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Mid December Options

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi All,

Looking to do a second trip next season for the first time - happy days!

Never been on the slopes in December! Thursday 6th or 13th December to Monday with 3 days on the slopes is the plan. Best airports are Zurich, Munich or maybe Geneva.

Given it’s early in the season, what are our best options?

Criteria - Beer and apres isn’t important. Enough ground to cover with snow under our skis is. Off-piste is if little interest also but we would tackle most of what we come across on piste - not always gracefully but safely so far! We would cover a reasonable amount of ground during the day so scope is good. Ideally we would have cheap transfer or train from the airport. We can take the car rental option but if there was a more straight forward option that would be preferable - but not against driving though if it was short’ish.

Thanks!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
December is notoriously unreliable for snow. Seasons like the one just past are not very common, green mountainsides are more the norm. A lot of resorts now have big snow making installations but skiing on artificial snow is not ideal. The resorts with glaciers will be open but the skiing is often pretty limited. All that said many years I have been skiing in December but that is very much day trips looking at where there is decent snow conditions within a reasonable drive of Munich. Given how early in the season it will be you should be able to leave booking to the last minute as there will be lots of accommodation available in the pre Christmas period (although some hotels will not be open).

The place I have been to more than anywhere else pre Christmas is Ischgl, it normally opens the last weekend in November and is very likely to have some of the best early season conditions around. In my experience the pistes can be on the hard side and the runs on the Swiss side tend to open a bit later than the ones on the Austrian side. Not particularly easy for transfers, hire car from Zürich or Munich or train from Zürich and taxi (not cheap I would guess) from Landeck.

I believe the Arlberg plans to also open the last week in November next season, though in the past if snow conditions have been poor they have delayed opening. Not sure I would recommend booking too much in advance. St Anton is easy to get to from Zürich by train, direct to the centre of the village.

Not sure I would suggest any of the other Austrian resorts without waiting to see how the weather pans out. Serfaus / Fiss, Sölden / Obergürgl or Obertauern maybe. I have had good days in December in both Kitzbühel and SkiWelt but not something to be relied upon at all, though Kitzbühel often opens a couple of lifts at weekends in the Pass Thurn area from late October.

If you need to book flights in advance I would really suggest January rather than December or plan a trip to the Christmas markets which could be turned into a ski trip if conditions allow?
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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 did Obergurgl one year mid-December booked in advance. That was with a Inghams who at the time did them as white week specials included lift pass, free drinks and a guarantee to bus you to Solden if the resort wasn't able to open. Haven't seen offers like that for quite a number of years though Sad

Other places we have been the week before Christmas have been St Anton and Zermat but both were booked last minute.
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Tignes or Val disere
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
If it was me, and it was all about the skiing, I would fly into Innsbruck and rent a car (that is big enough to take some skis through the passenger well - assumes there are not 5 of you!).

Then book a "back-up" hotel on booking.com that I can cancel at the last minute around the Innsbruck area which means within less than 90 mins I could get to any of the nearby glacier resorts (Stubai, Kauntertal (110 mins), Pitztal (100 mins) and Solden), Ischgl, Obergurgl or St Anton!

Then depending on how conditions go, book somewhere in the resort that has the best conditions. (And cancel the back-up hotel.)

Actually, if it was really me I would go to a different resort each day Twisted Evil
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Do s it have to be Alps? Pyrenees make a snowmaking effort to have good coverage by early December when there is a holiday weekend.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
im off to innsbruck 9th Dec
will pick resort nearer the date.
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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!
Book at last minute. Go where there is snow. Check that lifts are running though before you book.

Val Thorens, Ischgl, Isola 2000 and Obergurgl are the usual suspects.
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I'd go for Tignes - specifically Chalet Melezes with Mountainsun. They do very good deals, including lift pass, in early season and you can get transfers to and from Geneva thrown in. Unbeatable value. Comfortable accommodation, decent food. Usually very nice staff, but I guess that varies from year to year.

Depending on when you go, and the snow cover, you might need to go up to the Funicular at Val Claret - but Mountainsun will shuttle you up there.
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I’ll be in Kaltenbach a couple of weeks later and whilst I have very low snow expectations I thought Hintertux would offer at least a little surety.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Good advice above. Based on recent years, this year being a welcome exception, best to wait until as close as possible to departure date and see how the snow cover is looking.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Redial,
I second what Pam W said.
Ask Mountainsun for a quote to stay at the Melezes in Tignes.
They can arrange transfers, in house ski hire and ski passes so no messing about on a short break.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
+1 for suggestion from @pam w, and@@247snowman, for Mountainsun
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
pam w wrote:
I'd go for Tignes - specifically Chalet Melezes with Mountainsun. They do very good deals, including lift pass, in early season and you can get transfers to and from Geneva thrown in. Unbeatable value. Comfortable accommodation, decent food. Usually very nice staff, but I guess that varies from year to year.

Depending on when you go, and the snow cover, you might need to go up to the Funicular at Val Claret - but Mountainsun will shuttle you up there.



This!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Zermatt if you can afford it. (Or Cervinia). Lots open by then - we have been going in late Nov for a number of years, and there's often skiing on both sides of the Swiss/italian ridge open down to 2500m, so Furgg on the Zermatt side and both routes down from the top -Ventina- to the bottom of the cable car and to Plan Maison on the Cervinia side. By mid December Zermatt's winter season is "officially" open and the options are even greater and you are not confined to just glaciers. Only issues can be wind and weather which can close lifts.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
To me the key questions are:
1. What's your (and your companions') level of comfort with booking things at the last minute ?
2. How budget-conscious are you ?

If you're all very happy with last minute, and not that budget-conscious, then I'd go with @ma94jcg's suggestion, though maybe fly to Geneva or Zurich, and also consider not staying in the same place all the time, but maybe a couple of locations, and booking while you're there, depending on the conditions at the time.

If you're all very happy with last minute, but more budget-conscious, then wait till a few days before, check where has snow, and look for a last minute chalet deal. This will restrict you a bit, as only a few Swiss or Italian resorts have much chalet accommodation. Also, not all operators will take partial week bookings, though this is the most likely time to be able to get a partial week

If you're not happy with last minute, then you'll just have to take a punt. Given your preferred airports, and that the high French resorts are not quick to get to, I'd go for the Austrian glaciers, or maybe Verbier, Zermatt or Engleberg
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Redial, Monterosa tries to open by Dec 1st usually as there are Milan/Turin hols and it makes sense to. Some years that's great, some years not so much.

Reachable from GVA.
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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?
Thanks for the feedback all. Edging towards Zurich flights on the 14th of December and booking accommodation closer to the date.
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@Redial, from Zurich you can get to Zermatt, Saas Fee, Engelberg and St Anton easily on public transport. The first three have glaciers and will be open for sure. No issue getting accommodation last minute or for short stays that time of year.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@gämesbock - so a better option than Munich or Geneva?
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Redial wrote:
@gämesbock - so a better option than Munich or Geneva?


I don't know Munich but can confirm that Zurich is usually a much nicer airport experience than Geneva. Really easy train connections too.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Redial, it depends. Zurich is hard to beat for convenience, public transport, and easy access to a number of resorts in Switzerland. But I would say that in average, Tignes/Vdi tend to have the most terrain open that time of year. The disadvantage is that the transfer is long and can be expensive - there are public coaches, but options can be a bit limited early season and on non weekend days. Zermatt is also pretty good for amount of, though more expensive. Most of the Swiss resorts are a bit more set up for non-standard changeover days as compared to France. I've no recent experience of Austria, though Ischgl used to be great early season with most of the area open by beginning of December. Less easy to get to without a car though.

I think your current plan is a good one though.
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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!
Munich is a decent airport. Quite big in getting around.
There would be the added bonus of some Xmas Stalls between the 2x terminals.
I saw an Altibus at the Airport's Bus station that was going to Salzburg (takes about 2hrs). Which may work out quicker than the train, as its about 30mins to central station on the U-Bahn IIRC & another 90mins on top for the train journey. Really comes down to how long the wait time is!

As I said earlier - im off to Innsbruck - so will either use the free buses for the surrounding resorts, or head to Kirchberg.
Really depends on Snow!
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I’ve been doing trips like this for over ten years now and we always find snow.
Geneva for Tignes/Val or Three Valleys are great if you can get flight times to suit.
Cervinia is another good option and perhaps Champoluc or La Thuile in Italy.
I’ve never been to Austria mid December and am also looking of options from Munich airport too.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
The only time I did this was a great early snow year in Austria - flight were cheap, accommodation options limited as most had not yet opened for the season and I think I arranged the whole thing at about 3 days notice once the snow had arrived. Stayed at a delightful b&b in Kirchberg, which I have revisited since and skied powder at Kitzbuhel with virtually no-one else around during the week.

Blissful but the diary and weather does not often allow.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Mr.Egg, we did same a few years back and stayed in the city! So easy to ski around that place!
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