If you're broke and can't afford lift passes, a great day spent is skiing up the Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park.
Remember to keep your water inside your parka and always take emergency gear (space blanket and lots of food). You needn't worry about the grizzly bears because they're asleep but watch out for those crazy mountain goats - they love to play games with skiers. They'll race you down the mountain (and they always win), but on occassion they'll just stop right there in front of you with that silly grin and goatee they wear.
Once I had to thread some rocks to get around one and ended up with a ripped sleeve on one side and goat fur stuck to the velcro on the other.
Skiing the Agui De Midi on the foot of Mont Blanc is possibly one of the best skiing/boarding experiences that any intermediate or advanced can accomplish.
At the foot of the lift that will bring you back down from this fantastic experience is the South Bar, which I recommend as the best après-ski in the area. The fact that it's a Swedish run bar means that it's full of attractive women and men and there is always quality live music. But best of all is sitting in the downstairs bar watching all the Scandinavians falling and making a fool of themselves whilst coming down the very steep stairs in their ski/board boots. We counted 6 in one hour, one evening. Great fun!
Bottom of the Agui di midi lift station. Go into the Cham Sud apartment area and it's next to Spar supermarket.
If you need a hearty evening meal in a relaxed and buzzy environment in Verbier, make sure you go to the Fer et Cheval - affectionately known as the 'furry shovel'. Highly recommend the lasagne.
Tel: 027 771 2669
It's a very long purpose made sledge piste that takes two hours to complete and runs down to the valley floor from under the North Face of the Eiger. They light it up in places at night.
Thrill power and beauty for non-experts. Anyone can do it easily with ten minutes practise first in daylight. Have a cheese fondue at the top first mind! and plenty of hot wine.
Take the cog-wheel train from Grund in Grindelwald up to klein scheidegg, follow the people in woolly hats with toboggans. Here's a video link:
If you are flexible about when you take a ski holiday; you want value for money and don't mind where you go providing there is plenty of snow, this is my suggested plan.
- pack your bags 1st January;
- subscribe to Snow Forecast Website, £10 for 3 months (last year), they can provide good 6 day forecasts for anywhwere in the world and their regional summaries are excellent;
- watch the snow trend daily but on Monday in particular;
- when there is buckets of snow forecast go to the on-line agencies (Neilson, Crystal, Inghams, Iglu etc) and look for their late deals or 'square deals' in your chosen area;
- book on Tuesday the best have gone by Wednesday;
- many of the low resorts in Austria are wonderful when there is loads of snow;
- avoid the school holidays;
- look for the higher altitude resorts as the season gets past Easter;
- the bigger agencies operate a clearing system so they can tell you the airport you will go to and accommodation is allocated on arrival.
We have had three excellent value for money holidays using this method.
My money saving idea - lunchtimes on the Alps can cost you between £8 and £25 per day! If you're on a budget ski holiday then make the most of your half-board chalet. 1. drag yourself down to breakfast. 2. add several extra slices of french bread, ham & cheese to your plate 3. create a selection of ham and cheese rolls 4. when no one is looking, take out your serviette and wrap around (discreetly) your freshly made rolls, and hide quickly in a pocket or bag... et voila, enjoy on an uncrowded rock, with a view of your choice... ALL FOR FREE!
If you're looking for reasonable kids’ ski wear, head straight to TK Maxx. I recently bought my son a designer jacket that had retailed at £160 for £25! A complete bargain that I'll be able to sell on ebay when he grows out of it!
For a super quick two-day weekend’s skiing, fly to Zurich and head to Flumserberg. With just a 45-minute transfer, you could fly in on a Saturday morning and hit the slopes by lunch. While its very much a local resort and you're unlikely to hear any other Brits, there's some nice off-piste in the tree line and plenty of winter hiking or husky sledging for non skiers. Best of all, the views are stunning.
Having had more than a few ski holidays with the major holiday companies I wanted something cheaper, and the only alternative I could find was to use the big companies to book self-catering accomodation. Then I discovered the French youth hostel website (FUAJ). Cheap accomodation and the most amazing food - and lots of it! One year I couldn't take a whole week off to go boarding so had a long weekend, something that is much harder to organise through the big companies, who tend to deal only in week-long packages.
I speak a little French while the friends I went with don't, but they didn't find it weird being in a hostel where everyone else was French. Yes, you have to organise your own transport but in my experience more and more people are doing this anyway.
There is no better place on earth to relax and soothe aching muscles after a hard day negotiating the Swiss Wall in the Portes du Soleil. Open all year round, the (outdoor) Thermes are magical when there's metres of snow on the ground.
Les Bains Thermaux de Val'D'Illiez
If you want to learn to ski off-piste or you already love it, head to Tignes this winter. As well as having tons of different routes of varying difficulty, Tignes also has an area dedicated to teaching people how to use their transceivers and probes. The SPOT area (bottom of Grattalu/ Col des Ves lifts) is constantly manned so you can ask questions and try your new knowledge out on the different levels of off-piste near the hut. A thumbs-up to Tignes for providing this free service.
If you find yourself out in Tignes during the school holidays (which in France means the whole of Feb), structure your day so you eat lunch at 11am or 3pm and use the lunch hours to ski. While all the families are queuing to feed their little ones, you can make the most out of empty pistes.
Inexpensive lodging near four major ski resorts in Vermont. Great pub and friendly international crowd. Hostel guests are afforded use of the same facilities as the higher priced hotel next door. Lift tickets were cheaper at the reception than at the ski resorts themselves.
441 Magic Mountain Access Rd
Londonderry, Vermont, USA
Greyhound station at Bellows Falls
I learnt to ski in Bodmi just a couple of years ago. It is easily accesible, parents can leave their kids over there whilst enjoying the slopes and offers a great meeting point for the skiers. From time to time they also offers night skiing practise which is really cool!
Bodmi is located in the little village of Grindelwald, Switzerland. Getting anywhere in Switzerland is easy as their transport system is way better than what we know in the UK.
Fly to Zurich and then either hire a car or, as I chose, hop on a double decker train with panoramic windows for a 4 hour train journey to Grindelwald, you willl need to change trains at least once so bear that in mind when thinking whether to pack those extra pairs of shoes...
All the main hotels are very close by to the train station but if yours is a bit further there are nice reliable buses available and also taxis. Save up on hotel expenses staying at a youth hostel (they do individual rooms if you ask!) and shopping at the local supermarket. The endless fun you will have at the snowy slopes will pay off!
Many of Are's blue runs go through subways under the black runs - no more stopping to look up hill for the 'airbourne' - you can just cruise on through.
We flew to Oustrund from Gatwick with Nielson - I think they are going from Heathrow this season - I believe Sweden is a fairly new ski destination by air but I understand Brits have long been visiting Are by an excellent sleeper train from Stockholm.
Local town near Breckenridge, you can stay here much cheaper than staying near the slopes in Breck itself. Also useful as a base for Keystone, A-Basin and Copper.
You don't even need to drive as the free Summit Stage will deliver you to all the resorts, although a car would be handy. If you don't have a car stay on Main Street as it's quite a walk to the restaurants / bars from anywhere else.
Mt Bachelor is a large ski area in the middle of Oregon, about 3.5 hours from Portland, but you can fly into Redmond Airport (RDM) from San Fransisco which is the local strip.
Great powder, brilliant lift system (voted best in the US several times) and no crowds at all. You do need a car as there is virtually no public transport although there is a shuttle from the local town - Bend - to the slopes which you can use if it snows and you've got no chains or 4x4.
Only downside is that winter is off season in Bend which means it's quite quiet.
Worth trying out whether you ski or board. You'll be the only Brits there!
St. Anton is an amazing ski resort for all ranges of skiers, it provides excellent ski instruction from one of the most widely recognised ski schools in Europe. The skiing area is vast and its not only the skiing thats great but also the Apres Ski is fantastic. All the austrian cuisine is delicious and the style and manner of the resort is idyllic.
St. Anton, fly to Innsbruck.
Conveniently located just 25 minutes from Almaty (the former capital of Kazakhstan in the south east of the country), Chimbulak currently boasts the best facilities Kazakhstan, and some say Central Asia, has to offer. Popular with the President and often overcrowded at weekends, Chimbulak's four chairlifts and pisted slopes offer an enjoyable day out for skiers and snowboarders alike. From the Talgar Pass at 3,613m to the main lodge at 2,260m, the resort offers a respectable vertical drop of nearly 1,000m. A steaming samovar, a cup of hot chocolate or a quick shot of warming vodka greet you on a welcoming bench at the top of the highest slope before skiing down to the bottom with magnificent views towards Almaty and across the Kazakh steppe.
Almaty is in south east Kazakhstan. There are direct flights there from London.
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