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Early April: Snowsure & cutsey village

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hey Snowheads, looking for some advice please.
We're going skiing first 2 weeks of April, and so are looking at the regulars for snowsure that time of year (Val Thorens, Zermatt, Tignes etc). My wife loves the small alpine cutsey villages (eg Wengen - she loves it there) - which I have a feeling is going to narrow down the field a bit.

We've been to Zermatt, but none of the French high resorts - so any pointers on what has the closest to smaller village feel, while also being high and in good shape in early April? Or am I just mad, and have to accept its a megaresort or nothing?
I'm eyeing Val d'Isere or Merbiel, they seem the best out of that lot - any ideas?

Thanks from an Australian who is very excited about being let out of the country!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
if you go Val disere, I'll put my cock on the block and say almost all of the resort will be open. Meribel you could well be skiing back down on mud. Don't discount Austria, plenty of north facing and glaciers
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@BartMasters, Val d'I is not exactly "cute" although the architecture is attractive, it's quite big. But hard to imagine any snow problems.
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You could go and stay in a cutesy village and drive to the slopes each day? Though cutesy villages tend to be full of slush and brown fields by early April (albeit with some crocuses poking through)
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Saas Fee every time. Lovely car free village, amazing views, and always good snow on the glacier.
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@zikomo, +1
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twoodwar wrote:
@zikomo, +1
+2
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@BartMasters, when going in April and then applying any additional criteria, you just need to be comfortable with any compromises you many have to make. While I've never been, Saas Fee does seem to be a great fit for a picture postcard village and high enough slopes (and glacier) for April skiing. Obviously the compromise you'll have to be comfortable with is that the village (or lower slopes) may not have snow, but I'm sure you're probably already aware of that.
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Grimentz ticks the cutsey box well and should have good snow in early April. It is not as big as some of the other places that you mentioned but you didn't really say what you wanted skiing wise. Does it have to be France?
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Lech (1444 m.) currently has 135 cm at village level and will definitely be white first two weeks of April.
Lech is real-cute. Meribel is fake-cute
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I'm not sure I'd travel from AUS to ski on a glacier. Actually, I'm sure I wouldn't.

I've only been to Saas Fee twice (maybe three trips?) always in April for the Allalin race. Glacier obvs absolutely fine. Mid station, OK for April. Any lower? closed or slush after 11h00. Looking at this year's course, it's April 1st (seriously).

What's wrong with Verbier? (PS still nothing wrong with Vd'I - although I don't think I've skied there that late in the season).
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Lech is definitely one of the best options, especially based on current snow depths.
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I've always liked the idea of Lech - but it always seems SO expensive.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@BartMasters,
Good to see another ‘trailblazer’ Aussie traveller. I will be in Les Arcs and then Tignes for a couple of weeks mid March. Both butt ugly apparently…..
Good luck with the planning.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
pam w wrote:
I've always liked the idea of Lech - but it always seems SO expensive.

I haven't been for quite a few years but have stayed there twice and it was no more expensive then than a lot of the pricier French resorts and a bit cheaper than some of the top Swiss ones.
Like anything else it depends a bit on how you organise it though.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@under a new name, you had very bad luck! I’ve been to Saas Fee every April for 15 years (albeit mid-April). Only had 2 bad years. And by that I mean slush at the bottom. Most years I get a huge amount of fresh tracks in deep powder. And great pistes.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Thanks all, great ideas here - let me answer a few questions - this is much appreciated!

* Doesn't have to be France - its just got the high resorts and then we can head to Paris for touristy stuff afterwards without crossing borders. However, looks like covid rules are getting easier, so this criteria is pretty much gone now.
* Didn't mention what we want for skiing - good point. My wife and daughter are blue skiers, me and my son red skiers. I like lots of kms every day, my wife likes a few hours then a hot chocolate. So yes, we have competing criteria here Smile I would want more than glacier skiing (we'll be skiing for ~10 days or so) - as @under_a_new_name says, I am coming all the way from Australia Smile
* Yep, going to have to compromise, completely get that.
* Saas Fee, Verbier and Lech look interesting - haven't investigated them much - will do so. Lech may be expensive, but when you fly a family of 4 from Australia to go skiing, you just resign yourself to burning money...

Thanks all with the pointers - really helps!
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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?
Oh, forgot to mention, @pam_w - not keen on driving - being able to walk down and hop on a chair is worth it over driving, even if it means doing that in a megaresort. But thanks for the idea - appreciate it!
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Usually “France, pretty, snowsure”; pick any two out of three.
To get three. Swap France for Austria or perhaps Switzerland.
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@zikomo, clearly!

the fun bit was one year where just as you come off the glacier there's a drain run onto the run off (if that makes sense?) and it just got steeper and narrower, steeper and narrower, and there one is, on 210 DH boards with not a few others around and, well, ended well enough, phew!

Sorry, waayyy off topic!
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Verbier is not that good for snow at village level in april.

Lech has a lot of ski in/out accomodation, Oberlech everything is ski in/out.
Will gladly advise in more detail
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Oberlech or Lech. Pretty snow sure. Works great as she nicely linked pistes that allow your to continue and then link.back up with wife after her coffee is completed. Nice village and generally snow sure
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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I've skied both Val d'Isere and Lech (and going to both this year - lucky me Cool ). Val d'Isere is definitely snow sure in April (when we are going), although this year Lech has so much snow there will be loads left in April (snow conditions are a different matter and I would choose Val over Lech at that time of year).

However, I would say on cost that Lech (even though a premium resort) is SO much better in the value for money stakes. France has become ridiculously expensive, and you can't beat the Austrian atmosphere. Ancilliary prices (IMO) - Restaurants/Lunch/Beers etc.- in Lech are marginally less than Val, but quality much higher.
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Verbier can in no way be described as a cutesy village! It’s a large roundabout.
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I'd never describe Meribel as "cute" either, even "fake cute".
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What is Zurs like at that time of year? From my one trip to the Alberg, I only have the faintest memories of transiting through it on the days we skied over?

I’m looking at end of March/start of April too, and weighing up between Alberg vs (yet again) going to 3V - from a package pov, Zurs vs VT are pretty comparable price wise.
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Pejoli wrote:
What is Zurs like at that time of year? From my one trip to the Alberg, I only have the faintest memories of transiting through it on the days we skied over?


Zurs will have the better snow than Lech (I'm out there second week of April), but there's not really a "cutesy village" to it. Plenty of 5* hotels and pleasant Champagne Bars, and a couple of ski shops. Great place to start the day's skiing though, hardly ever any queues now that the Madloch/Zug lifts have been upgraded. I'd recommend the Mondschein hotel in Stuben, but Stuben has precious little going on there other than now it is a really great combination of price/location/cutesyness.
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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
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skimastaaah wrote:

Zurs will have the better snow than Lech


This is not a very useful distinction. Lech and Zürs share one skiarea. (and one website, and Zürs actually is officially part of Lech, just like Zug and Oberlech). Getting into the Madlochbahn in Zürs brings you on the Madlochpiste which is leading to Lech. Etc, etc.

Talking about budget, Zürs does not offer a broad selection of accommodation, vast majority is 4**** and higher.
Lech/Oberlech has much more at better prices. But you need to go DIY.
If you are looking for altitude I would advise Oberlech over Zürs. Oberlech has more charm, more choice, and a quick connection by short cablecar to Lech
www.lechzuers.com
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Langerzug wrote:
skimastaaah wrote:

Zurs will have the better snow than Lech


This is not a very useful distinction.


I will re-phrase...... In my opinion based on my experience over a couple of decades skiing in the Arlberg, the snow conditions around Zurs tends to be in better condition than in Lech. This is due to 1) Altitude, 2) Orientation, 3) Personal preference. End of!
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@skimastaaah, still missing my point.
When staying in Lech, you can take the Rüfikopf cablecar and immediately are skiing in Zürs.
And when staying in Zürs you can take the Madloch lift and immediately you are skiing Lech’s Madloch piste, which by the way is perfectly northfacing…
Etc etc etc
You can’t separate Lech and Zürs.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Sat 19-02-22 17:30; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Langerzug wrote:
@skimastaaah, still missing my point.


Not at all. Despite sharing common ski area the villages of Lech and Zurs are rather different, both metaphorically and metaphysically. Never mind a 3km separation. NehNeh
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@skimastaaah, now all of a sudden you start talking about the different villages….
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This is all great info thanks - had not even had Lech on my radar since I'd assumed wouldn't be snowy enough in April. But now seriously looking at it with DIY planning - accommodation seems much more available (like there is hardly anything in Val d early April) - and its my 50th so I'm allowed to spend a little Smile
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@BartMasters, DIY is easy to Lech. Fly to INN or ZCH and get the train and then either a short cab ride from Langen or the bus from St Anton.
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@BartMasters, I'd even recommend St Anton as a place to stay.
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@skimastaaah, youvthink the snow will be good in St Anton? there maybe loads of it but the quality then I'm dubious of.
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@skimastaaah, would you recommend it over zurs/lech, location wise - I’ve only been there once, but my memories are that it felt it was at the end of the domain ?
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Mother hucker wrote:
@skimastaaah, youvthink the snow will be good in St Anton? there maybe loads of it but the quality then I'm dubious of.


Can be but obviously can also not be. Expect one cold period and dump to the valley in April and warm, sun and lovely slush the rest of the time. Lech is a bit higher, gets a bit more snow, and more importantly has more non-south-facing slopes so snow will be better (or at least better fit most people's idea of better wink ), but it also only takes like an hour (on fun and north-facing slopes) to ski round to Zürs then on to Lech. I don't think there's really much point picking which Arlberg village to stay based on snow; pick the village you like most/has what you want and after the first lift up in the morning just ski over to whichever part of the network takes your fancy.

That's underneath the bottom of the Zammermoos/bottom of Kandahar on closing day at the end of April in 2019:



Obviously that's not gonna happen every year, but IME over the last 10 years here it's more common to have a dump to the valley in April than to have an April without a dump to the valley. And I guess you get a 1-in-4 chance that it happens in the week you book haha wink
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@clarky999, I just remember being in St Anton mid March and the lower slopes were in bad shape even with huge dumps that week. I love slush skiing but not everyone does.
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Mother hucker wrote:
@skimastaaah, youvthink the snow will be good in St Anton? there maybe loads of it but the quality then I'm dubious of.


Snow quality cannot be guaranteed. However, I've skied the Arlberg maybe 15 times at Easter over the past 20 years and had everything from rain to knee deep powder.
Lech is slightly higher than St Anton, but both get slush-puppy to resort late in season. But, Lech is so much closer to Warth/Schrocken where conditions tend to remain better due to orientation (apart from piste down to Auenfeldjet).

I'm planning to be out at Stuben week 9th-16th April, with hire car to get around, and reckon Flexenbahn to Zurs is a good start, or drive to Zurs and start ski day there depending on crowds (if any), and snow conditions if too warm.
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