Ski & Snowboard, Switzerland — By Andy Hayes on November 26, 2010 at 11:24 am
Filed under: outdoor recreation, skiing, snow, top-feature

Sunny Skiing in St Moritz

One of the most popular ski areas in Switzerland is St. Mortiz (map), in Graubunden, the country’s eastern and most mountainous province.  It has over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it one of Switzerland’s sunniest ski destinations.  It’s also the terminus point for one of the country’s popular panorama trains, making it fairly easy to get in and enjoy the sunny, snowy fun.  As a two time Olympic city host, St Mortiz has always been en vogue.  Here are the highlights and tips to making the most of St Moritz.

Pistes

As you can see from the above photo, the slopes above St Moritz are wide open – giving you plenty of options and terrain for exploring.  217 miles of it, to be exact.  Corvatsch and Corviglia are two concentrations of ski areas easy to reach from St Moritz, including both funiculars, chair lifts, and cable car.

Corviglia is easy to get to with the cable car, and from there you can hit the region’s longest run, Piz Nair.  It’s a photographers favorite, but I also recommend it as it’s a good place if you’re feeling a bit nervous and working on those snow legs.

Corvatsch is another area with some seriously steep runs where you can get up some speed without too much worry. There’s a varied set of runs here, some of which can lead you off into the wilderness it seems, only to later reconnect with the main trails to bring you back to the base stations.

Because of the size of the ski area, there are a hundred different pass combinations.  It’s best to just drop into the tourist information center to have them help you choose, but expect your average lift ticket to cost about $75/day, with big discounts the longer your pass runs.  And there are equipment rental centers in town – not cheap (this is Switzerland) but convenient.

Cross Country Ski

Around St Moritz there are over 100 miles of cross country ski territory.  That’s a lot of ground to cover!  For that reason, if you want to cross country ski, you’ll want to stop into the tourist information center to pick up a map so you can choose a route, as well as make arrangements for your ski pass, which is only about $8/day, or $25 for a week pass.

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Cresta Run Toboggan

This is more of a spectator sport than an active participant, but if you do feel like gliding down a sheet of ice at unreal speeds, then by all means, be my guest.  The Cresta Run is one of the most famous toboggan runs in the world, mostly due to it’s association with the Olympics.  In case you were wondering, toboggan is just the British word for sledding (they mean the same thing).  And also – I asked myself – the difference between a luge and a toboggan is that luge is feet first and toboggan is head first.  Won’t that make a lot more sense as you’re watching the next Olympics on TV?

If you do want to try your hand at the Cresta Run, you’ll need to get a temporary membership from the St Mortiz Tobogganing Club.  Yeah, that’s going to be about $600.  Nobody said Switzerland was cheap.

Daytrip: Pontresina

Near St Moritz is another popular ski center that makes for an easy daytrip: Pontresina (map). It isn’t as well known as St Moritz, probably because it’s a smaller town, but it’s less crowded.  It’s also a nice place if you just want a break from skiing – the old city center has some older buildings and you can take the funicular up to get some spectacular views.  If you do bring your skis though, it’s well worth it – there’s a long run down the Morteratsch glacier that is one of the Switzerland’s best.

Nearby is the ski area of Diavolezza – I didn’t mention it above as it’s kind of a trek to get to, and it’s only for more experienced skiers, but if you want an adrenaline rush, this is a great place for it.

Getting Here

You’ve basically got two options (or a combination thereof) to get into St Moritz, all depending on what else you plan to do in the area and where you’ll be coming from:

  • Train:  This is by all means the lowest hassle option, and most European airports – particularly all of those in Switzerland and most in adjacent countries – are on the rail network.   SBB is the Swiss railways website and it’s pretty easy to find your way around.    Zurich is the most convenient airport to combine with the rail option.
  • Car:  What a beautiful drive this is!   The scenery is incredible, but I’d encourage you to consider the train if you aren’t big into driving and aren’t prepared for slightly wintery conditions - remember, this is Switzerland’s most mountainous area, so expect twisty turns on those roads.

Photo by:  iz4aks

Tags: outdoor recreation, skiing, snow, top-feature


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