International (Europe/Japan/Southern Hemisphere) Booking a trip for March 2022 to the Arlberg

Crank

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Hi Sib.

I did not read all 4 pages.

Here is a link to the Ski Club of Great Britain. https://www.skiclub.co.uk/

We joined for a trip to Chamonix a few years back and they have guides at some areas and "reps" at some others. A rep is a more informal guide. The club pays them a stipend and they meet up with members and ski around with you, sort of like your informal guide to Whitefish, but, in person. We had fun meeting some Brits and skiing with small groups of folks. We also, as a group, hired a real mountain guide one day to ski Mont Blanc. It definitely added value to our trip for not a lot of extra $.

I Know they are at St Anton and I think Ishgul...not sure about Lech.

Was your airfare reasonably priced? With our ski club we have hotel booked and paid for in Italy's Dolomites in mid-March. This was from our canceled trip in March 2020. We eventually got airfare refunded so now will have to rebook our ride.
 

Ulmerhutte

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I Know they are at St Anton and I think Ishgul...not sure about Lech.
Are you sure about that? I seem to recall some posts on Snowheads quite a few years ago that suggested there was some sort of falling out between SCGB and ABB (the lift co). In all my travels, I cannot recall seeing anybody with a jacket with an SCGB logo, and they don’t list StA as an option on https://www.skiclub.co.uk/ski-club-reps

If you want a guide, and it is within your budget, get a private instructor for a day or 2. Apart from quickly orienting you to the area (and it is huge), he or she may sharpen up your skills. We all fall into bad habits over time - I know I do! ogsmile

Edit: apparently there is something called Instructor Led Guiding in StA: https://www.skiclub.co.uk/instructor-led-guiding
 
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Crank

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Are you sure about that? I seem to recall some posts on Snowheads quite a few years ago that suggested there was some sort of falling out between SCGB and ABB (the lift co). In all my travels, I cannot recall seeing anybody with a jacket with an SCGB logo, and they don’t list StA as an option on https://www.skiclub.co.uk/ski-club-reps

If you want a guide, and it is within your budget, get a private instructor for a day or 2. Apart from quickly orienting you to the area (and it is huge), he or she may sharpen up your skills. We all fall into bad habits over time - I know I do! ogsmile

Edit: apparently there is something called Instructor Led Guiding in StA: https://www.skiclub.co.uk/instructor-led-guiding
i know they got kicked out of French resorts. Thought they were still in Austria though.
 
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Sibhusky

Sibhusky

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Was your airfare reasonably priced? With our ski club we have hotel booked and paid for in Italy's Dolomites in mid-March. This was from our canceled trip in March 2020. We eventually got airfare refunded so now will have to rebook our ride.
The original attempt to re-book this coming September got too difficult from a flight availability perspective. Seats were vanishing rapidly and flight durations were getting ridiculous while the clock was ticking (daughter hemming and hawing at the sudden change in destinations and dates and whether the boyfriend would want to come) and my credit was only good on certain airlines. Now, I THINK United will be adding flights and that constriction should ease. But Europe is not really open yet to us. So I pushed out my flights to the last possible month before the credit expired, which meant a ski trip not a hiking and castle touring trip and more hesitation until I went ballistic (about the 200th thing I've had to cool my heels waiting for an answer on since we started trying to plan to the trip back in 2019 - never try and plan to trip with someone who is not in the same house, my God.). And then .... first time in my decades of flying.... booked United Polaris Business class. So, no the tickets were NOT cheap. But the flight credit was fully utilized, Ha Ha. I decided it was an investment in my comfort and since I didn't want my daughter to languish alone in Coach I paid for her as well. (Thank goodness I eliminated the boyfriend? No, I would have paid for both in Coach and paid less.) But, now since I spent so damn much on the air tickets I'm looking to save everywhere else. Hence, trains and busses. The daughter is paying half of everything else at least.

When last I looked (a week back) there were still reasonable Coach tickets but instead of 17-18 hours duration, the duration was well over 30 hours for those "reasonable" tickets, which was in the $1200 ballpark. (It ain't cheap to fly out of Kalispell.) You could wait to see if United adds flights, but meanwhile the Europeans are booking hotel rooms.

Another issue is trip insurance. On the United website, their Iink to trip insurance specifically said no coverage for Covid changes. When I looked at other insurance, some said that if booking with Future Flight Credit, the clock for CFAR (cancel to any reason) started when the ORIGINAL trip was booked, so you're outside their CFAR window. I think I'm negotiating with my original vendor to accept new dates on the original policy, but I'm still in the middle of that. Just something to be aware of.
 
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James

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Try squaremouth.com for trip insurance. (Odd name but you remember it) I found out about it from @SBrown posts here somewhere. They’re basically an aggregator of plans with software to make choosing easier.
I used it in 2019 and they were good to deal with. I even had to call them to make sure off piste was covered. (It gets tricky if you are using ropes and crampons. Afaik, that’s mountain climbing, all the alarms go off, the doors lock, and there’s very few choices.)

Jaggedglobe.com also has some info on all this. I found out about them by following a group in a whiteout in Chamonix. Turned out they went off piste. The guide let me join.

France just opened today for vaccinated and negative test from US.
 
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Sibhusky

Sibhusky

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This test within 72 hours has me concerned. Not a hot bed of test centers here. And what if it's positive? Suddenly I've flushed all this money away? (vaccinated) Hence the need for insurance. I've been to squaremouth early in looking. Gave me my existing insurer plus sevencorners (ka-ching). Hence back working this "existing policy with new dates" angle. No one wants to write insurance at this point. And who can blame them? The rules keep changing. Technically Americans aren't allowed in at this instant. And there is all this quarantine rules each direction. Like I'm going to fly over and not ski. Of course if they do quote, the cost is huge. But if I don't buy soon, CFAR is out the window. So, to those wondering, yes Sibby has jumped the gun a bit.
 
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James

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It’s 9 months away. When’s the cfar window?

You could probably do a home test. By that point, I’d think they’ll be surplus.
Where are you flying from?
 

Crank

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We traveled to the British Virgin Islands last month. Had to have a negative covid test 5 days before travel and had to get tested at the airport on arrival in Tortola. Then tested again on our 5th day which worked out well because that was 3 days before we were flying home and there was also a test required 3 days prior to leaving (Not sure why). Here in NY it is easy to get a free, drive-through test and we have always gotten results within 24 hours.

Anyway we jumped though all the hoops, tested negative every time and had a great little trip. We did purchase extra insurance to help pay for a mandatory 14-day quarantine period in case we did get a positive test. Figured we'd either extend our boat charter or rent a villa. We just figured we were gonna follow all the rules and not stress about any of it. Luckily our strategy worked.

I am hoping by the ides of March international travel will be a bit easier, especially for people who have been vaccinated. Will likely still need negative test results though.
 

Johnfmh

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Speaking of insurance, it’s worth getting an Arlberg Safety Card when in that region. Otherwise, you risk getting a big charge if you get into a ski accident and have to be medically evacuated. In the Arlberg, many evacuations are by helicopter and typical travel insurance does not cover helicopter evacuations or other accidents on ski pistes:

 
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Sibhusky

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Speaking of insurance, it’s worth getting an Arlberg Safety Card when in that region. Otherwise, you risk getting a big charge if you get into a ski accident and have to be medically evacuated. In the Arlberg, many evacuations are by helicopter and typical travel insurance does not cover helicopter evacuations or other accidents on ski pistes:

But this is just for on piste, I thought there was an off piste thing you could buy?
 
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Sibhusky

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I managed to get my policy for the original, cancelled, trip for last year applied to this trip along with a coverage increase. So that CFAR is in force along with some significant medical coverage. (Last time I was in Austria I ended up in the hospital for a week, so that was a big part of having insurance even though we weren't originally going to be skiing.)
 

Johnfmh

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But this is just for on piste, I thought there was an off piste thing you could buy?
Not sure. The Mountain Guiding services probably can tell you. A lot of on piste medical evacuation in the Arlberg is done by helicopter, so paying a small sum (I think around 25 EUR) is worth the extra money. The card pays for the slopeside rescue (helo or toboggan) but not much else. You need regular travel medical insurance for that. Some US insurance covers an individual while abroad—for example, some of the plans offered to Federal Government employees. It‘s worth calling your insurer to check on the issue. If your regular plan covers you while abroad, you might skip travel insurance (because it is a secondary insurance), and just get an Arlberg Safety Card. This is a very complicated issue to put it mildly.

One thing about Off Piste in the Arlberg and I think this is why everyone recommends guides: there are no gates in Europe opened by Ski Patrol. There are avalanche warning boards (look for LAWINE) with flashing lights if things are bad but no gates. Off Piste and Side Country is up to you and if anything happens, you will have to pay for the mountain. Furthermore, if you set off an avalanche through your own negligence, arrest is a possibility since the police perform many mountain rescues.

Also, the lift to the top of Valluga (probably the most epic off piste decent in the Arlberg) will not let a person on unless he or she is accompanied by a mountain guide.

FYI: I just noticed that the Austrian Volunteer Mountain Rescue Service offers some sort insurance:

 
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Sibhusky

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New question. Aside from the Wifi at our hotel, is there WiFi near lift stations or mountain restaurants? How about cellular service? I'm a bit worried about the size of the place and if my daughter and I somehow get separated, intentionally or otherwise. Just on a groomer run, she could end up kilometers ahead of me if I take a spill. Back when she was a kid we used walkie talkies, but not at a place this huge.
 

Ulmerhutte

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New question. Aside from the Wifi at our hotel, is there WiFi near lift stations or mountain restaurants? How about cellular service? I'm a bit worried about the size of the place and if my daughter and I somehow get separated, intentionally or otherwise. Just on a groomer run, she could end up kilometers ahead of me if I take a spill. Back when she was a kid we used walkie talkies, but not at a place this huge.
Yes, most, but not all, mountain restaurants have free wi-fi. Cellular service is generally very good, though as you might expect in the mountains, there are dead spots.

Off piste? If you cross into another valley, then all bets are off. Andy Thurner’s book notes some of those places, but that info is now dated. It however does not sound like you will be heading into hard core backcountry.

Remember that places like Lech are frequented by many people who believe the world will collapse (or perhaps their personal fortune) if they are out of touch for even a few minutes! ogsmile
 

James

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If you use walkie talkies, you want them with the PMR 446 frequencies which is the euro standard. Plenty of relatively cheap radios available that come with those and/or are programmable. Retivis, Baofeng, Radiooddity site sells their own versions.
 
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Sibhusky

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Well, if generally there is cell service, walkie talkies are usually pretty bulky & subject to obstructions by mountains just like phones. So, fewer devices is better.

I think if her boyfriend were coming and not me, it would be harder core backcountry, but she'll be worrying about me. Some other trip for her.

She needs to look into her phone options. I'm set. We can test things in Innsbruck before we get to the ski area.
 

James

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Don’t know about Austria, but in Switzerland, Verbier, cell service is quite good. It was better when I bought a Swiss SIM card and used that service, but ridiculously expensive. Like I’d get a text saying “Special! 10 texts for 5Chf!” Such a bargain.
Coverage was amazing, but then it didn’t work in France. I then called Sprint and they put coverage on. Haven’t bothered since.
 
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