Sep 2021 – Well…here we are…nearly two years into the #COVID crisis. Unless you were into back/sidecountry snowsports or had the rare ability to afford a private ski lift rental, it’s entirely possible you missed an entire winter in Europe: a winter that saw unbelievably good conditions with regard to snowfall which made the season’s loss so much more defeating.
Well…THIS YEAR WE FIX THAT (if we’re allowed to by our governments). Have you already made your winter plans? Have you searched the heck out of AirBnB or Booking.com looking for an outdoor jacuzzi (because why else would you go otherwise), or have you budgeted an entire year’s savings just to make your slope season happen?!!?!
We’ve sort of done all of that. I’m here to give you a first draft of our 2021-2022 season…have you been to any of these places…? Any insider tips? Any must do’s or definitely don’ts? If you don’t have any, just wait a few months…I’ll have them ready for you, instead!
Firstly, we plan on re-visiting Sölden for an early season session on the slopes so we can get our legs back under us, a bit. It’s one of the few places in Austria that opens up its pistes in November for earlier season ski and snowboard fun. It won’t be anything new to us, but it will have been a couple of years since we were last there. The kids have really improved since then so we’re very excited to visit, again.
A few tips…Sölden is known for its nightlife and Après Ski…so before you book, try to take a closer look around whichever property you plan on visiting. Hotel Stefan is really awesome but there’s a hole-in-the-wall strip club basically across the street…whereas Hotel Garni Bergheim is not quite as sexy as Hotel Stefan, but it’s in a quieter corner of the village.
Also, make sure you take a lesson from my previous 101 post: if this is to be your kids’ first time on the slopes, consider only booking a half-day’s worth of ski school. A few of the Sölden ski schools have an indoor play area that your little ones can enjoy instead of throwing more money into school that they may not enjoy for so long. The Ski School instructors will not force a child to be out in the cold if they are generally not enjoying it…so you don’t want to pay for ski school’s prices just to have them inside playing.
The second larger trip we’ve already planned will be with a few friends into the French-speaking part of Switzerland known as the 4 Valleys near Nendaz. By the looks of the Piste Map, this is not a weekend trip you’d want to take since the area features over 400KM of groomed trails! Whenever taking the kids into Switzerland, I opt for the Official Swiss Ski School program. Our experience with them in Flumserberg was top-notch and both the kids were treated with a lot of fun and care. Initial research into cost shows either 3-half days (0930-1230 or 1330-1630) at 177CHF or 3-full days (0930-1630) for 354CHF.
Personally, it is indeed a heavy cost to take your children into Switzerland for skiing…however, 3 full days with extremely talented instruction also giving me the freedom to enjoy the snow with my Spouse makes it completely worth it.
We’re AirBnB’ing it during this stay so I don’t really have anything to share with you on the lodging piece of all this. I’ll happily share this coming January!
We’re planning another trip into France during the dead of winter. As far as taking snowtime into the French Alps, I’ve only ever gone solo into Sainte-Gervais and Les Houches where I les broke my arm. This season, per the suggestion from a fellow writer at UsedCarGuys.com (thanks Dave!), we did some research into a pretty cool place called Sainte-Foy Tarentaise located about two hours south of the Mont Blanc/Chamonix region.
Sainte-Foy is apparently a popular location for skiers traveling from the UK so take note if your French sucks like ours does. The piste region is relatively small compared to a lot of other places that we’ve been, but from what I can gather, the area is stunningly beautiful and filled with endless off-piste opportunities. Additionally, the ESF Ski School that services the area look pretty reasonable regarding cost (6 morning sessions for 190€) and they’ve got a ski kindergarten, of which I emphasized importance when discussing Ehrwald.
An aspect of this trip I’m equally as excited about is where we’re staying. Again, thanks to Dave, we decided to get a group together to stay at one of the area’s incredible Chalets owned by UK-based Premiere Neige. The entire place is located directly next to the ski school’s meeting point and the chalet itself is pretty well equipped with a huge kitchen, jacuzzi outside, and private sauna.
I already know we’re never going to want to leave this place.
Since I wrote a little more in-depth about our desire to visit Reit im Winkl when COVID wasn’t destroying everything, I’ll just refer you to that post if you want to look into it. We’re looking forward to actually getting to go there this year since we’ve never been in the snow of Oberbayern.
The remainder of our time in the snow will be spent in the upper Black Forest, Tiroler and Bavarian Zugspitze regions where, as you may know, our favorite slope region lies. We’ve never actually been to the Garmisch-Classic or Lermoos slope areas, so we’re looking forward to seeing what those Pistes have to offer.
We may even swing out to the Ammergau Alps to see the small Kolbensattel slope area only 20 minutes from GAPA…but I’m personally looking forward to taking a morning in Mittenwald and heading down the 7km Dammkar slope which is one of Germany’s longest non-groomed powder runs with a 40% grade…let’s just hope I don’t wind up with a busted wing.
If there’s anything you feel is missing or if you’ve got any questions, drop a comment below! I’ll get back to you!
We’ll see how things work out this year…
Bis zum näschtes mal!the snowboard dad in europe
Hey there! I just moved to Germany from Colorado with my husband. I lived on Snowmass mountain in Aspen last year & I’m hoping to continue the snowboarding stoke in Europe! Do you have any recommendations for mountain “passes” have you heard of Ikon or Epic? Also, what are the best & “most reasonable” mountains for a snowboarder? Thanks for any advice!
Hi Jen! First off thanks for the comment. Please share the blog to any friends who could benefit from it (I literally earn nothing for this 🤣).
There are things similar to Epic Pass but they’re all regional. The entire Zugspitze area has something called “Top Snow Card” that gets you access to over 10 slope areas. There’s also the Ötztal Super Pass that operates similarly but with much bigger terrain options.
Ehrwald, Austria is probably the closest and most reasonable for you…but if you can travel farther, you can shred in Sestriere, Italy for a week for what would cost a day at Breck. Crazy isn’t it?!
Keep reading and shred on ✌️!