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Switzerland 2021/22

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi guys, am new to the forum so apologies if this is in the wrong location. Myself and my partner have just finished our first ever week of skiing in Ukraine (don't judge Smile ), having returned from the trip we now have our eyes very firmly set on organising something for late December 2021, Jan 2022.

When i'm looking at accommodation there seems to be very limited choice - is this because i'm just too early!? Or is it because there's no availability?

Sorry If it's a completely stupid question! We are looking to go to Grindelwald as we have both always wanted to visit Switzerland.

If it's that im too early - what time of year do more places become available? And the best places to look for accomdation?

Thanks

Chris
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@christrafford, Welcome to SH Chris, i'd say you are too early. i'd think about booking mid/ late summer.
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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?
Hi, and welcome. Yes, even in a normal year, it'd be unusual to see much on offer while the current season was still going. Owners of apartments and chalets may sometimes get a request from someone now to reserve a place for the next winter - usually as a repeat visit by a client who has stayed already and/or has visited the resort and is happy to do the same next year.

If you're thinking of Switzerland (you'll see that our apartment is there, just to be up front) you might enjoy taking a look at the Swiss National Tourism website at mySwitzerland.com

They have a wide range of brochures they'll send you for free, which are nice to look through and make pleasant coffee table items. Or you can just download them. The site often has special offers as well, although it'll all be for this season or the summer at the moment.

If you are thinking of using the famous Swiss integrated transport system, you can use the national rail website to plan the feasibility of train/télépherique/PostBus journeys. Their website is SBB and they will also have offers closer to the season. If you're flying into Geneva, there's a mainline rail station at the airport (so you'd make the route planner 'from' as 'Genève-Aéroport'). Prices for next winter won't usually be posted until the autumn, so you'd have to use the current timetable to check routes, connections and prices.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 20-01-21 16:27; edited 1 time in total
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@christrafford, welcome to snowHeads! snowHead

You mentioned Grindelwald, if you haven't already noticed it there is an ongoing thread about the Jungfrau region (which includes Grindelwald, Wengen and Mürren): https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=83079&start=3760#4717331
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Hi Chris - lots of people here have deep insights into the details of different areas of CH. LaForet mentions some good reference materials. In addition do continue to ask questions here. You might think about what kind of skiing you want, and what you want out of your accommodation and location. We know the Valais (the southern most set of resorts) about 2.5 hours from Geneva, and the very different reports there - from the unknown gems (Les Marecottes and Nax, and Vercorin) to the increasingly popular Val D'Anniviers villages to the well known - Zermatt, Saas Fee, Verbier, Crans Montana etc. But it depends what you are after (off-piste hucking or relaxed cruising or restaurant tours or ski touring into the unknown). Different resorts have different snow conditions (Crans and Anzere amazing sun and therefore lots of soggy stuff) or north facing darkness (Zinal and Saas) but far better snow. Accommodation can be very cheap in villages a few miles from a ski station - Nax, Chandolin, but quiet in the evening (a good thing in our book - I prefer quiet walks under the stars....) while Verbier and the bigger places have lively night life. But wherever you select, people here will have time-saving advice and other insights.....
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@valais2, he said he’s just had his first ever week of skiing so I’d write off the off piste Laughing
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gawd...you're right...sorry...I read it quickly as 'we had our FIRST WEEK - OF SKIING IN UKRAINE' rather than 'we were in UKRAINE for OUR FIRST EVER WEEK OF SKIING'. Hmmm....yep...that rules out a lot of places then. Les Marrecottes lovely but not for newbies. Vercorin by contrast probably rather good....

Note to self - read a bit more carefully and don't rush....
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christrafford wrote:
Hi guys, am new to the forum so apologies if this is in the wrong location. Myself and my partner have just finished our first ever week of skiing in Ukraine (don't judge Smile ),

@christrafford, far from judging, I'm fascinated. There's been threads on here and trip reports from folk skiing in all sorts of places but I don't remember ever reading anything about skiing in Ukraine. Any chance you could start a thread and tell us a bit more about it? I'm sure I won't be the only person who's interested.
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Availability will vary a lot between December and January. 2021/22 will be a bit odd, as Christmas is on a Saturday, which will mess up a lot of typical Saturday to Saturday weeks. Most accommodation providers want to sell whole weeks, though Swiss ones (especially hotels) tend to be more flexible than other alpine countries.

Broadly, anything before Christmas, and probably including Sun 19th Dec to Sun 26th Dec, will be fairly quiet, though be aware that some resorts will not open many pistes more than a week before Christmas. Sun 26th to Jan 2nd will probably be busiest, Jan 2nd to 9th will be a bit variable, then it'll be quiet from Jan 8th.
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Thanks for all of your replies guys! I will post a review of my trip to Bukovel in Ukraine separately - however it will be a bit tricky I guess as I have nothing to compare it to!

To give a bit more context - I'm looking for an area that's typical 'chocolate box' chalets etc version of Switzerland - with an area of lots of blue runs for someone who has only been skiing for a week in total before! Cost isn't too much of an issue, and I am not too fussy whether I would be staying in a chalet or hotel, but as there would only be two of us I would guess finding a smaller chalet might be harder? I have read around lots of places online, and seem to come to different conclusions every time about what's a good area for beginners, what's more traditional Swiss etc etc...

Having only skied for a week in total before - would I be a beginner or intermediate!? I see most beginner guides referring to the nursery slopes, but I am comfortable beyond this level. Some of the 'blue' runs in Bukovel felt more than beginner at some points, but we managed them successfully!
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@christrafford, Take a look at Villars, and also Davos. If money is not an issue look at Zermatt, Klosters, St Moritz or Grindelwald, they'll gladly let you spend plenty there. I'd join a ski school for the week, no disrespect to skiing in Ukraine (i've never been) but i'd suggest it'll likely be quite a step up when you get to CH-land. I'd suggest whilst not an absolute beginner, you would benefit by being in a class situation with other similar level skiers, you'd also get to know the new area quicker.

One other observation - Rather than CH-land, which in my experience can be a a rather cold, unwelcoming place, have you thought about Austria, say Salzburgerland? Beautiful scenery and Alpine towns/ villages.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Thu 21-01-21 9:03; edited 1 time in total
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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.
@christrafford, you've already mentioned Grindelwald. Of the 3 resorts in the Jungfrau region I mentioned (Grindelwald, Wengen and Mürren) Grindelwald is the largest (it's a proper town, size wise). As a beginner if you want the typical 'chocolate box' village experience then of the three I would recommend Mürren (I'm sure snowHead Chris Brookes will agree - that's an in-joke btw, he's a great fan of Mürren whilst I'm a Wengen regular Toofy Grin ). Mürren is a car free village with some lovely old style buildings. There's some excellent blue runs there which would suit you. There's also the Schilthorn with the Piz Gloria building complex that featured in the 1969 James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Well worth taking the cable car up for the views and there is also a revolving restaurant. There's a steep black ski run down from the Schilthorn which you definitely don't want to be trying at your level at the moment, best to take the cable car back down again after you've taken in the views (pick a day with good visibility).
If you should decide on Mürren do take a day to go across the valley to Wengen, you might also care to take the train all the way up to the Jungfraujoch "Top of Europe".

P.S If you should decide to go to any of the three Jungfrau region ski towns then the Jungfrau region skipass covers all of them. There are slightly cheaper ones covering Grindelwald and Wengen, or Mürren only, but in my view it's better to have the entire region one as it lets you visit the other places for a day out. If you order your liftpass online at least 3 weeks in advance of the first day of use you can get a discount, this year it was 10% off: https://www.jungfrau.ch/en-gb/jungfrau-ski-region/earlybird-skipass/


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Thu 21-01-21 9:13; edited 1 time in total
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Thanks @Alastair Pink and @Markymark29, it seems I'm looking in the right area at least! I think some more lessons will be in order yes! We had 6 hours of private lessons in Ukraine and then spent the rest of the week exploring by ourselves, I would say I'm somewhere between a pizza and parallel, if that's possible Very Happy
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@christrafford, just remember, as they say in the South Park TV show.....

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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Can highly recommend The Derby Hotel in Grindelwald. Stayed many times & always excellent food & service & probably one of the cheaper places to drink in the town. Tried the Wolter once for a week but wouldn’t go back.

We do the train transfer from Geneva & it’s very straightforward with usually only two changes.

Have stayed numerous times in Wengen too & happy to recommend The Belvedere or the Silberhorn hotels. The trip to Murren is slightly easier from Wengen as you don’t have to worry about being on the wrong end of the train when it splits.

We usually go Jan after The Lauberhorn has finished as the runs are all open again then or early March. More often than not it’s cold & icy in Jan & slushy in March. Whenever you go it’s worth getting to the runs early to enjoy the quiet pistes.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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@christrafford, welcome to Snwoheads snowHead snowHead

If you are looking at the Jungfrau Region, forget Grindelwald as it is a town and not very picturesque.

Instead i would look at Mürren, this is what a swiss alpine uncommercialised village looks like (much better than the lower town place called Wengen...lol...Alastair). It is snow sure due to its height, amazing scenery in all directions, car-free and can only be accessed by cablecar. A superb ski school and the nursery slopes are located in the village and higher up with a good choice of easy runs back to the village. A good choice of hotels, apartments and guest houses.

Ski Map - https://schilthorn.ch/cmsfiles/posts/documents/Winterguide_2020-2021_2.pdf
Webcam of Mürren - https://hoteledelweiss.roundshot.com/
Short video walking through the village - https://twitter.com/KandaharSki/status/1350832304835465217
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I am going to contradict @Chris Brookes, Grindelwald is pretty, well kept and a town with the Eiger at one end and the Wetterhorn at the other is not short on dramatic scenery.
Added to this the newest section of super gondola takes you up to Eigergletscher in minutes.
Further shout for the Derby hotel, it is a favourite watering hole as you can drink and decide which train to run for. My base/accommodation is Lauterbrunnen, I hear Chris shouting where?
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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?
Rogerdodger wrote:
My base/accommodation is Lauterbrunnen, I hear Chris shouting where?


I've stayed several times in Lauterbrunnen, especially with friends in an apartment as the rental price I pay there is about half what it would be be in Wengen. However for the benefit of the original poster @christrafford it's worth pointing out to them that Lauterbrunnen is situated in the valley that separates Wengen from Mürren and is not a ski resort itself, it takes some time to get to either of those two from Lauterbrunnen and as beginners wanting a 'chocolate box' experience with handy access to the slopes it would be far better to stay in Mürren (or Wengen, @Chris Brookes Wink ). The view of Lauterbrunnen and the valley as you leave Lauterbrunnen station on the way up to Wengen is however spectacular. Cool
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MM says '....One other observation - Rather than CH-land, which in my experience can be a a rather cold, unwelcoming place, have you thought about Austria, say Salzburgerland? Beautiful scenery and Alpine towns/ villages...'

WHAAAT!!!!?! Just hang on there, laddie.

Vercorin. Beautiful working village on a little plateau. Picture the day: 2019 March. ValaisGrom and I get on the gondola with a lovely high-skill, grey-haired resident who, having heard the boy and I talking nonsense in English, starts a conversation about parallels between Swiss culture and English culture. Nice discussion with her. We wave at the pisteur in the middle station who waves back. Conversation continues and we relax and chat at the top then say goodbye and ski our different ways. We ski the morning, and the smiley lifty in the middle station helps with our skis each time around. We then relax in the top restaurant for lunch, have a laugh with the nice woman serving rosti and talk to some guides about conditions. Nice chat and then coffee. We ski the afternoon, meeting up with friends. End of the day, quick thrash down the hill with no one about, piste to ourselves on lovely fresh. Then a long feet-up in the new, beautifully-designed café - excellent coffee and hot chocolate, again nice chat with the mountain-biking bar staff. Watch the alpiglow fade on the other side of the valley. Lovely.

Not cold. Not unwelcoming. Gorgeous scenery. All the small village resorts around us are like that: Vercorin, Nax, Grimentz (chocolate box pretty), Chandolin (big area but no bad weather gondola) and so on.

You 'bin mixing w' the wrong folk, my boy....
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Of course, setting all of the above debate about where in the Jungfrau is the best place to stay, I'd just note that for beginners looking for a traditional chocolate box village, I'd suggest also looking at some of the Austrian resorts.
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@valais2, I've found French speaking Switzerland friendlier and more relaxed about rules than German speaking areas.
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I think that’s generally true. The German-speaking segment starts about 2km along the valley from us. In fact there is a sign in the forest which has one finger which points West and says ‘Foret de Finges’ and one which points East and says ‘Ffinwald’. Very silly.

And if you go up to resort and DON’T say ‘bonjour’ when you pass a person in the street they look at you as if you are mad.

And if you go East along the valley into a village and DO say ‘Guten Tag’ when you pass a person in the street they look at you as if you are mad.
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Not dissimilar when you cross from the Italian to old Austrian areas in the Dolomites we found.

Certainly we found the French part of Switzerland very friendly. And even found the French in France to be perfectly hospitable and polite, even in Paris!

Of all the places we’ve been skiing the Austrians were the most brusque in general but as always there were plenty of exception to the rule.
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@valais2, the Swiss will think anyone saying "Guten Tag" is a German. Their greeting is "Grierzi" (not sure how it should be spelled, I think it is a dialect contraction of "Gruss Gott").
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@j b,

I think it's written as "Grüezi!"

https://learngerman.dw.com/de/begrüßungen-auf-deutsch/l-40322767/rs-39360021
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I have found good morning is always understood whether in the French, German, Italian or Romansh speaking areas of Switzerland!

Whether it is still appreciated after this supposed 'British infection' remains to be seen. Sad
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J b and DB - Hah! Thanks. Even in two decades of climbing and skiing in the Valais we seldom venture East beyond Susten...just too much fun to be had out of the back door...
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valais2 wrote:
I think that’s generally true. The German-speaking segment starts about 2km along the valley from us. In fact there is a sign in the forest which has one finger which points West and says ‘Foret de Finges’ and one which points East and says ‘Ffinwald’. Very silly.

And if you go up to resort and DON’T say ‘bonjour’ when you pass a person in the street they look at you as if you are mad.

And if you go East along the valley into a village and DO say ‘Guten Tag’ when you pass a person in the street they look at you as if you are mad.


I can only agree - we have found most people in French speaking Valais most welcoming and friendly from the ease in renewing resident permits to ordering a beer. In our experience quite a contrast from when we lived in the German speaking North of Switzerland. I would go as far to say even more helpful and accommodating than where we live(d) in France. (Val d’Isere and Talloires, Annecy.)
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@valais2, well you should be saying grüetzi no? Guten tag gets you funny looks round here Laughing
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It's normally Grüezi but there are variations across the different dialects. If you're greeting more than one person then it is "gruëzi mitenand!"
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@PrimroseAndBlue, I saw that a few times a day, it’s mandatory in my village wink but if anyone can explain the mystical timing between a grüetzi and an ‘Abig’ I’m all ears Laughing

On topic - Engelberg is very lovely and you can easily have an afternoon/ dinner in Luzern via the direct train.
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@PrimroseAndBlue, of course, I forgot to add that.

@DB, thanks for the spelling.

@Nadenoodlee, is that the same as the magic moment when "bonjour" in France gets strange looks because they were expecting "Bon soir"?
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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?
Do not worry about what the Swiss say, it is impossible. After a ski tour with SAC folk I was sitting with 5 fellow Swiss tourers at the "stammtisch" (another thread required) My companions naturally converse with me in English however, once they slip into local dialect it is virtually impossible to pick out a single word.
During the week following this event I expressed my frustration to Steffen Abegglan, a Swiss born and bred in Lauterbrunnen. Steffan laughed and said Roger, "I am Swiss born here, I can go to Interlaken (13km distant) and not understand a word some of them say!!!!
The case for the prosecution rests!!!
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@Nadenoodlee, I'm not the wiser on that one. I think you have to be Swiss to truly understand that difference!

Having to learn how to count in German in a totally different way is what threw me but is quite fun. Eis, zwei, drüh, vier, foif...
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@Rogerdodger, spoken Swiss German bears even less relationship to Hochdeutsch as broad Glaswegian does to Received Pronunciation (Oxford) English. Laughing
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An ex-workmate moved with a new job to Switzerland. He‘s Austrian and so is a native German speaker. I met up with at a conference and asked him how it was going. He said the language was difficult to understand. I said „ I thought you went to the German speaking part of Switzerland“. He said „I did“.

It's akin to a people from Oxford, Glasgow and Belfast all speaking the same language but finding it difficult to understand each other.
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Quote:
More often than not it’s cold & icy in Jan & slushy in March
I haven't been to Wengen - but this isn't exactly selling the snow conditions to me...

I wonder if February might be OK? Laughing
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What is the current situation in Klosters/Davos, re: lifts, restaurants, hotels, being open?
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Just had a look at the ski map for the Davos/Klosters area and there is indicated some form of train linking Klosters and Wolfgang. Is this for foot passengers and skiers, and does it make intermediate stops for onward uphill transport?
Thanks.
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mountainaddict wrote:
Quote:
More often than not it’s cold & icy in Jan & slushy in March
I haven't been to Wengen - but this isn't exactly selling the snow conditions to me...

I wonder if February might be OK? Laughing


Never tried Feb sadly. It can be mixed conditions anywhere at any time though as I’m sure you know. Knee deep snow or ice at any point of any season with the odd exception. We go for the magnificent scenery as much as the skiing - and the trains - best ski lifts in the world!

Have found the run grooming much better over at Grindelwald, the Wengen runs seem to chop up a lot more. Love Murren but it’s a long day there & back if going to the top.

It’s a trip everyone should take at some point.
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