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Desperately Seeking Snow

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi- We are a US family of 4 (skiers and boarders) expert level living in Spain and we have had bad snow luck this season. We just booked plane tickets to Geneva for a long weekend on the 22nd and we would really love some advice on where to go. We have skied all over US favs are Aspen Highlands, Alta and Kirkwood. We are overwhelmed and need help! We thought Chamonix but now are reading that you have to take lots of busses For kids ski week we choose Andorra last month and were worn out from all the driving to and from Arnisal. Here is what we are looking for:
-steeps and deeps w/out hiking AKA side country.
-ski in/out options or at least no busses
- close to Geneva airport or at least under 3 hours.
- Mogels (we love soft bumps!)
- info on where we can hire a guide
- Best place for ski rentals (we have boots) that has good women-specific ski options.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience snowheads. If we can return the favor and offer any insights about any of our favs we are happy to share the love.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@powderpuffster, welcome to snowHead

I think Verbier would fit your bill, pretty well on every point. There are numerous operators and links you can follow to get the lowdown on ski rentals, guides, accommodation etc, etc. You seriously can't go wrong I don't think...not with your checklist!

https://www.verbinet.com

www.mountainbeds.com are Verbier specialists and have been also very helpful in the past. Obviously there are others Madeye-Smiley
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Thank you for the welcome and the speedy reply. Verbier has enough side country/ non groomed steep runs to keep one happy for a long weekend? Would you recommend we need a guide? Thank you.
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It has enough to keep you happy for a season to be honest! I tend to hire a guide if I'm going somewhere new or have limited time but it's a very personal thing, everyone has a different view on this. I would though, yes.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Forgot to say there is also a dedicated thread on the forum with loads of good info.

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=138862&start=240
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This is all super helpful. Thank you. Looking at the forecast, perhaps we will be fine yet, I am wondering about the conditions at Verbier. It seems they perhaps have less of a base and perhaps had rained Sad
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@powderpuffster, deep base

fresh snow in the last few days, and a lot more expected.

My daughter is there currently and said yesterday was superb. There had been a little rain on Sunday which turned into snow in the night and conditions underfoot were excellent (visibility not so excellent).

For your checklist you will tick every box.

Ski shop for ladies: Mountain Air.
Ask for Joe (the owner) and say Janek (pronounced with a Y) sent you...he is a friend and will really make sure you are taken care of.
The shop is right at the foot of the slope, you can leave your kit there overnight so if you do need to walk to get to your accommodation you can wear ordinary footwear (and not carry skis!).
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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!
powderpuffster wrote:
Thank you for the welcome and the speedy reply. Verbier has enough side country/ non groomed steep runs to keep one happy for a long weekend? Would you recommend we need a guide? Thank you.


Do you have avy kit for everyone and are you experienced in making good decisions in an avi risk environment - remember off piste in Europe is not the same as skiing even Highlands Bowl or the Cirque? People do get killed in Verbier.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
My GP niece, who is in Verbier, reports thigh deep powder.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
pam w wrote:
My GP niece, who is in Verbier, reports thigh deep powder.


I assume that must be an anatomically correct measurement then wink
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Well, she has been known to get carried away with excitement....and she's quite petite.
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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.
Thank you all for taking the time to share your knowledge and advice and especially the ladies ski shop! For next weekend we are deciding between Verbier and Zermott because it looks like Zermott is getting more snow. Is there acessable side country in Zermott like there is in Verbier or does it require hiking?
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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
@powderpuffster, IMO Verbier is better for what you are looking for. Looking at the forecast, it will be avi risk 2 by 23rd so you can ski the itineraries (marked but not groomed) relatively safely. Zermatt’s good stuff high up is in glaciated terrain and requires more knowledge and care. However, it looks like sunshine from Tuesday on so while the base is deep, everything will be open and you will probably be skiing in glorious sunshine, finding untracked powder would require some effort. That will be no different in Zermatt.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Ya'll are so helpful. Any idea of best area to stay under 375 per night to easily acess side country teraine?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
powderpuffster wrote:
Thank you all for taking the time to share your knowledge and advice and especially the ladies ski shop! For next weekend we are deciding between Verbier and Zermott because it looks like Zermott is getting more snow. Is there acessable side country in Zermott like there is in Verbier or does it require hiking?


There is a very large amount of ‘side’ in Zermatt. There is also the entire Stockhorn area which is essentially lift-served off piste.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thank you @Blackblade. Most of the advice her lead us toward Verbier so we are heading in that direction.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@powderpuffster, I would get off the beaten path a bit if I were you. Val D'Anniviers would be an excellent choice for a weekend. Not too far a drive from Geneva, and a huge amount of off-piste. I would certainly rate it above Verbier (which I have to say I do not like for all sorts of reasons). Contact Ski Zenit (www.skizenit.ch) who will set you up and are an outstanding guiding outfit, they will be happy to organise a great long weekend for you. PM me if you want more info on the area and where best to stay.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
If you find yourself getting stuck re accommodation, consider contacting the Verbier Tourist Office directly via their website http://www.verbier.ch/

Another good source of information and offers is th official Swiss Tourism website https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/home.html

And if you don't have a lot of luggage to cart and plan to transit by hyper-efficient Swiss train, then here's the SBB integrated rail/télécabine/bus timetable site, which also may have travel/resort offers: https://www.sbb.ch/en - Your from/to will be Genève-Aéroport/Verbier (télécabine).

If you opt to hire a car, then here's the Forum thread on how to walk to it from the terminal and how you 'escape' from the parking onto the main freeway towards Martigny: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=3366931&highlight=#3366931

Also if you hire, be aware you need a Swiss Freeway Vignette to drive on Swiss freeways. The police are very hot on stopping people who don't have one. Some hire car rates can look attractive until you realise this isn't included. Like anywhere, some initially attractive rates can be for local run-arounds without winterisation (not common but just check). There's no 'go-direct-to-your-car' arrangements but Hertz Gold has a separate desk and it's free to join the loyalty scheme. Finally, be aware that Fernay Voltaire is in France and way outside the airport - rentals from here can be cheaper but you need to be sure they include vignette, winterisation and you factor in the extra transfer time.
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powderpuffster wrote:
Ya'll are so helpful. Any idea of best area to stay under 375 per night to easily acess side country teraine?


Stay in central Verbier. Plenty of good hotels to choose from or Airbnb if you want to self cater.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
And here’s the Mont Gélé itinerary this morning. Excuse the sound effects...

http://youtube.com/v/yXhp_tBunFo[/quote]
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@BobinCH, Cool
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
What a wealth of information. Thank you especially for the link to the train and the caution about car rentals.
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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!
@powderpuffster If you are thinking of transferring by train, then there are a few tips: you'll see on the SBB timetable that you catch the train from right inside the terminal. The ticket offices are left out of the arrivals /customs hall, past the UBS machines, through the big revolving doors into a second large hall, and down the escalator. The ticket clerks should speak English, or you can use a machine. The platforms are on the level below the ticket offices/shops and you'll usually be on a train to Brig. You stay on the train as it goes into Geneva, and out, around the lake, through Lausanne and Montreux and then into the Rhone Valley. You get off the train at Martigny and change to a local train for the short hop to Le Chable, which is in the valley below Verbier, where there's a huge car park for day visitors to Verbier to park and catch the gondola up. There's a new station at Le Chable where you just walk under cover from the station to the gondola ('télécabine') which then goes up to central Verbier. Alternatively, you get off the train and transfer to the bus up to Verbier - it depends on what connection the timetable recommends.

I haven't done this myself, other than when skiing over from Verbier to Bruson via the Le Chable gondola connection. So I'm not sure what the arrangement is if you're taking the télécabine up as a foot passenger i.e. I assume you have to buy a ticket - but perhaps BobInCH can comment.......?
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
So helpful! Thank you.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
zikomo wrote:
@powderpuffster Val D'Anniviers would be an excellent choice for a weekend. Not too far a drive from Geneva, and a huge amount of off-piste. I would certainly rate it above Verbier (which I have to say I do not like for all sorts of reasons).


I’m also a fan of Val D’Anniviers but it can’t rival Verbier for off piste. Interested in your issues with Verbier?

On a busy Saturday we got fresh tracks on Mont Gélé first thing, opened up backside at 11

http://youtube.com/v/o3art_MIliw

And then opened up North Face at 13:00

http://youtube.com/v/Jh2j0Oh5MN4

With a bit of local knowledge or a guide, Verbier is goooood!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@powderpuffster, where ever you go, please be aware Euro off piste is very different to the USA. We have no concept at all of in bounds, once you leave the piste poles (or an itinerary for some places) you are on you own. You'll each need knowledge of the area, the slopes, the recent snowfall/wind/activity, as well as a transceiver, probe and shovel and know how to use them! Or hire a guide. @BobinCH, skis some fantastic lines but knows the area very, very well.

Not sure there is much fresh snow around for next weekend at the moment...
Enjoy wherever you go and stay safe.
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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.
I'd echo @kitenski - You have just over 400kms of pistes in the 4 Valleys domain, and about 200kms in Verbier and La Tzoumaz, Bruson and Tortin-Combatzeline. And, for example, the massive Chassoure mogul field is effectively in the main ski area too i.e. there's a lot to ski in the main area without necessarily leaping off-piste immediately. Euro off-piste is more like double-diamond (at least in the areas I've skiied in the US like Tahoe and Vail): not that you'll necessarily find it difficult, but as mentioned, it warrants getting a Guide, especially if you are only around for a short period and want to hit the best parts. You could spend a month in 4 Valleys and not get bored, so as anywhere, be realistic about how much is do-able in a short period.Others here can suggest the best approach to getting a good guide.
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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
Thank you all again for your feedback does anyone have recommendations for a good guides we are not interested in Backcountry where we need to be Beacon an avalanche trained we are interested in what we call side country where it's not groomed runs but safe and lift access. We do love mogels.
One more question. Our Spanish phone carrier Orange just let us know it will not work in Switzerland does anyone know if there's a place right in the airport to get locals Swiss SIM cards?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@powderpuffster, there is no side country in Europe. You are either on piste or off piste. There have been avalanches next to pistes in Europe.

If you do come to Verbier then you can ski marked itineraries which are off piste but are marked as open or closed depending on conditions. Assuming visibility is good you shouldn't need a guide but check the avalanche forecast each morning at the base stations

http://freeride-verbier.com/blog/verbier-ski-itineraries/
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
link to the European flag system, note 3 is considered Considerable

https://www.verbinet.com/avalanches
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