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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Resort: Au im Bregenzerwald
Country: Austria
Domain: Drei Taler
Author: carled
Date: Thursday 8th - Saturday 10th Jan, 2009
Our holiday: This was a semi-experimental short break to see the feasibility of getting to the Vorarlberg region from Friedrichshafen. Also gave my two daughters a snowy post-Christmas treat! And my Mum came along just so she could say she'd skied with her grandchildren...

Website : http://www.au-schoppernau.at/
Basics : Physically it's not far from Friedrichshafen - if hiring a car and driving it would have been MUCH quicker getting there, but we were keeping costs down and used public transport. You can get to/leave from Friedrichshafen airport by bus or train (or taxi, I suppose) and we jumped on the Bregenz express which was half an hour after we landed. €20 for 2 adults and 2 children to get to Bregenz and it took 40 minutes. From there it was the standard Postbus. €19.60 (again, for all 4 of us) to get all the way to Au, first on the no. 35 bus to Bezau (1 hour or so) and then 20 minutes more on the no. 40 bus. The No. 40 goes to/from Dornbirn, which is a bit further on from the valley than Bregenz. Theoretically you could get the bus all the way from Dornbirn to Au without a change if you went all the way to Dornbirn instead of Bregenz from the airport. So after landing at 9:50 or so, we were in resort for 12:40-ish. Using Google maps driving directions, it is 86km and 1h 22mins all the way from Airport to the door of our accommodation, so in theory you could be in resort for 11:30am allowing a bit of faff time at the airport with hire cars and if you had your own equipment, you could be straight up the mountain at Diedamskopf, the main area.

Returning we left the resort at 16:09 and did the same changeover in Bezau. As the bus was busier, we were a few minutes late getting to Bregenz and missed the connecting train (bus doesn't run late on Saturdays) so had to get a different one to the main town station. There was also a connecting train to the airport from there we could have got, but we were asking questions as it pulled away! so we got taxi instead (€11 from town to airport for 4 people & luggage). Arrived at airport with plenty of time to spare at about 7:30. Flight back departed on time (well done Ryanair!) and landed 10 minutes ahead of schedule (with a big BUMP!).

Lift system : It's limited, but we knew this before going. 55km-ish of piste, but lots of those are virtually next to each other and identical, so not much variety. a good mix of blacks, blues and reds though, with grading about right. (an absolute nutter black run down to gondola middle station, looks like a sheer wall when you approach it from the gondola!). Only three "main" lifts - the big gondola from valley to top (15 minutes) then a detachable 6-man and a moving-belt non-detachable 4-seater on the other side of the ski area. Also two or three t-bars around but we steered clear of those. A family day ticket (one adult and two kids under 16) was €52.20 and was good value. Individual adult cost was about €34 for the day, with reducing prices starting at 11am-ish. Non-lift-linked with a 3-day+ pass to other Bregenzerwald areas such as Damuls and Mellau (both about 10km away and reachable on free ski bus).

The terrain : The skiing is in one big area once you get up the gondola. Splits into a sort of cut where two hills reach. 70% of area is on left of hill as you look up, catches the sun all day. Remaining 30% is on right and is in shade a lot of the time. There is also a tiny t-bar in Au centre, but it's mainly for tobogganing and absolute beginners. It's always in the shade of the mountain so it's blooming freezing over there. Right side of main area is quieter as it's a blue rat run to get there (or I think you can get a short steep t-bar, but we didn't). Small area with a few reds and blues, but not much. We spent 90% of time on left area. This has a profusion of blues down from the closely situated top of the gondola and the 6-man lift. All runs lead back to either a long t-bar or the 6-man chair. Biggest queue was 5 mins. Many blue runs are just the same run but a few yards away from the others... so a bit samey, but loads of space and interesting hollows and bumps and gradient differences to allow you to muck about and always end up back down at the same spot.

From Gondola down to mid-station are steeper reds and blacks. A few of them (didn't go on them) looked seriously steep and we saw a few spectacular tumbles. Snowboard park off in this area too and visible from 6-man chair so you can see the nutter boarders having a long run up to the huge jump there. Most entertaining. All in all, quite a lot of variety to keep you busy for 2 days. More than that would get a bit samey.
The snow : Not snowed for a while, but the cold temps had preserved it all. Very soft and forgiving, no icy patches at all. South facing slopes got a little softer in sunshine, but nothing troublesome. Generally dry powder on top of firm piste, great fun. Trees in shade are still laden with snow, so looks great.
Off-piste : All tracked out, but whole area is one gigantic bowl, so in fresh snow it would have been brilliant with short (varying steepness) runs down to gondola mid-station. You can cut between all pistes and there are loads of small bumps, lips and jumps everywhere, so a real playground.
The resort : Very Austrian. No other English there at all and English not widely spoken, but certainly enough to get by if your German isn't up to much. Sprawling but very well connected with local ski bus every 20 minutes, so no problems. If you have the choice, choose to stay near to Diedamskopf gondola station, out of Au itself. Small collection of restaurants/accommodation/shops over there and much nearer to slopes. Still only 20 minutes from our accommodation to slopes.
Food : Didn't eat out. Self-catered in very handy kitchen of b&b. restaurants at top and middle stations of gondola and also near top of 4-man chair on other sife of ski area. All the usual self-service stuff.
Accommodation : We stayed in private guesthouse called "Helga Baer". Nice lady, nice breakfasts, clean rooms, useful public kitchen. Loads of other similar places.
Costs: Pound/Euro situation doesn't help! Pretty much parity at time of trip. B&B was €130 for two nights for me & my 2 daughters sharing a room. Beer on slopes €3.50 for half litre, €3 at resort level, so cheaper than most "big" resorts. Main meals in mountain restaurants €6-8 and sandwiches/snacks about €4. Gluehwein €3.50, soft drinks about €2.70 for 0.33 bottle. Did food shopping inc. snacks/choc/crisps for each night for all 4 for about €25 in local Spar, so relatively good value.
Conclusion: Not bad at all. Friendly resort, ski hire shops prepared to haggle a bit (we got equipment for first afternoon included in two day hire cost without much argument - skis & boots for girls was €28 for two days and a snowboard for me was €46 for 2 days). The travel is ok, could have been better with hire car, but would have made it much more expensive. Good traditional Austrian resort, lovely views, we had fantastic clear weather and good conditions (minus 14 in evenings was preserving the snow!). Thoroughly recommend a visit if you fancy trying it. Feel free to ask for details on anything that I've missed out if you're planning on doing it!

Au im Bregenzerwald Resort Report Feedback Thread
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
1. Resort: Chamonix
2. Country: France
3. Domain: Mont Blanc
4. Author: Whitegold
5. Date: Jan 2009
6. Our Holiday: Small group of couples
7. Website: chamonix.com
8. Basics: Southeast France. Around 60 to 90 mins from Geneva
9. Lift System: The lift system is wholly inadequate. Lifts are old and slow. Liftlines in the valley can be long even in the offseason. Waiting halfhour for a skibus is commonplace. Scorecard = 2 / 10
10. The Terrain: The onpiste is good. Limited but useful mix of blues, reds and blacks. 7 / 10
11. The Snow: Exceptional snow during our stay. Valley is shadowed by tall mountains, helping to maintain the snow. 8 / 10
12. Off-piste: The liftserved offpiste is the best in the world. Steep and deep everywhere. 10 / 10
13. The Resort: The town is busy. The nightlife is reasonably good. Lots of chavs, however. 7 / 10
14. Food: There are some decent restaurants, but you have to search for them. 7 / 10
15. Accommodation: Mostly mid-range hotels. 6 / 10
16. Costs: Chamonix offers reasonable value, considering it is such a popular resort. 8 / 10
17. Conclusion: Chamonix has the steepest offpiste on the planet. This makes it a must-visit destination. But be prepared for tracked-out powder, huge liftlines and tiresome waiting for overcrowded skibuses.

Total Scorecard = 55 / 80 (69%). For comparison, Verbier gets 56 / 80 (70%).

Chamonix Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow conditions     
 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?
Resort;Canazei
Country: Italy
Domain: Sella Ronda, Dolomiti Superski
Author: luigi

Date: 3rd-10th January 2009
Our holiday: A mate and I booked a last minute catered chalet deal, we're intermediates with about 8-10 weeks experience.
Website : http://www.fassa.com/hp/articolo.asp?IDcms=6390&s=272&l=EN
Basics : Canazei is located in Val di Fassa in the Trentino Dolomites, transfer took 2-3hrs from Verona airport with Thomson/Crystal.
Lift system : The local ski area accessed by a gondola is directly on the Sella Ronda circuit which gives lift-linked access to around 450km of piste in the Arabba, Val Gardena and Alta Badia valleys. Free ski-buses also run up and down the Fassa valley to other ski areas in Alba, Pera, Pozza, Vigo, etc. The Dolomiti Superski area pass also covers many other large and small areas all across the Dolomites including Cortina d'Ampezzo, Civetta, Kronplatz, etc. A total of 1220km are available making this the most extensive liftpass in the world. The lift system has been considerably upgraded in recent years with new gondolas, cablecars and fast chairs. Very few slow chairs and drags left now. Must-dos on the periphery of the Sella Ronda area are the Marmolada, Hidden Valley of Armentarola and Seceda-Ortisei 10+km runs.
There is a red run which returns through the forest to the village centre in good snow conditions, but this is about 800m walk from the gondola. We always downloaded on the gondola as our accommodation was close by.
The terrain : These are some of the most beautiful ski mountains in the world, you ski on the alpine meadows gazing up at the huge vertical limestone spires and buttresses, feels a bit like skiing the Grand Canyon at times. The local Belvedere area is all rated red, the Sella Ronda area is an intermediate's paradise of mainly reds and blues, which can be skied clockwise (about 18km lifts, 25km piste) and anti-clockwise around the Sella Massif with many lifts and runs fanning out from this central, sometimes busy core. There is a lot of opportunity to travel huge distances from village to village without covering the same route twice, just make sure you don't get stuck in the wrong valley as the lifts close. There are numerous mapped ski tours to take advantage of the areas away from the Sella Ronda.

Check out some photos I took, click thumbnails to see medium size and descriptions, click these to see full size:







The snow : This season started with some spectacular snowfalls (2-3 metres fell in the 4 weeks leading up to Xmas 2008), reportedly the best in over 20 years. This huge amount of snow was well-preserved with cold air temps, a small amount fell while we were there which only added to the enjoyment. Extensive snowmaking and meticulous grooming usually make up for any lack of natural snowfall.
Off-piste : There are some pretty extreme off-piste itineraries off the Sasso Pordoi cablecar which we weren't able to exploit. Plenty of opportunity to find areas near the pistes after a snowfall.
The resort : It's a pleasant all year round village in a steep wooded valley with an ancient core of both rustic wooden and pretty frescoed buildings, new development is mostly sympathetic in alpine chalet style. There are quite a few shops, banks, restaurants, bars, etc. The Giardino delle Rose, Husky Pub and Lieber Augustin were lively in the evenings. Lots of Italians at the weekend, Scandinavians and Russians more in evidence as the week progressed. The locals retain their ancient Ladin language, culture and traditions, the area also has strong historical links to Austria, so this influence can also be seen in the food and architecture.
Food : On the Chalet night off, we ate at the Pizzeria Italia near the church, excellent huge pizzas (€6-8.50), large beer (€4), dessert (€4) served in a large, atmospheric, vaulted cellar room. Osteria La Montanara opposite got good reports by other guests for it's local Trentino specialities (polenta, game, etc). One of the highlights of the area are the plentiful, characterful wooden mountain huts with large, sunny terraces serving pizza, pasta, meat and local specialities, almost always with table service.
Accommodation : We stayed at the comfortable Chalet Rigoletto which was about 200m from the gondola and 800m from the centre. Food was tasty, wine flowed freely and many laughs and jokes ensued.
Costs: Liftpass is a bit pricey at €220 for 6-day high season Superski pass, but it does cover a huge area. Mountain restaurants offered dishes of omelette, burgers, sausage, pasta, dumplings and hearty soups for €6-8, meat mains €10-15, large beer was €3.50-4, cappuccino/latte macchiato €2-3, mulled wine €2.50-3.50. Ski-service (edges and wax) cost €17 in Canazei.
Conclusion: I love this area for the spectacular scenery, culture, atmosphere, food, sensible prices, extensive skiing and sunshine. I would eagerly return as long as the snow conditions looked promising.

Canazei Resort Report Feedback Thread


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Tue 20-01-09 1:33; edited 3 times in total
ski holidays     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
HI I wanted to put a reprt up for Les Deux Alpe but I'm sorry but I don't understand how to go about it, can you help in simple terms please... Gareth
latest report     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The Plumber, just post your report on this thread and I'll do the rest. It'd be helpful if you followed the format of the other reports, but I'll tidy it up if necessary.
ski holidays     
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Resort: Vogel
Country: Slovenia
Domain: none
Author: Greggy500

Date: 02/02,02/06,03/06
Our holiday: I am 34 and ski and board, this is the first place i skied. Have been here with er indoors, friends siblings and parents.
Website : www.bohinj.si, www.impel-bohinj.si, www.vogel.si
Basics : This resort is high on a plateau overlooking a beautiful lake and with views of Slovenia's highest peak, Triglav. The easiest way to get here is by car, 1hr from Klagenfurt or Ljubljana, 2hrs from Trieste.
Lift system : Mix of modern and old. Good bus liks to other resorts -Kobla/Bled, 15mins/25mins. If you have a car Kravavec and Soriska Plannina 45mins, Kranjska Gora 1hr.
The terrain : The pistes are spread out over the top of mount vogel. Although the extent of Vogel is limited (but nearby resorts make a week here very interesting), it really is loads of fun for all grades of skiers/boarders, decent terrain park The views are amazing, looking down to the valley floor and across to the Julian alps. The best run here for me, is the long decent back to valley level, a length of 8km. Beginners and inters will love it here, experts will find adventure off the beaten paths.
The snow : The place gets loads of snow at skiing level (1500+), but the run to the valley, from 1800 to 500 can be closed in poor conditions.
Off-piste : Although i have not tried it, there seems to be lots of good off piste oppertunities.
The resort : No village there really. This is a place to stay if you want to get away from it all.
Food : No recommendations on the mountain or valley really, i experienced good food at great prices when i have been.
Accommodation : Stayed at the pension Stare. Very friendly owners, great prices for half board. There are other options, hotel Ski, hotel Zlaterog and a host of other pensions.
Costs: Ski pass €22, Beer €1.50, coffee €.50-€1, meals, well pay more than €10 and you are being robbed! Mountain cafes Burger €2, coke €1
Conclusion: I have stayed here once and visited twice more. I will be back.

Vogel Resort Report Feedback Thread
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Resort: Flachau and surrounding areas
Country: Austria
Domain: Ski Amade
Author: Ousekjarr

Date: 10-17th January 2009

Our holiday: We usually ski as a group of families, so have been limited to New Year, half term and Easter in previous years, plus in the last 3 years, we've started to fit in one or two long weekend trips for the boys. This time round, various things conspired against a group holiday, so it ended up as just three blokes let loose for a week.

Websites : http://www.flachau.at and http://www.skiamade.com/en/winter

Basics : Flachau is 70km south of Salzburg, immediately beside the main E55/A10 motorway. We flew from Leeds/Bradford to Salzburg with Jet2.com, and then picked up a pre-hired car from Budget at the airport. Although this was small (a VW Polo), it was enough for us to fit everything in, and to cope with 3 pairs of skis for a week by folding the rear seat section flat. Transfer time was 50 minutes on a Saturday at lunchtime, with no real traffic to speak of at any time during our trip. Alternatively, the train from Salzburg can get you as far as Altenmarkt or Eben, from where it is a 5-10 minute bus or taxi trip. There is also a Postbus which runs from the airport to the centre of Flachau - see http://www.oebb.at/ for details.

Lift system : All very modern and quick, with a couple of minor exceptions - the chair from the middle section of Flachauwinkel to the top of the pass towards Zauchensee is a non-detachable 3-man chair, with a taste for the backs of knees and the space under the shoulder blades if you get it wrong, and one or two of the smaller gondola systems are showing their age a little. T-bars are limited to little-used areas, and so can be avoided unless you are really keen to ski everything, in which case, be warned that they are very steep in places - 55% on one of the runs - and are fairly long too.

Almost all of the chairs are detachable, and anything from 4 to 8 seats has a bubble. A couple are heated, but we never felt this to be a necessity during our trip.

The terrain : This central area of the Ski Amade offers the closest thing to a single large area that the region possesses - the whole area is a collection of villages and small towns each with their quota of lifts, and in a few places these have been linked to provide a larger area. Where the links don't exist, there are fast and efficient bus services or other shuttle services to get you between key points. This was one of the reasons we hired a car for the week, as we are old and cranky, and hate waiting for buses, plus it makes for an easier transfer and more skiing time.

Flachau's slopes cover one flank of Griessenkareck (1991m), and are linked to the other flank down to Wagrain. Almost all of this area is wide, tree-lined runs on blue or red slopes, and it is possible to run from the top back to the valley bottom on both sides.




There are 3 lifts from the town - Space Jet, Snow Jet and Achter Jet, with the Achter Jet being the main one with an 8-person gondola. Since the main slopes don't vary much in gradient, the blue runs tend to be on the summit, or they zigzag across the reds. Many were perhaps above the average difficulty level for blue slopes, so while this is an excellent place to learn, the progression will be quick.

Wagrain's slopes also extend onto Grafenberg (1702m), which is linked across town by bus. From Grafenburg, you can "bounce" over Sonntagskogel (1850m) and Hirschkogel (1755m) to eventually end up in Alpendorf, so there's a lot of linked runs with excellent lifts, although it can get confusing when you are trying to get back in a hurry, and there are a number of areas where runs cross and everyone seems to be traversing to a lift other than the one at the bottom of the run they are on.



There are three shortish black runs, which are very variable depending on the weather - in packed conditions they are straightforward, although 40 is very steep and narrow. However, we've previously been in this area in March, when 55 from Hirschkogel was marked as for "experts only" due to the ball-bearing-like surface we found half-way down it. Any change of direction sent 1" ice spheres flying. However, this time around, it was in good condition with a packed surface, and could easily have been a red piste.

Flachauwinkel is a small collection of houses and farms, with two lift systems imposed on it - one heading up Mooskopf (1980m) and then down to Kleinarl, and the other going up to Rosskopf (1929m) to give access into the Zauchensee valley. On the Mooskopf side, there are a number of wide red and blue runs, all providing excellent cruising and a great scenic run for beginners and intermediates alike. In addition, there is a snow park which runs alongside several of the main runs, so rather than banishing the show-offs to the far side of the area, they are always visible and those adventurous souls who want to can dip their toes into the park and get out again quickly. The runs from the top of Mooskopf are easy enough, with the main area including a timed slalom course and a speed course with a timing system on the finish - this is short enough to allow recreational skiers to give it a go without scaring themselves to death, but still steep enough to see the experts top 100kph. My attempts were all in the 75-80kph range, which seemed respectable in standard kit.

Going the other way off Mooskopf is a deceptive run through a park area. It starts off on a shallow gradient with a wide area which includes a few rails, but pretty soon it takes a significant dive over a shoulder of the hill, slims down to a 30 foot wide mogul field on a 35 degree slope, and funnels all of this into a landing area about 10 feet square at the top of a rickety wooden bridge. Since the bridge is suspended at both ends, and the far end is lower than the start end, this provides a mini ski-jump which cannot be avoided, and since the bridge is narrow, any attempt to keep your speed down is doomed to failure, so all you can do is go for it and hope that the ramp the boarders have built at the far side doesn't land you on your head.

After this, there is a lovely open area to play in, with ramps, tables and so on for those so inclined, and some tree-scattered off piste in a shallow bowl.

Taking the runs on the other side of Mooskopf down to Kleinarl, the mountain is completely different - challenging reds for the most part, but with blue alternatives that are only slightly less intimidating.

Between the two halves of Flachauwinkel, a tractor runs a road train on a shuttle service, which takes about 5 minutes to move you from one lift to the other. The transport may be basic, but it works well. From the bottom of Rosskopf, an old gondola takes you half way up, and a 3-man chair goes the rest of the way up. Coming straight back down again is a challenging red which runs all the way to the bottom, with an easy blue based on a roadway snaking across it. For the confident skiers, there's also a skiway to the left of the red run, which consists of two very steep and narrow sections which go straight down the hill. We ran it 5-6 times in total, in differing conditions, and it was great fun - but good skiers were regularly stopping at the top of it for a look and then deciding to try the red instead.

Zauchensee was in the middle of preparations for the Women's world cup races when we were there, but although the race course was closed, the rest of the area was excellent. Coming into Zauchensee from Rosskopf, the left-hand side of the piste drops out onto a narrow roadway, which then skirts across the top of three runs before providing access to the main drop into the lift complex. These three runs are black, red and black respectively, with the difference being that the red is in a natural gully, so mistakes mean falling or running up the edge until you stop, while a mistake on the black runs either drops you into an off-piste area with moguls and rocks in it, or into the gully from a height. Apart from that, the slope and width is pretty much identical, so all are a challenge.


The slope here is around 35-38 degrees at the top, which is more than the photo would suggest.

On the other side of the valley is a black run down from Rauchkopfhütte, which only ever saw excellent snow conditions all week, so personally we considered it to be a standard red rather than a black run, so for those graduating onto their first black, this would be the one I'd choose to boost their confidence.

Queues : On one day I was forced to stop and wait for 10 seconds while the 8 people in front of me cleared a narrow area of a blue run down a roadway. For the rest of the time, we shared pistes with 20-30 people max, and in many cases had the piste to ourselves, seeing no-one on the way down, and no-one on the lifts as we passed under them. On one occasion, we seemed to have a whole mountainside to ourselves. However, the main run down into Flachau does get busy at times, with maybe 300 people over 4km of run, so when they bunch you may find 40-50 within the next 100m of the run. Compared to other resorts I've visited, even this seemed very quiet.

The longest we waited in a lift queue was around 45 seconds, except for one lift which closed to allow a helicopter to lift a casualty off of the area where the lift dropped its passengers. Even this was limited to 5 minutes, and affected around 50 people.

The snow : We had 3 days of blue sky skiing, with everything hard packed and running quickly. Day 4 was forecast for 8cm of fresh snow, but after breakfast we cleared about 10cm from the car, and it kept coming down throughout the day, so it probably ended up being closer to 20cm in total. Certainly visibility was low for almost all of the day, and by 2pm most of the new snow had been scraped around and piled up to present more of a challenge. Day 5 was clear but cloudy, with most of the snow bashed into shape again, and day 6 was another blue sky day with hard packed pistes. Just after we left, the snow gods dumped another 20cm or so onto the area, and this week's forecast is for fresh snow every day.

Off-piste : Not really my cup of tea due to lack of interest/ability, but Zauchensee is probably the best bet for off-piste, with the areas above the lifts looking like regular haunts for those who are prepared to trek to get to the fresh stuff. Some of the ridges were showing distinct cornices, but the avalanche risk was low throughout our time there. For lift-served off-piste, the park area in Flachauwinkel is the place to try - it's now officially been christened "The Stash" on the maps, and carved yetis placed around to make it a kind of rustic sculpture park as well, but of course it is small and readily accessible and was tracked out within a day of the fresh fall.

Fashion reporting : a few fartbags and rear entry boots were in evidence, but nothing worth a sly camera shot until one Russian chap caused dizzyness and nausea across a half mile radius:


(click to enlarge)

The resort : Zauchensee is effectively one farm with a modern ski village built around it, so while it retains some of the charm of Austrian village life due to the sympathetic architecture, it hasn't got much soul, and after dark is probably fairly empty as the only places to eat or drink seem to be the many hotels. Flachau is basically a dormitory town, although the old part is nice, and the main street does have some character despite being almost all custom built modern hotels and houses for use as apartments or pensions. Wagrain is more of a traditional town, since the lifts are effectively on the perimeter. None of them are chocolate-box pretty, but none are hideous either, and Flachau in particular has a nice feel to it as you walk around, despite it being strung out down the main street for 3 km.

Flachau and Wagrain have all of the usual facilities expected - supermarket, bakery, etc, plus a doctor. However, to the best of my knowledge, neither has a pharmacy - the doctors will dispense medicines in an emergency, but their standard hours can be somewhat limited. Given that in Austria anything from aspirin and paracetamol upwards are controlled substances and cannot be sold anywhere except a pharmacy, this can be an issue.

Wagrain has an excellent spa complex, which has indoor and outdoor swimming pools with a slide, plus a wellness complex with saunas, steam room, plunge pool and relaxation area. It also has what we call a "donkey track" - an oval ankle-deep pool split into 4 sections which alternate between hot and cold, and which is excellent for those who suffer from foot or ankle pain after a day in ski boots.

Food : In our experience, there is no such thing as a bad mountain restaurant in this area. We've been in most, and never had an issue. If you like Austrian food, it's wonderful - grillwurstl, soups, tirolergrostl, schnitzel, pasta, pizza, strudl, etc.

In particular, we love the Starchenstadl on the run down from Grafenberg to Wagrain - good menu, great value for money, great atmosphere, and most of all excellent staff who are efficient and friendly and seemingly in perpetual motion.

In town, we always ate in Flachau, as we were staying in an apartment and didn't want to go far on the evenings when we did eat out. New this year was a pizzeria next to the Fire&Ice nightclub, which was stylish and efficient, but no more than average in terms of the food. There are at least 3 other pizza restaurants in Flachau, and none of them seem outstanding.

We also ate at Hoagascht ( http://www.hoagascht.at/ ), which was also our normal watering hole - I cannot speak highly enough of this establishment, which manages to combine excellent food with a comfortable and welcoming drinking den. The staff are excellent and attentive without being pushy, and always seemed to be having almost as much fun as we were. Friday and Saturday nights are very busy, and booking in advance for a meal is recommended.

For variety, we tried the Kaiserstub'n, which was quiet but provided a good range of wholesome meals.

And finally, on our last night we had steaks at the Schusterhausl ( http://www.tauernhof.at/schusterhaeusl/index.htm ). This is a small wooden building which used to be a cobbler's workshop and house, and it remains cosy enough that booking a couple of days ahead is a good idea.

Accommodation : We stayed in Appartements Habring ( http://www.appartements-habring.at/ ) in an apartment which was advertised as being for 3-4 people, and turned out to be an Austrian twin bed in one room, and two singles in an L shape in the other, which was perfect for us. A small lounge/diner was adequate, although the combined 2-ring electric cooker and sink in a single stainless steel unit was a bit of a pain. The loo and shower rooms were adequate, and storage facilities in the basement were basic but OK (no heated boot dryers here!). The location was excellent - 40 yards to the bar, 60 yards to the supermarket, 20 yards from the bank, and on the main street. For those without a car, a skibus stop was directly opposite the house.

Costs:
    Flights £170pp
    Car hire £200 plus €22 for fuel
    Accommodation €210pp
    Ski hire €110pp for premium skis
    Lift pass €186 for 6 days


Typical lunches on the mountain were around €10pp for a main course and large drink. A 0.5L beer was €3.20-3.70 both on and off the mountain, with gluhwein at €4, and hot chocolate or coffee around €3. Evening meals varied from pizzas at €8 to fillet steak in a madeira and peppercorn sauce plus veg and potato at €25 (yum....).

All in, around £900 for a week.

Conclusion: The Ski Amade area is an undiscovered gem for British people, and even though snowHead have mentioned it here in the past, there were very few English speakers in evidence. Most of the people on the hill were Austrian, German, Dutch, Russian or Polish in that order, with British a lot further down the list. Unlike the larger resorts, there are not yet copious signs in Russian throughout the towns, and while English is spoken in most of the shops and bars, you're likely to need some basic German to get by in B&B accommodation and in smaller shops and non-ski establishments.

The area has a wide range of pistes and environments which will suit just about anyone, but the lack of a truly integrated lift system may put some off. Since each area easily has enough to keep even expert skiers happy for a full day, the ski buses can be used once in each direction to add some variety, and are regular, reliable and quick.

Highly recommended!

Edited for typo and formatting

Flachau Resort Report Feedback Thread
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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!
Resort: Arabba
Country: Italy
Domain: DolomitiSuperSki
Author: magic_hat
Date: Jan 14th - Jan 19th

Our holiday: Myself and my partner. Mid 30's. Both good Intermediate skiers, looking for somewhere that was "not France" and not the Alps. Picked the flights first, then the resort, then the accomodation.

Website :http://www.arabba.it/localita_inverno-e.htm
http://www.dolomitisuperski.com/
http://www.garnierica.it/home1ing.html

Basics : Flew RyanAir Manchester to Treviso, north of Venice. Picked up a hire car and drove about 90 miles ish to get to Arabba. Sat Nav took me via Cortina and a 2100m mountain pass which was very nearly a disaster (visibility was about 10 foot, the wind was about force 10 and the temperature was about -25. Plus i couldn't figure out how to fit the snow chains and the windscreen wipers froze to the window. How we didn't crash or die is still a mystery to me). After waking the landlady up at 1am to let us in I then discovered that this is not the best way to get to Arabba... "when sat navs attack" again.

Lift system : Very good. Arabba is right on the Sella Ronda circuit, but also has good links to its own ski area and to the Marmolada glacier. Mostly chair lifts or bubbles. I didn't use a single drag lift in all all my time there.

The terrain : Brilliant variety of skiing... something for everyone. Harder stuff seems to be around Arabba itself. Lots of long blue cruising, short sharp reds and a few decent blacks. Didn't notice many runs getting too mogully. Spectacular scenary, really stunning. Cortina area excellent for beginners.

The snow : I was lucky. Snowed for an entire day just as we arrived (hence the hair raising drive up), then clear for the 5 days i was skiing. Three of the days were your classic "clear blue sky" days. Got myself a stylish goggle tan.


Off-piste : Apart from nipping off to the side of the piste and/or cutting between pistes I didn't do any of this.

The resort : I loved it. Not somewhere I would recommend if you are a lover of apres-ski or nightlife, as the apres-ski extended to a few quiet(ish) bars and there was no nightlife of note. However, this doesn't bother me and what you do get (friendly people, nice scenery, decent food, good prices, great skiing) is exactly what i was looking for.

Food : Ate lunch in the mountain restaurants... nothing particular to report. They all seem to sell the same kind of things (Italian/German fayre) and are all priced reasonably and similarly. As for Arabba in the evening.. Mikeys Grill (pricey, but fantastic food. 80 euro for 2 courses). Bar Al Table (Awful food, stay away. The worst risotto I've ever tasted. Only bad thing about the whole holiday). The German gaff right in the centre (reasonably priced and decent food). 7 sass (pizza place - huge selection, good prices).


Drinks : No french style "happy hours", but a couple of good bars/huts near the base of the three lifts on the Marmolada side of Arabba. Also "Peters" bar right in the centre seems to be the hub of apres-ski activity. Bombardino's... a revelation. Advocaat and brandy (i think). A wonderful apres-ski drink. In fact, a wonderful anytime drink.

Accommodation : Stayed in Garni Erica (link above). Nothing fancy, but exactly what i want when i'm skiing. Friendly, cosy, warm, nice and clean, ski room, good breakfasts, centre of town etc etc.

Costs: Flights were £60 each (we took skis, boots and hold luggage). Garni was 38euro pppn. Lift pass was 168euro each (5 days, Dolomiti Superski). Eating out in the evening was usually about 25-30euro for 2 people including some wine. Mountain restaurants not that pricey - 4euros for some pizza, 5 euros a panini, 2euro hor chocolate etc etc.

Conclusion: Awesome. I absolutely loved it. Easily my new favourite skiing holiday I've had. Everything about it was brilliant. The resort, the skiing, the weather, the variety. Fantastic. Did the Sella Ronda Circuit , the Saaslong world cup downhill run and the Marmolada glacier. Day trip to Cortina. Need to go back as didn't manage to fit in the Hidden Valley, Cinque Torri or Ortisei.

Arabba Resort Report Feedback Thread
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Resort: Courchevel 1850
Country: France
Domain: Les Trois Vallées
Author: Hurtle
Date: 11-18 January 2009
Our holiday: Sole skier: the purpose of my trip was to do an Inspired to Ski course. It was nice to be able to link up with another, most congenial, snowHead at Gatwick and, when not in class, we mostly skied together (with others) throughout the week.
Basics : Although the initial booking was through Inspired to Ski ( http://www.inspiredtoski.com/) accommodation and travel were through Mark Warner. Flights - at slightly ungodly times - were with Viking Airlines, about whom there are some very unflattering comments on t'internet, but they were fine, everything perfectly efficient and on time. Do not, however, be tempted by their hot bacon baguette - which tasted of mildly warm (and well-worn) shoe leather. As an aside, I used, as recommended by Spyderman, Cophall Farm Parking (http://www.cophallfarm.co.uk/index.asp) to park my car near Gatwick - super-efficient and superb value at £34 for the week.
Lift system : Awesome. I'd forgotten quite how many lifts there are in the Three Valleys domain. Yes, the lift pass price is steep - full price is €225 for a week - but the number of lifts/runs and the superb piste maintenance fully justifies the price, IMHO. Compare it, say, with the average train journey in the UK!
The terrain : Piste layout and maintenance can't be faulted and, for the most part, signage is excellent. Very difficult to get lost on the (pisted) mountain, even for a numpty with no sense of direction like me.
The snow : It hadn't snowed for about three weeks when we arrived, but there were lots of pistes in excellent condition, albeit with stones showing through here and there.
Off-piste : Didn't do much and no powder around, but then we did have six clear days of sunshine and blue skies!
The resort : Courchevel 1850 is quite an attractive town and has all facilities one could possibly require. Having said that, all I bought in town were some postcards and some orange juice: better to avoid the temptation of all the expensive (very) shops. A few Russians around, perfectly well-behaved (I only had to explain once what a queue was) a fair old mixture of nationalities otherwise, including lots of British and quite a few Dutch.
Food : The best place for information on the Three Valleys generally is to be found on this link in skimottaret's website. Decent self-service food is to be found at Chenus (at the top of the lift of the same name from 1850) and my personal favourite, Bel Air, is as good as ever - excellent food and service, and beautiful views. What with half board and tea at the hotel, didn't sample much else of particular interest.
Accommodation : Mark Warner Chalet Hotel Dahu. Brilliantly situated within two minutes' walk of the main lift system at La Croisette, there really couldn't be a better situation. Nothing fancy, but clean and my single room (without supplement) was spacious, though I gather that not all the single rooms are as nice. The food wasn't haute cuisine, but was wholesome and plentiful, and the wine allowance at dinner was generous and potable. The prices at the bar were very good indeed - less than €4 for some quite fancy cocktails. The numerous Mark Warner employees around the place were unfailingly charming and helpful. (Used their guiding service once - nice young man, enjoyable ski.)
Costs: Despite the dreadful exchange rate and the fact that Courchevel 1850 has always been one of the most expensive ski resorts in Europe, my week's skiing didn't cost me any more than an average week's skiing has cost me over the last 10 years - only this time, the price included 15 hours of the best tuition I've ever had in my life. I couldn't recommend Inspired to Ski more highly, and particularly the instructor who took my class, Angus Meldrum, just brilliant. A holiday booked direct with Mark Warner in the same accommodation would have cost much, much more, including a wopping single person supplement.
Conclusion: An enjoyable, instructive and excellent value holiday. There were lots of nice people on the course, many of whom had been numerous times before. I certainly aim to do this package again.

Courchevel Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Resort: Arosa
Country: Switzerland
Domain: none
Author: Roger C

Date: 16-18th Jan 2009
Our holiday: 5 of us on our annual "Dads go skiing weekend"
Website : http://www.arosa.ch/en/welcome.cfm
Basics : we flew to Zurich then hired a car which was very good value between the 5 of us, interesting drive up as circa 250 bends in last 18kms!
Lift system : good mix of gondolas and fast chairs, many with covers, looked like the resort had invested heavily on lifts in recent years
The terrain : ideal intermediate cruising but mileage hungry could get bored after 2 or 3 days
The snow : it hadn't snowed for about 2 weeks but cold weather and good grooming meant the pistes were still in very good condition
Off-piste : in fresh snow would be great i'm sure
The resort : a nice town, situated by a frozen lake at the end of a valley so no through traffic, there was horse racing on ice the weekend we visited!
Food : has a very nice lunch at somewhere called Alpenpick (or similar), left hand end of piste map, but sevice was very slow
Accommodation : Chalet Runca www.snowypockets.com run by english couple Helen and Mike, great place, higher quality than we are used to, i would highly recommend it
Costs: prices on piste and in town seemed about 30% less than la plagne a few weeks before
Conclusion: cracking place for a short break if you dont mind the drive from zurich, if going for a week i would recommend the train as transport not needed once in resort as bus service regular and very reliable

Arosa Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Resort: Selva Val Gardena

Country: Nestled in the Italian Dolomites

Domain: Dolomiti Superski Area featuring the Sella Ronda Circuit where you can ski round the Sella Gruppa mountain through: Selva, Colfosco, Corvarra, Arraba, Canazei, Campitello and back to Selva.

Author: Mrs Johnboy

Date: 17-24 January 2009

Our holiday: Johnboy and I have always wanted to ski in Selva - attracted by beautiful scenery, varied skiing and the promise of good food and wine!

Website : http://www.valgardena.it/en/ http://www.dolomitisuperski.com/

Basics : Flew from Belfast to Brescia with Neilson Holidays staying half board at the Hotel Flora

Lift system : The majority of the lifts were fast chairs or gondolas. We only faced queues on the day we completed the Sella Ronda circuit - especially in Corvarra.

The terrain : The pistes were varied and fun with some lovely tree lined runs in St. Christiana. Johnboy took the speed trap run in Alpe Di Suzi hitting 90.50 km/hr. The Saslong black run was exhilirating, winding its way through the trees down to the venicular in St. Christiana. On the first two days we took up the offer of free ski guiding provided by Neilson and joined a small group of similar level skiers to explore the area with our guide Elaine. This provided an excellent opportunity to explore the mountains and experience runs that we may not otherwise have found.

The snow : We had lots of snow (first holiday in about 4 years where we've had snow!), with one day pretty much a white-out as it dumped all day. Visibility on occasions was pretty poor and as a result the slopes could get very churned up in busy spots.

Off-piste : There seemed to be plenty of off-piste but it wasn't tracked at all. Although having seen an avalanche on to the side of a red run I can see why people were reluctant to go off-piste. There seems to be very few snow boarders in the resort.

The resort : Selva is a pretty, compact village in close vicinity to St. Christiana and the bigger town of Ortisez. The nightlife is limited but there are nice hotels and bars, including Yellos (very grumpy barman!). The Piz Seteur offers apres ski up the mountain featuring some scantily-clad dancers! Otherwise the apres-ski bars are more relaxing than jumping!

Food : We enjoyed some really good meals on the mountain. As the resort has a heavy Austrian influence (the area was once part of Austria) food served in the restaurants can include both Weiner Schnitzel and pizza. Several of the mountain restaurants cook fresh pizza for around 7-8Euros and excellent pasta for the same price. I especially enjoyed the local speciality of goulash and dumplings. Beer (birra grande) cost 3-4euro.

Accommodation : We stayed at the family-run Hotel Flora (5 minute bus ride to slopes). Although the hotel is noted as 3 star we found it to be of a very high standard. Rooms were of a good size, food was excellent - usually a 4 (sometimes 5) course meal offered with our host Petra taking into account any fussy eaters!!! Johnboy had steak 3 nights!

Costs: We travelled to Selva with Neilson for around £650 including lift pass - I think we got excellent value for money in terms of range of skiing, excellent accommodation and the free ski guiding services of our rep Elaine.

Conclusion: Excellent location for couples and families. Will definately go back again. Very Happy

Selva Resort Report Feedback Thread
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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.
Resort: Val D’Isere
Country: France
Domain: Espace Killy (joining Val D’Isere with Tignes)
Author: Specialman

Date: 7/12/08 – 14/12/08

Our holiday: Fourth week away that was booked to help us further our boarding and maybe take in a few new things in a big, varied area. Three people; myself and the missus and our bestest boarding buddy Hippy

Website : www.valdisere.com is the official website but www.valdinet.com has a lot of independent info

Basics : Situated close to the Italian border, Val is one of the furthest resorts from the major ski airports of Lyon, Geneva and Grenoble. We flew into Geneva, followed by a 3.5hr transfer through beautiful Annency and returned via Grenoble (another 3.5hr transfer), a great route through the Alps that is truly breathtaking all the way to the airport.

Lift system : 150km of runs in Val (300km total in the Espace Killy, shared with Tignes). Not many drags, a very modern lift system based mainly around fast quads and six-seater chairs. From the end of November to the middle of December the EK works on a discounted pre-season pass that saw very few people on the slopes, even though the World Cup was in town. We never had to queue and rarely got on a lift with anyone else – it was really chilled out.
Val is based around several areas: Bellevarde/Solaise are the two main lift areas straight out of the village on the big cable cars; La Daille at the Tignes end has a fast chair and an underground Funicular train; Le Fornet at the top of the valley has a big cable car and is the quietest area and gives access to the Pisalles glacier.

The terrain : Val has four main areas and each offers a different set of runs.

*Bellevarde and La Daille are link to Tignes (via the Tommeusses chair) and offer wide, fast, open pistes (mainly greens and blues) that are great for the first-timer and improver. Access to La Daille is by several easy reds, but these can ice up quickly, especially as the sun drops and they go into shade after slushing up over lunch. Access down Bellevarde is limited to the (in)famous Face run that is the World Cup black run, plus there’s the narrow, gully-like Santons blue (horrible when it’s chopped up an busy) and the hairy Epaulle Du Charvet black run.

*Solaise offers lots of wide blues that really are confidence boosting runs, good for getting rid of a hangover if anything, and these link up to the Pissalles glacier area. Very good but when there’s a whiteout it’s not the best area because there’s little in the way of cover. There are several ways back down, including the amazing Piste L, which is a powder hound’s delight and a truly magical run when you’re on your own and you have so much deep snow to play with.

*Le Fornet up the end of the valley is the gem of Val’s crown, featuring extensive tree skiing and powder runs (down from the glacier) but the red Route De Col is a flat road that shouldn’t actually be a piste – it’s only good for ski touring so boarders beware! Fornet is by far the emptiest area and the most beautiful and the black and red runs going down from the side of the cable car are ace. We did a load of off-piste through the trees (our first proper attempt at off-piste), dropping directly under the cable car into knew deep powder that was untracked. Even if you take a wrong turn the terrain isn’t that gnarly that you lose your way, but there are a few steep gullies with streams at the bottom that can freak you out at first glance.

Good runs to try in the Espace Killy (particularly for boarders) are:

*Col/Vallon/Mangard (Le Fornet)
Coming down from the bottom of the glacier under the Fornet and Vallon bubbles, these long blues intertwine through open powder fields with the odd flat bit, down into the trees of Fornet where Mangard gets steep and gives access to easy off-piste. You can take the Cognon red run near the Edelweiss restaurant or the Foret black from under the cable car. I could ahve spent all week doing this run it's that good.

*Moraine (Pissailles glacier)
Quite possible the best pisted run I’ve ever been on, it’s maybe 1000m – 1200m in length but is steep, wide and beautifully groomed for masses of speed. Amazing off piste just below the chairlift. When it’s sunny this is a joy to go down.

*Piste L (Le Fornet/Solaise)
Like a big gully for most of its length it’s a steep blue but gets a shedload of powder that make sit ideal for practising off-piste without actually having to venture onto off-piste. Terrible in a whiteout though – the gulley walls hurt when you can’t see them!

*Plan Millet (Solaise)
Good blue run that’s great for learning to turn on. Enough gradient to gain speed but not pant-browningly steep.

* Piste M/Rhone Alps (Solaise)
The former is a red, the latter a black. Both are steep and gnarly as hell when iced up and not for tired legs. When the sun’s glaring on them though and there’s been a few centimetres of snow these are speedy runs that really do give you a thrill while you over look the whole valley.

*Epaulle Du Charvet (Bellevarde)
Not a brilliant run but a ‘must do’ run just because you’ll never find so many moguls in such a short spec anywhere else. Basically it is about the same gradient as the Face but full of powder moguls that totally tire you out. A good alternative to the busy Santons runs but flat as hell at the bottom running into Val centre.

*Orange/OK (La Daille)
Two of the main runs, both reds, that run into La Daille, these are odd runs because in they change from wide to arrow, steep to flat in the most peculiar places. Long runs that can get busy late on as everyone races to get down to the funicular for the last runs, and can get icy late in the day because of tree lining each run.

*Diebold (Solaise/La Daille)
A long, easy blue that is super-wide and take you past several fast lifts that access the Tranquille Area (full of greens) and the lifts over to Tignes. Passes the Folle Douce bar.

*Piste H (Col De Fresse into Tignes)
Long, fast blue that’s good to warm the legs after the lift up to join Tignes. Busy first thing in the morning.

*Face/Double M (Tignes Glacier)
Two long reds that join below the Grand Motte funicular station. Not too steep and not too busy. Lots of powder to be accessed from these runs.

* Grattalu (Tignes)
Take the Tichot chair and then the Grattalu chair to access this long, fast but not overly steep run. The top half gives great access to big rocks that you can jib off and you can get to the Swatch Snowpark from here too. Brilliant but immensely cold because it’s so open and a long way from Val so don’t leave it too late.



Off-piste : Both Val and Tignes offer unsurpassed off-piste, something that attracted us because it’s something we were keen to improve on. We’d never really done off-piste before, other than some stuff in-between runs, and with so much snow early December (but a 4/5 avalanche risk) we were pretty scared to go off the main routes. Fornet provided the off-piste access because of the trees and the deep, untouched powder that isn’t a major avalanche risk. However, you really do have to take it easy in the trees, even more so on the wide powder bowls where a guide or at least some avalanche training, is a must.
The glacier has acres of untracked powder that’s easily accessible from the lifts but you’ll need a guide because it looks amazingly sketchy!
The runs off Col De Fresse and down into Tignes past the Aeroski are brilliant because they’re not steep but offer loads of powder that gets tracked out as soon as the first punters have made their way up. There is also so much snow in-between runs that you can always dip in and out for the off-piste without too much risk.

The resort : The village is spread along the valley floor at 1850m and although bright, fairly new and quite crowded, isn’t that bad a place to be. The free bus service every five minutes allows you to move around quickly if you don’t fancy using the lift system to get from one end of he valley to the other. It’s also handy if you are staying out of the main area and need to get into town. Compared to Tignes, which is butt ugly, Val is nice in a manufactured ski resort kind of way.

Food : Didn’t do much eating on the slopes – the strong Euro and high prices put paid to that – but La Tartine in the square at the base of the nursery slopes in the centre of Val is a great bakery that does cheap croque monsieur for €4 and other tasty treats. Café Des Sports opposite does good pizza but the staff are ‘Frenchly rude’ (in a good way). Other than that there are several supermarkets that all have extensive (if expensive) local produce plus the usuals like beer, fruit, chocolate and other goodies.

Accommodation : We travelled with www.yseski.com and stayed in the budget Juniper Chalet some 500m from the village centre. A bit retro but blessed with an alcohol-loving Swedish chef who cooked amazing food. Bedside views of the World Cup course was also a nice bonus but no curtain in the shower room meat that the guests in the next apartment block copped more than a few eyefuls of my family jewels!! ?. Great place though and thoroughly recommended, if only to enjoy the group (18 people) environment where you meet interesting people.

Costs: £350 each for the accommodation transfers and flights; £150 for the full area lift pass (£180 normal season from mid-December through to April). A pint is about €6 and a pizza is about €11. Try BN Bar off the main square, to the left as you enter from the beginner slopes, for cheap beer in good surroundings with English staff that were very welcoming. They also don’t allow massive pub crawls from the universities so it’s a chilled place.

Conclusion: We’ve been to La Plagne and Morzine/Les Gets before this trip and although they were amazing because that’s where we learned to snowboard, butt Val d'Isere and the Espace Killy really came up with the goods for us. Okay, we had crowd-free slopes thanks to it being pre-season but nonetheless, it was an amazing place to be and despite people warning us that it would be expensive and full of toffs, it was brilliant if only because of Le Fornet, possibly the best boarding I’ve had ever!

Val D'Isere Resort Report Feedback Thread
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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
Resort: Flaine

Country: France

Domain: Grand-Massif

Author: Michael B

Date: 24-31 January 2009

Our holiday: Group of 5 in total. My family of 4 (inc 2 girls of 12 + 14 yrs) plus 1 male friend who was let down by his mate so came with us. All intermediate skiers. Cruisy blues and reds. No real offpiste experience.

Website : www.grand-massif.com

Basics : We had a direct flight from the Isle of Man to Geneva then private taxi transfer to the resort. Best possible travel experience for us Island dwellers. Door to door was 7.5 hours including flight delay due to snow in Geneva and longer than usual transfer in heavy snow.

Lift system : Fairly good although there are a number of drag lifts. We managed to ski everywhere without ever going on one.

The terrain : Flaine bowl is a large area itself although you can easily ski most of it in a couple of days. We spent all our mornings "over the hill" in the Les Carroz/Samoens/Les Mollets area. The afternoons in the Flaine bowl. (I wouldn't want to miss the last connecting lift up as its about 100+ Euros to get back.)
There is one problem with the Grand-Massif area. Lots of the pistes cross other pistes at 90 degrees. It was not very crowded when we were there yet I got hit twice by people skiing really fast across the piste we were on. A lot of locals seem to ski in Flaine and they ski way too fast. Not a problem on an empty piste but when crossing another its just accidents waiting to occur.

The snow : It snowed about 1 metre stopping just after we arrived. Thereafter it was blue skies above the clouds in the valley. The best snow conditions possible. By the end of the week you could see where problems would occur when the snow was bad. There is a bottleneck towards the bottom of the Tourmaline run back to the resort from Les Carroz etc. It wasnt much fun at 4pm when we were there which is why we skiied in the Flaine Bowl in the PM

Off-piste : Masses of off-piste for the brave. Even after a week of being there new tracks could be made in certain areas. The "holes" are well documented and can be seen from the lifts. Guide or local knowledge is required.

The resort : We stayed in the Foret area, which is IMO the best area to stay. There is only 1 supermarket in the Foret area plus sundry butchers, bakers etc. All of them are in one building. Access to the Forum area is via a funicular lift which is easy and quick. Flaine is very much a ski resort with no real shops other than ski shops. Flaine Foret is not really ski-in/out. I dont think forum is either. Lockers can be rented by the Grand Vans lift which makes it easy for those who have to walk up to 200 yds to the slopes.

Food : There is not much choice, really. In Foret there is only about 4 restaurants that we saw all with largely the same Pizza/Fondue type fodder. There is a Tex Mex (with free WiFi) not far from the Pierre et Vacances Apt block.

Accommodation : We booked direct through the online reservations. As there were 5 of us inc the extra bloke we had to get a larger apt. We got a Duplex in Capricorne Apt block with 2 bathrooms and 3 sleeping areas (without using the lounge). It was fantastic! It has the best position in the Foret area as we could ski to our door and only had to walk 30 metres to the slopes. The apt was modern and FULLY equipped with everything that you could want inc 2 ovens plus microwave plus Halogen hob etc. We actually ate in most nights as it was easier, cheaper and we could eat/drink exactly what we wanted.

Costs: Overall Flaine is no more expensive than any other ski resort although 16 Euros for 5 hot chocolates on the mountain seemed a bit steep but they were all the same price.

Conclusion: A superb SKI resort which We'll definitely go back to. Wouldn't go if I was a non skier. The snow conditions certainly helped make it a memorable holiday.

Flaine Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Resort: Tignes - Les Brevieres
Country: France
Domain: Espace Killy
Author: Tingray74

Date: 4th - 11th February 2009
Our holiday: We are a 30-something year old couple, I've had 12 weeks of boarding whilst this trip was the OH's 3rd week. After our trip to Chamrousse last year we wanted try a bigger area and EK didn't disappoint. We were thinking of foregoing our trip this year due to the crappy Pound to Euro exchange and the 'Credit Crunch' but our love of snow prevailed.
Website : Didn't really look at the resort's website
Basics : We got a £150 return with Raileurope leaving London in the evening and getting the 23:00 sleeper train from Gare d'Austerlitz to Bourg St Maurice. Getting the connection in Paris from the Gare du Nord to Gare d'Austerlitz was really easy and took about 30 mins tops. The bus from Bourg St Maurice to Les Brevieres took about 40 minutes but you must ask the bus drier to drop you there. Because of the Worlds Ski Championships that week this bus was free.
Lift system : Great linkage and a pretty good coverage of bauble lifts given the extent of the terrain.
The terrain : The worst run I found was the Santons - far too narrow and crowded. One that you should be able to just bomb down but the presence of too many beginners just means that it's an accident waiting to happen. There are some pretty easy blue tree runs to cruise back to the Les Brevieres or the much shorter reds. Whilst the majority of people ride up the bauble to head for Tignes, the OH and I took the reds first thing in the morning and had some pretty awesome powder runs. Favourite pistes in the EK area were the Moraine & Double M - lovely wide reds which for some reason were always pretty empty. The Les Launches chair up to the Double M was shut for our last morning but I spied some preparations to open so we stood and waited first in line chomping at the bit. It was a complete bun fight at the top as everyone struggled to strap onto their boards, every man for themselves but it was one of the best, most exhilarating runs I've ever done. The sun even made a brief appearance - definitely worth the 45 minute wait! An 850m powder run which we bombed down and had us grinning like idiots for the rest of the day. It was the perfect end to a fabulous week.
The snow : It dumped every single day, what we lacked in sunshine was more than made up for with fresh powder each morning. Two of the days were far too windy which meant that a third of the lifts were shut but having a EK pass meant that it wasn't too much of an issue.
Off-piste : We mostly ventured to the side of the pistes but from the tracks that we spied from the chair-lifts, the whole EK area seems to be a off-piste free-for-all.
The resort : I preferred the runs overs in Val D'Isere but hated the town itself - in all fairness, the World Ski championships meant the town was especially busy. Les Brevieres which is at the bottom right hand of Tignes is much more picturesque village than Tignes Central with four restaurants, 3 bars and a more than adequate Sherpa shop - handy for our money-saving baguette lunches! The village is served by a chair lift to Les Boisses where the free-shuttle buses to Tignes runs from and a bauble lift that goes higher to connect with Tignes.
Food : Our favourite place for mid-morning coffees was the Chalet du Pain, it was cheap yet delicious with a mouth-watering array of pastries & cakes. This lovely bakery is right next to Tignes Cuisine and the famous Loop bar which are all near to the Rosset chair-lift. Another place for a cash-strapped lunch is the cafe in the Spar supermarket in Le Lac which is on the ground floor of the main Le Lac complex opposite the Tourist information. A great place to stop for coffee on the Val D'Isere side is at the top of the Solaise cable car just next to the restaurant - it was always sunny whenever we got there. One to avoid like the plague is the restaurant at the top of Rocher de Bellevarde - 4.50 Euros for a crappy, weak-tasting cafe au lait. It was just outrageous! For our meal out we went to La Bachat in Les Brevieres and had an awesome meal of rachlette - great service and reasonably priced.
Accommodation : We booked with the Chalet Chardons but ended up being moved to the Chalet Alpey to join a group of 13. Nice, friendly people with a good attitude - a perfect bunch to enjoy the slightly shabby yet cosy chalet. Our room was a little pokey but it was fine for a place to crash and the food was pretty decent and abundant to boot.
Costs: We manage to find a pretty good half- board deal at 349 Euros which included a 6-day Espace Killy lift pass. Spent another 200 euros each on groceries, coffees, our one meal out and an extra day's pass on our last day. So total of £700 including our train tickets. Board and binding hire cost the OH an extra 90 euros from Intersport which I think was a little pricey.
Conclusion: The Espace Killy region is just awesome, so much to ride and explore that it's possible to never have to repeat a run. The high winds made it quite challenging some days but at least it snowed, i'd love to go back in March or April when it might be sunnier. We could have been more centrally placed by staying in Le Lac or Lavachet but I was pretty happy with Les Brevieres.

Tignes Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow conditions     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Resort: Laax

Country: Switzerland

Domain: Flims, Laax, Falera

Author: HairyBoy

Date: February Half-Term 2009

Our holiday: Family Holiday – My wife and I and our 13 year old boy and 8 year old girl. We are leisure skiers not racers enjoying mainly blues and gentler reds. We did this as an extra ski-holiday on a bit of a budget so we drove.

Website : www.laax.com www.signinahotel.com

Basics : Laax is around 1.5 hours from Zurich – we drove down after taking the overnight Ferry from Hull-Zeebrugge. Followed TomTom which took us down through Belgium, Luxembourg then into France past Strasbourg and on to Switzerland – Basel, Zurich and Chur before heading on to Laax (between Flims and Falera which share the ski-ing area) – 9 hours drive from Zeebrugge which was 10 hours total journey time including quick petrol and toilet stops. 10 hours again on the way back.

Lift system : Very well connected although there are a lot of gondola’s. We quite like using chairs and keeping our skis on but to be fair others may feel gondolas are better so I’d have to say the lift network was good. The main beginners area up near ‘Crap Son Gion’ uses mainly drag lifts but once up and ski-ing you will be mainly on gondolas and the odd chairlift. We were there in Feb half term and were really impressed with how generally quite a lot of the slopes were and how well the lift system coped at this busy time. The main red run down to Laax from mid afternoon was busy so we generally got the big gondola down from Crap Son Gion to avoid the throng.

The terrain : We really enjoyed the blue run 31 from the Vorab gondola station – a wide open motorway of a piste, great confidence builder for timid intermediates and good fun for more advanced intermediates when done quickly ! We also ski-ed across from Vorab on piste 30 to the Nagens/Plaun area above Flims which had some great confidence building blues and reds (piste 30 itself was a bit of a flat wind beaten affair but worth the effort to get to Plaun/Nagens runs. There are also several ‘Freeride’ runs which are basically unpisted reds which are fun for more advanced skiers enjoying moguls !
There is a large snowpark up at Crap Son Gion (best in Europe allegedly) so we did wonder how suited the resort would be for families. I didn’t notice the mix being any different really from other resorts we have stayed in.

The snow : It had apparently snowed on and off for 3 days before we arrived late on the Saturday so conditions were fantastic. Then we had a 30cm dump on Tuesday so Wednesday/Thursday was nothing short of sublime.

Off-piste : Don’t really ski off-piste however there seemed to be vast areas used by boarders and skiers alike.

The resort : The resort of Laax (Murschetsg) was a bit of a building site when we were there. There is a mix of the older style swiss buildings and now currently going up are several blocks of modern slate style square appartment buildings. These new buildings are branded as the Rocks Resort and are next to the main gondolas out of the village. Most of these new buildings were nearing completion – some had shops and bars already running in the ground floor with apartments being finished above. It would be interesting to go back and see the resort finished – the quality of the finish looked very good indeed. A cool and very convenient place to stay!

Food : The food on the mountain was excellent. The numerous mountain restaurants are categorised and marked on the pistemap as Easy (self service bright cafeterias), Cosy (generally more rustic décor with some table service) and Exquisite (didn’t use any of these as we were on a bit of a budget). All toilet facilities we used were of a very high standard and very clean.
On-mountain we could recommend the ‘Easy’ restaurant at Vorab (2 large Goulash soups with bread rolls, SpagBol and Fries for the kids and drinks for 50chf or around £30). We would also recommend the more rustic ‘Cosy’ restaurant at Curnius although we only had pastries and hot chocolates here but the other food all looked delicious. We had a really enjoyable lunch at the ‘Cosy’ Station Plaun restaurant which is a converted ex-chairlift station. Very industrial concrete interior softened with nice décor touches and a large open fire (stew with pasta for me and large ciabatta sandwiches for wife and both kids, 2 rounds of drinks all for around 80chf or around £50, although probably not ideal for younger children).
In-Resort we found the options in Laax much more limited with the restaurants being located in the 2-3 hotels there. This wasn’t a problem for us as were on a bit of a budget and were self catering so were happy to cook and eat in most evenings. We did visit the ‘Dolce Vita’ Italian restaurant in Flims which was excellent quality (120chf or around £75 for salad bar to start and 4 pasta mains and a round of drinks) – 5 minute drive from Laax. Would suggest booking as we went on a Wednesday evening and were lucky to get the last table (which we had to vacate by 8pm).
We had take-away burgers one evening from ‘Burgers’ in Laax. The burgers were absolutely gorgeous but we felt a little pricy at 80chf or around £50 for 4 large burgers with fries and 1 x 500ml diet coke to takeway.
Apres – lots of options at the lower mountain restaurants and bars. In resort the CrapBar at the foot of the slopes for lively apres. The more chilled ‘Piazza’ just round the corner suited our family better – kind of like a starbucks vibe but also serving bottled beer and wine by the glass (2 bottles of beer, 2 hot chocolates and a muffin to share for around 22chf or £14).

Accommodation : After a mix-up with our original apartment the local agent arranged for us to stay at the self-catering Casa Prima appts run by the Hotel Signina. Our apartment was very modern and spacious – big open plan kitchen (well equipped although no kettle!)/diner/lounge with 2 large bedrooms. These appts are very close to the lifts – around 150m walk and there is underground parking available for 15chf per evening. Casa Prima had a communal ski room in the basement which was more of a cupboard, not very secure as the room was not locked. Having said that we didn’t encounter any problems.

Costs: 5 Day Lift Pass for 2 adults, 1 teenager and 1 child was 880chf or around £550. We didn’t pay directly for the appt as we booked through an agent and were a substitute at late notice. I am not sure of the cost of the appts we stayed in as a result. The single ‘Volg’ supermarket was a reasonable size with good choice but was pricey (aren’t they always !) Worth taking essentials if self catering to reduce costs of shopping in resort.

Conclusion: Nice resort – would be good to go back when the ‘Rocks Resort’ building is finished. Plenty for all abilities to have fun and the on-mountain restaurants were fantastic – what more do you need. 10 hours driving from Zeebrugge makes this a great choice for driving.

Laax Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Resort: Stuben
Country: Austria
Domain: Arlberg
Author: boabski

Date: 28th Feb to 7th March 2009
Our holiday: Family holiday. Wife and 3 kids aged 11, 8 and 5 plus my borther-in-law, his wife and 3 kids aged 11, 13 and 15.
Website : www.stuben.com
Basics : Just under an hour and half from Innsbruck airport by bus. Would be slightly quicker by taxi. Langen train station around 5 mins away with direct links to Innsbruck and Zurich. Friedrichshafen airport around 2 hours away by road or train.
Lift system : Only one old two man chair in Stuben up to Albona with two further chairs once up. Although there are only a few runs around Stuben, they are really good fun. You can ski all the way from Stuben to St Anton and even the Rendl area of St Anton (if you ignore the short walk to the rope tow or 1 minute bus ride). Lift system around St Anton in the main is good although a few more chairs could be updated. The Zurs/Lech section is a 5-10 min bus ride away and the lift system there is better than St Antons - more high speed, heated chairs.
The terrain : The pistes around Stuben itslef are limited but great fun. You are at the far end of the St Anton circuit and easilly linked into that. As stated above the Zurs/Lech section are a short bus ride away. Don't think I really need to comment on how awesome the whole Arlberg region is for skiing as I think it's well known.
The snow : It had been dumping big style before we arrived - snow depth in village went from around 75cm to 220cm in around a week. However the temps increased significantly the day before we arrived and for the next day or two. This did not really impact on the snow around Stuben though (although would undoubtedly have affected off pitse). Snowed on the Tuesday again to freshen things up then started on Wednesday during the night and was still snowing when we left on Saturday - snow conditions were amazing. Downside was that visibility was really bad up high but was fine lower down. Snow conditions were better in our experince in Stuben compared with St Anton and Lech
Off-piste : Can't comment as I don't do but looks amazing. A lot quieter than the off piste around St Anton.
The resort : Stuben is tiny but what restaurants and pubs there are we found to be excellent, both in quality of food and friendly service. Better value than its bigger neighbours too.
Food : I have always found Berghaus Stuben to be excellent and this year was no different. Haus Schneider was a nice find too - really small but really friendly staff. The self service restaurant up Albona is absolutely fine too. We tended to lunch elsewhere though, for example at Hospitz Alm in St Christoph, which I had been put off over the years as I thought it would be mega expensive. Turned up there day one purely by accident and loved it - food and service excellent and only a wee bit dearer than the majority of the other restaurants in the area - portions are massive so in reallity the price is no different - cost us around €55 for 4 with a few alcoholic drinks included - can't imagine doing that in Verbier or Courchavel's most famous eateries? Rud Alpe in Lech is another lovely spot for lunch and similar in price to Hospitz Alm. Have absolutely no complaints about the food anywhere I've eaten over the years around the area. All high quality and big portions, coupled with efficient and friendly service. Even though there was either 9 or 10 of us eating every lunch, we were always able to get a table quickly and be served fast - amazingly fast in Griabli (opp. Mooserwirt).
Accommodation : Stayed at the Hotel Hubertushof. 4 star hotel at highest point in village. Owner Heike Schwarzman was so welcoming. Food was excellent and included afternoon snacks at 4-5 pm. Leisure facilities were good too. All the staff were friendly, efficient and had good sense of fun. Could not fault any of the staff at all. Leisure facilities were good too with lovely views from the pool over the valley. If I was being picky, I would need to make comments on the beds - but having holidayed in Austria around 14 times over the years it's clearly an Austrian thing - why do they insist on two single mattresses and duvets instead of a double mattress and duvet - for a country that believes in nude saunas etc for HYGENE reasons (aye right wink ), why the hell can't they have double mattresses Shocked
Costs: Family of 5 in a 4 star hotel for a week half board with afternoon snacks and adult lift passes thrown in €2500. Kids lift passes x 2 @ €120 plus one at €10. Ski school for my 5 year old 10-3.30 including lunch and supervision €210. Lunch was typically around €50 for 2 adults and 2 kids with cokes costing €3 and the same for beers (0.5l), €4 in some places. Gulaschsuppe varied between €5-7 and pastas between €8 and €13 (lasagne at Hospiz Alm which was the best I've ever tasted, although my son ordered that one!)
Conclusion: Having skied around the area several times before I pretty much knew what to expect. Stuben is a beautiful and peaceful place to stay. Ski school was excellent and ideally would have been situated closer to the lift instead of being the other side of the road. Maybe not the place to go on a boys/group trip but ideal for families, couples looking for a romantic place to stay or off piste junkies who are not bothered about being in the hub of apres central (but hey, St Anton is only 10 mins away). Although I would probably prefer to return to Oberlech as a base, it's hard to quantify whether paying an extra €2-2,500 on accomodation is worth it for the additional ski convenience, and instant access to great fun toboggan run - on reflection probably not as we all enjoyed our stay so much, helped very much by the Hotel Hubertushof. I would have absolutely no hesitation in returning again tomorrow with the family, or with my wife.

Stuben Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Resort: Kitzbuhel

Country: Austria

Domain: Kitzbuheler Alpen

Author: martin-6

Date: 7-14 March 2009

Our holiday: Independently booked week for four adventurous 20-something skiiers (2 advanced, 1 intermediate (me), 1 beginner). In this case I was skiing with my advanced pal who is looking to take on jumps and off-piste shortcuts wherever possible, or bomb down a black piste in only 3 turns. Having not skiied for 10 years I was looking for some nice clean reds to allow me to improve my technique while not losing too much ground on him. We are the types to hit the first gondola at 8:30am and ski much harder before lunch than after it, clocking off at 3:30-4pm when the schnitzel/knodel/kaiserschmarrn in our stomachs can't resist the downward pull of gravity.

Website : http://www.kitzbuehel.com/en/
Good recent article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/3173246/Kitzbuhel-ski-guide-introduction-and-basics.html

Basics : Resort is 1.5 hours from Salzburg Airport via rip-off taxi (140 Euros for 4 people) or cheaper train ride on the way back (74 Euros for 4). Early morning flight to Salzburg from London Gatwick with EasyJet. We spent 1 night in Salzburg on the way back, nice city but pretty small so not worth more days.

Lift system : Decent gondolas going up into the mountains from each village. When you're up there, it's 90% chairlifts, mostly quite modern or in reasonable condition apart from the odd 1 or 2 remote ones (G8 Zweitausender is a white-knuckle ride!). A couple of T-bars spotted, not essential for good skiing. Look out for the big high-tech '3S' gondola connecting the busier Pengelstein area with the less-skied Barenbadkogel area on the other mountain.

The terrain : Kitzbuhel centre is only 800m in altitude, so first thing every morning the Hahnenkammbahn gondola should be taken up the mountain to 1600m, followed by the C1 or C2 chairs to Pengelstein. There's some quality early morning skiing to be had on the black 38 ('Direttissima') and 23 ('Griesalm') off the Steinbergkogel chairlift. They are really more like big, wide reds. When these got busier we liked to head up to Pengelstein (1938m) and explore the runs there - 55, 32 or 29. If you take the 3S gondola across to Barenbadkogel/Zweitausender area the 61, 64, 65, 68, 69, 74, 75 are all worth trying. It's worth doing that first thing in the morning if you really plan to explore the other side of that mountain towards Resterhohe. Below Pengelstein, there are a lot of blue runs which are confusing, not very satisfying, and with a fair few push-along paths. In fact the flat parts seem to be a feature which is hard to avoid on this mountain - snowboarders beware! The blue 25 ('Fleck') run all the way down into Kirchberg is meant to be nice, although we didn't try it. The famous run is the blue 36 ('Hahnenkamm') but it's more family piste than racetrack and to be honest it made little impression on me. To get back down to Kitzbuhel there's the picturesque red 20 piste ('Asten') which winds through the forest and offers incredible variety - it became our cult favourite since it led right back to our apartment door and we skied it at least twice a day - the leg burner. Alternatively you have the more traditional downhill route of the red 21 ('Streif') which includes part of the Hahnenkamm racecourse (unprepared and bumpy as hell).

The areas we didn't explore at all were Bichlalm (off-piste touring area), Kitzbuheler Horn and Gaisberg (snowparks).

The snow : 10cm+ of fresh snow every day, almost too much for my liking as the off-pistes got very thick very fast. Plenty of cannons on the main pistes but they were not needed. But, descending a freshly bashed piste of fresh snow every morning was heavenly! Visibility was mostly terrible but that's the fog's fault, not the snow's. With so much snow, the busier pistes got mogully quite early in the day. Down towards the village at lower altitude there was more slush and ice to be found. Get high and stay high to avoid that.

Off-piste : I'm not a big junkie, but we did get into it once trying to descend the 32 ('Hieslegg') to Aschau. It was a very picturesque route with trees and fields, but a little scary and difficult to ski because the snow was so deep. Not exactly a mainstream off-piste trail - we ended up in the back of a farm near a sawmill. Elsewhere on the mountain, we saw other off-pisters having some good fun below lifts on the Pengelstein and Steinbergkogel areas.

The resort : Kitzbuhel town is meant to be beautiful but it just seemed very small and laden with posh boutiques (not really a practical skier's town). If you're on foot there is a lack of supermarkets (just Billa) and 3-4 decent apres-ski bars (thumbs up to Streifalm for cosy Austrianness, The Londoner for cosy Britishness, and Pavilion to satisfy the loud music lovers). The free ski bus service between villages was good.

Food : Streifalm restaurant in the town, really nice, quality Austrian fare if a little pricey. On the mountain, I think it was Berghaus Tyrol on the 36 run ('Hahnenkamm') which was a cut above. The tiny bar at the peak of the Steinbergkogel lift is also very cosy.

Accommodation : Stayed in Appartment Marina booked from Alphome. Their office is in neighbouring Kirchberg so it's awkward arriving and departing with keys and deposits and whatnot. Warm and spacious place, but poorly maintained and its location was right at the top of a hill you find yourself walking up at least once a day. Would not recommend the apartment, would not recommend the company, would not stay there again.

Costs: In 7 days here I spent:
- Apartment 385 Euros including 6-day ski-pass worth 187 Euros.
- Ski/boot rental 158 Euros (intermediate quality).
- Food/drink 150 Euros (self-catering + lunches out). Plenty of meals to be found for under 10 Euros, drinks around 3 Euros each.
- Travel from UK something like 140 all told.
Total 900 Euros, so quite over my budget.

Conclusion: A pleasant and hospitable resort, good food and atmosphere but the skiing area is somewhat limited, especially if you prefer to stay close to Kitzbuhel. Not many challenging runs for the advanced skier. Ok for an intermediate still improving. To get some variety you really need to be prepared to plan your days and take the 3S gondola across and explore all the runs on the other mountains, leading down into the valleys of Pass Thurn, Jochberg, Kirchberg and Aschau. Be prepared to push your limits and take a bus home.

Would I come back? To Tyrol, definitely, for the food. To Kitzbuhel maybe not until I have been to many more resorts to see how they compare.

Kitzbuhel Resort Report Feedback Thread
ski holidays     
 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?
Resort: Lech (well Oberlech really)
Country: Austria
Domain: Arlberg
Author: Axsman
Date: 14-19 March 2009

Our holiday: Just Me and Mrs Axs, both late 40's intermediates looking for a relaxing few days cruising blues Very Happy

Website : http://west.skiarlberg.at/english/
http://www.petersboden.com/index.php?id=4&L=1


Basics : Flew Ryanair from Stansted to Fridrichshafen (in Germany), then caught the shuttle bus to Lech (£78 one way for two people, transfer time 2 hours). The bus dropped us at the post office which is right next to the gondola which carried us up to Oberlech. A very nice man loaded our luggage (rollerbag, bootbag and skis X 2) onto a trolley for us and it rode up the tunnel system and met us at our room! For a DIY booking this was very simple as the hotel pre-arranged the gondola ticket and luggage moving, and the shuttle is timed to meet the Ryanair flight (and waited as we were 30 mins delayed). Top marks to Ryanair BTW for a low cost (£100 each including all ski carriage) service, the 30 min delay was the only 'hitch'. Return journey was by taxi (£185) which met us in the tunnel below the hotel at 6.00 am in order to catch the 10.00 flight home. If doing the trip again, I'd fly back on a day when the shuttle bus was running and save £110.

Lift system : Excellent fast modern lift system, many with covers and heated seats. We mostly rode the Petersboden, Kriegerhorn and Steinmahder chairs which gave access to the 34 and 35 blues, The Weibermahd chair is a bit older but is accessible from the top of Peterboden and gets you back up from the bottom off the timed speed run (if you fancy it). The lifts were so efficient that we barely saw a queue, even at peak times the longest we waited was about 5 minutes, normally it was just ski up to the lift and get straight on. Very Happy

The terrain : Exactly what we were looking for, gentle cruisy blues and undemanding reds that were beautifully groomed every day. We had some snowfall the first night so day 1 was fresh powder (although only 20 cm or so). After that the sun shone every day and although the pistes were a little hard at 8.30, by 9.30 they had softened up to be just perfect. We would start with a run down 34 from Petersboden, then ride back up and cut across to Weibermahd to pick up 62 all the way back. By this time the pistes would have softened and we'd ride up to the top of 35 using Petersboden, Kreigerhorn and Steinmahder and then have a beautiful cruise all the way back down to Oberlech. The pistes and lifts are well sited so there was very little poling or walking required.

The snow : Snow coverage was great, and it snowed some more on the day we arrived. 1st day skiing was fresh powder and we had a little play 'in between' pistes. From day 2 onward it was blue skies and perfect cruising conditions.

Off-piste : We don't really do 'off-piste' but we saw plenty of people enjoying it. For those that want it there's a lot to go at, mostly easily accessible from the lift system.

The resort : Oberlech is perfectly situated right in the middle of the ski area to give true ski-in ski out. It's car free so you can just ski between the hotels which are all within a few meters of the lifts. We stayed there in the evening and ate in our hotel so didn't see any 'night life' but the gondola down to Lech runs until 1.00 am so you can go down to the bars there if that's your thing. We skied down to Lech once but didn't see any reason to stay there. The snow was quite a bit softer in the afternoons down at the bottom so staying above Oberlech gave us the best conditions.

Food : We ate at several of the Oberlech hotels at lunchtime including the Burg, The BurgWald, and the Sonneburg. Food was excellent and self-service prices were not as steep as we'd expected (Spag Bol 9.50, Beer 3.60). We did have one very nice meal on the last day at the Burg which was table service, and came to over 70 Euro for the two of us, but hey, you only live once right? Evening meals were included in our half board package at the Petersboden and were excellent. 4 or 5 courses with normally a choice of main course, all beautifully presented and a real treat. There was an a la carte option as well but the table d'hote menu was so good that we just stuck with it. Wine was around 33 Euros a bottle for a very nice Sauvignon Blanc, and 38 for a Cabernet Sauvignon; the first Austrian red I have ever really enjoyed Very Happy Breakfast was a large cold buffet with a great range of meats and cheeses, fruits and cereals. Overall the food at the Petersboden is as good as anywhere we've stayed.

Accommodation : Hotel Petersboden is relatively small, (around 30 rooms) and family owned and run.Traditionally decorated and maintained to a very high standard it was very comfortable and clean. Our room was just a 'double comfort' but was very large with plenty of storage space, two sofas and a separate bathroom/shower and toilet. Free WiFi was included in the price as was use of the Spa/Sauna (although we didn't bother with it). The staff were very friendly and helpful, they even provided tea for us in a flask for our 5.00 am checkout morning! Overall a lovely place to stay.

Costs: Not cheap! Travel costs were around £500 inlcuding flights transfers and parking. Hotel cost was £362 per day for the two of us including half board. Lift passes were £150 each for four days skiing. Bar bill was horrendous, but ours always is Blush

Conclusion: Lech more than delivered on its reputation for quality. The costs were high but the skiing, hotel and resort were as good as anywhere we've ever been to and a lot better than most. Expensive but worth every penny. Very Happy

A few pix, amazing how many people there aren't Very Happy:-

Mrs Axs at the top of Blue 43


and Me on Blue 34


A half-buried hut


A bunch of folks trekking up for some off piste


The hotel Petersboden from the terrace of the Sonnenburg with the gondola just passing


A few more here if you are interested. snowHead



Lech Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Resort: La Joue du Loup/ SuperDevoluy
Country: France
Domain: Devoluy Ski Area
Author: Avago

Date: 14 - 21 March 2009
Our holiday: Family trip - Avago, Mr Avago, Little Avago, Supernannie and Mr Supernannie (also known as Big Grandad)
Website : www.ledevoluy.com
Basics : Superdevoluy and La Joue du Loup are ideally situated on the border of the Isere and Hautes-Alpes regions, between Grenoble and Gap, the border zone between the northern and southern Alps.
Lift system : Buttons, chairs and 1 gondala
The terrain : All pistes are South, South East & South West facing. 5 Black, 15 Red, 25 Blue 16 Green amounting to 100km of marked piste.
The snow : Really good condition snow considering the temperature was 18 degrees. A little porridgy at the base from 15:30, but little price to pay in fantastic sunshine.
Off-piste : Loads of it, but NOT skied by me.
The resort : You have the choice between Superdevoluy, which combines the conviviality and the comfort of an integrated resort with residences at the foot of the slopes, and La Joue du Loup, which is a smaller and more intimate area, with a village resort spirit. Everything in La Joue du Loup that you would need.
Food : Took all our food with us - credit crunch!!
Accommodation : La Crête du Berger, La Joue du Loup. Chalet style self-catering accomodation. Very clean and tidy.
Costs: £350 per adult
Conclusion: Really enjoyed our week here. Will definately return.

La Joue du Loup/SuperDevoluy Resort Report Feedback Thread


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Tue 31-03-09 22:11; edited 1 time in total
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Resort: St Anton

Country: Austria

Domain: The Arlberg

Author: magic_hat

Date: March 15 - March 22

Our Group: 2 couples and 2 single friends. 3 good intermediate skiers, 3 boarders of varying ability.

Website : http://www.stantonamarlberg.com/winter/ViewPage.asp?Site=STANTON2-WINTER&PageID=206&lang=201

Basics : Flew from Liverpool to Innsbruck on EasyJet. Got a taxi minivan (http://www.innsbruck-taxi.com/en/) to our chalet. All very easy and simple. Stayed in the Nasserein part of St Anton about 100 yards from the gondola that takes you up into the heart of the pistes. Lift pass was quite pricey - 204€ - but you do get a lot of bang for your buck since it covers St Anton, Rendl, Stuben, Sonnenkopf, Lech, Zurs and Oberlech. It's easy to get around (regular free buses) and the different areas are well worth visting - more on this below.

Lift system : There are a few old chairlifts dotted about, but not many. Lech has some snappy ones that have covered, heated seats. There are a handful of drag lifts and a few T Bars, my first ones! Overall the lift system is very good, no problems or complaints. We only really encountered queues at the Zammermoosbahn (the queue looks huge but moves really quickly) and to get up to the Valluga.

The terrain : What can I say? Hugely varied, something for everyone. Some really challenging stuff, some cruising stuff and a couple of parks to play in.

The snow : Awesome. Couldn’t have been better. It had been snowing on and off for three weeks beforehand and on our first morning the sun came out for a truly bluebird day. A couple more evenings of snow meant that we had some fantastic conditions. Slightly soupy on a few of the lower runs, but you expect that at this time in year when the sun is shining quite so brightly.

Our Sking : We skied pretty much all over the area covered by our lift pass. With the exception of Sonnenkopf which is a pain to get back from (the last free bus leaves at 2:30pm!!).
Rendl – Skied here twice, first day and last day. Impeccable grooming and hardly any other people. The quietest place I’ve ever skied. Very nice.
Weisse Ring – A loop that starts and ends in Zurs taking in Zug, Oberlech and Lech along the way. A very nice way to spend a few hours. There’s a flat bit at the top before you come down into Lech, but this is made up for by the lovely itinerary route down into Zug.
Lech – Versace ski suits a-go-go, but very nice, quiet skiing. And a great snow park with something for everyone to have a go on. I managed a rail and some jumps and was very pleased with myself.
Zurs – See Lech, but without the snow park.
Stuben – Skied here twice. Once on purpose and once because we missed the turn-off to the Lech bus and ended up in Stuben! Similar to Rendl in that it is just as quiet, but smaller.

Off-piste : It’s St Anton – need I say more? I’m just about getting to a level where I want to start going off piste, St Anton fueled this fire. For a novice pretender like me there was plenty of untracked powder above and between the pistes. A couple of the ski routes were almost like off piste after the snowfalls. For proper off-pisters, the possibilities are endless and famous.

The resort : I was very pleasantly surprised by St Anton itself. It’s very easy on the eye and small enough to get around easily. It was my first time in Austria for 20 years and I had forgotten how picturesque it can be. Lech, Zurs, Stuben, St Cristoph and Zug are lovely. Very pretty, classic “Austrian” with painted guesthouses etc. Free buses link all the areas and run pretty regularly. It is also easy to get from St Anton to Zurs/Lech and back for free, but most people seemed to get the PostBus and pay – not sure why. To get there for free, ski to Alpe Rauz from St Anton and then catch the free bus. Easy.

Apres Ski: Not usually my scene, but I did make the effort to sample the famous Mooserwirt. Utterly hated it for the first 10 minutes as it was loud and in your face, but then jagermeister kicked in and I had a fantastic time. It’s everything you read it to be… friendly, loud and mental. People really do dance til it’s dark on the tables in their ski boots and googles – but it’s all very amiable and nice.

Food : We were in a fully catered chalet, so only ate out at lunchtime. We ate in various mountain restaurants, all were of a fairly high standard. My personal favourite was the place in lech near the base of the chairlift that goes up past the snowpark. Also, the Mooserwirt sticky ribs platter – 17€ but worth every penny!

Accommodation : Chalet Reselehof in Nasserein owned by Albus Travel. Nice, comfortable, excellent food and only about 100m from the gondola. The closest to the slopes I think I have ever stayed.

Costs: 204€ for the lift pass. Free buses to/from all Arlberg areas. Lunchtime soups 5-8€, proper lunches 10-15€. 0.5l Pepsi/Beer 4.6€. Jagermeister (yum) 2.8€.

Conclusion: What can I say… Awesome, fantastic, brilliant. My trip to St Anton was all those things. Never planned to ski here as I didn’t really fancy it (had heard horror stories of the busy slopes back to town and the famed nightlife and noise) but ended up here when a trip to Ischgl was abandoned. All worked out well given that it is now my favourite ski trip I have ever had. Everything about it was wonderful – the weather, the snow, the skiing, the village, the nightlife, the chalet, the short transfer etc etc. Brilliant.

St Anton Resort Report Feedback Thread
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Resort: Ellmau/Going
Country: Austria
Domain: Ski Welt
Author: Alex_Heney

Date: 21-28 March 2009
Our holiday: Travelling as a solo, using TO Neilson.

Website : http://www.skiwelt.at/en and/or http://www.wilderkaiser.info/en Webcams at http://www.skiwelt.at/en/webcams.html

Basics : The villages of Going and Ellmau are at the Eastern end of the Ski Welt area, about 1 hour 20 mins transfer from Salzburg airport by TO coach. I flew from Manchester to Salzburg, and due to a quirk of scheduling with Thomas Cook Airlines, this meant arriving in Salzburg at 11:40 one Saturday and not leaving until 19:05 the following Saturday. SO I was in resort about 14:15, and was on the lifts by 15:00 on arrival day.

Lift system : The majority of the lifts in the Ski Welt are now Chairs, with gondolas being the first lift up from most of the villages. the first lift from Going is a chair, and from Ellmau is a funicular railway (5 minutes between trains). Just about all the area is now interconnected by lifts, with a new gondola having been installed this year to connect Brixen and Westendorf. The main lift to the Astberg is about half way between the villages of Going and Ellmau, while the main Funicular runs from the outskirts of Ellmau village.

The terrain : The terrain consists mainly of one range of linked mountains, plus the Westendorf area off to one side a little. The pistes run in all directions, mainly red and blue, with a few blacks and a few marked "ski routes" around. The pistes are all labelled with numbers, with the number being that of the lift that you will reach at the end of the piste. Where multiple pistes lead to the same lift, they will be labelled something like 96b, 96c etc. The piste map is not particularly good - it can be difficult to work out what lifts you need to get from one part of the area to another. The labelling is generally good, although you do occasionally find that what was labelled at the top has disappeared without much warning (e.g. 97c and 99 labelled together from the top of the Brandstadl, but 97c disappears half way down unless you know where it goes).

The snow : As close to perfect as is possible at that time of year. There had been fresh snow falls a few days before, and coverage was excellent even in the valley. We also had heavy snowfalls mid week, resulting in several inches of fresh powder on top of the pisted runs on Thursday morning. The snow, although plentiful, was a little heavy and hard going for the bottom few hundred feet of the valley runs, but this was the end of March.

Off-piste : I don't really ski off-piste, but there was plenty of it around, and often with pistes running below, so it had to be avalanche controlled.

The resort : Ellmau and Going are two separate large villages, about 2Km apart. Fairly typical small Austrian towns, with a reasonable variety of accommodation/eating places/nightclubs/shops.

Food : In resort, I only ate in the hotel. On the mountains, I would recommend the Panorama restaurant at the top of the Hartkaiser (fantastic views, very modern with escalators to the loos), The Rigi at the far end of the area, or the Aualm next to the base of lift 71 (which seems to be a required link when heading back towards Ellmau).

Accommodation : I stayed in the Blattlhof hotel, which is on the main road between Ellmau and Going (but you don't hear the road from inside unless you have your windows open). Listed by Neilson as 3*, by the Austrian tourist board as 4* (the difference probably because it has a swimming pool only in the summer). Very spacious single room. Decent Wellness area, although lacking a proper "cold room" and no whirlpool bath. Good meals - dinner 4 course plus salad, with a choice of main and dessert buffet, breakfast the usual cold buffet plus a couple of hot items. Also a small "skiers snack" provided between 4pm and 5pm. It is about 250m walk (uphill) to the Astberg chairlift, or ski buses from directly outside take you to either the Astberg or the Hartkaiser funicular in a few minutes.

Costs: Hot chocolate on the mountain €2.50-3.00, Gulaschesuppe €3.00 - €4.50, Tiroler Groestl €7.00 - €8.00 for a large plateful, large beer in the hotel €3.10. Lift pass (low season) €154 for entire Ski Welt area. More expensive pass available covering 7 areas in Kitzbuheler Alps region, but only worthwhile if you have a car and more than one week.

Conclusion: Probably the best ski trip I have had, partly due to the company (skied with two local snowheads during the week), partly due to the conditions, which were exceptionally good, and partly due to the quality of the both the accommodation and the ski area. I would very happily return to both the area and the specific hotel.

Ellmau/Going Resort Report Feedback Thread
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Resort: Les Deux Alpes (+Serre Chevalier)
Country: France
Domain: Les Deux Alpes-La Grave
Author: Vladimir86[ski_maniac]

Date: 21.03-28.03.2009
Our holiday: group of 75 people (Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, UK...)
Website: www.les2alpes.com

Lift system: 23 chair lifts; 19 ski lifts; 3 gondola lifts; 2 clutch-operated cable cars; 1 cable car; 1 funicular; 1 lift; 1 rope tow
The terrain: black: 13; red: 19; blue: 47; green: 21; Total: 100; 200km of pistes
The snow: Very good snow conditions in the morning, after 1PM a bit wet in the lower parts of the resort but still excellent between 2200-3600m
Off-piste: There wasn't very much fresh snow so we didn't ski off-piste
The resort: Everything what you need: apres-ski in 'yellow umbrella', a lot of shops and supermarkets, smith's pub (live music every night), looks a bit like Livigno, not so expensive...
Food: Individual
Accommodation: The group was located in Mejiotel (near Jandri gondola) and Quirlies (near Diablo gondola), 4p studios and 6p apartments.
Costs: 280 € per person (accommodation+6 days ski pass+bus transport: Belgrade, Serbia-Les2Alpes-Belgrade+tourist tax);
240 € per person (accommodation+6 days ski pass+tourist tax);
Conclusion: 9/10, we are coming in June again!

P.S. We made one-day trip to Serre Chevalier (ski pass included), recommendation also!

Les Deux Alpes Resort Report Feedback Thread
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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!
Resort: Alpe D’Huez
Country: France
Domain: Grand Rousses
Author: Specialman

Date: 28/3/09 – 4/4/09

Our holiday: Fifth week away that was booked to A) give me another fix and B) give me the last taste of snow for a while before my first kid emerges . Went with a guy I’d met in Les Gets last year and two of his mates – a proper boys getaway Smile.

Website : www.alpedhuez.com for the official gen or www.alpedhuez.net for the ‘unnofficial’ resort info

Basics : In the Southern sector of the Rhone-Alpes, situated 60km from Grenoble and taking about 90 minutes transfer from Grenoble airport. The route is stunning as you approach the mountains (although we arrived at dusk). Great location and most ski airlines fly there from the majority of major UK airports. We flew from Manchester (100 minutes flight time) on a Thomson 737 (very good) and booked via Crystal’s last-minute website, www.crystalskizone.co.uk.

Lift system : Several big cable cars and gondolas to provide the major links, with some fast chairlifts and loads of drags. The DMC Troncons from the top of ADH is the main route up to Pic Blanc – takes about 15 minutes to get to the second station at 2700m where you can make you’re way down to L’alpette (above Vaujany and Montfrais) or down into the main areas area ADH centre where there are lots of reads, blacks and blues leading to the two green run areas for the beginners.
Chairs like the Chalvet, Alpauris and Fontbelle are fast and offer amazing views because they go so high. The drags were pretty much a no-go for me on a board because they are really savage and long. Did a few in Les Bergers on the green runs, that’s about it.
As far as comparing the lift system to the likes of Val D’Isere and Les Gets where I’ve been the last 12 months, it’s not as good in ADH. The lifts are pretty quick, there are lots of them, but it seems that they just don’t seem to gel that well at times and the amount of time spent on bubbles was a drag. Avoid the ride up to Pic Blanc before 10am; the DMC Troncon is busy anyway and isn’t exactly speedy, but you’ll also have a big wait at the Pic Blanc cable car if you’re up there before 10am. One day it took us an hour to go from ADH 1850m to Pic Blanc 3300m and it was seriously crowded – 25 minutes of queuing. I just never found myself enjoying getting on the lifts like I have in other resorts.

The terrain :
Roughly 250km of runs, making it (reputedly) the 5th biggest ski area in France so plenty to go at in a week.
It’s mainly open mountain so the weather closes in fast but when the sun is out, the south facing slopes are lovely. If you’re into tree skiing then down into the lower villages of Vaujany, Auris and Oz will suit you but then you’re still looking at a limited amount of tree runs, but fun nonetheless.
The main area is directly above ADH town on the slopes of Pic Blanc. It’s a really amazing lump of rock that just towers over everything and gives a great backdrop to just about every run in the resort. From the steeps right up above 3000m, the incline just shallows out nicely, offering long reds and blues that give you long-lasting runs that really are enjoyable. Runs like the Chamois (red), Troncon (green) and the Couloir (blue) are all enjoyable, if a little busy at times, but there’s plenty of piste to find your own little space. The beginners areas (all green runs) are directly next to the town so are obviously the busiest but you can cut between runs and have a real good time.
Going higher definitely finds the more challenging runs and that’s where the harder reds and the blacks are situated. Runs like Les Rousses and Poutran (both reds) down towards Oz and Vaujany are enjoyable and were often the least crowded at any time of the day.
The lower slopes below 1800m were really slushy because of very strong sun and on many you were boarding over just millimetres of snow and slush, actually scraping over grass and rock. We headed down to Villard Reculas from the top of Signal directly under the TSD Villarias chairlift and it was amazing; steep off-piste that takes you over cliff drops and powder bowls and was one of the best areas before the slush arrived. It also didn’t get too crowded, unless you went via the Petit Princes run.

Good runs to try in ADH (particularly for boarders) are:

La Sarenne
It’s reputedly the longest run in Europe (if not the world) at 16km but don’t let that bother you; it’s a joy and gives you a real sense of being out in the wilds, away from bars and the hustle and bustle of the beginners slopes. Get up to Pic Blanc, negotiate the first slope (walk down or take the steps) and then carve down the fairly steep initial slope onto the winding run after the Tunnel turn off. After that it’s a case of either going off-piste (amazing with fresh pow) or taking the run and hammering it. There are some steep bits but they’re more difficult because of icy conditions in the morning and any larger ski schools that take the route. Otherwise, catch it right and you have it to yourself. The second half of sarenne is failry flat but on a board, providing you can keep an edge well, you can actually hammer it down quite quick and overtake skiers – me and my mates had a race every time to the café at the bottom and the winner got his drink paid for. A bit of fun.

Le Tunnel
Another must-do run, maybe a tad more dangerous than any other run in the resort simply because the moguls are big, very big. Follow the signs from Sarenne, go through the 100-metres tunnel (walk it if you’re on a board, it’s easier) and walk out onto the ‘platform’. It’s really just a three-foot-wide snow walkway that leads onto the moguls where you have to sit and put your board on. I did it at 4pm and it was just a dozen or so boarders who all clapped as each of us made it down the face. It takes a bit of nerve to turn at first but once you find a route, you can carve the main face, especially by sticking to the left side (which l;eads to the Breche run). After that, it flattens out and then goes into another big face all the way down to the Lac Blanc chairlift. One of the funnest runs I’ve ever done.

Villard-Reculas (under the TSD Villarais lift)
Of-piste cutting between runs, get the snow right here and it’s heaven. Loads of cliff drops (not big ones) and big powder bowls that just egg you on to go faster. plus, a few lips to pull ollies off and you can do it all within view of the peeps on the chairlift – sweet

Tetras/Lys
A red then a blue that takes you from the top of Signal Homme. Loads of powder to cut through if you like, otherwise, it’s a nice cruisey run down through the forest tot eh bottom of the Sarenne.

Balcons
Steep, deep and when the powder is there, awesome. Perfect for boarding hard.

Les Rousses
Goes from the left of the DMC 2700m stop and is a nice run that can lead you down to the L’Alpette cable car or take you onto runs that lead into Oz and over Vaujany.

Le Dome
The second half is flat as anything and pretty rubbish but the first section is short (about 800m) but steep and nice for carving. Head off to the left before the flats and you take he off-piste and join on to the Tunnel run down to the Lac Blanc lift. Go up the lift and come down underneath for some good off-piste.

Chamois
Follows the Troncon DMC car and is a good warm-up run in the morning. Turns into the Troncon run (a green) below the 2100m station and takes you through the snow park.

La Foret
Heading down into Villard Reculas, this black run is a challenge, especially when it’s icy, but it’s nice and steep and pretty good for speed merchants.

Snowpark
Brilliant. I’m no park rat but I loved this, what with the wide selection of beginner ramps. The rails still weren’t appealing but I managed to move up to the big table tops in an afternoon, landing most jumps and even getting a few grabs in. The half-pipe is substantial and they also had an air bag set up for a few Euros. One jump also had a photographer on from Photo Breton, a shop in the town, so he took a shot when you jumped and you went down the shop later to view you pic and buy it if it was a keeper.


Off-piste: Because of the slushy conditions we had little good off-piste to go at later int he week, although from the lifts there was definitely a lot of ground to be covered when it does snow hard. The off-piste down into Villard-Reculas was sweet while it lasted but didn’t last long in the sun, but it was steep, deep and really gnarly at times. The off-piste at the back the DMC second station (beside the Lac Blanc lift) was amazing but prepare hairy because of rocks poking through.

The resort: Big but not overly ugly, it’s shaped like a big triangle, with the upper ‘corner’ being where the main lifts are situated. There is a bucket lift winding its way through town if you want to travel around without walking, but it can be crowded early morning and isn’t particularly fast.
There are loads of banks, takeaways, SPAR and Casino shops, plus a whole wedge of ski rental and equipment shops, more than I’ve encountered in other resort before. Plus, there are lots of souvenir shops for gifts.
If you are on the lookout for bars, then there are loads but be warned; this is the most expensive place I’ve been to, more so than Val D’Isere (more because of the strong Euro). Le Sporting is a fantastic bar and for €6 a pint, is one of the cheaper, swankier bars. A really nice place. The Rhummery (L'etalon) bar is €7 for a pint, as is Lilly’s Irish Bar. Most have happy hours but only for après between 4.30pm and 6.30pm. After that it’s full price and even though we had 2,500 students in town with BUSC, prices weren’t dropped. There’s an ice skating rink I town and the heated swimming pool is free on the lift pass – bring your Speedos though, as they HAVE to be worn. No shorts.
Views-wise it’s a nice place and you can see Le Meije over in L2A, Signal L’Homme or the whole of Pic Blanc from most bars. It’s pretty bustling too, but in that nice French, small-town way.

Food: The bars and cafes near the DMC are good and okay price-wise (the one next to the bucket lift is the best). A big omelette, salad and chips with a pint is about €15. Pizzas are about €14 each and a steak is maybe €20. Steak hache and chips is a good budget choice for less than €10. In town there’s a little restaurant in the arcade under the Royal Our Blanc hotel (think it begins with ‘M’) that was next to the pizza take-away. €24 for a three-course meal of spectacular proportions.

Accommodation : We stayed at L’Hermitage run by Crystal. Great food, tidy, clean and nice rooms with great views over to L2A. I had a dicky stomach after the first day (as did quite a few others) but it was nothing to do with the food I don’t think; it was great food and big portions. The free house wine was okay. The breakfasts weren’t great but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever found good bacon and sausages in an alpine hotel or chalet. Lots of cereals and fruit, plus bread and croissants with jams. For £320 it was an absolute steal. The staff were a bit rowdy coming in and took over the bar after 11pm but that wasn’t a major concern; these are, after all, kids doing seasons.

Costs: £320 for the hotel with flights and transfers plus £30 for board carriage. Waited until two weeks before to book and went through Crystal’s last-minutes website, www.crystalskizone.co.uk. The lift pass is extortionate at €203, even if it does give you two days in L2A, a day in Grand Serre, a day in Serre Chavalier, and a day in Italy. If they took away these ‘extras’ (which come at your own cost in terms of a transfer) and dropped it down to about €150 just for the ADH area, then that would have been better. As said, beers were about €6-7 per pint and you could expect to pay about €15-18 for a normal lunch on the slopes. Remember to take lots of cents around for using toilets – everywhere charges €40c near the slopes.

Conclusion: Compared to December in Val D’Isere, ADH just can’t hold a candle to it; the area’s lift system isn’t fluent enough, there are too many green runs near the resort and a lot of lower slopes (below 2000m) suffered badly because of the sun. But, saying that, I really enjoyed it, as I do whenever i'm on snow Smile.
I knew it was going to be a totally different experience to Val D and was pleasantly surprised by the number of big runs higher up that were a real challenge. What off-piste we did was excellent and I can see the potential for some seriously hairy off-piste stuff when there’s a shedload of snow.
The Sarrenne was brilliant, despite little snow in places, and Le Tunnel was the highlight of my week - it's a must-do. The snowpark was sublimely good and well worth a visit because it was relaxed, not overly hard and had a great photographer there that did an A4 shot for about €15 (you go to his shop on the evening) - a great memento.
I loved the holiday, as I always do when I go boarding, and although the area as a whole wasn’t as impressive as say, the Espace Killy, it was good and it offers great boarding. Better snow, less students and a pick up in the pound would help immensely and although I won’t be rushing back because I want to try other domains, it’s definitely somewhere I’d recommend to people looking for a good all-round resort.

Alpes D'Huez Resort Report Feedback Thread
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Resort: Whitefish, Montana and Red Mountain
Country: US/Canada
Domain:
Author: MUSKY

Date: February 2009 2009

Very quiet at work today....in fact we are shut down for Easter but I was in with a few others to keep an eye on things and answer the phones. It gave me some time to write up a report on our trip this winter to Whitefish and Red.

Canada / USA 2009 Trip report

When we arrived back home after our Feb/Mar 2008 trip I was as usual keen to plan and book our trip for the following year. We love Rossland and Red Mountain and in recent years we have always included it as part of our road trips. Last year we had a fine time down at Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho and we had heard good things about Big Mountain in Montana. This place has now been rebranded as Whitefish Mountain resort after the nearby town and has excellent on the hill accomodation as well as a decent snow record.
I decided just as last year to book everything independently and the first thing to sort out were the flights. Our Son would be over 2 years of age on this trip so would have to have his own seat. We had flown last Winter with Zoom direct from Glasgow to Calgary and this proved a great success and so much easier than transferring through Heathrow. We got the dates for our 2009 trip and then booked our flights direct with Zoom using a credit card. I then looked at vehicle hire and made a reservation with National. They did not take an upfront payment but gave me a quote for an SUV.
I then sorted out where we would stay on the trip which would see us spend a night at Calgary then down to Whitefish before Red and then onto Fairmont Hot Springs for a couple of nights on way back to Calgary.
Then to our horror we heard that FlyZoom were being wound up and that we would have to make alternative arrangements for our flights. I spent a few hours one evening seeing what was available and managed to book Air Canada flights from Glasgow to Calgary via Heathrow, these were more expensive than Zoom as well as having the extra inconvenience of flying via London. My next issue was trying to reclaim the money from Zoom and fortunately after a few weeks I was reimbursed by my credit card company.
Once Xmas and New year were over it was no time at all until we were packed up and on our way up to Glasgow airport. We always like to go up the evening before and over the past few years had always stayed at the Erskine Bridge Hotel. This was fine but you have to rely on the Hotels transfer bus to get to and from the airport and as it always means a wait on our return plus the Hotel is in the opposite direction from home we decided to stay at the Holiday Inn which is located on the airport. It cost £93 for the night plus car parking while we were away. Pretty good value and included a decent buffet style breakfast. That evening we had our dinner and then went for an early night. The next morning we were able to load all our luggage onto two airport trolleys which you can find at the Hotel entrance, from there it is a short distance under a covered walkway. We had no issues at check-in and all our luggage including two snowboard bags were soon off our hands and with having an energetic toddler in tow that makes things a bit easier. We headed through security which was quite slow and very warm and we did not have long to wait until we were on board the BMI flight to Heathrows terminal 1. Craig was pretty well behaved and enjoyed the short flight. On arrival in London it was very quiet and we were surprised at just how few people were about as we made our way via “Flight Connections” over to T3. The departure lounge here was quite busy but we were soon on our way down the long walkway to the plane and flight AC851 took off on time for Calgary. Craig was a bit upset for the first 30 minutes or so and did not want to wear his seatbelt but he settled down and we managed to keep him entertained for the duration of the flight, we had wrapped up little gifts for him to open and he also had his portable DVD player to keep him amused. On arrival at a very cold Calgary it took about 30 minutes to get through customs/immigration and a further 30 minutes to retreive our baggage. In the past we have just trudged across the road and checked in at the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel but while checking the prices we noticed that there were other much cheaper options available so we had booked the Sandman Airport Hotel a short drive away. We picked up our hire car in a matter of minutes from the National car hire desk, we were handed a very stylish looking luxury Lincoln MKX SUV and soon had our luggage loaded. Last year we had brought over Craigs car seat from home but decided it would be easier just to hire one with the car. This cost C$70 but was not the easiest thing to fit but after a bit of a struggle it was secured and we were on our way. It was a chilly -27c late afternoon as we drove out of the airport and down onto Barlow Trail heading south to McKnight Blvd and to the Hotel. It makes such a difference that we know our way around Calgary pretty well after all the years we have been travelling here. We unpacked our overnight bags and made our way to check-in. Craig was reluctant to come inside and just wanted to stay out playing in the recent fresh snow. Although it was really cold he seemed unperturbed and even after such a long day he was still awake and well behaved. We decided to stay up for as long as possible so made our way to the Hotels small swimming pool for a dip before getting ready to go for some dinner. The Moxies Classic Grill chain of restaurants is located at the Hotel and we were soon being shown to a table and ordering dinner, the steaks were very good and after being washed down with a couple of pints of Amber Ale (C$5.99/pint) I was feeling the effects of a long day. The bill for our starters ,main courses and drinks came to C$104 (£61).We retired to our quite spacious room and went to sleep at about 8pm.
The next morning (Feb 26th) after a reasonable nights sleep we were up before 7am, it had been a very cold night and as I packed the car before breakfast it was showing -9f, I am always confused with low Fahrenheit readings but understand them when we hit the 70s and 80s in Summer but after doing a quick conversion on the calculator it worked out at -22.8c. We went back to Moxies for a breakfast of pancakes and some orange juice (C$34 for 3) before we set of south and down into Montana.

Whitefish, Montana.

We set of from Calgary at 8.45am for the 285 mile drive down to Whitefish,Montana. The roads in Calgary were hardpacked snow and we saw a couple of crashes on the way out of the City. Once onto Deerfoot trail we made good progress and onto Highway 2 south where the roads were very quiet, we headed down to Fort McLeod and Cardston to the US border crossing at Carway. There was only one other vehicle in front of us and we were soon told to park up and come into the office. The staff here just like last year at Roosville, friendly and helpful. We got our visitors visas ($6) and were soon on our way, this is a very remote part of Montana and there were no towns or villages for miles as we headed south on snowy roads to Babb,St.Mary and Kiowa then on to Browning which is in the Blackfoot Indian reservation. We stopped at the
Subway there for lunch just as the sun came out. It had been a really nice drive with some fine scenery. Craig fell asleep in the car after lunch as we made our way west on hardpacked snow to Columbia Falls and up to Whitefish, when we arrived in town it was snowing heavily and we could not find any signs with directions up to the ski hill, eventually we found the way and after about 20 minutes drive we were at Whitefish Mountain resort and the main check-in desk. We had booked to stay at the Morning Eagle condos which have there own underground heated carpark. Had booked this earlier in the year when the pound was much stronger against the dollar and the total cost for 4 nights was $1076 (£785). Expensive but worth it, Craig had his own room which was classed as a den and the whole open plan living area was spacious and well furnished, we had a lovely bedroom with lots of storage space and the bathroom was huge and included a large washing machine and separate tumble drier which were to come in handy over the next few days. It was still snowing as we unpacked and things were looking good for our first day on the hill. We were then ready for some dinner so took a walk up to “Ed and Mullys” where it was only $3 for a beer, what a difference from the Alps ! After dinner we headed back to the condo and I got my internet connection set up which had a good strong WiFi signal. Off to bed by 10pm and it was still snowing outside.
Craig had woke up at 4am but went back to sleep until we all got up at 7.15am, I got breakfast sorted and took all our kit down to the car. The daylodge is a short drive down the hill from where we were staying and that is where the kinder care is located. The condo is otherwise ski in,ski out. We drove down and got parked up and made our way into the large lodge which houses the usual ticket office,lockers,ski hire,restaurant etc. Once kinder care opened we introduced ourselves and the Manager Nancy could remember speaking to me back in December when we had made a reservation for Craig, I suppose she does not hear too many Scottish accents in these parts ! Child care costs were C$60/day plus $10 for lunch if required. Once Craig was settled Jill and I got our boards and set out to explore the hill.
Whitefish has 7 chairlifts (3 high speed quads, 2 fixed quads, 2 triples) that normally run plus two others that act as a back up for Chair 1 if it is down for maintenance. There is also the Bigfoot T-bar of which I will mention again later , the Heavens T-Bar which is used for competitions and a conveyor carpet in the beginners area.
There is also another chair (Elk) which is for access to some of the accomodation. All these lifts cover 3,000 acres and 94 marked runs as well as limitless off-piste skiing in bowls and in gladed areas. The area averages more than 300 inches of snow per year, has a summit elevation of 6817ft and a vertical drop of 2353ft with the longest run being 3.3 miles. So there was certainly more than enough terrain for Jill and I to cover on this trip.
It was still snowing as we set out for the Big Mountain Express (Chair 1) and there was a little queue, chatted to a local snowboarder while we were in the line and he said that this was by far the busiest day of the season even though we were on the chair in less than 5 minutes and this was at the start of the day. They had not had very many great powder mornings so all the locals had shut up shop in town and headed for the hill. I enjoyed telling him about powder mornings in Chamonix and other places in Europe and saying just how spoiled people are living in a place like Montana when 30 people in a lift line is a busy day.
It was misty at the top but there was great fresh snow in every direction, as it was our first day and we were unfamiliar with the area we made our first run of the day down Ptarmigan Bowl keeping near to the lift in order to help navigation, the powder was light and knee deep and we made nice turns until the visibility lifted and we made our way onto the piste and cruised down the blue run“Corkscrew” coming out at the bottom of Chair 9, there was nobody there so we got on and it slowly made its way up a rather flat area through the trees, this is a beginners area but still steep enough to make a few fresh powder turns through the trees. We were back up to the top a couple of times finding different lines down the front side of the hill, every run being on nice fresh snow. It was then time for a coffee stop and we headed back to the village for coffee and a huge muffin at the small and intimate “Big Drift Coffee house”. We then had a few nice runs from Chair 2 which access the “Fishbowl” terrain park. It was very quiet in this area and the blue runs from the top of the chair are nice and cruisy and they are longer than they look on the piste map. Lunchtime saw us head to the “Bierstube” which is located just across the road from the Morning Eagle Condos. This is a very atmospheric place with a nice relaxed vibe where they serve good food and good beers all at reasonable prices. Jill had some nice Chilli while I had the soup of the day which was Clam Chowder. After a few more runs on the front side of the hill we went to pick up Craig from kind care at 2.45pm. He had been fine but was now looking forward to getting out on his own small plastic skis we had brought with us. He was walking around pretty well on them and just wanted to head higher and higher up the nursery slopes. After his skiing and a snowball fight we headed back to the car and drove back up to Morning Eagle. Had a rest, went to the village store which was just up the road to stock up on a few things before we went for dinner. Tonight we went to the “Hellroaring Saloon” where the food and service were excellent. Had some really delicious meatballs washed down with a few beers before we headed home through some quite heavy snowflakes, it was certainly looking like another powder day for Northern Montana. We were all away to bed early again tonight.

It had been a quiet and peaceful night until we heard Craig coughing then being sick at 6.40am, we got him up and into the bath and all his bedding into the washing machine, which we would be using constantly over the next couple of days . Outside the sky had cleared and it was all set to be a fine,sunny day with a nice covering of overnight snow on the ground. Craig was sick again and looked quite pale and unwell so was not going to go to kinder care today. I drove down to the daylodge to let them know. Jill stayed in with Craig while I got out to hit the fresh stuff. I headed straight up to the Summit House and dropped down into the Back Bowl where I cruised down the groomers to Big Creek Express (Chair 7), it was very quiet and I virtually had the place to myself. Back to the top and I headed down towards the Big Foot T-bar, there were a few people in front of me but I could see lovely clear untracked terrain up above me. The T-bar is only open at weekends so much of the area had been untouched except for a few people who had made it up there under their own steam.There were stunning views down and across towards the Flathead Lake and Blacktail Mountain. I done a couple of loops of the T-bar for some fine tree runs before heading back over to the front side of the mountain, a run through the park and back to the condo. Craig seemed a bit better and we all had beans on toast for lunch. Jill then got her board out and done a few laps of the park at the back of Morning Eagle while Craig and I played around in the snow. When Jill was finished we got into the car and drove down to Whitefish, Craig fell asleep as we drove round the edge of the lake then headed into town, he then woke up and was very sick all over the car, it certainly was not a nice job cleaning it all up. We had a look around the shops including an amazing toy shop (Imagination Station) where we had a nice chat to the owner before we headed back up the hill. I went over to the Bierstube to order dinner to take back to the condo, this was great as I had time for a few beers while I waited on the food. It was reasonably busy as it was a Saturday evening and everyone was having a fine time. Got chicken wings,burgers and pizza and had a nice feast in the comfort of the condo before watching tv and having an early night.

Sunday morning (1st March) arrived and Craig had slept all night and was looking a lot better as we sat down to eat breakfast. Outside it was calm and cool with high cloud which looked as though it might be capable of delivering a bit more snow during the day. We decided to take Craig down to kinder care where he was a little reluctant to leave us but he had settled well after a few minutes and ended up having a good day. I was eager to take Jill to some of the areas I had discovered while on my own yesterday so we headed up Chair 1 to the summit and down into the Back bowl, runs like Black Bear, Marmot,Whitetail and Kodiak were all in excellent condition. You really get the feel of being away out in the wilds over here, it is remote,peaceful and beautiful. Headed over for a few runs from the T-bar and there were still some untracked areas from yesterday. We popped in to check Craig was ok then decided to head over to the “Hellroaring Basin” to explore the chutes. It was quiet and a really good area where all the runs eventually reach down to a blue run called Hell Fire which ends back at the Hellroaring Triple chair (Chair Cool. This area closes at the end of March as the Grizzly Bears start to wake from their winter hibernation. One of the Lady snow hosts we had been talking to earlier in the day used to work with bears in the area and told us a lot about them and their environment. We had a late lunch today in the Bierstube washed down with a couple of pints of Porter before we went to pick up Craig. We borrowed a plastic sledge and pulled him around for a while at the back of the condo. One of the Ladies who works at the kids centre also does a little baby sitting in the evenings and she offered to come up to the condo that evening to allow Jill and I to go out for dinner on our own. We got Craig away to bed by 7pm and once Lynn arrived we walked up to the Hellroaring Saloon where I had Buffalo and Jill had Sirloin steak for dinner. We then went down to the Bierstube for a drink , it was really quiet in there tonight and by 10pm we were ready to call it a night. We had most of our things all packed ready to move on in the morning. We really enjoyed our stay at Whitefish and its certainly somewhere I would return to and I would also recommend it to anyone who has a liking for a quality ski hill that is quiet and friendly with terrain for every level and also an excellent kids centre. Lift tickets cost us $56/day (£40).

Red Mountain

Monday morning arrived and we soon had everything packed into the car and after checking out at the central reservations office we were on our way out of Whitefish heading south to Kalispell. It was a fine morning and the roads were quiet and we were making good time on the 263 mile drive. We were going to stop at Libby for lunch just like last year but as Craig was fast asleep in the back we kept going up to the border crossing at Porthill. It began to rain and it was a real downpour as we pulled in for lunch at Creston. Fed and watered we were soon on our way and I was a bit concerned as to what the weather was going to be like going over the Kootenay pass to Salmo. I thought it might be a blizzard when we got higher up but it kept raining and only turned to snow at the very top of the pass. The road was like a river in flood but as we got over the summit it began to clear and dry up. We arrived in Rossland by 2pm and headed down into the lower part of town to find the Black Bear b&b. This lovely old place is owned by Greg and Tauna Butler whose former place was the Rams Head Inn up at the ski hill. We always used to stay there but it has gone downhill faster than Bode Miller since going into new ownership. It was great to see Greg,Tauna and their family again and we were soon settled into the Grand Room (C$145/night). We took a drive back up to Rossland, it’s a fine old town and I love coming back here again and again. We went to the Post Office then to the Prestige Inn for a coffee. Tonight I began to feel really unwell and it was not long before I realised I had the same bug which Craig was just recovering from. I was unwell and awake all night and it was the worst I have ever felt.

The next morning I was exhausted and drained of all energy, at breakfast all I could manage was tea and toast. We managed to make it up to the Ski hill and Jenny greeted us as we arrived at Reds kinder care. She could remember Craig from last year. The kids are in a long tall building just in front of the nursery slopes, its very homely and cozy. It costs C$55/day. I was just not well enough to board today so I dropped Jill off in Rossland and I went back to the b&b and to my bed for a few hours sleep. This afternoon we drove back up to the ski hill to pick up Craig, he had been fine and had enjoyed his day. We then drove down the hill to Trail and to the Aquatic centre. This is an excellent facility and Jill and Craig spent some time in the various pools having fun while I sat at the side feeling sorry for myself. Once back in the car Craig fell asleep as we went to the shops and then for some dinner, I did not eat much so there is a chance that this illness might help me lose some weight ! I was away to bed by 7.30pm but did not sleep well.

Wednesday 5th March arrived and I certainly felt a bit better as we went down for breakfast. We went up to the ski hill and Craig was dropped off at kinder care with Jenny. I went to the ticket office and bought two 5 out of 6 day passs and it was great that they accepted the remainder of my US dollars as part payment. Day tickets were around C$56.50/day. (£33). It was quite a mild and misty morning at the base but when we got above mid mountain it cleared and became bright and cold. I was still feeling a little drained and weak so we took it quite easy today but in saying that we covered quite a bit of terrain. The snow was in great condition and there were very few people on the slopes, Red was certainly a lot quieter than usual and it seemed like the credit crunch was having an effect on business here just like everywhere else. We finished up after lunchtime and headed back to the b&b once we had picked up Craig. We then went back down to the Aquatic centre in Trail and this time I manged to go in swimming as well. Once we were dried and dressed it was time to go to one of our favourite places for dinner. We were meeting Susan,Bill and Joan at the Collander. We always come here on our first night back in town but this year it happened to be the second night of our trip which was just as well as I would not have eaten much last night. We always go for the “special” which consists of salad,potatoes,chicken then meatballs and spaghetti. It is a great feast and very very cheap and there is always way too much food. After a good chat and a couple of glasses of wine we headed back up the steep hill to Rossland. We were in bed at the same time as Craig again tonight, well fed and on the road to recovery.
Thursday morning arrived and I felt much better as we headed down for breakfast at 8am, it had been snowing overnight and the car was covered with around 6” of dry powder. Ate pancakes and maple syrup then cleared the snow from the car and made our way up to the ski hill. Jill took Craig to kinder care while I headed off to meet our old friend Andy. Andy Cant is a snow host at Red whom we met on our very first trip here a number of years ago and we have kept in touch with him ever since. The stories the hosts can tell from the old days at Red always facinate me and its good to learn more about the history of the place. Andy has a great memory and remembers all the things we have talked about on our previous trips. We spent the morning with Andy touring some of the glades of “Buffalo Ridge” on Granite Mountain, finding sweet pockets of powder. Stopped at Paradise Lodge for morning coffee and got to meet a few more interesting characters including Howard who at 92 years old skis at Red 3 days a week as well as a couple of days at his local hill, 49’ North over the border in Washington State. He also regularly heli skis and has about 3 heli company jackets for racking up plenty of vertical feet. An amazing character and I also noticed while we were having our coffee that the majority of people in the lodge were quite a bit older than me, there were lots of people in their 60s,70s and 80s who all looked so well and so fit, it just shows what exercise and a good mountain environment can do for you. Also amazing to see so many mature people enjoying a ski hill that is mainly steep and deep stuff, no cruising around eay groomers for this lot. Jill and I had a great morning with Andy and said goodbye at lunchtime when we went to Rafters for a pint. Jill and I then done a few runs on Red before picking up Craig where we found he was still enjoying his afternon nap. Tonight for dinner we headed up to the Rockcut Pub, this is an old favourite of ours and the owner Warren is a right character. The food is good, they have a great selection of beers and the waitresses are always pleasing on the eye. Tonight Craig had Poutine ($Cool, I had a chicken clubhouse burger ($14) and Calamari ($11) while Jill had a NY steak ($24). A couple of nice pints of Rickards Red at C$4.99 each washed it all down. We got back to the b&b and once Craig was asleep I uploaded some of my photographs onto my websites before going to bed.
Got up to a bright and sunny morning, today we were moving on from the Black Bear b&b to the Prestige Inn which is located in upper Rossland. We only moved as we planned to meet up with friends from Vancouver but their plans had fallen through and could no longer make it across. We set off for the hill after packing the car and paying our bill to Tauna, arrived at 9.15am, got parked up and Craig safely delivered to Jenny at kinder care. Jill and I started out with a few nice runs on Red , the “Cliff” and “Back-Trail” were in excellent condition. We then moved over to Granite and found some real nice snow on a number of runs accessed from “Buffalo Ridge“.
Lunch was down at Rafters where a Chicken Kebab and Pita bread gave my energy levels a boost before a few more laps down Main Run. We called it a day quite early and while Craig was still at kinder care we drove down to the Prestige Inn and checked in. We unpacked and done a load of laundry . We had booked a one bedroom suite which was nice and spacious with a small kitchen area and plenty of storage space, there was also good WiFi internet coverage. It cost us C$652 (£382) for the 3 nights. We headed back up to the hill to pick up Craig and he was in a good mood after having a fine day, we then called in at Greg and Taunas before driving down to Trail. The journey from Rossland to Trail is down a very steep and quite winding major road which has lots of big trucks on it heading down to the States. Passing through Warfield you soon come to the Columbia River which split’s the town of Trail in two, before the bridge you come to the Tech Cominco arena home to the Trail Smokeaters. Once over the bridge you have the main residential areas looking down onto the river, this is where we were going tonight to have dinner at Susans along with Bill and Joan. As we sat looking out of the window we were told to watch out for Bald Eagles which sometimes perch on the tall trees above the river but tonight they were not to be seen. We had a nice meal then headed back up the hill to Rossland watching the outside temperature falling as we gained height back up to Columbia ave and Rossland. Its always delightful driving back into the town with its wide main street and the trees along the side decorated with small blue lights, its even better when there is a nice fresh covering of snow along the walkways and on the parked vehicles as it was this evening. I wrote a snow report from today and then fell into bed shortly after 9pm. Glad there is no real partying to be done on this trip !
Saturday March 7th arrived and when I looked out at 7am it was snowing. We had a quick breakfast then we were on our way. Got a space in the top parking lot by 8.20am. It was quite cold as we got Craig onto his skis for 20 minutes before kinder care opened and he had a fine time trudging around the fresh squeaky snow. Once he was safely with Jenny we were soon on our way up the Silverlode Chair, I was surprised at just how quiet it was for 9am on a Saturday morning after a decent overnight snowfall but I was certainly not complaining. We had a few nice runs over on Paradise side then headed down via “Rinos Run” to the daylodge for a hot chocolate. Later we did “Beer Belly” “Dougs run” and the snow was starting to accumulate quite nicely. We finished with a few powder turns on Main run and were back in the car by 12.30pm. We drove down to the Prestige Inn, put on some laundry and went into the Hotels indoor hot tub for a relaxing soak. Afterwards we had a walk around the shops in Rossland before going back up the hill for a late lunch at Rafters. We then picked up Craig and he got his skis on again for a while before we headed back down to town.
The plan was to eat with Greg and Tauna at their place tonight but we could not get in touch with them so we decided to eat in the Hotel. They have a lounge bar and a restaurant adjoining it and when we walked down to the bar with Craig we were told that no kids were allowed in the lounge bar and could we go to the restaurant. We said that would be fine and we ordered a drink and asked for the menu from the unhelpful and unfriendly waitress and sat dwon at a table with a nice view looking out over lower Rossland. We asked if they would possibly heat some baked beans that we had for Craig to have along with his dinner but were told No that it was not the hotels policy to do this, we explained that he had been unwell and that as there were no other guests in the dinning room could they not just heat them up in the microwave but they said no, I asked for the manager and he was also very unfriendly and quite rude so we just got up and walked out saying that they obviously were in such a good position and so busy they could afford to turn away $200 or so. In all our trips to Canada and the US over the years that is the first time I have ever had negative service from anywhere, what a contrast to the Rockcut Pub up the road where the service is excellent and they were only too happy to heat up some beans for Craig a couple of nights previously. This put me off the Prestige Inn completely and although the accomodation and price was pretty good I certainly would not stay with them again either in Rossland or elsewhere. Anyway we decided to get a carryout Pizza for tea from Mistys which is just up the street opposite the Flying Steamshovel Pub. I walked up the road, placed my order then had a couple of beers across in the bar, collected our Pizza and went back to the Hotel to eat. It was excellent and after failing to finish it all we were again away to bed early.
Sunday would be our last day on the hill at Red for this season so I was keen to make the most of it, we finished of last nights Pizza for breakfast and on arriving at the hill we managed to again get a space in the top parking lot which is not that big. Again,like yesterday it was quiet with few skiers or snowboarders about and we headed up to the Paradise area where we had first tracks on the groomed steep and cruisy runs like “Southern Belle“, ”Gambler” and “Southern Comfort“. It was cold but the hard packed powder on these trails was groomed to perfection and it was great fun blasting down runs we know really well at high speed. We later hit sweet powder pockets on “Shoulder” before heading to the base for lunch. This afternoon it began to cloud over and we started to get a few light snow flurries as we spent most of our time on the front side of Granite mountain. On calling it a day we put the boards into the car and took a walk over to the Silver Creek condos sales office for a chat and a look at the model of the resort with all the plans for future expansion. It all looks good but I just hope it never takes away the special quiet ambience that Red has at present as I would hate to see it become another commercial profit orientated hill that might lose the local friendly feel that it has built up since Rossland became Canadas first Alpine resort. At present sales of property on the hill are very slow, Im not sure if its just the present economic climate that is the cause of that or the simple fact that a lot of the property is a bit overpriced.
We collected Craig from kinder care and payed the bill for his time there, it came to C$312 (£183), he had a good time and we look forward to him returning next winter for proper ski lessons.
Tonight we were back up to the Rockcut for dinner before returning back to the Hotel to get packed for the move to Fairmont Hot Springs in the morning.

Some facts and figures about Red Mountain (Red Resort)

Summit elevation - 6807ft
Base elevation - 3888ft.
Vertical drop - 2919ft
Skiable terrain - 1685 acres
Number of runs - 87
Longest run - 4.3 miles
Beginner terrain - 15%
Intermediate terrain - 40%
Advanced terrain - 45%
Average snowfall - 300 inches

Lifts
1 quad chair
2 triple chairs
1 double chair
1 surface T-bar
1 surface carpet

Terrain Park
Ski/Boardercross area.

Fairmont Hot Springs

Monday March 9th 2009 and after my best nights sleep of the trip so far I was up at 7.30am, looking outside made me want to stay as it was snowing heavily and there had been a decent accumulation overnight even down in town so up the hill would be pretty good. Alas we had to move on and we had a drive of 215 miles in front of us including the climb back over the Kootenay pass, last year we were delayed for a couple of hours because of snow clearing just the other side of the summit on the Creston side. We had breakfast and checked out and headed down the hill to Trail for the last time on this trip, we called in to say our goodbyes to Bill, Joan and Susan and as we left Trail the snow began to ease off and we had a problem free run over to Creston where we refuelled the car and on to Cranbrook. Craig was settled in the back so we did not stop but kept on going up past Fort Steele and Canal Flats until we reached the 4 seasons resort of Fairmont Hot Springs. Last year we had stopped for lunch here on our way back up to Banff from Red and it was somewhere that I felt would be a nice place to end our trip before flying home. We were early and our room was not yet ready so we headed up the windy road to the resorts small ski hill where we had a bite of lunch in the modern daylodge. Its quite an impressive place and Craig played happily in the snow before we returned to the resort to check-in. I managed to park the car round the back and it was not far to take the luggage up some stairs to the room. We had a view out over the lodgings own private guests hot pool. The room was not big but was all we needed for a couple of nights. It cost C$303 (£89/night) and we spent around another C$250 in the restaurant over the two nights.
We then went a walk over to the main pools, there are 3 pools with the temp varying a few degrees between them. It was -15c outside but was lovely once in the warm water whose temp varied from 30c in the diving pool up to 32c in the large swimming pool and a really warm 39c in the main hot pool. These mineral rich waters are some of the cleanest in North America and they are drained, cleaned and refilled overnight. Craig really enjoyed it and was encouraging us to get out and bring snowballs into the water. After an hour or so we got dried and changed and took a drive down to the supermarket for a few provisions. Once back in the room I struggled to get a WiFi connection probably because we were quite far away from the main lodge, I took the laptop to the lounge where the connection was good so I caught up with my e-mails and what was happening in the world while sipping a cool beer from the bar. Tonight we went to the dining room once Craig was in bed and had a really nice meal. I had some excellent Pork and we washed it down with a nice bottle of Canadian white wine. A quiet nightcap in the bar and we were away to bed just after 10pm.
I was greeted to a pleasant sight when I looked out the next morning and saw a nice cover of fresh snow on the ground. We got ready and drove the short 5 minute drive up to the ski hill where it was very quiet. Bought a lift ticket for C$38.50 (£22.50) and I then found that I was the second person on the chairlift after the ski patrol. Looking down as the chair slowly headed to the top I could see nice fresh cover on the runs but it was very cold at a chilly -22c at the top and a degree warmer at the base. It was not so good when the gloves had to come off to take a few pictures though but I soon warmed myself up with a few nice powder runs where nobody else had made any tracks and it was like that all morning. I headed back to the daylodge where Craig was happily playing away inside and took over childcare duties so that Jill could get out out for a few runs, with so few people on the hill she was still able to make her own fresh tracks. We had lunch at the daylodge then made our way to the supermarket and to put some fuel in the car , it was 95c per litre and I just put enough in to see us back to Calgary airport as I had already pre-paid for the fuel when we got the car. Once back at the lodge I caught all the football scores on my laptop before we went to the pools again, we were in the water for around an hour and a half and it was certainly a bit busier than yesterday.
We had our dinner along with Craig in the lounge bar this evening before going out for a walk before darkness fell. We then packed our bags ready to leave in the morning and after Craig was in bed we had a drink in the lounge before retiring just after 10pm.

Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Hill facts.

Top elevation - 5200ft
Base elevation - 4200ft
Vertical drop - 1000ft
Longest run - 1 mile
Lifts - 1 triple chair, 1 surface platter lift
Night Skiing - Fridays (high season)

Woke up on Wednesday 11th March to a clear and cold morning and I soon had all our luggage loaded into the car. We had plenty of time so we went for a dip in the nearby guest pool, on the way we discovered there are also a couple of small indoor pools. The walk from the lodge to the pool is along a covered walkway but as soon as you step outside the cold air hits you. We enjoyed a last relaxing soak before going to the dinning room for a late breakfast. We checked out and left for the 185 mile drive to Calgary at 11.30am. It was a fine drive through the Kootenay and Banff National parks with hardly another vehicle on the road, we stopped at Canmore for some lunch and as we neared Calgary the “low fuel” alarm came on in the car but I was certainly not going to put any more in and just hoped we had enough to see us back to the car rental returns area. The drive into Calgary past Olympic park and through the edge of the city to the airport is straightforward and we were soon handing the keys over and getting our luggage onto trolleys. The car was covered in mud but except for a large crack on the windscreen which had grown longer every day since the start of the trip it was fine. The bill was C$1350 (£790) for the trip which was for unlimited mileage, child seat hire, tank of fuel ,all taxes and for the roadside service plan and insurance. The receipt stated we had covered 4837km but I am certain we did not do that much, that is over 3000 miles and I would estimate we covered around 1400 miles so just as well we were not paying by the mile !
At check-in we were told that the aircraft had been downsized since our booking had been made and although I had already pre-booked our seats we were given new ones all sitting apart , couldn’t see this working with a 30 month old toddler sitting away from his parents on his own. We were told it would all be sorted at the gate before boarding the aircraft but on arrival at the gate we soon realised we were not the only ones who had a problem, some people were a bit heated about it but in the end it was all sorted out and we got our 3 seats together. The flight home was fine and we arrived at Heathrow the next morning, made our way to T1 and caught the BMI flight Glasgow. On arrival our luggage arrived quickly and it was only a short walk back across to the Hotel to pick up the car and we were soon on our way down the road arriving back in Dumfries by 4.30pm.

All in all this had been a great trip with no real issues. Travelling with small children is not easy and a lot of forward planning is required. Staying on the airport the night before was a good idea but I would always advise taking your own childrens car seats as they are carried free of charge on most trans-atlantic flights. The portable DVD player was great to keep Craig occupied although after a few hours you could strangle Bob the bloody Builder and kick Thomas the Tank Engine off the rails, only thing I forgot to take was the in-car charger so we went through a few batteries.
Whitefish was a great success and the Morning Eagle condos are first class and it’s a resort we would love to return to. Red was excellent as usual and Fairmont Hot Springs makes an excellent place to unwind at the end of the trip.

Im now looking forward to planning next years trip.

Red Mountain, Whitefish, and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow report     
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Resort: Arinsal
Country: Andorra
Domain: Vallnord - covering Arinsal, Pal & Arcalis
Author: snowsteve
Date: 2005 - 2009
Our holiday: I've worked there for 4 seasons and love it there! The ski area isn't massive but the resort atmosphere makes up for it.
Website : www.vallnord.com www.arinsal.co.uk
Basics : Andorra is a tiny country on the border between France & Spain. Driving time is around 12 hours from Calais, and transfer times are quite long - Toulouse 3.5hrs, Barcelona 3hrs, Girona 3.5hrs, Reus 3.5hrs
Lift system : There have been two new lifts added in the last couple of years which have improved access a lot, plus new lifts added in Pal which is linked by a cable car to Arinsal. Arcalis is also included on the lift pass, but this is a 30 minute bus ride away.
The terrain : The beginners area gets quite crowded at the start of the week, so if you've skiied before take La Tossa higher up the mountain where there are still blue runs to warm up on. The terrain park in Arinsal changes shape regularly throughout the season but usually has a half pipe and kickers of varying sizes plus a boader cross along the side of the park. Higher up are some excellent off piste runs, and when it snows heavily the runs down the lift lines are superb.
The snow : It's been a bit up and down the last few years, 05-06 was superb for snow, followed by a couple of off years however Vallnord have invested heavily in snow making which meant the mountain had good on-piste snow throughout the seasons. This year (08-09) was another great season for snow, even opening the resort 2 weeks early!
Off-piste : There is a decent selection of bars who offer a good variety of entertainment ranging from kareoke nights to ladies nights, to a 70s party, a salsa night, and a beach party!
The resort : Although only made up of one main street, the resort has enough shops, supermarkets, bars & restaurants to cater for holiday needs, with a bus service into the capital should you want more shopping opportunities.
Food : The food of the mountain can be quite limited, but restaurants in the village are starting to catch on and offer lunchtime special offers to attract people off the mountain for lunch. There is a wide selection of resturants to choose from, but the ones with the best reputations are Restaurant 360 (Catalan and various international dishes), Ciscos & The Micolau (both Mexican), and El Moli (Thai & Italian).
Accommodation : Arinsal has accommodation from hostel to 5* and everything in between!
Costs: Pint of lager from €2.50, spirit & mixer from €4.00, dinner out from €8.00 for a main course
Conclusion: A really friendly village with a great atmosphere. The skiing is average, but the whole package easily makes up for it, and it's definately worth heading over to Arcalis where there is a lot more skiing for good interediate and advanced skiiers.

Arinsal Resort Report Feedback Thread
ski holidays     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Resort: Tignes les Boisses
Country: France
Domain: Espace Killy
Author: Richmond
Date: 12-16.04.09
Our holiday: The daughter (15yo) and me on a sneaky extra ski trip.
Website : http://www.tignes.net/index.php?PHPSESSID=6bed70a7e5bc11f20dd5298caeee3661&_setlang=1&LANG_DATA=GB&LANG_USER=GB
Basics : You know where it is. We flew LHR to GVA, TO transfer to resort.
Lift system : Les Boisses connects in to main Tignes area by a slowish chair (or ski down to les Brevieres and a bubble) and then a long chair up to Aiguille Percee.
The terrain : Well known to one and all, I imagine. Huge area, two glaciers, something for everyone. Grading notoriously unhelpful, must give beginners some nasty moments.
The snow : Everything from cast iron to slush, including some fresh snow.
Off-piste : Not my thing, but plenty of it, although conditions were not good.
The resort : Les Boisses is tiny, nothing going on, if you want nightlife go elsewhere.
Food : Predictably expensive, eateries in towns seemed cheaper than up the mountain, and it's very easy to eat in, say, Val Claret. Les Bervieres has a few decent (and slightly cheaper) lunch spots if you want a proper lunch.
Accommodation : We stayed in Mountain Sun's chalet hotel Les Melezes. It's in the upper part of les Boisses, ski from about 50m away, ski to just across the road. The hotel is a bit shabby, rooms small, not all with private bath, but the cost reflects this, and any shortcomings are more than made up for by the cosiness and the friendly staff (who may also be cozy for all I know). The staff are brits/colonials, all obviously there to ski/board, but they seemed to be well aware of their obligations to guests, and were unfailingly helpful and pleasant; they make the difference betweenit being an Ok place to stay and a really enjoyable one. Kit hire is available on site. The bar is reasonably priced by the standards of the area. The food is plain, but perfectly wholesome, good ingredients and generous portions. Tea and coffee available 24/7, afternoon tea, a cooked brekkie dish and of course dinner. Wine is thrown in, generous quantities and reasonable quality, and you're encouraged to take the carafes with you when you leave the table. There's wifi, a PC and a TV (away from the bar) a hot tub (although why people want to lie around in hot, stale urine I don't know) and a terrace. Great if you're on a budget. I'm not sure I'd want to go there for my only week's skiing, mainly because I like to enjoy the local grub and I'd like to be near another bar or two, just for a change, but brilliant if you're on a tight budget or for a sneaky extra hol.
Costs: We had a late season deal, 4 nights db&B (actually 3 nights db&b, 1 night b&b) for £199 including transfer + a few quid for a private shower/bog, which has to be a good deal. Flights were BA air miles, so a cheapo cheapo hol, although we had a couple of decent lunches which weren't cheap..
Conclusion: Not much to say about the skiing, you know all about it already. I'm not a particular mega ski area fan, but they have their advantages. I'd recommend the accomodation if you don't want to break the bank.

Tignes Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow report     
 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.
Resort: Obertauern

Country: Austria

Domain: Part of the Lungo region (Obertauern and 4 smaller nearby resorts, not linked to each other) and the Salzburg Superskipass region.

Lift pass: 7 days Obertauern only was just under €200 (€197 IIRC), 7 days Lungo region was just over €200 (€204 IIRC) (adult prices).

Author: Richmond.

Date: Feb 2009 (half term)

Our group: Family; 2 'adults', 2x 14yo kids.

Website: I used this one.

Executive summary (for all you busy people): A good intermediate resort, good snow, mercifully uncrowded at half term. Lacks atmosphere and challenge. The nearby resorts may be useful.

The skiing: The skiing is around a bowl at the top of a pass. The town is at about 1700m, the skiing goes up to about 2200m. The snow record is excellent (too much falling while we were there). The runs are short, the longest is about 500m vertical, and red or blue. There are a few blacks, all but one of which are really red, at least in the excellent snow conditions which we enjoyed. Few bumps in evidence, although I understand that the one true black gets bumpy (we didn't do it because of bad weather and griplessness). Not a large area, but we don't mind that at all. Pleasant but not very interesting skiing, and you can see it almost all from almost everywhere; there are no other towns or villages to ski to.

The lift system is reasonable, mainly chairs, one bubble, a few drags. Queues almost non existent even during half term week. The few slow 2 seaters could usefully be replaced, mainly to shorten freezing cold rides.

The weather was fairly foul for most of the 7 days we skied; a lot of snow, poor vis and high, bitterly cold winds; -15C and lower in places. We had one blue sky day, which was if anything even colder. As a result, we skied a couple of the other Lungo resorts (see below).

There are plenty of watering holes, all much as you'd expect, the usual Austrian stuff; wooden tables, stuffed animals and funny little bars looking like cheap conservatories, full of bull necked Austrians and loud Dutch getting pissed at lunchtime (and earlier). We didn't eat much lunch, but drinks were not cheap.

Off-piste: There seems to be plenty of (shortish) off piste runs served by lifts. Our kids took advantage of the mammoth dumps to have a couple of private lessons with Herman from the Grillitsch school. He found plenty of untracked powder on the day after a huge dump and the day after that (by which time it had become a bit wind packed, if that's the expression I want). I guess it's not a powder hounds' resort, which may be why the powder stayed untracked. Herman seemed to do a good job for the kids; my daughter was apprehensive (God knows why) but really enjoyed it.

The town: Purpose built in a vaguely Austrian style, not especially attractive, not especially hideous, lacks any real character. Basically a string of hotels along the main road, with a few side roads. We didn't explore the apres, although the one evening we ventured out, the number of staggering and prostrate bodies suggested that there was some. Nothing much for non skiers to do, although my son enjoyed a day and a bit's kite skiing, highly recommended (by him, it looked far too much like hard work to me).

We were on half board so only ate out on our last evening, in a perfectly decent pizzeria.

Kit hire: We used the branch of Ski World more or less in our hotel, because it was there. Seemed fine. The kids' boots were stiff, as they requested, and our skis slid down the mountain in the approved manner. The OL and I were recommended shorter skis than we'd normally go for; we gave them a whirl, and in the poor vis we were grateful for skis which turned on a 6d. The chap gave me a large schnapps from an optic on the counter at about 10.30 one morning when I bought a (very expensive) pair of goggs for my son (which just goes to show how cheap schnapps is and how big their mark up on goggs is, I suppose, but it was very welcome in the blizzard conditions that prevailed outside).

Accommodation: We DIYed half board in the Hotel Marietta, fortunately paid for last summer. Very comfortable (pool, spa) and well run but a bit lacking in character (perhaps the character of this resort is a lack of character). Food was good. Excellent buffet brekkers, everything you could reasonably want, some things you'd never imagine you'd want (a selection of whole grains and a mill to make your own bespoke wholemeal flour, anyone? My son enjoyed it mixed with hot choc.). Freshly prepared eggs, including omelets. Dinner also buffet, not the Banff Springs but a very good selection nevertheless, much cooked to order. Although I am sensible of the benefits of being able to stuff yourself until you're sick, and yield to no-one in my enjoyment of over indulgence in good food, I don't usually like buffet dinners, too many people milling about and it's difficult to eat with your mates/family. Fortunately, we could eat from the regular restaurant's table d'hote, which we did several times, perfectly decent, or from the a la carte at 50 % off, which we didn't. Comfortable but pricey bar with an apparently award winning cocktail waiter (who was black, thus giving the lie to any suggestion that Austrians are a bunch of racist gits. As if.).

The resort is popular with the Dutch, and it was a school hol there too, so the predominant voices on the slopes and in the hotel, and bloody loud voices they were too, were Dutch. When they start a conversation three tables away, it sounds as if someone is about to expectorate in one's beer, and the clothes are like a nightmare version of the 70s; blokes of 50 in hideous dress shirts with jeans, or sweaters in bright colours with no shirt underneath, women with jewellery which must have needed a crane to lower it into place, and all smoking like lums when they weren't snogging (and sometimes both at the same time). Hideous but harmless.

Travel: Due to me going for slash in the middle of the booking process, we had to fly LHR to Salzburg via Frankfurt to get reasonably priced tix (about £200 each IIRC). We flew Luftwaffe (in fairness to the real Luftwaffe, had they been as gripless in 1939 as Lufthansa were last week, the last lot would have been over by Xmas), who did not live up to their usual high standards; nothing desperate, but each leg was late in both directions, and boarding was chaotic. Three of us couldn't check in at Salzburg for the FRA - LHR journey. The woman at the desk at FRA tried, very helpfully, to get us four together despite us saying we weren't bothered one way or the other. She managed eventually to get a pair and two singles, but when we got on the plane, we were told it was a free for all. Not a problem for us but a bit of shambles (my son, rather shrewdly, managed to busk his way into business, despite the OL being thrown out).

We had a cab (a Merc van actually) up to Obertauern and back. On the way there, in heavy snow, we had to give a lift to some Brits whose cab driver hadn't thought to take chains, and we were then held up by a UK coach which hadn't put its chains on as soon as it should have. The cost, €199 return, was much cheaper than other companies I enquired of; good old VIP-Shuttle 99.

We stayed in Obertauern Sat to Sat. We skied all day on the second Sat and took the cab to Salzburg airport, where we stayed in the Pension Hutter, a basic but adequate B&B (no village or anything very near - arrive late and fed). If it was any closer to the airport, you'd have to go through security to get to your room.

Other resorts: Because of bad weather in Obertauern, we skied two days in the Aineck area, on the edge of the town/village of St Magarethen, chosen for being the lowest resort with the most tree runs. Very small, one chair, 3 drags, but very enjoyable indeed for some reason. Much better weather. We travelled by bus, included with the Lungo pass. Buses were OK, but a bit late and few and far between, and we had to change. On our second visit there, the bus from Obertauern was so late (snow and slow Dutch and German drivers, I think) that we missed our connection. Rather than wait, we skied the Grosseck-Speiereck area above Mautendorf over to St Michael and luckily connected with a bus to St Magarethen there. Prices for drink in these small places were about half those in Obertauern, food not as much cheaper.

I'd recommend the Lungo pass, not because the skiing in Obertauern is limited (although it is, but I don't mind that), but in case of foul weather in Obertauern and because they seem to be jolly places worth a visit in their own right.

Shall we go again? Probably not. Although we enjoyed it, neither the skiing nor the resort has enough about it to visit again when there are so many other places unvisited. Its best features are the amount and quality of snow and it's quietness at half term. If we do go again, I'll be tempted to have a car and stay in one of the nearby towns, probably Mautendorf, and use the Lungo (or possibly the Super Salzburg) pass to ski in Obertauern and elsewhere. The kids want to go back to St Anton next year, and I don't blame them.

Obertauern Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow report     
 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
Resort: Val D'Isere
Country: Hopefully you'll also know which country you were in!
Domain: Espace Killy
Author: SkiKing4

Date: 4/6-4/11
Our holiday: First time to ski in France, second time to Alps. Previous trip in Kitzbuhel. Family ski trip, me being 14.
Website : www.valdisere.com/
Basics : Plane from Gatwick to Chambery, took a 2.5 hour bus to the town of Val D'Isere but was only 2 hours back to Chambery when returning
Lift system : I got no problem with surface lifts, but felt there was a bit too many. Otherwise, 80% of the chair lifts were detachable high speed and there were also a bunch of cable cars. Top lift system pretty much as I found it also very easy to move around the area.
The terrain : I found the pistes too have weak grading, such as greens harder than blues and my family feels like they randomly assigned some blues to be greens. But being an expert skier, unlike my recent trip in February to Kitzbuhel, I found the expert pistes to be a lot and much more challenging than the Kitzbuhel area (also thought almost all of the blacks at Kitzbuhel were reds at Val D'Isere). Most of the blacks aren't groomed. The pistes are generally wide and above tree line. My favorite pistes were The Face in Val D'Isere (massive vertical and feels long too, steep and straight down the fall line in the end) and the one off the Tignes Glacier (awesome snow), Descente (awesome snow with no body on it), and German Mattis (my only pow run of the week).
The snow : Icy in the morning, slushy in the afternoons. The village level had almost no snow though, and many locals think that the resort might not make it to it's May 3rd closing date. There was about 10 cm the last day, but it was over BLUE ice. With the shutting of many lifts, it was hard to get to where all the pow wasn't windblown and I kept hearing all these amazing pow stories on the lifts about Signal Bowl, but Leisseres lift was closed so I couldn't make it over there. But I did get pow one run (first run of the day) on some freshies on German Mattis.
Off-piste : Off piste free for all? Many tracks in extremely gnarly 50 degree couloirs. Most of my off piste skiing was done off the Tommeuses lift and in the Tignes area. Thought that off piste is pretty BIG in the Espace Killy.
The resort : Not as big as Kitzbuhel. Didn't really explore the village, so no comment.
Food : No where is really good to eat because the pricing is RIDICULOUS.
Accommodation : Stayed in the Hotel Ducs de la Savoie, by Esprit Ski. Great for youngsters, but my family was way too old for the children services. Dinner at 5:15 was annoying, so I skipped it some times Very Happy
Costs: EXPENSIVE
Conclusion: Needs snow. Great lift system. Crazy off piste. Challenging pistes. Huge area.

And some pics:

1) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16698/ppuser/1226
The Solaise pistes coming down to Val D'Isere. Bottom run is Rhone Alpes (easier black), middle run is Piste M (harder red), mogul field is Piste S (harder black).

2) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16597/ppuser/1226
About 30 degree couloirish sort of off piste thing to the side of The Face.

3) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16596/ppuser/1226
The Oeillet piste (average black), which is the mogul field in the center of the picture, in Tignes and the Palafour lift.

4) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16595/ppuser/1226
The Silene piste (average black) and the Marais lift in Tignes.

5) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16584/ppuser/1226
The Barsot express in Val D'Isere (services beginner pistes).

6) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16585/ppuser/1226
Off piste above the Barsot piste.

7) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16594/ppuser/1226
Scenery who knows where.

Cool http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16583/ppuser/1226
Fontaine Froide lift in the foreground with Grand Pre on the mountain opposite in the shadows and some more scenery Very Happy .

9) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16582/ppuser/1226
The Funival in La Daille.

10) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16581/ppuser/1226
Looking down Piste S.

11) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16580/ppuser/1226
An avalanche in every chute? This is the Banane I believe and the Face and Loyes Express in Val D'Isere are on the right hand side of the photo.

12) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16579/ppuser/1226
Epaule Du Charvet (harder black) directly in the middle and Saltons (never skied it but it's a blue) in the gully to the right of it. Looks like a painting!

13) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16578/ppuser/1226
Epaule Du Charvet from the side.

14) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16577/ppuser/1226
Looking down Epaule Du Charvet.

15) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16576/ppuser/1226
The infamous Les Marmottes off piste area.

16) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16575/ppuser/1226
The Barsot piste with the lift in the upper right hand corner of the photo.

17) ttp://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16574/ppuser/1226
More of the Barsot piste.

1Cool http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16573/ppuser/1226
Barsot piste with scenery behind it.

19) http://www.snowmediazone.com/the_zone/showphoto.php/photo/16572/ppuser/1226
Some more Barsot and the lift. With scenery behind it. rolling eyes It's a pretty run!

And here's a video of me skiing:


Skiing in Espace Killy from a m
http://vimeo.com/4130780[/url]

Val D'Isere Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow report     
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Resort: Flumserberg
Country: Switzerland
Domain: none
Author: Roger C

Date: April 10-13 2009 (Easter weekend)
Our holiday: Family trip: Mrs C, Baby C (14 months old) and I with Mrs C's sister and her husband ( snowHead Foxthesnow)
Website : http://www.flumserberg.ch/winter/en/home/
Basics : BA flight from Heathrow T5 to Zurich then easy train transfer and gondola up from valley floor
total transfer time about 2.5 hrs
Lift system : A few t bars but mostly fast chairs including Switzerland's only 8 man chairlift!
The terrain : Nice intermediate cruising, nearly all blues and reds, nothing very difficult
The snow : Piste grooming was great and they were doing a good job of keeping even lower runs open in the mid april sunshine
As well as the skiing we really enjoyed the mountain walks which are also pisted and shown on the piste map

Off-piste : looked like some easy to acces stuff near the pistes, bowl above Prodalp looked like it would be great fun in fresh pow Very Happy
The resort : Resort split into two villages, Tannenheim (lower) and Tannenboden (higher), about 30 mins walk between them but hourly or so buses in the daytime. Not a place to go for a big night out but a few bars/restos
Food : We had a fantastic meal in the Hotel Tannenboden one night and good fun cooking our own meat one night at our hotel on hot stones
Accommodation : Hotel Siesta, very friendly/welcoming and ideal if you have kids. They have a dedicated playroom and each morning put out a high chair and bowl/bib etc for Baby C's breakfast. At the end of the weekend they dropped us off at the gondola station with their minibus. I would recommend this hotel if you decide to visit Flumserberg
http://www.hotel-siesta.ch/
Costs: We had adjoinging rooms with a shared bathroom and balcony which was perfect for us. Over this peak weekend it worked out at about £80 per night for a double room B&B. V.good value
Conclusion: A great very family friendly small resort with easy reach of Zurich airport

Flumserberg Resort Report Feedback Thread
ski holidays     
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Resort: Sölden

Country: Austria

Domain: Ötztal, Austrian Tirol

Author: Sleipnir

Date: Easter 2009

My holiday: DIY trip to meet up with Austrian ski buddies

Website: http://www.soelden.com/ and http://www.oetztal.com/ also have accommodation booking as well as the usual piste, lift pass info, etc.

Basics: Sölden, the main town of the Ötztal Arena, has developed into an internationally known sports and training centre. With 3,500 inhabitants and 15,000 beds it is very much gear up for tourism. This having been said, it is the home of the Austrian World Cup ski team and hosts the first World Cup race of the year at the end of October. Situated approximately 1 hour’s drive from Innsbruck (2 hours via public transport) Sölden is at 1,377m above sea level, but offers skiing at over 3,000m at the two glacier areas Rettenbach & Tiefenbach. Another highlight is the "Big 3" peaks - Gaislachkogl (3,058m), Tiefenbachkogl (3,309m) and Schwarze Schneid (3,370m)

Lift system: A mixture of gondolas, chair lifts and even the odd drag lift that serve the 146km of runs

The terrain: As shown on the piste map (http://www.ski-finder.co.uk/pistemap/Solden/) there is a mixture of runs to suit most skiers. There are quite a large number of blue and red runs that would suit beginners and intermediates. This having been said, there are also some steep blacks (some of which are used for the World Cup races) that will challenge even the advanced skiers. Be careful of the blue runs on the Rettenbach glacier, run 32 if my memory is correct, which turns into a black two-thirds of the way down. That came as a big surprise the first time I encountered it and the ole heart was in my mouth a couple of times!

The snow: At this time of the year the snow on the lower slopes was a little hit and miss; icy, well groomed corduroy in the mornings which softened throughout the morning. But come the afternoon the runs became slushy, cruddy and very lumpy. Quite challenging after a day’s skiing on the glaciers. The snow of the glaciers on the other hand was excellent. Again a little icy in the mornings, but it soon softened up. It was far more consistent than the lower slopes and was good skiing all the day through. On the day I left I was told that 30cm of new powder fell, so even this late in the year, new snow is possible

Off-piste: My skiing is not really up to off-piste at the moment, but as part of the ski instruction (more about this later) we spent a little time off-piste and skied the bumps on a purpose built mogul run that sat alongside one of the blues on the lower slopes

The resort: It’s fair to say that Sölden nor the surrounding mountains are not the prettiest of Austrian ski resorts. This having been said, the village is absolutely geared up for tourists and skiing. All of the amenities you would expect – a variety of different types of accommodation, restaurants, bars, supermarkets, banks, ski bus service, ski rental, ski schools, etc. At the bottom of the Giggijochbahn is a multi storey car park (free parking all day!) which is a stone’s throw from the gondola to the slopes. At this time of the year there is a marked difference in temperature between Sölden village and the slopes - a 10 minute gondola ride and you go from Spring/Summer and 15-20C in the valley, to winter and only a handful of degrees at the top of the lift. Take another couple of lifts and slopes and you are on the glacier which is colder again!

Food & Prices: Either eating at the ski huts on the slopes or in the restaurants in the village I found choice of food, prices and service to be great. Lunch was 8-10 euros, a bowl of soup or wurst and pommes, desert and a drink was pretty much par for the course. Many of the hotels and guest houses offered half-board for 10-15 euros extra each day which was pretty good value IMO

Accommodation: A variety of different places to stay ranging from 4 star hotels to cheap guest houses and pension. Going at Easter it can be a problem to find some where to stay as it was for many the last ski days of the season – close to Innsbruck, there was a lot of Austrians (and Germans) who just skied for the Easter hols and then went home on the Monday for work. No problem with finding somewhere from Monday onwards.

One of the places I would recommend is Appartementhaus Kathrin (http://www.jaqueline-soelden.at/) which is a modern purpose built apartment style hotel, as the name suggests. I may be a little bias, as Kathrin is a friend but do not let this influence you as it is a good place to stay, ideally placed for the slopes and the village and very reasonable. Kathrin Wilhelm is a Sölden girl who for several years was part of the Austrian World Cup ski team. She skied in the same team as the likes of Alexandra Meissnitzer & Michaela Dorfmeister. Through this combination, what she does not know about Sölden and skiing you can write on the back of the postage stamp! She put me onto some great ski tuition (see below).

If I tell you that the US Ski Team usually stay at Kathrin's place when they visit Sölden for the first race of the World Cup season, you will understand that her place is a nice modern hotel and not a shabby little pension. This having been said it’s very reasonable when it comes to other apartment type hotels in the area.

Ski lessons and instruction: My friend Kathrin recommended the Skischule Sölden to me (http://www.skischule-soelden.com/cms/index.php). You cannot miss them, they all are dressed in blue ski gear and by all accounts, they are the largest ski school in Austria with circa 180 instructors. With this number of instructors there is of course a variety instruction ranging from the average to the very good.

From my experience, I received some excellent tuition; a 2hr private lesson with Peter Arnold and then a group lesson for intermediates with Werner F. Kathrin said, “we have some very good instructors in Austria” and this was very true and the experience of the instructors too – if I tell you that Peter told me that he had skied for 43 years and Werner was one of the people who taught Peter to ski when he was a kid, you’ll understand that between them they have circa 90 years of skiing between them!

The group lesson was a mixture of German and non-German speakers, about 7 of us in the group in total. I was joined by another Brit (a Geordie from Newcastle). Both Peter and Werner took the time to explain the techniques and drills in English as well as German and were very clear in their advice and instruction. Absolutely no problem with my lack of German and being able to understand them........in fact it was sometimes more difficult to understand Geordie Michael – sorry mate!

Costs: All in all I found Sölden to be on a par with other Austrian ski resorts. Absolutely if you wished to push the boat out it could be a little expensive, but equally if you wished to do things on a budget this was possible too. A 6 day ski pass was 212 euros, which again I think is pretty much the norm for the more popular resorts

Summary: Having read other postings about Sölden on Snowheads a while back before my trip I was in two minds about my planned trip. There seems to be a mixture of people who like and dislike the place. I take on board peoples comments and as with most things in life, Sölden has its pros and cons.

In general, I would say that the pros out-weigh the cons in IMHO. Ok, it may not be as picturesque as other ski resorts and the après ski not as wild as Obertauern, but all in all if skiing is top of your list of priorities I would say that Sölden has a lot to offer for many skiers. The fact that snow is guaranteed most (all) of the season by virtue of the glaciers is a big plus. Add to this the proximity to Innsbruck and other resorts that are popular with the Brits; Obergurgl and Hochgurgl, I would say that Sölden is a very worth alternative for either a ski holiday or just a day or so of skiing different slopes. The village is not so popular with Brits (the only others I saw were the two Geordie lads) and may be suffers from the popularity of the likes of Obergurgl that is only 15km down the road. This having been said I thoroughly enjoyed my week there, had excellent skiing, weather and instruction to boot – will definitely be going back as soon as I can.

Solden Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Resort: Vars (linked to Risoul)

Country: France

Domain: Foret Blanche (Risoul/Vars), Southern French Alps

Author: Carettam

Date: Mid-March 2009

Our holiday: One week cheap DIY with 11 skiers in our 20s and 30s, 1 beginner skier, 1 beginner boarder, most others were intermediates, ranging from timid to kamikazee.

Website: www.vars.com

Basics: Flew into Grenoble, then the long DIY transfer via train. Pretty dramatic train journey through the snowy mountains, but long (about 3hrs). Then pre-booked a taxi to take us up to resort. Vars and Risoul are linked resorts, under the Foret Blanche lift pass (quite cheap at 150euro for 6 days) and covers a reasonable size area +150km. Vars is much more 'french', with little English spoken and you might struggle to find english speaking instructors. Risoul is on more english TO's radar, but still predominantly french.

Lift system: A mixed bag. No hands free passes here, just your usual pass which an attendent might check every so often. In Vars, there are some fast quads and six packs, a gondola and then some older chairs, including a few really old 2 mans. There are also a few remaining drags which are long and steep, most can be avoided and you really should avoid them! The Mayt chair which is the way over to Risoul is a long slow one, so wrap up warm. Risoul has slightly better lifts, but there is still a large mix of old and new.

The terrain: A good variety of terrain, although the piste grading could occasionally be a little random, but most reds were of reasonable red difficulty but a few greens spooked our beginners. Vars is set over a couple of mountains, while Risoul is set in a bowl. In Vars, there is a quieter mountain of Peynier, which has a few long blues, reds and blacks and sunny slopes, wooded mainly along the lower half of the pistes. The area served by the sibieres and escondas lifts has some nice cruisy reds and blues, the runs are mostly wide and edged by trees. At Crevoux, there is a snow park, with jumps for all abilities and a boarder cross course. The skiing up at Chabrieres offers dramatic views from the ridge, although the reds here are quite easy. There is the famous KL black run from the top of the ridge, where speed skiing trials are held. The skiing from Mayt was probably the most rewarding, wide interesting blues for the beginners to progress to and the long olympic red, which provided a challenge all our group, and the start is particulally steep. For beginners, the base of the gondola makes for good bunny runs, and is where the ski school is located (ESF). Risoul had a good variety of pistes from green to black, although the psites seemed a little busier, narrower and slightly less varied than the Vars side, but we only spent one full day here. Overall, the whole area is quiet, with no lift queues and quiet, uncrowded psites.

The snow: Reasonable, hard pack. When we went in mid march, it had not snowed since February and they did reasonably well with grooming and snow cannons to keep the pistes in ok shape. The southern alps are meant to be sunny and we had a week of blue skies.

Off-piste: Due to the hard conditions when we went, not really a good idea. From the tracks it looked light there was some available, including tree runs.

The resort: Vars (Vars Les Claux) is a small french village at the end of the Vars valley road. There is a shoppping centre, a couple of small supermarkets, a few ski shops, a handful of restaurants serving the usual cheese, meat and pizza combos and that is about it. There is a disco but it looked dubious so we gave it a miss. It is quiet, not a place to take non-skiing friends, but for us it suited well.

Accommodation: It is mainly in SC apartments, we stayed in PV L'albane and was very impressed. In the pretty and modern duplex apartments (marketed for 6/7 ppl) there were 2 bedrooms (dbl and twin), 2 bathrooms, seperate WC, open plan kitchen diner living space, which could sleep an additional 3 people (2 sofa beds + camp bed), balcony. The aprtments are basic, but the kitchen was well equipped, and there was free use of their outdoor pool. The ski lockers were in the basement and offered ski to door access onto the end of the sibieres piste, and down to the lifts. All for less than £100 per head (with 5 ppl in one apartment and 6 in the other).

Food: We took pack lunches some days and there were only a handful of places to eat on the mountain but we didnt try any. Most people seemed to eat at the huts at the foot of the pistes, which all seemed to serve a reasonable standard of typical pizza/pasta dishes for ok value for money (£10 a dish). The food in the main restaurants in the village was tasty, lots of fondue and red meat around. We didnt have a bad meal! Looking at about £20 for a fondue.

Costs: We paid about £95 per head for the apartments, about £115 for 6 day ski pass (booked through skihorizon.com, who gave us a discount), about £70 for ski hire (sport 2000 - booked through snowrental.com).

Conclusion: Overall, a good resort with varied skiing, sunny slopes and doesn't break the bank. The drawbacks are the drag lifts and the long transfer, but I would go there again in the future just for the quiet uncrowded skiing. The scenery is quite intereting too, lots of ridges, crags and trees.

Vars Resort Report Feedback Thread
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Resort: Zauchensee
Country: Austria
Domain: Ski Amade, Ski Welt
Author: skizauchensee.com

Date: Now

Our holiday: I am an English ski instructor and I have taught in many countries but this area captured my heart and this is where I chose to make my home. I am not trying to turn the area in to a British ski area but I am asking the Brits to experience something they may have been missing out on for a long time........ but sshhhh.....don’t tell everyone!

Basics : Zauchensee is a snowball´s throw from Salzburg airport (1 hour transfer). It is a small village with a big heart and a very big passion for snow sports. This area, little known by the British, is the jewel in the Salzburgerland Sportwelt’s crown and yet most people have never heard of it.
Lift system : Zauchensee and the surrounding areas operate a very modern lift system with no less than 6 being changed for the 2010 season. Generally speaking they are mostly all fast and efficient with some of the lifts operating from shopping/eating style arenas. Links to the huge ski are very good indeed. Should you want to get to some of the other areas using an alternative to skiing there, then you can always get one of the readily available free buses. You may find a T-Bar lift but they are very rare these days.

The terrain : Zauchensee is host to the FIS world cup downhill and home to the 4 times downhill world champion Michael Walchhofer. There is a superb range of pistes to cater for all types of ability. We also have “The Garden” which is a secret off piste heaven. A trip over one mountain takes you to the Absolut Park (Atomic Park) a playground for people who enjoy some of the best competitions and the best park riding. It is no surprise or coincidence that Altenmarkt - Zauchensee is home to Atomic Ski factory and training ground for the Austrian ski and snowboard teams. As previously mentioned all abilities of snow sport fans are catered for.

The snow : Due to its fortunate geographical location and altitude the snow conditions are some of the best in country and Zauchensee is classed as a “Snow Sure” area. The season starts from mid to late November through to May. The preparation of the pistes are as you would expect and generally speaking snow cannons are usually used and the beginning and at the end of the season.

Off-piste : Off Piste is not a well advertised subject due to the fact that the locals are very keen to preserve the natural surroundings, however, a little bit of good information can take you into hidden areas that Off-Piste dreams and videos are made of.

The resort : Zauchensee is a small village with a big heart. It combines modern facilities with a very traditional feeling. It has a very chocolate box feel with Austrian friendliness all around.

Food : Dining out in the friendly and traditional bars and restaurants is no more expensive than prices in the UK and in lots of cases a lot cheaper making the après ski even more enjoyable. Whilst après ski is a tradition, peacefulness is also a requirement. Guests can party in the night bars but are never heard in the village. Accommodation here is also inexpensive. You can easily expect to pay 30€ (or less) per person per night. Zauchensee can be one of the cheapest places to ski/board, stay, eat, sleep and drink in Europe with the world class slopes thrown in too. For local traditional drinks and meals, it has to be the Felser Hutte or the Garnhof Alm. For eating on the mountain it would have to be the Gamskogel Hutte on the World Cup run.

Accommodation : Apartment Strims is a beautiful, traditionally-built chalet in the idyllic World Cup Skiing town of Zauchensee. Inside, there are 6 self contained apartments, all different shapes and sizes and each sleeping between 2 to 7 people - or you can take all 29 beds if you want!
The house has a very warm and friendly feel with plenty of Alpine character and it just what you would expect when you walk through the traditional front door. All the apartments have their own personality and character too. All beautifully maintained and with everything you need for the perfect self-catering holiday. Strims is a beautiful chalet, situated on the south west side of the Zauchensee valley, surrounded by woodland, just 5 minutes walk (300m) to the village centre and the ski lifts, sitting peacefully on the mountainside. From the back of the house, you've got a choice of walking trails up through the mountains that can be enjoyed in summer and winter. The house is directly opposite the main ski slope and the town's small lake. And if you want to explore the region further, it's just a 2 minute walk to the free bus which gives you easy access to the nearest town, Altenmarkt, with its wide range of shops, facilities and other amazing ski areas nearby. Apartment Strims offers you all the freedom of a self-catering holiday and the hosts are always on hand to help you make the most of your trip - everything from ski-guiding to restaurant recommendations. Strims is perfect for families, groups of friends or couples.

Costs: Accommodation is from about 26€ per person per night for self catering but obviously this is dependant on the time of year and usually on a minimum occupancy. There is also a 1.10€ a night tourist tax and a week end cleaning charge for an apartment, but this is usually not very much.

Conclusion: To sum it up an apartment house in Zauchensee, Austria offers you all the freedom of a self catering holiday, in a ski beautiful ski village with fantastic skiing and snowboarding that is close to Salzburg airport. Zauchensee is perfect for families, groups of friends or couples. This area, little known by the British but is the jewel in the Salzburgerland Sportwelt’s crown and yet most people in the UK have never heard of it. One other thing.... if your skis were ATOMIC’s they would want to go home!

Zauchensee Resort Report Feedback Thread
ski holidays     
 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?
Resort: Vaujany
Country: France
Domain: Grandes Rousses (Alpe d'Huez)
Author: Paul-B

Date: 19-23 Dec 2009
Our holiday: Group of 4 experienced skiers and 2 boarders.
Website : http://www.vaujany.com
Basics : Directions and travel as per Alpe d'Huez, except using a different road from the valley up to resort. We drove down from Calais, but it's possible to arrange transfers from Grenoble using coach+prearranged taxi.
Lift system : The Vaujany cable car links in two sections into the Alpe d'Huez system.
The terrain : The main village does not have any nursery slope, but the local area can be reached by gondola, which also links into the main system via chairlift. See Alpe d'Huez reports for information on the larger ski area. At this time of year it's necessary to get a pass which covers the entire area, otherwise the skiing would be very limited.
The snow : Variable. We had one day of good weather, then high winds and rain/snow for our short trip. I hit a hidden rock on the Couloir blue run on the first day, went over the front, and broke my shoulder, so my personal experience was very limited! Although the ski conditions were good on the first day (which was Christmas week), only about 1/2 of the overall area was open, and it wasn't possible to ski down to the lift in Enversin which would normally take you back to the village, so it was necessary to descend via the lifts. (Recommend the Medical Centre at the end of the Telecentre lift in AdH centre for prompt attention and good humour!).
Off-piste : n/a

The resort : Very charming and sensitively developed village with modern apartments and a neat escalator system to make getting around the village easy. There is also plenty of parking, including free covered parking in resort. It is towards the end of the alpine road which has some steep sections before reaching the village itself, and not much traffic away from busy times. It was necessary for us to use snow chains on occasions to reach the resort. There is free wi-fi availability in resort, though this could not be reached from our accommodation. It can be reached from bars within the village, and there is also an indoor picnic area next to the tourist information hall, which has power sockets and good reception (as well as somewhere to wash you picnic stuff).

Food : We self-catered and did not eat out in restaurants, which looked expensive by our Sterling-clobbered standards, but no more so than elsewhere in French ski resorts.
Accommodation : We stayed at the Valmonts de Vaujany apartments booked through the operator www.snowtrex.co.uk. Reasonable costs, pretty well equipped, clean and comfortable though not enough seating in the lounge and no TV reception (even though TV supplied).
Costs: See Vaujany site for lift pass prices, the usual ski hire outfits have shops here, see snowtrex or residhotel for accommodation costs.
Conclusion: As a more picturesque place to stay within the AdH area it has an advantage over the main resort, however it's too far for beginners to travel to nursery slopes. You also need to be very careful about getting back over the lift system before the links close, so it would suit folks who are organised enough to get and have a good ski early on so you are back over towards Oz and Vaujany as the afternoon progresses. One one occasion we had to collect stranded members of our part from Oz by car, which takes about 20 mins each way: to to do round trip to AdH takes about an hour if the roads are clear. It's a nice place if you know what to expect and are prepared.

Vaujany Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow conditions     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Resort: Queyras (Molines en Queyras/ St Veran)
Country: France
Domain: The Queyras is not a domaine but a Parc Naturel Regional (rather like our national parks). It is undeveloped and unspoilt with a scattering of villages. Many French people haven’t heard of it.
Author: Badpanda
Date: New year 2009/2010 (plus references to a short Easter trip in 2008).
Our holiday: We are a forty-something couple:-
XC - OK on any piste, moving onto non-groomed trails
Downhill - I have about 4 days experience, Mr Badpanda also has two weeks 18 years ago.
Website : www. Queyras-montagne.com –good for accommodation and webcams.
http://www.queyras-montagne.com/parc-naturel/glisse/espace-nordique/ski-fond/domaine-nordique/ouverture-pistes - state of XC pistes
http://www.stationsqueyras.com/fichiers/bulletin.pdf - state of DH pistes
Basics : In the Southern French Alps, nearest large centre is Briancon. Not the easiest place to get to –that’s why it’s unspoilt. Best airports - Turin, Marseille, Grenoble and Nice. Took us 4 hours from Turin in poorish conditions. There is a railhead at nearby Guillestre.
Once there, I have to say that a car (with snowchains) is extremely useful. But there were buses and if you choose your location sensibly you’ll be fine. We did several days without the car.
The terrain- XC : 240 km of trails with semi-groomed trails high into the mountains. They distinguish on the map (if not, that I could see, on the ground) between graded pistes and “itineraries” with the itineraries supposedly less groomed. Keep an eye on the website as to what has been groomed and ask around as to whether you need metal edged skis for various itineraries – we did everything in conventional track skis.
We only scratched the surface here. We skied up towards the Col Agnel valley from the door - a good first day and so beautiful as it snowed. A marvellous trip Arvieux to Souliers with a gite d’etape in Souliers for lunch at £10 a head. Les Charrieres traverse from Pierre Grosse to St V (beware DHers coming fast the other way) and the Les Loups up towards the Refuge Blanche, the only trail looking a little thin lower down - but almost Norweigan higher up. All these were roughly black or red level. There is a lot of easier skiing everywhere and it’s a great place to learn (I started here). I was very excited at the idea of XC boarder cross (?!) at Arvieux but we ran out of time. You can do the famous Tour de France cols but they recommend metal edged skis (hireable locally) and you need to be confident with death plunges off the edge – work those linked snow-plough turns!
The terrain DH – About 6 non-linked DH ski areas varying from the teensy to Molines/St V at 38km and about 30 pistes. About 120km in total.
St V starts at 2000 meters. Molines (but not St V) seemed busy on New Years Eve morning (but that’s a XC-er talking) but otherwise it was quiet to v quiet. Molines is more treed, usually shorter pistes, busier, warmer, softer whereas St V (which I preferred) is more open and exposed, so icier but quieter with glorious views to Mont Viso and les Ecrins.
It is mainly reds and blues - the blacks were closed. The ratings seemed weird IMHO, some reds were fine and some blues just rough precipices. I found our –alleged – green down to Pierre Grosse tricky even on DH skis - it was very icy and rough. (There are several easy beginner greens). I loved the long blues from the tops which are good for getting over any drop off/death-plunge phobia you may have. I’m not going to even comment on the piste map, we just asked people.
DH Lift system :. There is a single lift pass for all the parc so you can ski different areas in a day. There were almost no queues even on New Years Eve. It is draglift central, though. Just one chairlift in the place and the only way off is a sometimes busy short red. (Beware the teleski Amourettes in Molines; it threw us both off on different occasions into very steep thick forest.) Some drags are long (well over a km) so you have to concentrate. Liftpass about 100 Euros for 6 days in holidays, about 85 outside.
BTW you are under an hour to Vars/Risoul if you fancy large scale DH action.
The terrain – backcountry. Simply magnificent for snowshoeing. If you don’t have avvy skills/ equipment, you can do superb days up to the Col Agnel or the Refuge Blanche or Col du Longet (the one from Fontgillarde), if you check the avvy risk with the tourist office / ski teacher/ etc.
Loads of animal tracks and Mr BP claims to have seen an alpine hare. They have wolves too...
There are the usual resort snowshoe trails as well of course – and in lovely surroundings.
Its reputation for ski touring speaks for itself but we were told it’s excellent for beginners.
Highly recommend Espace Montagne Securite at Aiguilles. It has an automated avvy transceiver training park – you just turn up with your ARVA, turn the machine on and spend a couple of hours running around and sweating to see if you can find the body/ies in time– I killed Mr Badpanda once. They also have initiation ski touring and snowshoe touring trails there.
The snow : The Queyras is famous for its 300+ sunny days a year so snow could be an issue. Rather naughtily for a “nature” destination the DH has what they assured us were “eco” snow cannons, hmm. But both trips had plenty of natural snow. As there is such a huge range of activities, you can always find something to fit with the snow/weather.
DH Off-piste : No idea I am afraid. There were lots of people skiing between the pistes in St V.
The resort : Pierre Grosse, Molines proper and St V are full of fantastic old wooden chalets and no modern excrescences. St Veran is (honestly) un des plus beaux villages de France so you tend to pay extra. Our après-ski involved lying on the sofa with booze/maps etc but I don’t think we missed much debauchery. The tourist office in St V is very good and keen to get you out into the mountains. There was a range of “animations” over the holidays, particularly aimed at families.
There are many good guides and backcountry and cross country ski schools. It would be very easy to go on a days snowshoeing, rando nordique, ski de randonee etc if you wanted to get some experience before venturing forth on your own. There are of course DH schools as well.
I don’t know how much English is spoken as most people were surprised to find English people there at all. But we did hear another English voice this time ...
Food : There is a perfectly adequate Intermarche about 20 mn away. You could stock up at vast hypermarkets at Briancon on the way. Ate at Chalet du Villard in St Veran – excellent– fondues, meat grills etc.
Accommodation : We stayed in Pierre Grosse (a hamlet near Molines) – marvellously situated, quiet, spacious and superbly equipped 2/3bed gite (would sleep six in comfort) although no wifi. Typical Queyrassien hospitality– did not want paying in advance (or at all till the last day), no deposit, drove out to find us at 10.30pm and later helped us fit snow chains. We walked to the downhill and XC pistes - a 10 / 20 mn clamber in both directions. There was a free shuttle a few times daily to the main DH resort at Molines.
We have also stayed at Chalet du Villard hotel in St Veran, about 85 Euros a night outside school holidays for large room with self catering facilities, v comfortable and wonderful location. Out of our range now – £ disaster.
It’s an easy area to get accommodation outside the usual French Sat to Sat straightjacket. In fact, there is plenty of good accommodation. But book reasonably early if you want St Veran.
Costs: Very good value. Accommodation 380 Euros (plus a lot of heating and hot water for about 36 euros). Hirecar (HA with snowheads code) under £150 a week. Flights booked long in advance with BA about £80 each. It’s not expensive when you’re there.
Conclusion: Warning – we just love the place so are biased. It’s not a mainstream DH destination so won’t suit everyone. But if you want a winter sports holiday in unspoilt sunny (usually) Alps with friendly locals, limitless back country, superb challenging XC and a nice bit of DH, I know of nowhere better.

Queyras Resort Report Feedback Thread
snow report     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Resort: Kappl
Country: Austria
Domain: Paznaun/Silvtretta
Author: boabski

Date: 2nd to 9th Jan 2010
Our holiday: Family holiday for me, wife and 3 kids -aged 6 9 and 12. Our 5th family holiday and 3rd time skiing for youngest
Website : www.kappl.com
Basics : Probably an hour from Innsbruck but we (to keep costs much reduced) flew Edinburgh to Munich then back via Memmingem.
Lift system : Kappl has around 45km of runs but you can but a whole area pass to include Ischgl, See, Galtur and Samnaun (Switzerland)
The terrain : The terrain was excellent in Kappl alone. The grading was accurate and runs really interesting. From most chairs you could take a blue red or black down (the blacks were more dark red IMO but still very nice). Top of mountain was excellent cruising, in the middle there were several 'runs' through the trees etc, which the kids loved and the bottom part was a very nice forrest track. Longest run was 9 km and excellent. On the upper half was a fun park for beginners and intermediates and a timed slalom course, which was always kept in great condition. Also has a 6km toboggan run floodlight 2 nights a week which was great fun.
The snow : There had not been a proper dump for ages but thanks to the freezing temps and snow cannons the snow was in great condition, with only a couple of minor icy patches to worry about
Off-piste : Did not do but looks pretty decent with most accessible pretty easilly from lifts
The resort : Kappl lies in the Panznaun valley which is pretty steep. Therefore Kappl itself is on a pretty steep slope. Very picturesque with loads of hotels and guesthouses. Only 3/4 4 star hotels. Lovely church in centre with candlelit graveyard at night - really beautiful. Not too many restaurants to choose from and several bars. Few decent apres ski bars too. Gondola that took you to midstation/ski school etc was on valley floor, which was lower than the main village - not really a problem in morning as you skied down but had to rely on bus/taxi/long uphill walk if you skied all the way down at end of day for best apres ski bar at foot of slopes - not a problem though if you stopped off near your accomodation on way down
Food : Sunny Mountain is a biggish complex that houses ski school/kindergarten and large restaurant - serves very good food but was extremely busy once ski school finished for lunch. The Bockalm was a short ski away, more traditional and easy to get table. Anywhere we ate on mountain was always excellent and typically cost us €35 for the 5 of us including a couple of acloholic drinks for the adults
Accommodation Hotel Silvretta only 20m away from piste. We had two massive rooms with balconies overlooking town, piste and valley. Breakfast was OK and 5 course dinner was acceptable but nothing like what Ive experienced in past - admittedly that has usually been 4 star and 4 star superior hotels. €1400 for the week including drinks seemed pretty decent value for me though. Also had sauna and steam rom but never used. Would not go back as evening meals were in the main disappointing
Costs Beers €2.5 - €3 for 0.5l. Gluhwein same. In fact most drinks were €3. Frankfurter and chips €4, Gulaschsuppe €3.5 - €4.5. In the main I thought the resort represented very good value apart from lift pass which was €231 for whole area and €131 for kids over 8
Conclusion: Great find. Can't believe not on any UK operator radar given its excellent child friendly nature, good value, great sking and closeness to Innsbruck. Would I return - you bet. Would stay at a different hotel next time though and fly to Innsbruck (drive from Munich took 5 hours due to horrendous traffic jams). Great place for families and in fairness skiers of all levels (apart from experts I suppose). I am a huge fan of the Arlberg and would rate the skiing better than that of Lech. Was a bit surprised not to have any heated chairs in Kappl or Ischgl (of the lifts and chairs we used anyway). Was a bit disappointed in Ischgl's apparently legendeary apres ski - not a patch on St Anton and whilst busy completely lacked in atmosphere - we were only there till 6 so maybe missed out Puzzled .
Gave our youngest a private lesson for 2 hours on day two which helped. Ski school did look very very busy and would not have been happy as most classes seemed to have around 10 kids. It did get quieter as the week went on though. The pistes were very quiet in the main and blessed by a week of sunshine and cold temps, will go down as one of our best ski holidays

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Resort: Ischgl
Country: .at
Author: Red 27

Date: Jan 9th - 16th 2010
Our holiday: Solo trip by 40 something competant piste skier with a liking for steeps.
Basics : Ischgl is in what I believe is the best ski area in the world, Western Austria. I flew Swiss from LHR to Zurich, got the train to Landeck and then the connecting Post Bus up to resort. All ran like clockwork.
Lift system : Famously new and fast Ischgl's lift system is very good. Avoid the morning queues at the Silvretta Funitel by going to the Fimba Gondola if possible. Galtur, Kappl and See are on the same lift pass but I didn't visit them
The terrain : with 235 pisted KM's there's a lot to explore. If you only skied the Idalp and Alp Triade bowls you could be forgiven for thinking "so far so bland", you could be in La Plagne or somesuch. The best of the skiing for those like me is over on the Greitsptitz and Palinkopf areas where Blacks 20 & 21, 34 & 35 and especially 13 & 14 have challenge and character. Also don't leave the home runs of 1, 1a & 5 for home time - they're brilliant descents through the trees to resort, all with steep pitches, but at 4.00pm the choked with punters.
The snow : Fast skiing on Hard pistes - or was it Hard Skiing on Fast pistes... More snow is needed, although the cold temps have allowed very skiable artificial to patch up most of the bare patches.
Off-piste : There was effectivly none - all chopped up crusty crud
The resort : Do you like huge groups of German blokes on the lash roaming the streets chanting oompah fussball songs? You do? Ischgl by night is perfect for you. Lots of strip clubs too and the all important Burger Bin. rolling eyes All easily ignored of course... The village itself is rather pretty...
Food : Great food on the mountain - my fav was the ultra modern Alpenhaus. In resort I didn't have a bad meal, but nowhere stood out as exceptional.
Accommodation : I stayed in the Feriengluck B&B which, alarmingly was right next door to the KuhlStall (Cowshed?) apres ski bar but happily my room was at the back and so quiet. The hotel was excellent - great breakfast and a beautiful new spa area - not for the bashful though as typically everyone is naked. top value for 76€ a night.
Costs: Flight £100, Train/Bus £50, Hotel £500, liftpass £175. Only 4€ for a large Weissbeer in the bars in town - the advantage of lots of competiton.
Conclusion: Great skiing for those who like something steep - rowdy resort may deter some but if you can ignore all the madness then it's one to add to your list.

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Resort: Zermatt

Country: Switzerland

Domain: Matterhorn Ski Paradise (also includes Cervinia & Valtournenche)

Author: luigi

Date: 10th-17th Jan 2010

Our holiday: A mate and I found a last-minute chalet deal with Ski Total, we're intermediates with 10-12 weeks under our belts

Website : www.zermatt.ch

Basics : Flew into Geneva having been delayed for 2 hrs, waited 2 hours for other flights to arrive then a 4 hr coach/train/electric taxi trip to our accommodation in Zermatt, glad to finally get there 16 hrs after leaving home!

Lift system : There are 3 main sectors (Sunegga/Rothorn accessed via underground funicular, Gornergrat accessed by cog railway, Schwarzsee/Klein Matterhorn accessed by gondola), in recent years there has been a lot of investment in new lifts that link the 3 areas on mountain without the need to drop back to and cross the resort (which must have been a nightmare with the over-subscribed electro-bus system). There are still some older lifts and a reliance on inconvenient cablecars due to the high alpine terrain.
The area is linked across the border to Cervinia in Italy, which certainly adds to the kilometres available and the enjoyment, the link is extremely high at 3800m and can be closed in bad weather. Staying at the top end of town near the Klein Matterhorn gondola meant that all areas were easily accessible, thanks to the new Furi-Riffelberg gondola link.

The terrain : Amidst the glaciers and 28 4000m+ peaks including the iconic Matterhorn, the terrain is spectacularly awesome with an impressive 2200m vertical. It's not the sort of terrain that would be chosen as ideal for a ski area, there are too many chasms which make linking areas difficult, the high glacier areas are too flat to be interesting and there are not many tree lined pistes for bad weather, but the way these natural obstacles have been overcome makes for a gnarly, challenging area nonetheless. My favourite run was the red from Rothorn to Gant which sweeps and drops 900m through beautiful glaciated scenery.
The Cervinia side in contrast is full of flattering wide motorways including the 22km drop into Valtournenche and the Ventina piste down to Cervinia, my favourite was the Cretaz piste at the far left of the bowl below the south face of the Matterhorn, a red sweeper at the top ending up on a fast blue motorway down into Cervinia.

The snow : There had been no significant snowfall for over 2 weeks before we arrived and no more than a dusting fell while we were there. Up high pistes were in good condition, lower down they were a bit hard-packed and would get scraped to the point of icy patches showing through late in the day. The Italian side had more recent snow and a top-up while we were there, so was in excellent condition.

Off-piste : Not my bag but plenty of opportunities in between pistes after snowfall, then there are also whole faces of unpisted yellow itineraries which generally open when snowcover builds in February.

The resort : Zermatt is the quintessential chic mountain resort: there are ancient cow-sheds mixed in with seriously expensive hotels; shops selling £150,000 hand-crafted, bejewelled watches; a mature clientele with fur-clad ladies strolling arm-in-arm with their well-heeled silver-haired husbands; horse-drawn carriages; all motorised traffic except for electric vehicles is banned; at the same time there were younger people enjoying some lively apres (Hennu Stall, Papperla Pub, Schneewittchen club) which all added up to a special atmosphere that probably isn't available elsewhere.

Food : There are some seriously nice places to eat on the mountain, Chez Vrony (at Findeln) and Zum See (below Furi) have the best reputation, we had a hot choc at the former just to look, cost CHF5 (£3), which was no more than other soulless self-service places on the mountain. Eating over in Italy is 30-50% cheaper, the atmospheric restaurant at Chalet Etoile above Plan Maison in Cervinia where we had a waitress-served Entrecote steak with bearnaise sauce for €20 (£18 ), something similar on the Swiss side would have been 50% more at CHF45 (£27).
There are over 100 restaurants (of every taste from the ubiquitous Swiss fondue to japanese and exotic fusion) to choose from in Zermatt ranging in price from affordable to splurge-worthy.

Accommodation : Chalet Kamanga was a little dated but was comfortable and the staff took pride in what they were doing, food was some of the best I've had in a chalet. Handy for the red line electro-bus down to the lifts and ski back to within 100m on the Moos piste.

Costs: Zermatt is up there with the top resorts in terms of costs, particularly the unavoidable lift-pass at CHF405 (£245) for 6-day international pass, the weak pound adds to the pain. I didn't come across any overt rip-offs but look at the prices before you buy as some places are offering exclusivity to the rich clientele. Whatever you pay, you will probably still be getting value for money in terms of quality, ambience or service and there are usually budget options available if you don't want to splurge (pints at Sparky's were CHF5 (£3)).

Conclusion: Probably one of the best ski resorts in the world, it's reputation is deserved, it has everything you'll ever need and more!

A few photos from the trip:

Matterhorn looking moody


Klein Matterhorn cablecar


On the 22km run to Valtournenche in Italy


Italian sunshine


Cretaz piste above Cervinia


Toblerone Matterhorn from Trockener Steg


Resort Report Feedback Thread for Zermatt


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Resort: Saint Martin de Belleville
Country: France
Domain: 3 Vallees
Author: All the Giants
Date: 16th - 23rd January 2010
Our holiday: We were 8 blokes staying in a chalet in St Jean de Belleville, 7km down the road from St M. We ranged in different levels from good intermediate to intermediate to a first timer skiier and snow boarder. THis was my second trip, having previously stayed in Les Arcs 1800
Website : http://www.st-martin-belleville.com/index_en.php
Basics : Saint Martin is in the 3 vallees in the Savroie part of France. We flew from Gatwick to Geneva then drove hire cars through Annecy and Albertville to Moutiers then up the mountain.
Lift system : There is only one bubble out of Saint Martin itself, you then need to get the chairlift to the top, but from there you can easily get over to Les Menuires or drop into Meribel. Then the 3 vallees is your playground. Modern express chairlifts and bubbles everywhere. Very short waiting times, but then we did go at a quiet time. The only problem came around 4pm, getting onto Saint Martin 2. Panicing people trying to get back to Meribel or Courchevel before the lefts closed.
The terrain : There was a 10cm drop the night before we got onto the slopes. The vast majority of the slopes were in really good condition, especially in the morning. Heading over to Meribel on Faon or Blaireau was a treat. With only one main run to Saint Martin from the top (Pelozet into Biolley) this got quite compacted and bare, and didn't make for a particularly pleasent run home. Pelozet was particularly bad after being joined by Pramint. But the area was bathed in sun all day long. With easy links to Meribel and Courchevel, you could never get bored. I wouldn't recommend Saint Martin as a base for first timers, better to go up to Les Menuires for lessons, more blues and easier ones as well. Jerusalum was lovely to come down last thing at night, always quiet and a nice way to finish the day, even if it was a little icy.
The snow : 10cm on our arrival day and 10cm halfway through the week freshened everything up.
Off-piste : Can't comment
The resort : As we were driving up to Saint Martin, the large car park near the bubble was very helpful. Saint Martin itself is small, especially compared to Les Menuires, but very picturesque and there are a few nice bars. Dahlia near the bubble does a good burger, and was great for an Apres ski Vin Chaud. We only went out a couple of times due to the expense of taxis but we ate in L'Eterlou, which is at the bottom of the nursery slope, which was great food, great value and very nice service. Highly recommend there. Piano bar was a good place to go for some atmosphere. Chardon Bleu (i think) at the top of Saint Martin 1 did a lovely Chocolat Chaud avec Chantilly, which was well worth having before getting back up for a last Jerusalum of the day.
Food : Dhalia Burger for lunch, Les Grand Lac Restraunt at the bottom of Grange. Saint Martin is much better value than Meribel. L'Eterlou for dinner
Accommodation : Stayed in one of the guys friends chalet. Very nice, but not being the resort was a pain
Costs: 235E for 3 vallees lift pass, 9-15E for lunch, 15E-25E for dinner, 3.50E for Vin Chaud, 5E for a pint. 50E for blue skis.
Conclusion: Saint Martin is a lovely village. Skiing is a little limited around the village itself but very easy to get anywhere in the 3 vallees so this isn't an issue. Nightlife is quieter so if your want somewhere busier, Les Menuires would be better. Would suggest any first timers might prefer lessons in Les Menuires.



(This is my first effore so please feel free to comment and i'll add or change anything. Thanks

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Resort: Kaprun,
Country: Austria
Domain: Linked to Zell am See and Kitzsteinhorn Glacier on lift pass
Author: sev112

Date: 23 to 30 Jan 2010
Our holiday: Family holiday with wife and 6 year old daughter on 3rd trip; 3rd year to same reort (Kaprun, Austria), TO (Esprit), and chalet (Mara)
Website : http://www.maiskogel.at/wb/pages/english/winter/family-orientated.php; http://en.kitzsteinhorn.at/news/webcams.htm; http://en.kitzsteinhorn.at/
Basics : Kaprun 4km from Zell am See; 1.5hr (very pretty) coach transfer from Salzburg airport
Lift system : 3 easily accessed areas: Kitzsteinhorn glacier at end of Kaprun valley, Maiskogel in Kaprun , and Zell am See 4 km/12mins on bus

The terrain : Glacier accesssed by 15min interval buses, which are rarely packed, 2 cable cars/bubbles to take you up 2 stages (so 12 min bus then prob about 15 mins to get to ski area). Glacier is typical glacier - on clear days it is absolutely awe inspiring; on windy snowy days you know you that you are taking part in extreme sport (even on a flat piste). Have been up there twice in 3 years now in bitter whiteout , but those days of sunshine ..... Smile Lots of marked off piste for those who like that sort of thing. Beautiful cruisy long pistes, with 3 different gradients on the main glacier - great for bombing down. Some reds down from the main glacier that you would think would be sheltered on bad days, but usually they are even more whiteout than up above! Again on clear days you are on the edge of the ridge on these and are very very beautiful surroundings. 3rd level cable car takes you right to the top of the mountain - possibly a bit of a long ride, but if you dont like the standard Tbars, then it's an alternative that most glaciers dont have.
Zell - lots of VERY WIDE pistes. Beware - many people head to Zell when it's bad weather because of the good old belief that you are a bit more protected/better visibility in amongst the trees. I think the narrowest piste here is about 200 m wide, so you wont be getting much protection. I always find Zell extremely busy, more so than France (!), and to be perfectly honest i don't enjoy it that much. However it is the place that most people spend much of their week in when based at KAprun and they seem to enjoy it there, so who am i to say different. Easily accessible by regular bus from Kaprun, and then 3 levles of bubbles up to the top of the Areitbahn, and then head off in a few different directions on varrious facing slopes. THere are 3 or 4 blacks all the way down to parts of Zell tha in good snow are great fun. When it gets warmer, it gets very slushy on the bottom third.
Which brings me to the Miaskogel - branded/marketed as the "family" mountain in Kaprun itself. (Kaprun also has the Lechnerberg, on one side of town, which is the longest begineers slope i have seen - brilliant for new skiers of for kids learning without lunatics bombing through to the bottom of the slopes. ) The Maiskogel is always quiet, is served by 2 lifts taking you to mid station and then the top, and is also served by the Maiskogelbahn cable car which is where those skiing on the glacier get off the bus, up the cable car, and down the Maiskogel for the end of the day. The Maiskogel purports to have a black at the top, which in icier weather might just get there. We had good snow last week, and still probably about 5% to 10% of people going down it were falling on the short black section which suggests to me that the grading is not that far off.
FIS run B level (?) GS competitions on the Red here.
Skiing down the Maiskogel gives you great views of Zell and the Valley eastwards when the sun sets over the mountains.
Oh, and did i say, it's always empty ! Smile



The snow : Firm to start with, topped up nicely several times through the week; pretty good in total. Same in Jan last year; MArch 2 years ago was a lot of artifical as there wasn't snow in the village that month.
Off-piste : Looked very snowy and nice on the 5 marked trails up on the glacier
The resort : More like a large village/small town. Has a smallish centre, with lots of accomodation spreading out and about. Not much nightlife, but a few apres ski bars that are well frequented. Pavillion is good early evening; Pallettis later on.
Food : Hotel Orgler in centre of town for great Austrain food - makes you appreciate Sauerkraut when it's made like this. On the Maiskogel i really like the Stangerbauer, just below the first lift on the left - good Gulashsuppe, best Apfelstrudel around (and i am a connesseur!); On the Glacier, come out of the 2nd cable car and just before the Alpine centre on the left is a circular/round brown restaurant - brilliant Austrian food at great prices - try the deer stew or the spinach dumplings (Mrs sev112's recommendation) - and you wont finish the cakes!. At Zell just head for the Pinzgauerhutte - requires a 1/2 mile narrow track to get there, followed by being dragged back up the track by the owners' snow mobile !
Accommodation : Chalet Mara, with Esprit. Brilliant childcare for the 3rd year running . We have had 3 great years with them. Thier childcare staff are exceptional. Never planned to leave our daughter in their care all day, but we get grief from teh littlun if we don't these days! They always manage to find very proefssional and responsible young chalet staff as well. Good good food this year.
Costs: About £1800 for 2 adults and 1 child, included half board, 3 lift passes, child ski hire, child ski lessons and childcare from 8.45 to 6pm, with additional childcare to 9.30 if we wanted in that price !!!! 2xSki carriage was in that price. Also flights on Monarch from Gatwick. Good value if you ask me.
Beer on the mountain was about 3 to 4 E a pint. Strudel about 3E, Hot Chocolate about 2.50E.
Conclusion: Another great week in Kaprun - i love the fact that everyone heads to the Glacier and Zell, leaving the Maiskogel all to me Smile
Final lesson learned - the obvious off-piste shortcut from the Maiskogel past the cemetry down to within 200m of the chalet is not a highly used route for a very good reason - there be rocks beneath that snow, as my lovely new serviced and waxed bases of my skis found out ! Sad

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Resort: Squaw Valley

Country: USA

Author: hd

Date: 21-27 January 2010

Our holiday: Annual trip with 2 powder hungry snowboarding mates to North America (NA). We have toured the Alps extensively and are now looking for new challenges across the pond. Previously in NA we have visited Panorama, Lake Louise, Whitefish and Fernie.

Basics: Direct flight Heathrow - San Francisco from where we rented a car. We had a 4x4 and this proved to be essential as the journey up to Squaw was through a raging blizzard and took 6 hours with only 4x4s with snow tyres being allowed on the motorway. The return drive was dry and took 3 hours.

Lift system : There is an impressive array of fast lifts from the base including a big cable car and a funitel. Further up the mountain all the lifts are chairs; an equal mixture of fast and slow. Annoyingly only one of them has footrests and some of the slower chairs don't even have safety bars.

The snow : We have been incredibly lucky on all our recent snowboarding trips and this one again delivered the goods. Prior to our arrival it hadn't snowed for 2 weeks but we turned up at the start of a massive storm which dumped an incredible 250cms of new snow immediately before and during the course of our visit. At first air temperatures were very cold and consequently the snow was light and dry but the weather warmed up later in the week turning what was both falling and already on the ground into horrible wet sludgey cement. The last two days were pretty miserable as we got absolutely drenched by the wet snow.

Squaw was a busy resort - the busiest of any we have visited in NA. The good snow during our visit attracted a lot of the locals to the resort and apparently Saturday 23 January had a record 14,000 people on the mountain (we went to Alpine Meadows on that day which was much less busy). Even midweek the runs were far from deserted. Consequently any fresh snow in Squaw got tracked out very quickly and there were often long queues for first lift in the morning and for first chair on lifts that opened later in the day.

The terrain: There are no marked trails and very few groomed runs. This suited us perfectly in our quest for powder and fresh tracks but many of the runs very quickly became horribly chopped up and bumpy due to the high traffic. The usual mantra in NA of if you can see it, ride it very much applied. The area is large and there was still plenty of stuff left for us to explore after 5 days. A great mixture of tree runs, open bowls, cliff jumps, mostly steep with very few flat spots...really great terrain but spoiled in a big way by the crowds and resultant tracked out powder. Also the poor weather probably was another reason why we didn't enjoy it as much as other resorts we visited around Lake Tahoe. We didn't have any sunny days in Squaw and getting drenched by the wet sleety-sludge that was falling on the last few days was a miserable experience. Whereas on each of our away day trips to Alpine Meadows, Mount Rose and Homewood we had at least some sunshine.

The resort : We stayed in a very nice condo just outside the resort (5 minutes walk to the nearest lift) booked through VRBO. There is a small reasonably attractive purpose built village at the base.

Food: Most nights we stocked up on supplies in nearby Tahoe City and self-catered. On mountain lunch-time eating was in the usual NA style large self-service affairs.

Costs: The lift pass was expensive (as is often the case in NA) at $335 for 5 days out of 7 but otherwise costs were reasonable.

Conclusion: A great resort with some superb terrain. I would be raving about Squaw if it had been quieter and we'd had a couple of sunny days after the snowy ones but due to the crowds and poor weather for our visit I'm rating it *only* 8/10.

Squaw Valley Resort Report Feedback Thread


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