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Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

London
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Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

My Partner and I are planning our first European ski trip in January. We are looking for a quaint ski town, spa hotel, good restaurants and pubs, and long, easy cruising runs. After much research, we narrowed it down to Grindelwald and Zermatt, and are leaning toward Zermatt. The only concern is the difficutly of the ski runs. We are comfortable with the easy blues in Telluride, and can cope with the difficult blues. Could anyone help us compare the difficulty of the Zermatt trails to the Colorado slopes? Thanks!

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
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1. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

Hi gypsy56London,

Sorry, I haven't skied Colorado but have skied both Zermatt and Grindelwald. I skied Zermatt one time and never went back; I've skied Grindelwald two times and nearby Wengen two times.

I think the Grindelwald runs, particularly those at the "First" cable car, are perfect for you; they truly are long and easy cruising runs, set right in the sun.

My time skiing in Zermatt was marred in part by the horrid weather I experienced while there: wind made me freezing all day as well as obscured the trails with blowing snow. I understand this is only a problem at one side/one part of the mountain, so take that into consideration. But i believe that many of the runs are waaay up there exposed to that wind.

I am a terrible intermediate and really like skiing to be easy, not challenging.

Anyway, good luck with your decision!

s

bern
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2. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

I don't know Colorado, but I've skied in both Grindelwald and Zermatt. Both have good areas for beginners in Zermatt best is the Gornergrat-Riffelberg area. The Glacier area starting from Trockerner Steg is also not very difficult. The ski area of Grindelwald is smaller, but as it have more easy runs options in both places are similar. The Zermatt area is higher up so it can be very cold (sometimes lower than -20 C) but it's also snow sure, a big part Grindelwalds slopes are snow sure.

The town of Zermatt is a bit more compact and bigger than Grindelwald. There are more options for day trips out of Grindelwald than from Zermatt.

Martigny...
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3. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

I haven't a clue what "blue" runs are like in the US, but I have skied both Grindlewald and Zermatt (in fact I learnt to ski in Zermatt!) and I do not agree with Mube (for once - I usually do!!) I found the Grindlewald runs challenging for a low-intermediate skier. On the contrary, in Zermatt I loved the runs on the Gornergrat - between Rotenboden and Riffelberg) and at Sunnega (Blauherd to Sunnega and the Unter Rothorn) when I had just learned to ski. Incdentally, here in Switzerland "Blue" runs are easy-peasy, red are intermediate and black are to stay away from!!

En plus, Grindlewald is a small town and does not have the ambiance that Zermatt has. it also has "internal combustion engine" traffic. Zermatt does not. But it does have traffic - electric cars, busses etc etc To me Zermatt is much, much prettier than Grindlewald and has a much better choice of restaurants etc. On and off the slopes.

Luxembourg
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4. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

Suggest you have a look at Adelboden, it's the valley before the Jungfrau/Grindelwald region. This is a picture book village with hotels/restaurants to cover all tastes and budgets. Easy skiing and excellent winter holiday atmosphere. I will do my winter season opening there this time and post some photos and videos by mid December.

http://www.adelboden.ch/de/

Edited: 03 December 2009, 08:31
Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

Hi, European blues are often more difficult than blues in the US and many US blues are European greens. That said, I have taken advanced beginners to Zermatt and we've had plenty of hill to ski without doing much more than giving them the challenge they needed to improve. The first time I went to Zermatt, we spent an entire week with new snow every night and not even a cloud all day every day! It was like some sort of Disney experience! Most of the time the weather is fine and enjoyable. January is colder everywhere in Switzerland than say, March, but it's still no different than Telluride.

The wind can blow anywhere - I must say that when it blows on the slopes around Zermatt, it can seem very cold and biting because a lot of the area is above the treeline so there is little to block the wind. However, it usually takes only a few minutes to ski below the windy area and you can often avoid it entirely by going up to a different area in the AM. The television in your room will have a channel with the wind and temperature on each of the three areas and at different places on the three areas. Use that information!

The village doesn't appeal to some people but many love it. There are many who return every year (even from Alaska!) because they love the place, the skiing, etc. It appeals to an older crowd and that isn't because the skiing is all difficult! We slow down as we age!

I would suggest you think about hiring an instructor for a half day to get a feel for the runs and where to go. If that's a bit beyond the budget (it would cost about 150GBP), then start by going up the Gornergrat Railway, alighting at Riffelberg and skiing the chair lift that starts there for a morning. That isn't at a tremendously high elevation (you need to be a little careful because the village is about a mile up so the runs are much higher and one can suffer from the altitude) and the runs are long and gentle. Once you get the feel of the mountain, speak to people about what runs are good and be honest about your abilities and interests.

Hope this helps.

Mannheim, Germany
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6. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

>Hi, European blues are often more difficult than blues in the US and many US blues are European greens.

What do you mean with "greens"?

Blue = Easy

Red = Intermediate

Black = Difficult

Yellow = ski route (marked but not groomed)

Anchorage, Alaska
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7. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

hmmmm - got that a bit backwards, didn't I? In the US, we have green for easy, blue for intermediate and black for expert - a US blue is at least somewhat more difficult than a European blue but a US intermediate (blue) often is not as difficult as a European intermediate (red). In other words, ski hills here cater to egos and people can say they skied a harder hill than they actually skied - at least by European standards! If the OP is able to ski easier blues in the US, they can ski all the blues in Zermatt and, at least, some of the reds. Does that correct my post?

Luxembourg
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8. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

Of course there are green runs in Europe.

j2ski.com/ski_resorts/…Espace_Killy.html

London
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9. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

Many thanks to all who have make the effort to reply - I have much to think about, including a new option! I'm sure that we'll have a spectacular time wherever we choose.

Anchorage, Alaska
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10. Re: Zermatt Skiing Difficulty

Hi, the ski hills I'm familiar with here in the US use a green, blue and black system (green being the easiest) while Zermatt, at least, uses a blue, red and black system with blue being the easiest. If the OP is comfortable on blue runs in the US, they might find the supposedly equivalent red runs at Zermatt to be testy. I haven't found a red in Zermatt that is as easy as the easier blues in the US and both are "intermediate" runs. I think I've seen green to mark very easy runs in Europe but I don't recall where and I don't think there are any at Zermatt.

Hope this clears it up.