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Aussie asking random Euro ski questions

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Firstly. When staying at a valley village town like Bourg St M for example does the funicular or cable car to the resort start running early than the ski lifts in the resort open? So you don't have to lose skiing time getting to the resorts?
Secondly. If staying away from the lifts (say 500m) do the ski hire places that may be near the lifts provide storage so you can drop off your skis at the end of the day and then cruise around/après without being in clunky ski boots?
Thirdly. There seems to be very few hotels with fitness centres (gyms). Would hotels with gyms allow one to pay to use them if one was not a quest of said hotel?

There will be more I'd think. Smile
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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1. Don't know about that one, but similar lifts here usually not - it would just move the queue to a smaller waiting space at the top before the other lifts open
2. Almost always
3. Plenty in Austria, though you'd generally have to look at 4* and up. They all have individual policies on non-guest use
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Also what is the nearest relatively high (early January) hill for a day on the French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel? If strong intermediate family day tripping from Aosta. Of course Chamonix but too extreme?
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sbooker wrote:
Firstly. When staying at a valley village town like Bourg St M for example does the funicular or cable car to the resort start running early than the ski lifts in the resort open? So you don't have to lose skiing time getting to the resorts?


For the Bourg funi From 16/12/2017 to 21/04/2018, open every day from 7h30 to 20h. Every 20 minutes, until 21:00 on Saturdays. I would imagine it would be used by workers aswell as punters.

sbooker wrote:
Secondly. If staying away from the lifts (say 500m) do the ski hire places that may be near the lifts provide storage so you can drop off your skis at the end of the day and then cruise around/après without being in clunky ski boots?


Most places in France are ski in ski out but yes hire places would generally accommodate afaik. But this is just based on what I've read and how I've seen them operate.

sbooker wrote:
Thirdly. There seems to be very few hotels with fitness centres (gyms). Would hotels with gyms allow one to pay to use them if one was not a quest of said hotel?


More than likely - but it will probably be expensive. Tignes as a great big newish sports centre which would probably work well. I am not a gym goer at the best of times but the thought of going after skiing makes me shudder.
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sbooker wrote:
Also what is the nearest relatively high (early January) hill for a day on the French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel? If strong intermediate family day tripping from Aosta. Of course Chamonix but too extreme?

Chamonix is effectively several resorts under one banner. Les Houches, Brevent, Flegere, Le Tour are all tame.
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@sbooker, Plenty of resorts have sports centres with a gym. One place that does have hotels with gyms is Brides les Bains as it is also a summer resort.
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Layne wrote:
sbooker wrote:
Firstly. When staying at a valley village town like Bourg St M for example does the funicular or cable car to the resort start running early than the ski lifts in the resort open? So you don't have to lose skiing time getting to the resorts?


For the Bourg funi From 16/12/2017 to 21/04/2018, open every day from 7h30 to 20h. Every 20 minutes, until 21:00 on Saturdays. I would imagine it would be used by workers aswell as punters.

sbooker wrote:
Secondly. If staying away from the lifts (say 500m) do the ski hire places that may be near the lifts provide storage so you can drop off your skis at the end of the day and then cruise around/après without being in clunky ski boots?


Most places in France are ski in ski out but yes hire places would generally accommodate afaik. But this is just based on what I've read and how I've seen them operate.

sbooker wrote:
Thirdly. There seems to be very few hotels with fitness centres (gyms). Would hotels with gyms allow one to pay to use them if one was not a quest of said hotel?


More than likely - but it will probably be expensive. Tignes as a great big newish sports centre which would probably work well. I am not a gym goer at the best of times but the thought of going after skiing makes me shudder.


Thanks. I have a gym session early morning (about 6am) to blow cobwebs from previous nights beers out. Running also works but not fun running outside in the cold.
Thanks for the replies.
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Any Sella Ronda villages with commercial gyms? We don't need anything more than basic accomodation and paying double for a hotel room just to use a gym seems silly.
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Skip the Funi, or whatever is the first lift, and walk up. Guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs, with the added bonuses of getting first tracks and not spending money on gyms! What's not to like?
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sbooker wrote:
Also what is the nearest relatively high (early January) hill for a day on the French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel? If strong intermediate family day tripping from Aosta. Of course Chamonix but too extreme?


Well if there has been a lot of early snow the legendary Vallee Blanche route is something to think about. Ok for confident intermediates and an unforgettable experience. You can start in Italy getting to the Helbronner lift station, which is accessed from Courmayeur. You need a guide and you finish in Chamonix.

Otherwise I would stay in Italy. You have 25 resorts to choose from in the Aosta valley.
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Layne wrote:
sbooker wrote:
Also what is the nearest relatively high (early January) hill for a day on the French side of the Mont Blanc tunnel? If strong intermediate family day tripping from Aosta. Of course Chamonix but too extreme?

Chamonix is effectively several resorts under one banner. Les Houches, Brevent, Flegere, Le Tour are all tame.


This - check the webcams the day before. If there is snow, maybe head to Les Houches - easy and quick access from the tunnel, very pretty skiing, and IMO better on mountain food options. Also a slightly cheaper day pass price.

All the others mentioned above are fine too - though you might have to pay for parking at Brevent.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
What protocol with regarding kids and après in Austria? Are they welcome in the venues or does one just lock them in the chalet/hotel room for a few hours? Very Happy
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@sbooker, Kids are welcome at Apres Ski. They are on KinderSchnaaps
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@sbooker, it depends what you mean by apres. Given the Austrian apres starts after lunch/end of day skiing and often finishes early evening when people go back to hotel for food, it's perfectly acceptable for kids to be around. Only problem is that some bars are very smokey. We normally find a venue that we can outside if possible.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Why does the Dolomites only get about one third of the snow that say Solden does which is only a relatively short distance away?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Why does the Dolomites only get about one third of the snow that say Solden does which is only a relatively short distance away?
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@sbooker, It falls on the other (big!) mountains in between before getting to the Dolomites (other than systems coming from SE anyway).

In general, the more inner alpine you go the drier it gets - until you cross over the main alpine ridge and start getting the brunt of storms coming from the other direction.

FWIW Obergurgl, Sölden and Kühtai also generally seem to get less snow than other nearby resorts just a little further north, like Nordkette, particularly from the Nordstaus ('jams [as in traffic] from the north' that deliver the majority of Austria's snow. But then on the flip side, they (Obergurgl/Sölden in particular) can also pick up little bits of snow from big southerly systems which barely make it to Nordkette, or just cause Föhn at Nordkette.

You get very similar patterns at Ischgl and St Anton, again despite the small distance between them.
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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:
Why does the Dolomites only get about one third of the snow that say Solden does which is only a relatively short distance away?


But it is worth noting that they have very extensive snow making, the pistes are like golf fairways IE no rocks or stones and they are VERY good at managing what snow they get.

I would not go to Val D'isere if they were reporting 15 cms. I would be happy to go to the Dolomites with the same 15 cm snow report.
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Thanks. So the systems that bring snow to Austria come from the north and those that bring snow to France come from the west? And Dolomites the south?


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 28-09-17 9:56; edited 1 time in total
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@sbooker, a bit more complicated than that. Some parts of Austria like the Arlberg get lots of snow from the west too, others from the east. Various parts of Italy, Switzerland and France can pick up a LOT of snow from the south, or south-west, or south-east in the case of the Dolomites. Generally the fewer other mountains between a resort and where the storm comes from the better.

Some types of storm can be more intense than others too. Like a Genoa Low, which can pick up a bunch of moisture over the warm Mediterranean/Adriatic, before marching over the flat Italian Po valley and suddenly being forced up 3000+m in around 20km when they hit the mountains - the orographic effect (fast cooling by being forced up) can result in fireworks.
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Thanks so far.
What resorts in the Alps have an 'airbag' for the kids to jump into?
Also would it be likely that a hire car in Aosta in January would come with winter tyres?
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hiring a car in italy won't have winter tyres or getting them is a nightmare in my experience - they will have a bad set of chains though.
i'm not sure about austria or switzerland but all german hire cars have winter tyres.
we love the dolomites far nicer than france in terms of resort staff/food/less queues and if the weather is bad then you will have the slopes to yourself as in my experience italians like to ski in the sun!
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Lots of places have a big air bag, but it's probably not up there on the websites. I can picture at least Courchevel and Meribel in the 3v as each having one. Last season I think one was the the top of the Rhodos lift.
Bigger question...where are you thinking of staying? Issues of gyms and airbags aren't central to your choice I assume?
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sbooker wrote:
Thanks so far.
What resorts in the Alps have an 'airbag' for the kids to jump into?
Also would it be likely that a hire car in Aosta in January would come with winter tyres?


Tignes has an airbag in Val Claret, and there is also one in the park between Tignes and Val Disere (bottom of Borsat lift).

Imagine most big areas have at least one.
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Plans at this stage are evolving but a few days in Aosta with a car so we can ski at Cervinia/Zermatt, Pila, Chamonix, La Thuille etc would be good. We'll then likely fly to Munich to check that out (Dachau) and then ski somewhere in Austria before heading for Domomites for the main skiing experience. Then a couple of days in Venice (we'll fly out of there).
So realistically we won't experience the French mega resort this time but if we can handle the long flight and like the European style we'll come back the year after to check out one of the big places.
Just curious about the airbag - my son does gymnastics and loves skiing so he would have a ball on one. The gym thing I understand is peculiar but it's not a deal breaker.
If we like the Euro experience as much as we love the North American holidays we do I will be really torn. Euro probably more 'inconvenient' and expensive.
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The place to go depends on your standard. E.g. If the kids need cruisey blues then AltaBadia is great. If you need more steeps then elsewhere. I know the hotels I've been in the Sella Ronda have pools and hot tubs but have no idea about gym rooms. Just lifting my head off a pillow is difficult enough at 6am.
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We're probably advanced intermediates. Can ski most runs at the North American hills. Don't do double blacks generally. Big long cruisers are great. Kids are fine on anything we can ski on - perfect scenario as we all ski together all day.
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Can't help thinking you are trying to take in too many ski areas and resorts in one trip-certainly at the Aosta end if you really are trying to fit all those resorts in. What's the duration of your trip?
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Quote:

Can't help thinking you are trying to take in too many ski areas and resorts in one trip-certainly at the Aosta end if you really are trying to fit all those resorts in. What's the duration of your trip?


This. Unless you have a lot of time you would struggle to cover all that. Chamonix for example is 5 resorts that are not really linked (unless you count buses). Plenty of people spend a week in cervina/Zermatt alone without getting bored. IMO one of the benefits to skiing in Europe is the ability to stay in a village and not have to drive every day like a lot of north american places.
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@sbooker, Be aware that Turin to Cervinia in January by car is a serious undertaking... Hideous fog in the valley and then a loooong drive up 1000 hairpin bends to resort. You'll need to know how to put the chains on and I would advise ensuring that the trip is done (both ways) in daylight (of which not much in Jan...)

If coming from Aus I wouldn't bother with that initial Italian leg and all the hassle of having to go back to the airport to fly to Munich. Just go str8 to Munich and then you've got all the mega Austrian options before heading over the Brenner pass motorway to the Dollies
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Ok. Thanks for the tip.
We would likely fly into Milan and drive to the town of Aosta.
I imagined it may be a bit like staying in Banff and skiing Lake Louise and Sunshine for example.
We do like a busy holiday and we're early risers. I wouldn't try to drive in the dark.
I thought that a base in Aosta would give the option of going to a few places. I guess if the weather is not ideal we could just ski Pila each day. I would want a day cruising the town and the nearby castles etc.
Google tells me under an hour to drive from Aosta to Cervinia, La Thuille and Chamonix. This is not correct in winter obviously?
Is Pila relatively snow sure bybthe way?
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Not sure I would fancy the drive from Chamonix back to Aosta, starting with the 12km tunnel, immediately after a hard day's skiing. Smile
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ecureuil wrote:
Not sure I would fancy the drive from Chamonix back to Aosta, starting with the 12km tunnel, immediately after a hard day's skiing. Smile

I would view that as an experience!
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I think the question is what are you getting out of visiting a lot of different resorts? Assuming your only skiing pistes, I don't really see the advantage of driving around a lot. OK you can "tick off" a lot of resorts if that's your thing. Seems a little unnecessary though, when there are plenty of resorts with enough piste skiing to keep you busy for a week.

Again, you mention going to Chamonix - but that's a whole valley with 5 different resorts. How much of them can you really see in one or two days visiting from Aosta? Personally I would rather do 1 resort/area properly, but guess personal preferences come into it too.
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I'm not into 'ticking off' areas but in reality we're coming a considerable distance and getting back may not be easy - we may hate the flights etc.
Chamonix is iconic and it would be a grand memory to have - as would a photo under the Matterhorn.
I do like the fact my 10 year old son has skied about 20 different ski hills in US/Canada and that I have been able to provide that.
We like to have 'off days' doing other things between ski days. I've never been to a ski resort for 7 days straight so the Dolomites will be a first. I get the impression the Dolomites is as much about traveling between different villages checking things out as it is skiing? Sounds fun.
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Again thanks for the tips so far. I could well have the wrong impression of Europe as I've never been there. I'm sure the different languages alone will be a big shock but I'm equally sure we'll have a ball no matter which way we do things. I may consider flying into Geneva and doing a week at one of the nearby big resorts I guess. I want to have it sorted by January so I can book flights while they're cheapest.
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The ski areas in the alpine resorts you are re look good at are HUGE compared with North American resorts. The faff of driving up to a resort for the day, finding parking, the ticket office (plus ski hire if you need it), working out the piste map, finding your way around on the slopes, and then returning at the end of the day to Aosta, I really can't see it being as much fun a staying in the resort. Alpine resorts developed much more organically and over bigger areas than in the US and Canada. So it's not just a peak with half a dozen lifts and a number of trails cutting down through trees to the bottom all ending at the same spot.

With Cervinia, you should also be aware that weather can close the link to Zermatt, and so there is no guarantee that you would get over the top to the iconic view of the Matterhorn on just one day (and even if you do, the clouds could be down). Better to give yourself a few days. You will not be bored I can assure you.
At that end of the Alps, if you really do want to tick off another ski resort, perhaps a day/night in Courmeyeur could work, then it's a short drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix. Cham itself is a bit "marmite", yes, it's a centre for big mountain hardcore skiers, and you ought to get the cable car to to the top of the Aiguille du Midi (and back down, unless you and your youngster have the ski ability to do the Vallée Blanche with a guide). As a place for recreational intermediate skiing, it's not really at the top of my list.

The European ski experience is very different from North America. Exploring the ski area, enjoying the resort itself, having a coffee/hot chocolate/vin chaud/vin brule/gluhwein with a view/ and good lunch is part of it. Few people would consider doing what you are planning. Even though you are coming a long way and want to tick off as many of the famous resorts as you do, I think you might find it all a bit rushed.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@sbooker, I wouldn't really worry about the driving as some people above mention. It might seem like a huge faff/effort if your norm is staying in ski in/out accommodation, but really it's no different than any other sport - mountain biking, horse riding, golf, whatever - where you have to drive from home to venue and back.

However I also think you might be trying to pack in too many resorts, and will probably come away with the feel you've barely scratched the surface of many of them. Forget not getting bored in a week; I know people who've done 5-10 seasons in the likes of Zermatt without getting bored.

If you've got 5 days/a week for that first leg, I'd consider driving straight from the airport to Aosta and spending a day there while getting over jet lag. Then 2-3 days in Cervinia/Zermatt and 2-3 days in either Cham or Courmayeur. If you've got less than that I'd do Aosta then either Cervinia OR Cham.

Likewise on the Austrian leg you'd probably want at least 2-3 days in any one resort to really get the feel of it before heading to the Dolomites.
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Perty wrote:

At that end of the Alps, if you really do want to tick off another ski resort, perhaps a day/night in Courmeyeur could work, then it's a short drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Chamonix. Cham itself is a bit "marmite", yes, it's a centre for big mountain hardcore skiers, and you ought to get the cable car to to the top of the Aiguille du Midi (and back down, unless you and your youngster have the ski ability to do the Vallée Blanche with a guide).


Absolutely this! I've stayed in Aosta for a week. We skied mostly in Pila, but also had a day in Courmayeur (you can ski all the runs there in a day), and also did the Vallee Blanche off piste route which really is an experience. All that was plenty in a week.

There is an easy route down the Vallee Blanche which any capable intermediate can do. You have to go with a guide because of the crevasses, and the scenery is breathtaking.
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@sbooker, There are often long queues for the Mont Blanc tunnel - I've often waited an hour to get to get to the start of it.
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