most definitely is not cheap.

Do you have your own skis and boots with you? If not, and budget is a concern, make sure to check out the hire prices of the resorts you are considering when comparing - it varies wildly!
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+1 UCPA is perfect for you. Take instruction/guiding as you’ll get to know others in your group.
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@CarsonPotter, If flying into Switzerland then Swiss Airlines classic fare is often a good deal - it includes hold baggage and free carriage of skis/snowboard (as well as a small snack on board). They do direct flights from Copenhagen into Zurich. Alternatively Easyjet fly direct from Copenhagen to Basel, and if you don't have skis/snowboard may be cheaper than Swiss Airlines. From either airport you can transfer direct to your resort on swiss railways using their Swiss transfer ticket (this is a special price ticket which has to be bought before you arrive in Switzerland, and covers you for the return trip from any Swiss airport to any Swiss resort). It's sold by a number of online outlets including the sbb link given.
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Not really looking for a course of any sort, I've been skiing my whole life and am pretty confident in my abilities on just about anything. More so just focused on finding somewhere with good long runs and great views up in the alps. Although i'm a student and will be renting some skis, price isn't too big of a concern. I'm only over here for about 5 months and really have one shot at getting this ski trip right so thats what I'm looking to do. However, it would be a plus for a place to be accessible easily through a flight and then a train/bus.
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@CarsonPotter, anywhere in Switzerland is easily accessible from airport by plane or bus.

Otherwise, the best developed infrastructure is pretty much out of Geneva (Innsbruck & Munich also feature but flights not necessarily so frequent, but that might not be a problem for you). UCPA a very good idea.
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I suppose it's pimping to suggest the EOSB which ticks most of the boxes Mind you a student's liver might not be able to keep up with the p[ace of drinking. You'd have to put up with some wrinklies but you'd certainly have fun.

I agree that UCPA is the best all round fit.
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@CarsonPotter, are you planning to ski off piste or just groomers?

I've never heard of Cauterets or Poiana-Brasov. Where are you getting these names from?

The views anywhere in the high Alps are great as far as I am concerned.
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Poiana Brasov is in Romania, Nightmare long journey from Bucharest airport...
and it kind of on its own, so if there are any problems with the conditions you are stuck.

Its always difficult to make suggestions as dates get towards the end of the season.

My favorites of the well known areas would be (in no particular order) Saas fee, Ischgl/Galtur, Val Toren, Tignes, Verbier, St Anton. hintertux glacier.

you should be able to get a flight from Copenhagen to almost anywhere (geneve, zurich, lynon, salzburg, innsbruck, Munich), so I'm assuming that you have it covered.
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Quote:

Not really looking for a course of any sort, I've been skiing my whole life and am pretty confident in my abilities on just about anything.

Remember that in Europe anything outside of the piste markers isn't avalanche secured or patrolled. If you're wanting to ski outside the groomers, joining a guided group with UCPA or similar would be the safer option.
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St.Anton, easy flying via Zürich or Innsbruck, and direct train from both right into St.Anton-centre.
Great for skiing, apres and mountainviews

Livigno can be to much south (slush) in april, and notorious difficult to get to
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Morzine- Avoriaz, easy flight to Geneva and cheap transfer up to town (70€ return) low cost accom at Hideout Hostel or Mountain Mavericks new lodge and then a Portes du Soleil pass to ski Switzerland and France. Voila.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@CarsonPotter, I grew up skiing in NC and WV also, and anywhere you go in the Alps is going to be mindblowing after that. so, I recommend doing this in the other direction. Rather than deciding where you want to ski and then figuring out how to get there, figure out the cheapest and most convenient gateway city for your from Copenhagen, and then come back here and tell us where and when you are looking at going there. Then you can get some better targeted recommendations.

Just look at anywhere near the alps (e.g., Geneva, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Zurich, Turin), that you can fly direct from Copenhagen, and pick the cheapest one that works for your schedule. There are scads of places within a couple of hours of any of these cities that you will enjoy much more than Beech Mountain!
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I'm Romanian. Don't go to Poiana Brasov.

You had some good recommendations above. UCPA for France is great to find young people to ski with, and I heard that some of the skiers are really good. Don't go offpiste by yourself in Europe, find a guided group or something similar (some resorts are better for this, St Anton for instance).

Or join a snowheads bash, of course.
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mr. mike wrote:
@CarsonPotter, I grew up skiing in NC and WV also, and anywhere you go in the Alps is going to be mindblowing after that. so, I recommend doing this in the other direction. Rather than deciding where you want to ski and then figuring out how to get there, figure out the cheapest and most convenient gateway city for your from Copenhagen, and then come back here and tell us where and when you are looking at going there. Then you can get some better targeted recommendations.

Just look at anywhere near the alps (e.g., Geneva, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Zurich, Turin), that you can fly direct from Copenhagen, and pick the cheapest one that works for your schedule. There are scads of places within a couple of hours of any of these cities that you will enjoy much more than Beech Mountain!


Hahaha good ole beech mountain. Good to hear than name. Thats what I'll look to do, flying into Geneva/Basel/Zurich offers relatively cheap flights for me through March and April so thats where I'll focus around. Just so many options its a little overwhelming and wanna do this right. Thanks for the advice though, much appreciated
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Could anyone possibly give me some information on what exactly a UCPA is and what all it entails? Is it possible to do through a Friday-Sunday setting? I've never heard of this before and been doing some research but it'd be great to hear from you guys on it, sounds interesting.
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UCPA - Union Des Centre de Plein Air. Wikipedia has more detail

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UCPA

In essence, the "centre" is a large building with loads of multi-bedded rooms. You get breakfast, lunch (or you can make a packed lunch) and evening meal, all your equipment, lift pass and instruction. They even organise evening activities. When I went, the clientele was about 55% french and 45% other nationalities - lots of brits but also aussies, scandis, asian.

I did an off piste in FLaine and had a fantastic time. Usually they offer Sunday to Saturday, if you book via action outdoors (their uk partner), they will include the first saturday night. Not sure you could include the friday though. As for my trip, the equipment was great, I was lucky in that I was in a small group of only 6 skiiers (went down to 5 when my mate admitted that he wasn;t up to our level and dropped down to a piste based course), our guide was brilliant and we rarely repeated any routes, finding fresh pockets of powder all week
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Also I'm mostly focused on groomers as I'm new to skiing in Europe and do not not know much about off-piste skiing or what I must do to ski off-piste as I'd only have a few days to ski. I'm trying to learn and do as much research as I can before I make a decision. St. Anton and Val Thorens look incredible though
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mr. mike wrote:
@CarsonPotter, I grew up skiing in NC and WV also, and anywhere you go in the Alps is going to be mindblowing after that. so, I recommend doing this in the other direction. Rather than deciding where you want to ski and then figuring out how to get there, figure out the cheapest and most convenient gateway city for your from Copenhagen, and then come back here and tell us where and when you are looking at going there. Then you can get some better targeted recommendations.

Just look at anywhere near the alps (e.g., Geneva, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Zurich, Turin), that you can fly direct from Copenhagen, and pick the cheapest one that works for your schedule. There are scads of places within a couple of hours of any of these cities that you will enjoy much more than Beech Mountain!


+1 for the suggestion above. I'm old, skied all over the place including the US and there are lots of places I've never been. Basel is not a skiing gateway airport. It's in the flat bit of Switzerland and the nearest resort is two hours away (Engelberg). Decide on an entry airport and the hive mind will sort you out from there.
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honved wrote:
Basel is not a skiing gateway airport. It's in the flat bit of Switzerland and the nearest resort is two hours away (Engelberg). Decide on an entry airport and the hive mind will sort you out from there.


The bus from Basel airport to Basel train station (included with the Swiss transfer ticket) has a remarkable number of ski and snowboard bags on it then Wink . Quite a few skiers going to Switzerland use Basel airport as it's a hub for Easyjet. Once you've arrived at Basel airport it costs no more to get to any Swiss resort with the Swiss transfer ticket than from any other Swiss airport. If going to the Jungfrau region there's a direct train connection from Basel station to Interlaken Ost (from where you change to a train to Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald).
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Tignes/Val d'isere.
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CarsonPotter wrote:
Also I'm mostly focused on groomers as I'm new to skiing in Europe and do not not know much about off-piste skiing or what I must do to ski off-piste as I'd only have a few days to ski. I'm trying to learn and do as much research as I can before I make a decision. St. Anton and Val Thorens look incredible though


At UCPA you'd be with a guide, and they tend to know the area like the back of their hand. For off piste courses, you get a backpack with transceiver, spade, probe. Instruction on avalanche safety is limited, but I believe UCPAs safety record is excellent. There are intro to off piste weeks if you haven't done much before. You need to be an advanced level skier though.
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@CarsonPotter, UCPA do short breaks over the weekend:
https://www.action-outdoors.co.uk/winter/find-your-holiday/skiing/short-break/dates-prices

Whilst honved is right that Basel isn't a skiing gateway airport per say, depending on where you are going, it is still very easy to get skiing, so I wouldn't discount it if the flights are cheap there. Anywhere where you would fly into Zürich to get to you can fly to Basel as well. You just walk straight out of the airport onto a bus that goes every 10 mins, and 15 mins later you are right outside the main station.

St Anton is more about the off-piste. The piste skiing isn't all that great imo.

In some resorts it can be more difficult to get accommodation outside of standard Saturday to Saturday letting periods, so bear this in mind before committing to a resort you can't get accommodation in. But work out which of those airports has suitable flights and then come back and ask for more specific recommendations.
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Les Deux Alpes has some of the longest runs about and they're fairly mellow at high altitude so there should be plenty of long cruising runs with a view at that time of year. It's not too expensive either.
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LDA is a marmite resort and therefore a risky option IMO.
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CarsonPotter wrote:
Also I'm mostly focused on groomers as I'm new to skiing in Europe and do not not know much about off-piste skiing or what I must do to ski off-piste as I'd only have a few days to ski. I'm trying to learn and do as much research as I can before I make a decision. St. Anton and Val Thorens look incredible though

I think a UCPA guided off piste weekend is a great call.

If you can ski the whole mountain and you want to "do it right" then IMO you need to experience the off piste aswell as the groomers.

And UCPA, from what I've read, is great for what you need.
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NC is all about Sugar Mountain and BAnner Elk Smile
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CarsonPotter wrote:
Could anyone possibly give me some information on what exactly a UCPA is and what all it entails? Is it possible to do through a Friday-Sunday setting? I've never heard of this before and been doing some research but it'd be great to hear from you guys on it, sounds interesting.


You can book with confidence with UCPA. We are American but live in France, and we send our kids to UCPA camps. They are very professional.
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Could do worse than Champoluc/Monte Rosa. Great views of Matterhorn/MonteRosa/glaciers, pretty high, lots of long reds too and fairly quiet (except Sundays). Easy get to from Turin airport
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Have you considered St. Moritz? It's a great place for intermediates and has plenty of nice long runs to choose from with some fantastic views. Staying in St Moritz Bad or Celerina is good although some might find the former a bit quiet.
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Espace Killy/Paradaski/Three Valleys.
And from Copenhagen consider taking the train the whole way - mainland Europe's trains are excellent, and as a student you should be able to get cheap deals.
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Go to the dolomites....you will never see any other mountains quite like them.
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Although the Dolimites are fantastic, this guy is only going for a weekend in March/April.
I'd suggest fly to Geneva, then take a train to somewhere handy,
Verbier come to mind and there is plenty of sking there for a long weekend.
Or rent a car and nip around to Chamonix, is not the most convenient resort but its not far.
Tignes, Val d'Isere or Val Thorens would make sense and be snow sure with plenty going on in the evenings still.

If you go in March there are loads more choices.
Welcome to Europe and the Forum,
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Val d’Isere.
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Into Geneva. Train to Verbier from right inside the airport. Le Chable is the rail station for Verbier, with a bus or gondola to the town. No need to hire a car but worth checking Geneva Airport website hire car pages as sometimes it’s competitive. Helpful websites:

www.sbb.ch - integrated rail/bus/gondola timetable
www.myswitzerland.com - Official Swiss Tourist site often with special offers
www.stc.co.uk - Swiss Travel Centre in London
www.gva.ch - Geneva Airport website includes links to car hire and maps etc.
www.verbier.ch - Resort website including advance discount ski passes and accommodation search

As mentioned, Swiss Airlines can be surprisingly competitive vs BA, easyJet etc. so always worth a check.

I was in Verbier last week and am back there in March with my daughter and hoping to go out again April with my wife if the season gets extended. It isn’t a picture-postcard Swiss rustic town but the skiing is good. Total of 400Kms of piste although that’s a bit inflated as it’s spread-out and most people staying in Verbier wont ski the far side of the area.
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So I've done a little more research and taken into account a lot of what you guys have said, and thank you guys a ton for all the replies and helpful advice, I'd definitely be pretty lost without it so much appreciated everyone. Here is what I'm looking at right now:

I hope to be going on one of the last three weekends of March or possibly the first week of April. The cheapest airports for me to fly in are looking like Lyon, Paris, Geneva, Zurich and Basel, and then I would look to take a train/bus to the skiing destination afterwards.

I'll more than likely be doing a Thursday-Sunday/Monday trip where I fly in Thursday afternoon, ski Friday, Saturday, and possibly Sunday and then return. I think unfortunately I won't be able to do off-piste skiing with my scheduling and other factors which is okay. I'm looking for a place with a ton of intermediate, advanced, and expert piste skiing and runs that'll keep me pretty busy and some great views as well, which I know are all but guaranteed essentially everywhere. Affordable accommodation and skiing prices would be a plus, but not a deal breaker although I am a student and could be nice. Some of the resorts I've been researching and considering include St. Anton, Val Thorens, the Jungfrau region, Verbier, Tignes, Ischgl, St. Moritz, and Val d'Isere.

All of that in consideration, I'm basically looking for somewhere you would describe as "you couldn't go wrong going there." Would love to hear you guys thoughts and recommendations. Thanks a ton you guys
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