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Road Trip 2023 Advise Austria/Switzerland/France

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Will try to keep this as brief as possible, I am in my late 50s and new to the sport of skiing who was lucky enough to take three trips this year with my teenage son, having flown the first two trips I decided that I would like to drive our electric car (euro tunnel - Saint Gervais) it really was an easy trip that we really enjoyed doing, so for our next trip….
I am lucky enough to be able to take as much time as I like, so traveling via Eurotunnel about Boxing Day this year with a Flexi Ticket.This could be a two week or two month trip, my thinking is if we stay in a resort ( or nearby) and we like it we will stay for as long as we want to and then when we need to rest our legs we can travel to another resort I would like to start in Austria and end up in France or just stay in Austria nothing would be fixed.
Has anyone done this sort of trip and any advise to give.
We do have our own equipment so no need to rent and I would say my level is beginner to intermediate although I am capable of reds I would rather enjoy easy blues. My teenage son would be accompanying me.
Although a while away I do need to make a flexible plan, any help of any kind would be greatly appreciated.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Can’t help with Austria but in Switzerland you could take a look at the magic pass, currently at 399chf which offers access to high quality resorts such as Saas Fee, Crans Montana, Grimentz/Zinal and Villars/Diablerets among 50 odd other resorts on the Vaud and Valais cantons of Switzerland. Perfect for a road trip. Check out this thread https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=4957142&highlight=magic+pass#4957142

And here for details of magic pass
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=4954356&highlight=magic+pass#4954356
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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?
I think Crans-Montana is now a paid addition to the standard Magic Pass cost of Chf399, so extra to that cost, and only in low season days

https://www.magicpass.ch/en/pages/pass-100-cma-1716
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
2 weeks is very different to 2 months in terms of budget, though a season pass will likely not be a lot more than a 2 week pass and the costs of getting there are the same, so you might as well stay longer if you can afford the extra for accommodation and food.

No matter what length of trip, it's probably best to concentrate on one area with large lift pass union.

The Salzburger Super Ski Card covers 86 resorts and does a 10 day flexi ticket, as well as a season pass version.

https://www.superskicard.com/en/superskicard.html

There is also a Snowcard Tirol Card covering 90 resorts across Tyrol & E Tyrol. I think it's only available as a season pass though.

https://snowcard.tirol.at/

Over the border in Italy, there is the Dolomiti Superski pass which cover 12 ski areas and many more individual resorts in the spectacular Italian Dolomites with versions from 1 day to a full season pass

https://www.dolomitisuperski.com/en/home

Of course if you have a full 2 months, you could do a week or so in each alpine nation, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, France, or just follow the snow, but the cost of the liftpasses might be prohibitive and accommodation might get tighter some weeks, though if you can commute by car, you should be able to find something last minute.

Also, your car will need winter tyres fitted for some alpine countries.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Shaggy39, your initial drive hit the bullseye in my opinion, StG is such a great base to travel to a lot of the great resorts & even throw to Italy.
I am about 3-4 year off being able to do what you are planning but i am looking forward to it so much.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
@Shaggy39 I have to sound a note of caution about longer trips out. We're now able to go out for 3-4 weeks and we've found that once we're settled-in, two things happen: first, things start to get more leisurely and we'll opt out of skiing more often in bad weather and do some snowshoeing instead, or just take a day off (as we've got older, we've found that we can't do more than 3 days in a row before it gets exhausting, which is no fun); and second, we find we just can't be bothered to get in the car and drive somewhere else just for a change. In the summer, yes, from the 4 Vallées we've done excursions to Italy and Berne, some with an overnight or two, but in the winter, no. This may just be us and it might be different for you, but just saying. Also, because we're in the 4 Vallées we have access to 400 Kms or so of pistes, so even over eight weeks, if we took the leisurely approach with outages for bad weather, stamina breaks, snowshoeing, perhaps some cultural visits etc. I don't think we'd exhaust the possibilities of the domaine. The mindset of someone with 55 days available is very different from if they only have one 13-day chance in the year to do their winter holiday.

The other factor to bear in mind is that 8 weeks is likely to include some school holidays, one way or another. If you've been skiing in, say, the quiet period of late January then a school week is going to feel almost unacceptably busy and perhaps just not worth the bother - so a candidate for doing something completely different, or a reason to shorten the trip so it ends the week before school holidays hit. The longest non-school-hols period is from the week after New Year week, I think, although I'm happy to be corrected. Post half-term, there seem to be more school sports activities through to Easter in some locations.

And bear in mind one-off events as well, especially University Ski Societies, FIS World Cup competitions, country/regional ski competitions, and special events like the Verbier Freeride. The first time we did 3+ weeks the resort was host to 600 French medical students one week - so when you look, try and find out if your preferred resort is hosting some major event.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Shaggy39, not sure how much of an issue time & costs are but if you are going to do this sort of trip then 2 weeks is rather short. Much better to be looking at at least 4 weeks. Bear in mind that mid winter often means bad weather so you are likely to want to spend days in the valley rather than going out in a blizzard. Whilst starting out without any fixed itinerary has an appeal I think you might want to look at spending times based in a number of locations, a sample route might be - Austria - east Tirol / Salzburgerland say St Johann in Tirol, Dolomites / Sella Ronda say St. Ulrich / Ortisei, Switzerland - Bernese Oberland say Interlaken, France - Tarantaise say Bourg St Maurice. This would allow you to take advantage of local area ski passes, try various areas, potentially find some cheaper accommodation and be in places where you can sit out bad weather. It would also give you a pretty good overview of the alps. Everyone here will have their own favourite areas and suggestions. If you are serious about this it is probably worth buying the "Where to Ski" books https://www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/the-book/ . These cover practically all of the larger resorts in the alps, you would be able to make up your own mind about what appeals and what doesnt.

Do bear in mind that electric cars work a lot less well in cold temperatures, leaving such a car parked for a couple of days covered in snow in temperatures around -20 might be an issue and of course it will need proper winter tyres and potentially snow chains depending on your planned route.
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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!
For me, Austria.

In order to maximise bang for your buck, Austria has,

Massive numbers of resorts on the same pass, some already being the biggest interconnected areas in the world.
Free and accessible parking
Value of food/drink on the mountain
Accessibility of hundreds of resorts via quick valley roads.
Relatively easy to drive to.
Excellent ski schools.

I can't think of a downside off the top of my head
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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.
Riccardo wrote:
For me, Austria.

I can't think of a downside off the top of my head


Certainly not knocking Austria and would love to ski there more but aren’t many of the resorts at quite low altitudes? Isn’t this a problem with the increasingly fluctuating temperatures we seem to be getting?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@BobinCH, it was snowing heavily when I left Innsbruck on Saturday, snow this season has been fine on the pistes in most resorts. I’d love to do a season in Austria like the OP is planning. I think during the peak weeks I’d probably take some time off and go visit Salzburg or Munich.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Although a lot of Austrian resorts are lower that those in France and Switzerland, the temperature also tends to be a little lower in winter as it's further from the Atlantic.

There is a consideration of how flexible you can be, based on snow conditions, if it transpires that one part of the alps is much better than the others. If you've committed to a season pass, that reduces the flexibility, whereas if you're happy to pay for lift passes as you go, then you can follow the snow (or sunshine), especially outside of peak weeks.

Although the Eurotunnel ticket will only be a fraction of the overall expenditure, I think it works out cheaper to buy single tickets than a FlexiPlus
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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.
@Shaggy39,
Consider 'down the valley' places to stay that give driving access to multiple ski areas eg Innsbruck, Bourg St Maurice.
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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
BobinCH wrote:
Riccardo wrote:
For me, Austria.

I can't think of a downside off the top of my head


Certainly not knocking Austria and would love to ski there more but aren’t many of the resorts at quite low altitudes? Isn’t this a problem with the increasingly fluctuating temperatures we seem to be getting?


Resort altitudes and snowlines are a lot different in the Eastern Alps due to more continental and less Atlantic influence. Less snow depth needed to cover grassy alpine meadows in Austria compared to rocky slopes in W Alps. Also, most lower Austrian resorts will have a mid station from where lifts fan out, if it did happen that lower runs were lacking snow or in poor shape.

I see having lower valley access points as an advantage when touring around, as you don't have to drive up long hairpinned access roads that are more common in the Western Alps. Also more tree-lined skiing on bad weather days.

If I had to choose one country for an extended ski break it would probably be Austria for the same reasons as Riccardo.


Last edited by 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 on Wed 6-04-22 16:00; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@luigi, many moons ago… after a positive (lucky) taster in Aviemore my parents booked their first Ski holiday to Soll in Austria. It rained… my dad got home picked up the Inghams brochure and looked for the highest resort in there. He found Val Thorens. We never went back to Austria….
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
BobinCH wrote:
@luigi, many moons ago… after a positive (lucky) taster in Aviemore my parents booked their first Ski holiday to Soll in Austria. It rained… my dad got home picked up the Inghams brochure and looked for the highest resort in there. He found Val Thorens. We never went back to Austria….


You are comparing one of the lowest resorts in Austria with the highest in the entire Alps.

700m to 2300m is not really a fair comparison. The advantage from E to W is probably around 400m, so Soll would compare to low French resorts like Morillon 1100, Les Gets, Morzine etc.

But if you were touring in Austria like the OP and within driving distance of Soll and the forecast was for rain at 700m, you could easily drive round to Hintertux where skiing starts at 2100m up to 3250m or over to Kitzsteinhorn for skiing between 2000-3000m, plus 50 other resorts within a short drive with skiing on mountain in between those heights and pretty snowsure during the main season.

Being stuck in VT in a whiteout that lasts for days wouldn't be much fun either! snowHead
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Shaggy39 wrote:

Has anyone done this sort of trip and any advise to give.


Great idea, go for it!

We did a similar-ish trip... When our eldest was 9 months old we did a 5 week road trip round France and Italy. We booked a one-way Eurotunnel and an apartment for 7 days in Morzine but that was it. The rough idea was to spend a week there, another week in Aosta, and then work our way down to Tuscany. In practice, Aosta didn't work out so the only ski resort stay we had was the first week in Morzine but we managed some good skiing and had an amazing trip in all.

A few thoughts:

+ Don't worry about planning too much in advance. We used airbnb to book things 1-5 days ahead and saw where the wind took us.
+ If you get itchy feet, move on.
+ When you're away for so long, you won't ski everyday. There's nothing wrong with that; just enjoy being in the mountains.
+ In certain places - Italy especially - you'll need winter-rated tyres and chains/socks until April. We fitted Michelin crossclimates and kept them on upon return.
+ If away for 2 months, treat yourself within that period and have a holiday-within-a-holiday staying somewhere nice for a couple of days.
+ Keep a diary.

All the best and enjoy.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
My thoughts are, as a beginner/intermediate, your future will be much brighter with lessons, lots of them. At least at the start of the trip. Otherwise you risk cementing bad habits; and trust me, they either cost a fortune to break out of, or they put a cap on your progress. Your age is not your friend here (I know, I’m similar!)

Use at least your first week, if not two, to have the same instructor for a week so s/he can follow your progress and build teaching accordingly. Up to you to have lessons in the morning then practice as you ski free in the afternoon, or have one day on, one day off, to allow you to travel further during the day off. Though private lessons are usually only an hour or two I think, not like half day group lessons.

Enjoy, I look forward to when I can do that!
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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?
BobinCH wrote:
@luigi, many moons ago… after a positive (lucky) taster in Aviemore my parents booked their first Ski holiday to Soll in Austria. It rained… my dad got home picked up the Inghams brochure and looked for the highest resort in there. He found Val Thorens. We never went back to Austria….


I went to La Plagne last week, it was horribly warm and slushy the first few days, then it rained. It did snow heavily on the Fiday but then it did at all altitudes. As a single point of reference, it didn't seem to me to make a great case for altitude being the solution to unfavourable weather.

Exactly 3 years before, we were in Kirchberg (837m) with a car. There was no snow in the village and Kitz was pretty unpleasant to ski so I researched where the good conditions were and on subsequent days we drove to a number of different resorts within 25mins where we had great skiing. I would venture that rather than relying on altitude to offset the risk of poor conditions; a car, the internet and easy access to a huge number of resorts covers your risk better.
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