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Euro ski road trip - advice needed.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks for the replies.
The video of the bash looks great. What month was that?
Is the train from Innsbruck to the Dolomites easy enough? If we stayed in one of the Sella Ronda towns we could ditch the car idea. I guess we could also try the half board thing for our stint in the Dolomites. We could then pick up a car once we're done in Venice and could use it to get to Cervinia or Cormayeur.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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snowHeads' Birthday is 5th Feb so the Birthday Bash is always that week.
And yes, this year's 14th birthday will be in Arabba again this year.

Well firstly, there's a good railway connection from Munich to Innsbruck.
Then there's a railway line that runs South over the Brenner pass, from Innsbruck towards Verona.
To get to the Dolomites, you would go as far as Bolzano (about 2hrs / 25-30€)
Then switch to a local service, 20minutes to Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena.
From there, the bus up to Selva costs a pittance: 3 or 4 euros maybe.
Selva, as you already know, is on the Sela Ronda Circuit.

Bolzano to Venice is 3-4hrs on the train.

If the Birthday Bash dates suit you, then you have the extra stage of Selva to Arabba but you also have the massed ranks of the snowHeads to help that work out smoothly - and it always works out snowHead
(It's also easier getting to Venice from Arabba than Selva.)
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
sbooker wrote:
The video of the bash looks great. What month was that?

That was the Birthday Bash, first week in February, based in Arabba. The 2018 Bash will run 3-10 February. A smaller Bash happens the week before the Birthday Bash in Alleghe. snowHead
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I'm curious about the rifugios thing. Can one ski and drop into a rifugios and stay the night and expect a meal? Can you just drop in or must you book?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
sbooker wrote:
I'm curious about the rifugios thing. Can one ski and drop into a rifugios and stay the night and expect a meal? Can you just drop in or must you book?

I've not stayed at rifugios myself, but I think you'd be much better to book in advance, dropping in on the chance that they have rooms available would be very risky imv. Some tour companies do touring holidays in the Dolomites where you ski during the day and stay at different rifugios each night, with your luggage transferred to the rifugio for you, e.g Colletts Ski Safaris. I met a group of skiers on the slopes of Alleghe who were on their last day of a Colletts tour and they said it had been very good.
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Quote:

I'm curious about the rifugios thing. Can one ski and drop into a rifugios and stay the night and expect a meal? Can you just drop in or must you book?

I done lots of rifugios during the summer and though technically you can drop in and if they have a space they will put you up. However I always phone in advance and make a reservation. Most guide books contain th ephone numbers and I am sure the tourist office can help. Every one I have used has a guardian and provide some quite lovely meals. You also get to meet some interesting people who are also staying there.

If you get the chance may I suggest a night at the Rifugio Scoiattoli near the Cinque Torri.

The standard of huts also varies from basic dorms (remeber to take a sheet sleeping bag) to pretty much hotel stanard. Many of the huts have web sites and allow internet booking - for example http://lagazuoi5torri.dolomiti.org/dengl/cortina/laga5torri/ospitalita/Averau/index.html with prices to match
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Only few take overnight guests in winter! But the ones who do can be very nice. snowHead
So make shure they take guests in winter and call the day before good weather to make shure they have room for you or your party.
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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!
Loadsa info here (in French):
http://www.refuges.info/

Always best to book in advance. Sometimes the guardian will only turn up when required. Many huts will be booked out on bank holiday weekends too so best book them long in advance. But generally, all but the most popular huts will have space at other times during the ski touring season. Whatever happens, they are unlikely to turn you away and will put you up on mattresses on the floor or somewhere - it's just not very polite to put them to the inconvenience.
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Research has allowed me to narrow down plans a bit.
1. Fly into Munich and have a couple of days there. Definitely want to go to Dachau otherwise would be open to flying into somewhere else.
2. Ski somewhere in Austria for a few days. Need somewhere snow sure and ideally on the railway between Munich and Innsbruck. Suggestions would be great. Staying in a town with a short bus/gondola ride to the hill would be ok.
3. A day or two in Innsbruck. Then train to Italy.
4. A few days skiing on the Sella Ronda and Great War tour. Need suggestions on which village to stay in.
5. Travel to Venice to check that out and then either grab a car or train to Milan.
6. Ski the Aosta valley (maybe stay in Aosta). Would like to do the Vallee Blanche thing, ski La Thuille/La Rosier for a day, ski Cervinia (and have lunch in Zermatt and take obligatory selfies with Matterhorn in the background), ski Pila and maybe Courmayer. Will have a car for this leg. Understand we may not be able to do the Vallee Blanche in January.
7. Fly home from Milan.
Does this sound logical and doable? Very open to refinements and I'm likely to have bigger plan changes before we lock things in. Smile
I understand we'll be on the go but we enjoy that. We want to get as many experiences in as possible considering it would be difficult to get back to Europe for a long weekend to fill in a blank.
Thanks again for any help/suggestions.
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Well Skiwelt and Kitzbuhel are just up a short side line from Worgl. Kutzbuhel probably has the heritage you're looking for and a bit of a different from normal ski village.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
Well Skiwelt and Kitzbuhel are just up a short side line from Worgl. Kutzbuhel probably has the heritage you're looking for and a bit of a different from normal ski village.

Are those areas fairly snow sure in early January? I'm no expert but they don't have the greatest elevation. What are the snowiest resorts in that region? We don't have to be right on the train line I guess. A bit of back tracking wouldn't be a big problem.
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@sbooker, My previous suggestion of the Zillertal valley has the advantage that if (unlikely) the snow conditions should be poor there is guaranteed skiing on the Hintertux glacier at the top of the valley. The Zillertal valley is accessed directly from the main line railway between Munich and Innsbruck, get off at Jenbach, change platforms and take the Zillertalbahn narrow gauge railway which goes all the way up the valley as far as Mayrhofen. Should you need to ski at Hintertux there are very frequent ski buses from Mayrhofen to Hintertux.
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^^^
Zillertal Valley is the Zillertal Arena? Does the ski bus attend to all the towns along the valley road? Do most villages have a pub/restaurants? Would that region be considered 'quintessential' Austrian skiing?
Thanks for the suggestion. It looks to be what we're after.
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You know it makes sense.
Skiwelt has approx the most snow guns in the world and I think Kitzbuhel is similarly geared up. Dolomites has had massive droughts where virtuly all snow into Feb has been man made. I don't think you want to be too fussy about real snow otherwise the advice would be go to Val Thorens, Tignes and Zermatt/Cervinia
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
sbooker wrote:
^^^
Zillertal Valley is the Zillertal Arena? Does the ski bus attend to all the towns along the valley road? Do most villages have a pub/restaurants? Would that region be considered 'quintessential' Austrian skiing?
Thanks for the suggestion. It looks to be what we're after.


@sbooker, if you refer back to my first post on this thread you'll see that Zillertal Arena is just one of the 3 main ski areas in the Zillertal valley. As you travel up the valley from Jenbach the first major ski area is at Kaltenbach/Hochfugen (this ski area is also called Hochzillertal), then you reach the town of Zell am Ziller from the centre of which a ski bus service takes you about 2km to the base station of the Zillertal Arena ski area, and then finally when you reach Mayrhofen (the largest town in the valley) the main ski area is on the Penken mountain (although there is also some skiing on the Ahorn mountain, both of which are served by gondola and cable car respectively from Mayrhofen itself). All these 3 major ski areas in the valley are served by both the Zillertalbahn narrow gauge railway and the skibus services, both of which are frequent and included in your lift pass. If you should want to go to the Hintertux glacier then there are also bus services there from Mayrhofen. If you do decide on the Zillertal valley then I'd recommend spending at least one day at each of the 3 major ski areas.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Ok. Got that - I think. So much to take in.
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Wife and I flew into Milan train & bus were our only means of transportation, spent 3 days in Florence first, which was perfect as it took that long for our luggage to catch up. Then 8 days in Selva, visited Verona and Venice. Checking skis into storage at train station was better than dragging them around which we did in Florence, only luggage that made it across the pond with us. So glad the double ski bag had wheels. Verona has a nice vibe and intact Roman Collesium. Loved the Dolomites and Selva, walked to all our meals and lift stations. Have a great trip.
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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?
sbooker wrote:
Research has allowed me to narrow down plans a bit.
1. Fly into Munich and have a couple of days there. Definitely want to go to Dachau otherwise would be open to flying into somewhere else.
2. Ski somewhere in Austria for a few days. Need somewhere snow sure and ideally on the railway between Munich and Innsbruck. Suggestions would be great. Staying in a town with a short bus/gondola ride to the hill would be ok.
3. A day or two in Innsbruck. Then train to Italy.
4. A few days skiing on the Sella Ronda and Great War tour. Need suggestions on which village to stay in.
5. Travel to Venice to check that out and then either grab a car or train to Milan.
6. Ski the Aosta valley (maybe stay in Aosta). Would like to do the Vallee Blanche thing, ski La Thuille/La Rosier for a day, ski Cervinia (and have lunch in Zermatt and take obligatory selfies with Matterhorn in the background), ski Pila and maybe Courmayer. Will have a car for this leg. Understand we may not be able to do the Vallee Blanche in January.
7. Fly home from Milan.
Does this sound logical and doable? Very open to refinements and I'm likely to have bigger plan changes before we lock things in. Smile
I understand we'll be on the go but we enjoy that. We want to get as many experiences in as possible considering it would be difficult to get back to Europe for a long weekend to fill in a blank.
Thanks again for any help/suggestions.


Either St Anton or Ischgl has better skiing than Innsbruck. Worth the small extra distance.

I like Arabba as it offers easy access to the Sella in either direction and the Marmolada [ mountain museum ] not much night life though. Check out the Hotel Malita [ my fav ]

Cervinia has much better skiing the Courmayer.

Still think hiring a car will be cheaper in the end and much more convenient.
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So having a car the whole trip? I thought the Munich to Venice part would be easy by train?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
sbooker wrote:
So having a car the whole trip? I thought the Munich to Venice part would be easy by train?


In my view you don't need a car for the Munich to Venice part. Reasons are:
1. Munich has very good public transport, and as previously mentioned in the thread there are organised tours (and bus service) from Munich to Dachau which you said you wanted to visit.
2. If you go to the Zillertal then as I said previously it has frequent rail and ski bus services running between the different resorts in the valley.
3. As both I and admin have said, you can get a train from Innsbruck over the Brenner Pass into Italy and getting off at the stop we mentioned (Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena) it's only a short bus or taxi ride to the Val Gardena resorts i.e Ortisei, St Christina and Selva.
4. From Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena you can then travel by train to Venice. Having a car in Venice is useless (unless it's amphibious wink ) as all cars arriving in Venice over the causeway from the mainland then have to park at Piazalle Roma, which is as far as vehicles can go. Typical parking charges seem to be about 30 Euros per day (discounts if you are staying in affiliated hotels).
5. You said you love train journeys particularly if they are scenic (which a journey from Munich to Venice will be) Madeye-Smiley
6. If you then hire a car either from Venice or from Milan for the rest of your trip then as the car hire will be terminating in Italy at Milan airport it will be easy to arrange.

Just my view.
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Alastair Pink wrote:
sbooker wrote:
So having a car the whole trip? I thought the Munich to Venice part would be easy by train?


In my view you don't need a car for the Munich to Venice part. Reasons are:
1. Munich has very good public transport, and as previously mentioned in the thread there are organised tours (and bus service) from Munich to Dachau which you said you wanted to visit.
2. If you go to the Zillertal then as I said previously it has frequent rail and ski bus services running between the different resorts in the valley.
3. As both I and admin have said, you can get a train from Innsbruck over the Brenner Pass into Italy and getting off at the stop we mentioned (Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena) it's only a short bus or taxi ride to the Val Gardena resorts i.e Ortisei, St Christina and Selva.
4. From Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena you can then travel by train to Venice. Having a car in Venice is useless (unless it's amphibious wink ) as all cars arriving in Venice over the causeway from the mainland then have to park at Piazalle Roma, which is as far as vehicles can go. Typical parking charges seem to be about 30 Euros per day (discounts if you are staying in affiliated hotels).
5. You said you love train journeys particularly if they are scenic (which a journey from Munich to Venice will be) Madeye-Smiley
6. If you then hire a car either from Venice or from Milan for the rest of your trip then as the car hire will be terminating in Italy at Milan airport it will be easy to arrange.

Just my view.


Thanks. I would prefer not to have a car for that part of the trip.
The train goes right onto Venice island? Or stops on the main land?
Is dropping a car off in a different location to pick up point difficult to do in Italy?
Very helpful info but please understand it is hard for me to get my head around some bits - hence the random questions. I'm getting a feel for it though.
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A couple of links that I have found useful in the past:
* The man in Seat 61 provides huge amounts of information about train services in Europe
* http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-car-hire provides information on car rental in Europe, in particular some of the tricks that the car rental companies use to charge for extras (which can add up to a significant amount of money), and how to avoid them[/img]
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For Zillertal arena, here is our trip report from last year http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3030728&highlight=hochfugen#3030728
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sbooker wrote:

Thanks. I would prefer not to have a car for that part of the trip.
The train goes right onto Venice island? Or stops on the main land?
Is dropping a car off in a different location to pick up point difficult to do in Italy?
Very helpful info but please understand it is hard for me to get my head around some bits - hence the random questions. I'm getting a feel for it though.


Yes the train goes all the way to Venice Island,the name of the station is Santa Lucia and gives direct access to Venice's Grand Canal. The penultimate station on the way to Venice is on the mainland and is called Venice Mestre, after leaving Venice Mestre station the train goes over a causeway (which for most of the way runs by the side of the road causeway) into Venice Island. From Santa Lucia train station you can either walk with your luggage to your hotel if it's nearby (best to have wheeled luggage cases), or if it's a bit further then you can take a Vaparetto (water bus) from the Santa Lucia stop to a stop closest to your hotel. Here's a map of the vaporetto routes. Note the Santa Lucia train station is marked on the map as "Ferrovia" (railway station). Route number 1 goes all along the Grand Canal from the railway station past the Rialto bridge to Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square).

As regards picking up a hire car and dropping it off in another location in Italy I've no personal experience of that but I would expect that several rental companies will let you do it (albeit for an additional charge). Best to ask a number of rental companies how much they'd charge. Alternatively you could go by train from Venice to Milan and then start your car rental there so as you are intending flying back home from Milan you'd avoid any drop off charges.

Hope this helps. snowHead
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What a great you re in for. It might be withdrawing the snow. Powder days are far less frequent in Europe then North America.

If you're looking for the best of Alpine skiing I'd go for

Arabba. Gressoney

Ischgl. ST Anton

VAL d'sere. LA Grave. Chamonix

Verbier zermatt
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Re dropping off at a different location. Both Hertz and Enterprise allowed this at one time.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Just don't drop off in another country - did it once due to a work change of plan - felt like it would have been cheaper to buy the car.
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:
What a great you re in for. It might be withdrawing the snow. Powder days are far less frequent in Europe then North America.

If you're looking for the best of Alpine skiing I'd go for

Arabba. Gressoney

Ischgl. ST Anton

VAL d'sere. LA Grave. Chamonix

Verbier zermatt


Totally understand it's likely we'll be skiing groomers and fresh snow would be a bonus only. I'll be happy checking out the new areas, enjoying the food and atmosphere and famed scenery.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@sbooker, Some useful travel links for you:
German Railways: https://www.bahn.com/i/view/index.shtml
Austrian Railways: http://www.oebb.at/en/
Italian Railways: http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

If you do go to the Val Gardena valley then the bus line 350 goes from Bozen/Bolzano via Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena to St Ulrich, St Christina and Selva/Wolkenstein. Here's this year's timetable (next year's should be similar).
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OK.

- Fly into Munich, max two days there to see what you want (Aussies love surfing right? There is a river wave right in the city, and people WILL be surfing even in January)
- Train to Innsbruck. On the afternoon you arrive take the bus up to Axamer Lizum or Stubaier Glacier (depending on snow) for your first skiing. Check out Innsbruck old town in the evening.
- Check out the Bergisel ski jump and attached museum in Innsbruck in the morning, then hop on the train to Kitzbühel. Ski the afternoon then the next day, then back on the (direct, I believe) train in the opposite direction to St Anton.
- Ski St Anton for 3-4 days.
- Train from St Anton to Geneva (could stop in Zurich if you wanted). Great scenery from the train - you might be tempted to stop in Lausanne too as it's so gorgeous.
- Hire a car in Geneva and pick your French resort for 4-5 days. I'd be tempted to say Portes du Soleil/Morzine as 1. it'll give you a taste of one truly HUGE ski area, on a scale you won't ever see out of Europe and 2. It's an easy drive to Chamonix for a day/evening - whether you want to ski there or just check out the town.
- Drive back to Geneva and take a flight to Venice (Skyscanner suggests flights for this January from €37-100 pp).
- 2/3(?) days in Venice
- Up to the Dolomites for 3-4 days (others above know the transport options better)
- Train over the Brenner to Innsbruck

What you do at this stage depends on how long you have left. It's an easy train from Innsbruck to Munich airport, so you can be quite flexible. Assuming you have a day or two, options include:

- Ski another of Innsbruck's local areas (if you haven't had your fill of skiing yet) in the morning, then train onto Munich
- Train to Salzburg to check out the city, then train from there to Munich
- Hire a car and drive to Ötztal (60-90 mins). Ski Sölden or Obergurgl 'til 3pm-ish, then on the drive back stop for an evening swim/relax/sauna at the fantastic Aquadome in Langenfeld before driving back to hotel in Innsbruck and morning train to Munich (would be my choice)
- Half day skiing and half day visit to Swarovski Crystal World (your wife will love this)
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Nice suggestion above. Experiencing the huge resorts does sound fun. To put them in perspective how big do they fell 'real world' as km of piste and amount of acreage can be misleading. The biggest hill we've skied is Whistler/Blackcomb. How would PDS, Three Valleys, EK compare?
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sbooker wrote:
Nice suggestion above. Experiencing the huge resorts does sound fun. To put them in perspective how big do they fell 'real world' as km of piste and amount of acreage can be misleading. The biggest hill we've skied is Whistler/Blackcomb. How would PDS, Three Valleys, EK compare?


Of all the resorts you mention I've only skied the PdS (and only two weeks in total). Certainly felt like by far the biggest area (by area and possible travel distance) I've skied (I have skied other big areas like Sella Ronda, SkiWelt, Arlberg, etc, which *reputedly* all dwarf anything in North America).

PdS has about 200 lifts in total, spread over 14 valleys and about 1,036 square kilometres/400 sq miles - according to Wikipedia - which in principal you can ski all of (though you'd need to climb/hike for much of it I imagine). From what I can work out Whistler-Blackcomb has 37 lifts and 8171 acres that you can ski - according to google conversion tool that's only about 13 sq miles; that can't be right, surely?
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@sbooker, Whistler/Blackcomb is a mid size resort. It felt small to me compared to what I was used to in Europe. In fact in the mega French resorts it is a real challenge to ski to the all corners of the resort. A challenge that I have yet to meet in the 3Vs, EK, Paradiski
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Agree you can comfortably get around all the "pistes" in WB in a few days which would be significantly more challenging in 3V. But that's not really the point. WB is pretty vast by N American standards (not least because it has an actual legit vertical drop) and most of the skiing "runs" are actually lines in the bowls and off groomer. You can get as much skiing in probably in the Val Thorens and Orelle domain alone but if you are focused on piste skiing you are highly likely to "tour" further afield.
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sbooker wrote:
Nice suggestion above. Experiencing the huge resorts does sound fun. To put them in perspective how big do they fell 'real world' as km of piste and amount of acreage can be misleading. The biggest hill we've skied is Whistler/Blackcomb. How would PDS, Three Valleys, EK compare?


What they said. They feel "huge". I guess it depends a bit on how well you know Whistler/Blackcomb, but just huge... 5 or 10 times bigger is how they feel. In Whistler Blackcomb you're never further than one run, about 30 minutes, from the base, and it all funnels into that one base area (yes, yes, I'm a Blackcomb fan for historic reasons too, but it's not significant for this). In the Three Valleys, you need to be aware of how far away you are from "home", and very often it's going to involve uplift as well as a ride down and out, and it'll take significantly more time.

As I think people are saying, it's only one perspective though, and the terrain is used differently in North America, for example avalanche control and patrol covers the whole area, so if you're a solo rider then you can make a lot more use of the in-bounds terrain than in the Alps.
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sbooker wrote:
Nice suggestion above. Experiencing the huge resorts does sound fun. To put them in perspective how big do they fell 'real world' as km of piste and amount of acreage can be misleading. The biggest hill we've skied is Whistler/Blackcomb. How would PDS, Three Valleys, EK compare?


Whistler Blackcomb has 37 lifts the 3V has 169 PDS has over 200. The Superski Dolomitski pass has 450 lifts [ not all connect ]

The European mega resorts are on a completely different scale to anything in the USA or Canada.
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But the scale isn't a direct comparison - in European mega areas you tend to do a lot of "commuting" on long traverses or flattish runs along the valley bottom to make links simply because of the physical geography. That's a lot rarer in N America even if you can find obvious examples of "roads" bringing you back from bowls facing in different directions.
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That's true in some places @Dave of the Marmottes, but not always. For example 3V and Espace Killy are each so well integrated that there are very few 'roads' at all and virtually none for which there isn't a more fun downhill alternative route.
Oddly, I don't know PDS very well at all but wrt Sela Ronda, I've rarely met anyone who doesn't think the 'transit' elements are worthwhile for what they bring you.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, I'd argue there aren't that many of those around the PdS that can't be avoided.
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@admin, That new blue run that's FUBARED the drop into Orelle frinstance. Pretty much the definition of traverse road then flat valley piste.
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