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Zermatt and Cervinia 2019-20

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I see some on last year’s thread are itching to start discussing next season already! The summer ski season looks like it has been very good (although I haven’t been up much this year - mainly been walking lower down when we have been over). The lift access from the Italian side will stop on 8 September and will restart in October. The lift access from the Swiss side continues. The first potential winter opening is the Furggsattel lift on the Swiss side. If we get early snow that lift could open as early as 5 October. Cervinia is quick off the mark with an opening weekend of 19 October and then continuous opening from 26 October (although not all slopes will be open at first). Valtournenche opens from 23 November. Finally Zermatt comes online on 30 November.

After the huge excitement of the new Trockener Steg to Klein Matterhorn lift last year (which has transformed that area and the link between Switzerland and Italy) there are no new lifts to report this year. One of the main reasons for that is that a lot of effort (and CHFs) is going into the so-called “Alpine Crossing”. This is the link from Klein Matterhorn down to Test Gregia on the Italian border. To be frank this lift doesn’t really do much to improve matters for skiers (it makes it a bit more convenient for those from the Italian side who want to go straight up to Klein Matterhorn). However, it is a big improvement for the non-skiing tourists (of whom there are a lot, even in winter) who will be able to travel from Zermatt to Breuil-Cervinia and vice versa. A lot of work has already been done on this lift and it should be ready for 2021.

Of more interest to skiers is lift up the north side of the Rothorn replacing the avalanche demolished Kumme lift. The new lift will start much lower down (at Tuftern) and there will be snowmaking all the way. I think this is a fantastic ski area and this new lift will open it up to a lot more people (it was always a bit quiet in the past). However, it will not be ready until next year (2020) and so we will not see the benefits this upcoming ski season. It also becomes technically fairly simple to build a lift from Täsch to the bottom of the new Tuftern lift, allowing people who drive to Täsch to access the ski area directly (at present you need to park your car, get the shuttle train and then travel to one of the lifts). It would also be a boon for Täsch hotels and Täsch residents (e.g. me!). However technically fairly simple and financially viable are two different things. At present there are no plans to build such a lift beyond the musings of the mayor of Täsch.

Also gathering pace are the plans for a link from the top of the Cervinia area over to the Monte Rosa ski area. This has been discussed on the Monte Rosa thread. I would gamble that this will go ahead but who knows on what timescale. The combined Zermatt/Cervinia/Monte Rosa ski area would certainly be massive. Perhaps then Saas Fee might feel it has to join in the party. Linking that area in is again not the most technically difficult thing to do but finances dictate. There does not seem to have been any serious discussion on doing that for many years now.
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Great start John Mo. Am in planning stage for this years trip!
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Some interesting news later this afternoon. Ikon Pass has signed up Zermatt/Cervinia as its first European partner.

In North America there are two multi-resort ski passes: Epic and Ikon. Epic has been around longer but in terms they cover resorts of equal quality/number. Epic already has three great European resorts as partners: 3 valleys in France; Verbier (4 valleys) in Switzerland; and Skirama in the Dolomites. So this is a bit of a catch up by Ikon. What it means is that Ikon pass holders can ski 7 days in Zermatt/Cervinia.

Ironically I am an Ikon pass holder as I also ski Steamboat in Colorado each year. However, as I have an annual pass for Zermatt/Cervinia my seven days on my Ikon pass are not a whole lot of use.
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@JohnMo, I got the Zermatt email from Ikon today. It was a pleasant surprise. When is the best time of the year to ski Zermatt/Cervinia? I know they have a longer ski season. And I see the Swiss ski holidays last from late January to mid-March. Are the pistes as crowded in Zermatt, as they would be in Austria or France?
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monkbeer, you are better off later, (post December), in Zermatt if any off piste is part of your skiing. A predominently rock and scree base means a good snow cover is required. We have skied from late Jan to March, and no real crowding issues, unless first thing for the matterhorn Gondola as it opens, and indeed the last run down from Furi. A big generalisation on crowding though, as resorts in two massive skiing countries vary so much from resort to resort. My final point though is that any time is the best time to ski Zermatt!
Hope you give it a go. snowHead
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@JohnMo, Thank you for the update and this interesting post. I have also enjoyed skiing the pistes served by the Kumme lift and look forward to the replacement. While I've been to Zermatt quite a bit, I've not yet been to Saas Fee so was interested in your mention of the potential for a link. I'd thought they were far apart, based on where the access point to Saas Fee is from the train, but have now looked at the map and also found this report of the proposed route http://www.ecosign.com/project/saas-fee-tasch-zermatt. Would be very interesting if that were to happen, but maybe a pity to spoil the splendid remoteness of the Fluealp.
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@monkbeer, I would agree with @twoodwar. Zermatt and Cervinia do have a longer season than most because of the height. There are a number of factors worth bearing in mind when considering when to come:

1. Zermatt/Cervinia is on a high latitude by US standards and so early season days can be shorter and colder. This is exacerbated in Zermatt as it is mainly north facing (Cervinia is mainly south facing). Of course this becomes an advantage later in the season.
2. Until the mid 19th century glaciers came almost all the way down to Zermatt. Therefore the ski area is mainly on a post glacial landscape – that is, very rocky. That is no problem on piste (groomed trail) but on itineraries (similar to the US inbound but non-groomed areas) it takes a fair amount of snow to safely cover the rocks. The best itinerary area is on Stockhorn and that doesn’t even open until last week of January (later in a poor snow year).
3. Xmas and New Year are a very magical time in town (provided we have snow in town – we usually do but in a poor snow year, e.g. 3 years ago, we might not). But it is very busy.
4. European half terms spread right the way across February and the whole of that month can be busy.
5. Easter is 12 April. It can also be busy then. April is great for ski touring but the lower and more south facing slopes can start being a bit soft.

All in all if I were coming to Zermatt all the way from California I would strongly recommend March. Not too busy, slopes in great condition and a very good chance of great sunshine and plenty of bluebird days.

Generally re your question on the pistes being as busy as Austria and France the answer is we have as many visitors. Once you are up on the pistes it doesn’t feel too busy – particularly outside Xmas/Feb/Easter. It can be busy getting up (there are only 3 ways) particularly on the Matterhorn Express. But there are not much in the way of very long queues once your are up. The two old pinch points (Gant up to Blauherd and Trockener Steg up to Klein Matterhorn) have new lifts which have totally remedied the problems. The ski area is huge and even when it seems busy in places you can usually find quieter areas. The itineraries are never that busy – great places to ski if you are a good intermediate or better).
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Thoughts on Cervinia for a weekend (Thurs through Sunday) in late Jan?
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@FrediKanoute, its easily achievable. We went for a late weekend in April. Fly to Turin, hire a car, no problem. Weather could be an issue late Jan.
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@DCG, As you say the south of Saas Fee and the north of Zermatt resorts are very close to each other as the crow flies. As your link shows there was quite a bit of interest in a link about ten years ago. I don’t know why it fell away. It would be a big financial commitment for both resorts – and a very big argument as to the split. Even if they could agree that, Swiss environmentalists are a strong voice. The area from Mittelallalin at the south of Saas Fee over the Allalinpass and the Pfulwe to Rothorn or Flualp in Zermatt is a beautiful unspoilt area. I am sure there would be lots of objections to any proposed plan.

As it is the point is probably moot for a while. Zermatt’s financial muscle is currently behind the Alpine Crossing project and beyond that it seems to be prepared to contribute to the Cervinia – Monte Rosa link. That can’t leave much in the coffers for a Saas Fee link.

There is a really nice ski tour from Mittelallalin in Saas Fee over the Allalinpass and down to Täsch. So at least at present we have that link.
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scotspikey wrote:
@FrediKanoute, its easily achievable. We went for a late weekend in April. Fly to Turin, hire a car, no problem. Weather could be an issue late Jan.


I agree. Depending on what time they get in I am not sure I’d want to be driving up the Aosta Valley in the dark if I didn’t know it and the weather was bad.

At the least if there was a group of them it would be worth comparing car hire prices with private transfer:

https://www.cervinia.it/en/estate/breuil-cervinia-come-arrivare
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Great thread. We have booked for a mid week break at the end of November, staying in Cervina, any tips? we will be there for only 3 days, .
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biddpyat wrote:
Great thread. We have booked for a mid week break at the end of November, staying in Cervina, any tips? we will be there for only 3 days, .


For 3 days it is probably not worth getting the international pass. However do make sure you go over to Valtournenche. The link over to there (and even more so back) is not the best. It is an area that a lot of visitors don’t visit. It is not huge but has its attractions and is definitely worth going over for at least a part of one day. That is dependant on the snow being decent as it is low by our standards. It is included in your Cervinia pass. By far the best stuff is the upper stuff around lift f. There is some nice skiing down to Salette but lift e is the most infuriatingly slow lift. The run down to Valtournenche is good in good snow but it is quite likely not to be even open when you are there.

There is a chance slopes below Plan Maison will not be open. Don’t worry: they are not that exciting.

Hopefully the lift up from Plan Torrette will be open (although probably only 1 piste). That is disconnected from the main area above Plan Maison. But don’t neglect it – it is great.

There is a good chance lift z will not be open. Nice slopes there but that lift is slow and at that time of year in the shade (unusual for the generally south facing Cervinia).

At least once go up to the top of the famous Ventina slope (number 7 – at Testa Grigia) and ski non-stop down to Breuil-Cervinia in one go. Lung-busing exhilaration. We do it from the top of Klein Matterhorn but you need an international pass to do that.

At least once eat (and drink wine) in one of the mountain restaurants. They are generally good value and except for the cafeteria ones at Plan Maison are really nice.

I am male so this is a male advice. Have a poo before you go up on the slopes. Most (all?) of the cubicle toilets are squat holes. Using them in ski boots really tests how well you have built up your leg muscles.
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Hi , posting on behalf of my son. Needing some help/advice from Snowheads in Zermatt please. Coming to Zermatt to work as a ski instructor (BASI L3 and training for L4). I'm looking for a 1 bed apartment from 1st December until end of April in Zermatt or we are more than happy to rent/share an apartment if there is a twin room free. Any hints / links / tips would be much appreciated.
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Hi Robcrock, i'm a holiday only skier, but you may be better off in the resort thread rather than weather for this question. best of luck
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@twoodwar, Thanks for the tip , created a new post. Think he will need some luck , every apartment so far is looking for long term rental , i.e annual lease as a minimum.
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It might also be worth looking at AirBnB - if you message the renters directly you might be able to haggle the price down slightly.
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@JohnMo, Thankyou, great information there, I know that a lot of the runs will probably be closed, but even a chance of skiing still beats a midweek city break with nothing to do but shop, so all is good. Thanks also on the information on the squat holes, boy I know what you mean, I met those on top of the mountain once before in Austria, it was in the days where I wore an all in one ski suit, needless to say the balancing and holding act left me not wanting to ever need the loo on top of the mountain again. ( I have skied at great speeds down some hairy runs to get to the bottom of mountains just to get to the loo, Laughing ) I am looking forward to doing the number 7, I love long runs, and as we ski fairly fast the longer the better.
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Light snow forecast by Zermatt weather for Gornergrat and above from Thursday to Monday. Its a start for@biddpyat,
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woop! Woop, It's sad but I am googling and youtubing everything on Cervina Zermatt. I do that at this time of the year look up all the runs, in any resort I am interested in going to. We are doing a week in the ski welt in January and I have been researching that too.. If I win the lotto I am moving to main land europe so I can go skiing a little easier. It is a treck to anywhere from the west of Ireland.
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@biddpyat, snowHead This is what the Swiss weather radar looks like for 11 (CET) on Thursday night. That precipitation is mainly coming from the south so Cervinia will be getting the best of it. Temperatures are quite a bit below normal. So it will be snow to quite a long way down. Make sure you have a look at the webcams on Friday morning. It will all melt of course but it is always great to see and get excited for the season.

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That's super, yes it is great to see the first coat of snow, even if it melts,
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Hmm, looks like I was wrong about Cervinia getting the best of it. Maybe temperatures stayed too high overnight? Plan Maison at 2,500m is still looking mainly brown and the white stuff is rather higher. Over on the Swiss side Riffelberg, at the same height is looking white for the first time this season.

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Sunnega at 2,300 a light covering but Findeln at 2000 has nothing, so we have the snowline.
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Will post more correctly on resorts thread, but just so its covered, Zermatt bergbahnen are offering a 'presale 20% ' deal for all lift passes bought online in October. It is however only for periods of 6 to 21 days. For 2 x 6 days passes for me that will mean a £150 or therabouts saving. Worth considering if your plans are firm.
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twoodwar wrote:
Sunnega at 2,300 a light covering but Findeln at 2000 has nothing, so we have the snowline.


They did get snow at Findeln. This is a still from a video from the Alphitta restaurant in Findeln posted on Friday morning. It looks rather wet and not very long lasting.



Obviously all low snow has gone. But even early snow like this has a positive impact on the glaciers. The second photo is from the Klein Matterhorn webcam this morning and shows the lower Furgg glacier which is used for Spring and Autumn skiing. A week ago it was that blue/grey ice. Now it at least looks the preferred colour.

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Hi Snowheads, a group of us are looking at going to Cervinia at the end of Jan 20. We have been offered some accommodation near the Cielalto lift. We have some beginners in the Group and I think that this area alone may be a little difficult to ski so:

1) how easy is it to walk to the Plan Maison gondola from the Cielalto area;
2) how easy is it to ski from the Cielalto lift on the #16 trail to the Plan Maison;
3) Is there many bars/restaurants in the Cielalto area?
4) How feasible is it to get a taxi back up to our accommodation?
5) What does a pint cost? (we have a couple of Irish guys with us and this is apparently a very important question)
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@FrediKanoute, Its a number of years since I stayed at Cielo Alto apartments but I recall it was quite a walk down to the gondola, as it was all downhill it would be a long way in ski boots, you could ski down but that's no good for the beginners, there was a local bus that went round that way also check whether there is transport to/from accommodation. Can't help with food as it was half board, I'm sure someone that's been there more recently will be along with better information. Incidentally if it is the apartments check the accommodation closely as we were not impressed, our sons room which was was supposed to take three was so small they had to use the so called sofa bed to put their luggage on (excess refund given), on the other hand ours was fairly big with a kitchenette, it was desperately in need of upgrading which may have been done.
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@FrediKanoute, In scores of ski days across Zermatt/Cervinia/Valtournenche I have only skied Cieloalto maybe twice. The reason for that is that it is just so disconnected from the rest of the ski area. The piste map makes it look like it is an easy ski down to the bottom of the lift for Plan Maison. But it is not. You just end up on a road and then have to stomp in boots and carrying skis up hill. The little ski area there is OK but not nice enough to attract you over from the main area when you know you have that walk to get back up.
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Thanks guys. So if we stayed in an apartment near Cielalto we would basically be walking into town and skiing from the main lifts (ie Plan Maison). That's fine, provided we can get ourselves ski storage there as I'm not walking that far in ski boots carting ski's.

We're not expecting much from the apartment, but it is a place for us to dump gear, sleep and shower. We plan to be out most of the time skiing during he day and drinking/eating in the evening.
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a pint is a lot less than Zermatt! You are on hols so you are going to pay what it takes I'm sure.

If you like your food and lunch be sure to try Chalet Etoile by blue run 6 just up from Plan Maison. Even the beginners should make this. Book the restaurant, not the self service. Fish soup is exceptional.
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twoodwar wrote:
a pint is a lot less than Zermatt! You are on hols so you are going to pay what it takes I'm sure.


Oh they will don't worry. they are still bleeding though about the €10 pints in Megeve!
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Even Zermatt is not chf10 for a pint!
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twoodwar wrote:
Even Zermatt is not chf10 for a pint!


Hmm. Brown Cow on Bahnhofstrasse prices below. 5dl is about 0.9 of a (British) pint. Cardinal is a bit cheaper but the other three drafts are CHF10 per pint. Even at Sparky’s at the more cheap and cheerful end it is only CHF1 per pint cheaper.

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500ml =metric pint? Cardinal is what you would have, or at least I would. Ski in Ireland if you want Guiness.
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Great if Cervinia is cheaper than those prices the lads are going to be happy. Thanks for everyone's help. We managed to find an apartment for the weekend near the Plan Maison lift, which means it should be a little easier for all involved.

Gordon
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Hi we are going Nov 1st and probably little snow on lower runs so would have to car or walk down. I have closely looked at the ski down to Plan Maison from the Matterhorm Apartments at Cielo and yes you would need to be an intermediate skier to do that if there is snow on the pathway. We have a car so might just drive round and park when we are there.
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I'm currently looking forward to my first visit to Zermatt this coming March. Just doing a little homework now on the resort and ski area, not sure if the Italy side ski pass is worth it? I had my first taster of real off piste this year, looking at doing more of that in Zermatt.

Tips/Advise welcome!
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It depends on what you after looking for. We love the ability to nip across and ski on the Italian side during our weeks. That said, we prefer the skiing on the Swiss side. It’s well worth going for a meal at Chalet Etoile!
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I think i'll just end up buying the full pass anyway as there's not that much in the price difference, i've read the link between the two resorts is closed quite frequently which is what got me thinking.

Just had a quick google of Chalet Etoile - looks nice!
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