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St Moritz 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Trip report from our 4-skidays-trip to St. Moritz in early February 2018 – not seeing many reports from there, anyway.

So this contribution, also on logistic aspects. Simply put: St Moritz is very expensive (is anywhere more expensive? Zermatt perhaps?) but it also offers fantastic skiing and mountain views available for any normal tourist like us. For scenery, certainly one of the best resorts. Good snow conditions as everywhere this winter, we had 20cm new snow on arrival day and a mix of sun and grey skies / cold weather the other days. And yes, there IS much sun in this valley. We stayed at Chesa Albris BnB right next to the Youth Hostel in Bad, a world apart from Badrutts and the like but suited us oldtimers-on-a-budget very well. Very cheap (CHF 112/night for a double with shower/bath in the corridor). Simple but adequate standard, nice room, breakfast room with self-service (put in the fridge the day before) which meant that we could eat breakfast at 7 which we liked since the lift starts at 7.45.

Now had we been better informed we would probably have been cheaper off by finding a hotel (like, the Youth Hostel and 100 others) that offer ski cards for half price (38 instead of 79 CHF daypass or 283/4days), the "Hotel+Skipass Deal". But ok. The BnB was within 1 minute from the skibus stop (going also to StM Dorf) every 30 min (free) and 7-10 minutes walk to a couple of nice Bad restaturants (Sonne and Laudinella in particular, reserve!). In particular, visting a restaurant either for dinner or for Gluh or lunch on the slopes was the most expensive part aside from the lift pass. Not very Austrian like. 40CHF for a Schnitzel, anyone ? Dorf is not our shopping Eldorado.

We took the car every morning anyway, either to Signal (800m away/Corviglia side), to Surlej/Corvatch 15 min by car (which would otherwise require a change of bus) or to the "must do!" Diavolezza/Lagalb - possible but awkward by bus/train, 25 min and easy by car with winter tires. We rented (expensive…but nice service) skis by Ski Corvatch, who has nearly a monopoly here, CHF92 via Alpinresorts for skis/poles only for 4 ski days. Never seen that before.

Skiing wise we found everything adequate for our 4 skiing days. Nice groomed pistes everywhere, lots of them (even if the stated 350km is nowhere near reality), easy blacks (we do not do much offpiste), and some long runs outside the lift system: The Hahnensee run is good as a end-of-the day run, 6km groomed scenic piste to Bad and 5 min poling to the Signalbahn. These two systems are not really ionterconnected, you will need the bus. We experienced morning sun on the Corviglia (Dorf) side and headed to Surlej/Corvatch by free Hahnensee Express bus every 30 min via Signal bahn station at lunchtime when the sun reached those slopes (and, avoiding some crowds). Leave the car at Signal, take the bus for 10 min – or, if driving to Surlej, you are stuck to catch a return bus after the Hahnensee slope which you would rather not. That being said, we had a hard time figuring out the bus system, the "ÖV-Live" app did a good job of course but still there are many bus lines and a lot to keep track of, and bus changes being necessary.

The day trip to Diavolezza was something one would not miss, given nice weather. Only 2 large gondolas (running every 10 min on Lagalb or 20 min at Diavolezza) and 1 chairlift but fantastic views and long slopes. Morning sun hits Diavolezza while Lagallb side is the morning shadows, concequently we switched to Lagalb after lunch via a "magic carpet". It was sun but also bitterly cold…The systems are a bit apart. To get back from Lagalb you really need to wait for the bus every 00/30 min, too long to pole.
From the top of Diavolezza, itinerary 31 Yellow goes via a gate over the glacier to Morteratch, no guide required if following the yellow markers in good weather. You ski just below Piz Bernina and Piz Palu in a landscape without human factors: No lifts, no houses, no nothing - and no grooming. But if you are not the first one after a snowfall, every intermediate skier can do this – we could as 60+. A few short black parts but not really a problem. Best done between 11 and 14, we guess. The downside is some poling at the start and ~20 min flat (slightly uphill in places) poling nearing the train station, be prepared to be passed by XC skiers or met by walkers. But the views on this run are spectacular and makes it worthwhile. At the bottom, no lift – but catch the train back to Diavolezza every 30 min. for lunch (or to StMoritz).

For this trip, we could have taken the train from Zurich, but the fragmented nature of towny St Moritz made us rent a car. A Golf was ordered but they came up with a Kia 4WD to our pleasant surprise. Not at least since most other ordinary cars were taken in by a police road block to ensure they put on chains – we did not. Given the bad weather on arrival we did the Vereina car-on-train tunnel in Klosters, very nice option for 39CHF. Less than an hour drive from there to St Moritz on good roads. On the return the weather was nice and we took the Julier pass (2284m) to Chur. Actually, we have seen prettier alpenpass roads that this, you do not loose much by going Vereina. And the time spent is not much different, 200km in any case plus some waiting time at the train. Had we stayed long we would probably have used the car to go to Livigno or perhaps Samnaun. But not for 4 days.

We would safely recommend St Moritz for everyone, most of all for the skiing experience, perhaps the above will lead you outside some possible pitfalls.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Geh, nice report. It's been a long time since I've been up on Diavolezza / Lagalb. Good to hear that the run down Morteratsch glacier is still doable. I saw some pics of the glacier in summer recently that had me doubting. Anyway, totally agree about St.Moritz in general and especially Lagalb. I had one of my best ever powder days up there last time I went. Stayed in the Hotel / Matratzenlager up the Bernina Pass that time, which was an experience in it's own right.
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Quote:

had we been better informed we would probably have been cheaper off by finding a hotel (like, the Youth Hostel and 100 others) that offer ski cards for half price (38 instead of 79 CHF daypass or 283/4days), the "Hotel+Skipass Deal".

Ahhh... I went to St Moritz a few years back, taken advantage of the deal. So I was forever confused when people say St Moritz is expensive! Granted, I also went in a year when the exchange rate was more favorable which helps.

Quote:

From the top of Diavolezza, itinerary 31 Yellow goes via a gate over the glacier to Morteratch, no guide required if following the yellow markers in good weather. You ski just below Piz Bernina and Piz Palu in a landscape without human factors: No lifts, no houses, no nothing - and no grooming. But if you are not the first one after a snowfall, every intermediate skier can do this – we could as 60+. A few short black parts but not really a problem. Best done between 11 and 14, we guess. The downside is some poling at the start and ~20 min flat (slightly uphill in places) poling nearing the train station, be prepared to be passed by XC skiers or met by walkers. But the views on this run are spectacular and makes it worthwhile. At the bottom, no lift – but catch the train back to Diavolezza every 30 min. for lunch (or to StMoritz).


That was indeed a brilliant run.

But because it's not easy to guess how long it takes to do that run, it's best to do it shortly before lunch or near the end of the day. Otherwise, the wait for the train can be very annoying if your timing is unlucky

The advantage of NOT having a car (and not driving to Diavolezza) is you can ski that glacier route as the last run of the day, and then just take the train back to St Moritz.
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Absolutely. The 31 gate opened just after 10 or so, and is marked Not later than 1530. We spent about 90 minutes including train, gazing and a fall requiring ski searching in fresh snow. We started early, I think 840, and did a few gondola runs - the top chair being utterly cold in the morning shadows. By 11, we were ready, returning for a late lunch at Diavolezza top station at 1230. A must! Unbelieveble scenery. And then, Lagalb for variety. Having the car also allowed us as ApresSki sidetrips like driving to Ospizio Bernina, and another day all of Engadin valley and the Majola pass. If you like being a Tourist, that is.. but of course, with due planning the bus or train will work perfectly well also here. Also since it is included in the ski pass.

Had we been offpiste fans the possibilities would have been great but with a guide. Also on Corvatch,at 3300m the possibilities seems endless in addition to long sweeping well groomed pistes.

Also worth to mention would be the Fuorcla Surlej hut halfway down from Corvatch. No electricity, no water except melted snow, outside toilet, so dark we could not read the menu - but good homemade pasta &beer and everything you need including a gas heater at your table. I doubt they take reservations, but what a lunch place ! Try for fun and taste and scenery. Laughing
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I find it interesting that no one mentions Celerina, it's a nice quiet village but very cheap and has a good gondola which takes you up to Marguns. Got a 3 bed apartment for 1500 euros for Christmas week
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südtirolistdeutsch wrote:
I find it interesting that no one mentions Celerina, it's a nice quiet village but very cheap and has a good gondola which takes you up to Marguns. Got a 3 bed apartment for 1500 euros for Christmas week

I don’t know about others. But I kind of like a bit of life after skiing. St Moritz does a pretty job of balancing lively and quiet.

Celerina a bit too quiet for my taste. And as I took advantage of a nice deal, cost saving differential wasn’t big enough to warrant the sacrifice.
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abc wrote:
südtirolistdeutsch wrote:
I find it interesting that no one mentions Celerina, it's a nice quiet village but very cheap and has a good gondola which takes you up to Marguns. Got a 3 bed apartment for 1500 euros for Christmas week

I don’t know about others. But I kind of like a bit of life after skiing. St Moritz does a pretty job of balancing lively and quiet.

Celerina a bit too quiet for my taste. And as I took advantage of a nice deal, cost saving differential wasn’t big enough to warrant the sacrifice.


Yeah I get that, I always go with a big group of family and friends so the apres wasn't a big deal especially since we all had a car. A good resort for families though IMO
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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!
I think St Moritz has to be compared with Aspen for exclusiveness. Both have an airport nearby. Both are hard to get to. Aspen is at the dead end of a valley but St Moritz is not much better for its two nearest routes to Italy have one closed during winter (Pontresina) while the othe rout(to Livigno and Bormio) has a 0ne-way tunnel via a reservoir.

St Moritz hosted two winter Olympic with one being the very first one. It is steep in history.

Like Aspen it is expensive. Ski pass is no dearer than Zermatt and cover 4 locations all have fanastic terrians.

It is exceptionally beautiful with 3 large frozen lakes. Owing ot its exclisivess visitors are few, local people are friendly and well-manner and there is virtually no risk of being crashed into by new beginners. It is a different skiing experience expecially if you try to get a cheap dinner in the evening from the expensive restaurants or 4/5 star hotels Razz Embarassed.
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Quote:

expecially if you try to get a cheap dinner in the evening from the expensive restaurants or 4/5 star hotels .

Puzzled
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We are thinking about a week in St. Moritz in April (7th-14th) and would be flying into Milan and driving to resort. Looking at Google maps the only troublesome point seems to be the Maloja Pass - is this open all winter ?

Also, any recommendations for ski school in St Moritz would be appreciated. We are probably going to be staying near Corvatch due to the north facing slopes.
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Good example to compare with Aspen. We actually went to Colorado last year as a rare outing outside the alps - we loved Aspen and Vail/Beaver pistes but not the price of their lift cards. $179 for a day pass is ridiculous. Otherwise both motels and restaurant were, at least, no more excpensive than St Moritz. But , in my opinion , St Moritz (and many alps resorts) beats Aspen or Colorado hands down when it comes to scenery. Aspen has nice skiing but not he rugged Piz Bernina landscape or Corvatch views - more a view of naked trees in the rolling hills at high altitude. And of course you must spend much more than a weekend- we did 14 days. One can live with the price level in St Moritz or Zermatt generally but it helps to have some previous knowledge of what to expect.
As for staying near Corvatch, that might be nice, but in most cases I guess you will take the bus to Surlej anyway if you do not live directly at the bottom of the two gondolas (Surlej or Sils). Stay anywhere you like in Engadin, a ski bus (or train , for Diavolezza) will bring your company to any part of the slopes in minutes regardless of where you stay. But download the ØV Live app, we had a hard time figuring out where to wait for what otherwise. The slope system is not bigger than that you will probably like to change between Corvatch and Corviglia every other day or perhaps in the middle of the day following the sun. We never tried the smaller areas like Zuoz or Scuol but that is certainly possible - even Livigno if you have a car and nice weather. Observe lift pass limitations. Majola and Julier passes are generally open all year.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@saikee, the Bernina Pass (Pontressina) is usually open during winter. It's definitely open right now. I assume the other route you talk about is the Maloja, which is also almost always open. Added to that you have the route via Chur over the Julier if coming from Zürich/Munich or you can also go the length of the Engadin valley if coming from Innsbruck / Munich.
Quite accessible really.
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