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A snowHead
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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort: Davos

Country: Switzerland

Domain: Linked with Klosters

Author: dasher

Dates: 11/3/06 to 15/3/06

Me/My holiday: I have been skiing for about 25 years and am probably averaging close to a week a year. I normally manage a long weekend with the boys (old men ?) or a week with the family, last year I even managed both. This year a big family vacation at Christmas/New Year and decision by one of the boys to use his holiday for his honeymoon instead of weekend skiing left me facing the prospect of no skiing. Decided to fix something up on my own taking in a 3 day intro to off piste course. Flew early Saturday arriving in time for a couple of hours skiing in the afternoon, skied Sunday with the Ski Club of Great Britain and Mon, Tues, Wed did an excellent off piste intro course with a company called White Heat before jumping on the 4.00 pm train to return to London that night.

Websites: http://www.davos.ch/home-001-00-en.htm (has a really efficient hotel and apartment booking system)

http://www.parsenn.ch/?lang=en (more detail on the runs/lifts)

Basics: Flights from Heathrow on Swiss (good selection of flight times) then transfer by train which all went according to timetable.

Lift System: The skiing is split over 5 locations:- Rhinerhorn, Jacobshorn, Pischa, Parsenn (shared with Klosters) and Madrisa (far side of Klosters). I managed to ski in all locations except Pischa and found good skiing everywhere. An efficient bus service links resorts in Davos and links Madrisa with the bottom of the Parsenn on the Klosters side. I don't know if Davos and Klosters are linked by bus but they are linked by train. All services including the buses run to a timetable, which being Switzerland actually means something. Most areas have a big lift at the start (cable car, gondola etc) and most of the other skiing is served by T bars. There are some chairs/non T bar lifts (especially at Parsenn) but I think they could do with more. Having said that I can't remember queuing for any length of time and most lifts you just ski straight on to with no queue.

the Terrain: On Piste there is abundant intermediate terrain. Very few black or green pistes. Snow conditions were excellent so skiing to the base stations was great - lots of perfect corduroy first thing in the morning. Some of the return runs were a bit track like meaning you had to be careful not to loose your speed at the wrong moment. The black to Davos Wolfgang was fantastic in these conditions. Pistes were relatively empty in fact on numerous occassions they were completely empty allowing lots of carving practise. Off piste terrain was excellent - perfect learning territory although I'm sure there are plenty of harder routes if you want. The best day was the last which was a stunning descent to St Antonien off the back of the Madrisa. the valley was virtually untracked and we saw no one else in it all day Beautiful scenery, sunny day, a great sense of being away from it and rounded off by a fantastic lunch.

the snow: I arrived after some good snowfall the previous week. This left pistes with packed snow and no ice to be found anywhere. Off piste was mainly wind packed. Chopped up in places but still plenty of untracked even near to the piste. Our guide managed to find plenty of great snow.

The Resort: A proper town catering to a much wider range of budgets that expected. The resort has everything from smart hotels to plenty of apartments.

Food: I can't remember the names of any restaurants but I would say the food was of a good standard. Hotel breakfasts were pretty standard continental fare - exactly what is required to set you up for the day. Mountain lunches were just what was needed - pasta, rosstis, nice salads - popular spots were busy so it may well be worth booking ahead. Evening meals ranged from pizza to steak in restaurants and from 4 course set meals to (so I'm reliably informed) fine dining in hotels. Evening meals were all good but beginning to be a little more pricey. The hotels where many of the restaurants are seem a little overly formal.

Accommodation: I booked via the Davos website which is excellent. Everything from apartments to 5 star hotels can be booked through the website and for I'm pretty sure that there will be a hotel that will offer accommodation for any length of stay making it ideal for short/flexible breaks. I stayed b&b in the Hotel Heiss, close to a bus stop which means that you can get anywhere with the minimum fuss. The room was perfectly comfortable but decor very dated, the bed was nice and firm, plenty of hot water, decent breakfast however I can't help think that there are better/more inspiring options amongst the huge range available.

Costs: flights were just under £100 and train transfer just under £50. (For cheaper option with a group fly to Friedrichshafen and hire a car). I paid about £45 per night for a single room and breakfast. Lift pass was quite pricey but includes quite a good range of uphill transport and also covers the train trip back from Kublis/Saas etc if you ski the long run down these places (unfortunately didn't get a chance to do this). Food and drink were reasonable. A large beer in a mountain restaurant would be about 5 to 6 Swiss Francs (just under £3), a small soft drink about 3 to 4 Swiss francs and a main course of something like spag bol or rossti being about 15 Swiss Francs (£7). In the town prices rise depending on location but a large beer (Monstein - fantastic local brew) still only cost 7 Swiss Francs outside at one of the nicer hotels.

Summary: Great skiing with plenty of on piste cruising for intermediates including plenty below the tree line. Powder beside the piste remains untouched longer than many resort and if you hire a guide and go further afield then there are plenty of fantastic descents to be found. The ski bus that links the areas is a revelation - its worth getting the timetable as the bus runs on time. The town itself has all the facilities you will need. The resort atmosphere is less frenzied than many due to the large proportion of the clientele over 45 (many of whom don't ski or don't ski full time which explains the lack of lift queues and relatively untouched powder). Lends itself to short breaks. I had a fantastic time and hope to go again

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