February 13, 2009

Weekend skiing in St Moritz 4th - 9th Feb 09

Last weekend I visisted my Italian friend, ex-room-mate and all round carving maestra Valentina in St Moritz. I wasn't there long enough to really say I know the resort but some of my preconceptions of the place turned out to be definitely wrong so I thought I'd report a few of the more surprising facts here:

1. It takes quite a long time to get there. Unless you have a private jet, you're probably going to fly to Zurich, as I did, and get a train. The trains are excellent but the journey time is about 4 hours.

2. The main ski area isn't that big. St Moritz actually consists of several ski areas, Corviglia being the one that can be accessed directly from St Moritz town. Corviglia isn't small but it's certainly not massive. The 400 kms of pistes that St Moritz claims on paper is a reference to the combined area of 4 mountains, but it's not a truly linked up area. You can technically ski from Corvatch to Corviglia on some days but that's about it. Otherwise you have to take buses in between. It was pretty similar to skiing in the Jungfrau region in this respect.

3. It's not outstandingly expensive for Switzerland. Having skiid in Jungfrau at xmas, I was conditioned to Swiss prices. To me, St Moritz felt about the same as Jungfrau for food, drink and ski pass. I stayed at Valentina's appartment so I can't comment on hotels, however, I would say that there's not really any need to stay in St Moritz . Celerina and Samedan which are just up the road also have pretty quick access to the slopes. You could even head further afield and take the regular as clockwork Swiss mountain trains in.

4. It can be really cold. Obviously you can get cold skiing, but I was surprised by this. It was -15 during the day, and can reportedly get down to -30 which is way colder than anywhere else I've skiid, but I pretty tame if you're Canadian.

I would definitely go back if I had the chance but I wouldn't recommend it ahead of the other Swiss resorts I've been to. I was pretty lucky because there was so much snow when I arrived that most of the Swiss weekenders couldn't drive in, giving the impression that St Moritz was a skier's paradise, but I expect you could equally go when there's less snow and masses of crowds.