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International (Europe/Japan/Southern Hemisphere) Skiing the Alps - advice wanted

Mister Tea

The skier formerly known as Walt
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Jan 4, 2020
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298
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Michigan, the part with all the trolls
I've never skied in Europe, but with the Ikon pass offering so many options I'm taking advantage of it this season. Booked a flight to Innsbruck that will give me about two weeks to get in some turns in the Alps.

I'm not a great skier and am not looking for extreme terrain, gnarly steeps, glades, moguls, etc. I like to carve my turns, but doing that means staying on terrain that's not too steep, not too crowded, and sees a groomer occasionally. To give you an idea what I'm looking for, some favorites are the blue runs at:

Alta under the Supreme and Sugarloaf lift
Brighton under Snake Canyon and Crest lifts
Winter Park (all the blues)
Copper Mt - every blue skiers left
Tremblant - (all the blues)
Big Sky - Moonlight basin side
Beaver Creek - Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch areas

Not an exhaustive list, but for instance the blues at Snowbird are steeper than my liking. Yeah, I can ski them and also a lot of black diamond runs at the above areas, but I'm skidding instead of carving and I like to carve. Oh, and I'm not too proud to ski green runs if they're fun.

My research indicates that the Dolomites has a lot of the terrain that will be to my liking, and since I'm going in mid January hopefully the crowds will not be too bad. Kitzbühel is also an option, but my sense is that the Dolomites would be a better fit. The ski areas adjacent to Innsbruck are not on the Ikon pass, but I can manage a day or two of ~$70 US lift tickets since I'm already there.

As a North American skier who's skied at over 100 areas I'm used to looking at a James Nieheus trail map and taking my cues from it. But when I look at a Dolomites trail map it's like it's written in a foreign language, so some help from those with experience would be appreciated.

The tentative plan is to fly into Innsbruck, getting in early afternoon, driving a couple hours to the Dolomites, spending a couple days chilling to get over jet lag, going to the ski region for 8 nights and 7 days of Dolomite Superski, heading back to Innsbruck a few days prior to the return flight , and hitting the slopes there for a day or two.

So, the next order of business is to figure out which of the 12 Dolomite Superski areas to use as the base area, unless someone can talk me into Kitzbühel instead.
 

scott43

So much better than a pro
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13,318
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Great White North
When are you going? Be careful with Kitzbuhel. Snow/temp there is becoming an issue. If you have choices, go higher. Most places in Europe are groomer heaven. Crowds on holiday periods can be brutal depending where you go.
 

Tony S

I have a confusion to make ...
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Team Gathermeister
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I've never skied in Europe, but with the Ikon pass offering so many options I'm taking advantage of it this season. Booked a flight to Innsbruck that will give me about two weeks to get in some turns in the Alps.

I'm not a great skier and am not looking for extreme terrain, gnarly steeps, glades, moguls, etc. I like to carve my turns, but doing that means staying on terrain that's not too steep, not too crowded, and sees a groomer occasionally. To give you an idea what I'm looking for, some favorites are the blue runs at:

Alta under the Supreme and Sugarloaf lift
Brighton under Snake Canyon and Crest lifts
Winter Park (all the blues)
Copper Mt - every blue skiers left
Tremblant - (all the blues)
Big Sky - Moonlight basin side
Beaver Creek - Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch areas

Not an exhaustive list, but for instance the blues at Snowbird are steeper than my liking. Yeah, I can ski them and also a lot of black diamond runs at the above areas, but I'm skidding instead of carving and I like to carve. Oh, and I'm not too proud to ski green runs if they're fun.

My research indicates that the Dolomites has a lot of the terrain that will be to my liking, and since I'm going in mid January hopefully the crowds will not be too bad. Kitzbühel is also an option, but my sense is that the Dolomites would be a better fit. The ski areas adjacent to Innsbruck are not on the Ikon pass, but I can manage a day or two of ~$70 US lift tickets since I'm already there.

As a North American skier who's skied at over 100 areas I'm used to looking at a James Nieheus trail map and taking my cues from it. But when I look at a Dolomites trail map it's like it's written in a foreign language, so some help from those with experience would be appreciated.

The tentative plan is to fly into Innsbruck, getting in early afternoon, driving a couple hours to the Dolomites, spending a couple days chilling to get over jet lag, going to the ski region for 8 nights and 7 days of Dolomite Superski, heading back to Innsbruck a few days prior to the return flight , and hitting the slopes there for a day or two.

So, the next order of business is to figure out which of the 12 Dolomite Superski areas to use as the base area, unless someone can talk me into Kitzbühel instead.
There are some good threads here on the Dolomites, with contributions from Europeans like @fatbob , @Primoz , and @Cheizz . I would do some searching and read those. @Crank has been there too.

I will be there for the first time this winter at the tail end of Jan and first week of Feb. When I come back I'll let you know all the mistakes I made while you were making the same ones at the same time.

Since I've already made one, I will share that if you are planning to bring your own skis, do not fly on Lufthansa.
 

fatbob

Not responding
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Sounds like a decent plan Dolomiti Superski aka Sella Ronda and offshoots is exactly that sort of perfect groomer cruising with great views, coffee ( corretto as necessary) and food. Arabba is a popular base.

Lots of Intel on snowheads like this


They have a bash there every year. Next year is 3 Feb.

I wouldn't write off the Inn valley either. There are plenty of places to check out with affordable passes for a few hours like Patscherkofel where Klammer won 76 gold, Glungezer which is just empty and beautiful and Seefeld. Plus Kuhtai. As Kitzbuhel is on your Ikon pass it's worth at least a day trip even if it is only to look down the Streif from the start hut then say "naw that's madness" like anyone with a brain.
 

Primoz

Skiing the powder
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Nov 8, 2016
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Slovenia, Europe
Personally I hate Dolomites for alpine skiing, but love them for everything else. But based on what you wrote, I'm pretty sure you will love them. For me it's just whole bunch of cruising where you hardly even pick up enough speed to make proper turn (5 runs in 1000+km track network hardly makes things better), but I have feeling we think different of skiing, and as I said, I think you will love them. Tracks are always perfectly groomed (every single track is perfectly groomed every single afternoon), if you are into easy cruising, then tracks are perfect. Weather is normally nice, for food and drinks it's well you need to be a bit picky on Sella Ronda. Alta Badia side food sucks, everywhere else it's better then anywhere else on World (yeah I guess you noticed I love Italian food :) ). Just one suggestion, which might be a bit late considering you already booked flights if I understood right... Avoid Christmas/New Year and February. Everything else it's cool and you will feel like you are all alone on that huge ski place.
Kitzbuehel on the other side is on top 5 of my ski places list. A bit too crowded no matter when you come, but if you don't come on February (whole Europe has school holidays mainly in February, so it's full everywhere), it's still possible without problems enjoying all day long on SG skis (and SG speeds). Lifts are new and fast, so basically there's never queue and waiting, and terrain is great for me and almost every single run is that what I really want from skiing. Easy blue cruising might be a bit harder to find though. But it's like 1h drive from Innsbruck, so it can easily be done just as day trip.
 

scott43

So much better than a pro
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Does this mean you're comfortable with SG turns with other people around, or there are some runs that genuinely remain empty?
I crushed diretissima in Kitzbuhel. Rest of the resort was pretty busy but the black runs are pretty wide open. It was mid day and I was probably the second or third person on that run. Meanwhile the blues were rush hour in Manhattan..
 

Primoz

Skiing the powder
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Does this mean you're comfortable with SG turns with other people around, or there are some runs that genuinely remain empty?
Not completely empty, but as long as I can pass people in 20 or 30m distance, and it's more or less skier here or there, not full lines of skiers all over the place, I feel comfortable on SG skis. For me, it's pretty much never possible to do this on February, so February is for me xc skiing and ski touring month, but in general January and then March mornings, as long it stays icy and hard, are best months to ski. There's not much of people in those Austrian resorts I normally go, even in Kitzbuehel (Saalbach on the other side was always full 24/7 no matter what time no matter what day, so I rather avoid it, even though it's awesome skiing place), so most of time I'm fine even on SG skis.
 

LiquidFeet

lurking
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@Primoz, your post #6 gives a detailed description of the differences between the Dolomites and Kitzbuehel. I don't think I'll forget those differences and I bet your info will help the OP to decide between these two resorts.

@Mister Tea is going in mid January for two weeks.
His preference is to ski the Dolomites.
He likes to carve on "not too steep" groomed terrain that's not too crowded.

There are two more questions he asked.

--He is used to using James Nieheus trail maps to get around on mountains. He is hoping someone can help him understand how to use the Dolomite trail maps since figuring them out is not like US trail maps.

--And he wants suggestions on which of the 12 Dolomite Superski areas to use as the base area.

Quotes from @Mister Tea's OP:
--I'm going in mid January.
--Booked a flight to Innsbruck that will give me about two weeks to get in some turns in the Alps.
--I'm not a great skier and am not looking for extreme terrain, gnarly steeps, glades, moguls, etc.
--I like to carve my turns, but doing that means staying on terrain that's not too steep, not too crowded, and sees a groomer occasionally.
--I'm not too proud to ski green runs

--which of the 12 Dolomite Superski areas to use as the base area
--I'm used to looking at a James Nieheus trail map and taking my cues from it. But when I look at a Dolomites trail map it's like it's written in a foreign language, so some help from those with experience would be appreciated.
 
Last edited:

scott43

So much better than a pro
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In a lot of Euro resorts, there are no trees. So the maps are fairly rudimentary. They rely more on trail markers/poles to define pistes. Little discs on top with piste colours. Basically it's wide open and you ski within the track.
 

fatbob

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On the Nieheus question fuggedaboutit. See the recent discussion on the Nieheuus "map" of all Tahoe. Dolomiti Superski is vast,. Something like 1200km of piste IIRC. You need to break up your focus into smaller "resort" blow ups and even then it'll only really make sense when you see it on the ground unless you marry with e.g. a Google or Fatmap topo. Quite common to see e.g. indistinguishable blue lines on a white slope. In reality these may end up being very similar runs on the same aspect which simply serve to split traffic a bit.
 

Tony Storaro

Glorified Tobogganer
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If cruising blues is your thing you will be right at home in the Dolomites especially the Badia/Corvara region which is essentially an endless sea of blue runs. Plus the food is fantastic.
 

Crank

Making fresh tracks
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Dec 19, 2015
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The Dolomiti Superski maps are not hard but when you look at the maps that show you the totality...well it's just too much ground to cover . Like trying to find you way around a small town with a map of NY state. Trails are well marked.

We stayed away from everything in a sleepy little town calle Vigo di Fassa. It has a ski area but not one that is connected by lifts to any other areas so we had to take vans from and to hotel. Were I to go again, which is likely, I would probably stay at Alta Badia or some larger village right on the Sella Ronda. The Sella Ronda, BTW, is just a circular route around the Sella Massif. It's all blues and greens, can be travelled either clockwise or counter clockwise, Took us about 4 hours with just a brief stop for a slice. Did I mention well marked trails.. yes Well the Sella Roh=nda is extrememly well marked. We were a bit nervous about going it alone with no guide. It was a no problemo.

Not sure what hotels cost. Food and wine were very reasonable even on the mountains. Food was good, but, not as good as perhaps other regions of Italy.
 

Tony Storaro

Glorified Tobogganer
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The Dolomiti Superski maps are not hard but when you look at the maps that show you the totality...well it's just too much ground to cover . Like trying to find you way around a small town with a map of NY state. Trails are well marked.

We stayed away from everything in a sleepy little town calle Vigo di Fassa. It has a ski area but not one that is connected by lifts to any other areas so we had to take vans from and to hotel. Were I to go again, which is likely, I would probably stay at Alta Badia or some larger village right on the Sella Ronda. The Sella Ronda, BTW, is just a circular route around the Sella Massif. It's all blues and greens, can be travelled either clockwise or counter clockwise, Took us about 4 hours with just a brief stop for a slice. Did I mention well marked trails.. yes Well the Sella Roh=nda is extrememly well marked. We were a bit nervous about going it alone with no guide. It was a no problemo.

Not sure what hotels cost. Food and wine were very reasonable even on the mountains. Food was good, but, not as good as perhaps other regions of Italy.

Matter of fact most of the clockwise Sella Ronda (orange) is red with some tricky parts. Counterclockwise (green) is more relaxed.

OP says he prefers blues, so counterclockwise it is.
 

Swiss Toni

Out on the slopes
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The Alta Badia area will probably be the best option, as it has mainly blue runs. There is a pdf ski map on the Alta Badia tourist office website https://www.altabadia.org/en/winter...lopes-and-walks-in-and-around-alta-badia.html paper maps are also available from the ticket offices. The area is well signposted, but a GPS app is nice to have. The MyDolomiti app is free, but the reviews aren’t very good. Corvara is a good place to stay, it has some nice hotels and some good restaurants. If you would prefer slope side accommodation there are a couple of hotels on the Campolongo pass.

This should give you some idea of the skiing on offer:



Unless you have a driver’s license issued by an EU country, you will need to get an international driving permit. If you are a US citizen you should carry your passport with you at all times. It would also be a good idea to familiarize yourself with Italy’s law on skiing (DECRETO LEGISLATIVO 28 febbraio 2021, n. 40), unfortunately there is very little information on it in English, but Google Translate does a passable job on this article https://outdoortest.it/sicurezza-sulle-piste-da-sci-cosa-dice-la-nuova-legge/ It doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced, but the ski slopes in the Dolomiti Superski area are patrolled by the Carabinieri.

 

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