Skiing; To do list…
I’m sure, like me, when you think of the ski season your mind fills with pictures of yourself gracefully skiing down deserted mountainsides, whilst behind you the sun shines and glints with the freshly fallen powder.. but hang on a minute; your skis haven’t been waxed from last year, your ski jacket is looking worn and you’re not sure whether to buy a season pass…
The first thing to decide is where it is that you want to ski;
There are many great resorts within one and a half hours of Geneva. For seasoned skiers who love off piste, the preference is for Verbier or Chamonix. For those who love the big mountains and can venture further, only Zermatt will do. For those preferring a more relaxed ski or who are learning; Megeve or Les Gets come to mind or the more rugged terrain of Samoens and the Grand Massif. Check out Biskotti’s guide to the local ski stations for more tips on which one to choose, with more in depth guides to different stations coming soon.
Is it worth buying a season pass?
Now there is no way to tell what kind of a snow year we’re in for, it could be beautiful and perfect and so smooth that you feel like you’re flying down the mountainside or it could be muddy and icy with rocky patches damaging your new skis… there is just no way of knowing.
To make it worthwhile to buy a season pass, you generally have to ski around 10 days to 2 weeks in the same domaine. For example the Grand Massif ski pass which includes Flaine, Samoens, Les Carroz, Morillon and Sixt (265 km of pistes) is on sale half price until Monday night for approximately 400 Euros but it includes several other free days discovering other resorts.
There is another option – here’s my way; I wait and buy the discounted season pass that goes on sale in most ski resorts on the second week of the new year. It is cheaper than the all-season pass as it means that the popular Christmas period is not included.
Top Tip; Check your insurance policy to see if you are covered for accidents whilst skiing/boarding. If not, consider getting season snow cover insurance which is much more reasonable than buying it each time you go.
Do you want to check out snow levels?
Many of the ski stations have the information on line, there are even apps that you can get for your phone to keep you informed. (Eg Check out the “St.Gervais” free app for iPhone and Android, which shows you the slopes that are open, the snow conditions and even live webcam feeds from the pistes, free from the appstore)
Preparing your skis or board;
If you own your own skis, most ski stations rental shops will wax and sharpen/prepare/repair your skis or board for you for around CHF 30. So just drop them off the night before you want to hit the slopes and you’ll be good to go for the season.
Top Tip; Some shops in the Alps will offer this service with the purchase of your skis or board. I always try and negotiate this – have your skis or board serviced twice or three times a season and this becomes very worthwhile!
Don’t have your own equipment?
Well there are two options if you want to ski regularly this season;
Rent for the season; To rent and save money check out Penseyres ski rental shop at Rue de Neuchâtel 7, its right by Cornavin station so it’s easy to get to and you can rent ski equipment for the season, so not only is it cheaper but it means you can jump straight on the slope each time you go rather than having to wait around to get a fitting.
If you want your own equipment but don’t want to pay full price; I have found that the best thing to do is to check out the local ski sales. Most small towns (especially in French Alps) have these where you can buy last years new skis and boards for much cheaper than you would find in most shops. These are usually in the Bourses aux Skis which are in October/November each year or alternatively at the end of the season (late March/early April) where you can find great deals in the local shops.
Now you have your pass, and your skis, but your ski kit is looking worn;
If you are looking for upscale ski kit with Moncler, Peak Performance or well known designer brands, then try the village of Megeve or Bertet Sports in Les Gets (great end of season sales). In Geneva, you will find all the labels at Hofstetter and Ochsner sports. Alternatively for more regular gear, Val Thoiry shopping centre in France (01710 Thoiry, France), has a great reasonable range of equipment for both men and women.
Top Tip; As the weather changes fast in the Mountains, its best to wear layers. Of these I recommend, the Merino wool, Icebreaker brand from New Zealand for warm, light inner wear.
Its good to invest in a good pair of sunglasses. With these I recommend either yellow or orange lenses for better vision on cloudy days.
If you don’t have a car, there are several other options; You can catch a bus from the Gare Routiere in the centre of Geneva direct to most ski resorts. Their prices often include the price of a day pass. Alternatively, some Swiss ski resorts are accessible by train – Verbier (via Martigny) or slightly further, Zermatt for example.
Otherwise you can get together with your friends and take a ski minibus. Of these, Go Massif based in Samoens offers a good, reliable service to the French Alps;
If you want to travel in style, try Elite cars in Geneva who have chauffeur driven luxurious transfers.
Have a great ski season and check out the Mountain section throughout the season for tips on where to go…