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James Cove
ski journalist
Dear Sirs, We would like to ask if you could recommend performance/race ski camps in summer ? Our family are 4: 2 adults and 2 children; maybe you can provide contacts of such summer race skiing camp ? Sincerely Vytautas Jonas Lapienis

One of the best companies that we have personal experience of is Snoworks run by Phil Smith and the ex-British racer, Emma-Carrick Anderson.  I have skied with them and so has my son.

They primarily operate out of Tignes in France.  See the Snoworks web site here -

Also the Warren Smith Aki Academy is good and in the summer has courses in Cervinia, Italy, with access to the Zermatt glacier.

A number of individual British ski instructors use Les 2Alpes (Alex Chapman is one I know well) and if you contact the tourist office they should be able to help. I think she specialises in race training for ski instructors, but I am sure she can offer advice.  She lives in the resort during the winter so will know if courses are available.

Another alternative, this time in Austria, is World Class Skiing run by Alex Leaf who is well-known to us at PlanetSKI. I know he runs courses in the October half-term in Hintertux but not so sure about the summer months.

Good luck and let us know how it goes - personally I will be at Les2Alpes, Tignes and Hintertux over the summer.

All the best,


Leslie Brown This may be a tall order. But do you know or can you suggest any source I can use to find the following information regarding (French) ski schools in France. 1) The total number of ski school instructors. Note. I understand from the ESF internet site that there are 17,000 instructors and surprisingly they have 2 million clients (I assume in one ski season). But I am not sure if this refers to the ESF or includes the other French ski schools as well, like Evolution 2 etc. I am interested in the total number (which as a minor complication) will of course include qualified Mountain Guides working in the schools. 2) Within the schools the number of instructors with a State Diploma (fully certified French instructors). 3) Within the schools the number of trainee instructors. Note. I am not clear if the 17,000 number is for only the fully certified instructors. Questions (2) and (3) will clear this point up. 4) The number of clients of all nationalities (including French) who attend these ski schools each year. 5) The number of British and foreign clients with English as their second language who attend these ski schools. Note. This is so I understand how important the British and second language foreigners are to the schools. If (5) is an impossible question to answer your best guess of the % of clients who are British and second language Foreigners would help. Thank you, Leslie Brown

Hi Leslie,

Thanks for your question.

We have asked a director of the ESF in France and here is his answer.... Doesn't answer everything but may go some way to help.

"There are 17,000 instructors members of the SNMSF. This includes all ages and trainees.

This also includes full time and part time instructors - but the figure is for all instructors eligible to teach as fully qualified or trainee in recognised ESF's.

For the number of clients it's more tricky to know exactly - the turnover for all the ESF together is around 60 million euros per season from online sales.

Don't have other figures.

For example La Rosiere is 2.2 million turnover for around 17000 different clients during a season in La Rosière. 

2 million clients sounds a bit high to me, I would have suggested around 750,000.

The number of fully qualified instructors is around 15,500. 

The English-speaking clients represent around 12% of the total figure.

This varies enormously depending upon resorts."

Hi, I am emailing with regards to the best ski instructor courses. I would like to undergo a course at the start of next season, and hopefully upon completion start to teach in the same year. What are the chances of me being employed upon completion? And what qualifications would I require to be able to jump straight into teaching? Thanks Brian Fenwick

Hi Brian,

It is not simple!

To be able to teach on snow (and even then it is only in Switzerland and a handful of other areas) you need to be a BASI Level 2.

You will need to do a 1-week course (Level 1), then clock up 40 or so hours shadowing with a ski school and then complete a 2-week course (Level 2).  You will also need to do a 2-day First Aid course.

You can compress all this into an 8-week GAP course that will cost around £7,000. There is no guarantee of any work at the end of it all and the supply of ski instructors far exceeds the demand.

For a novice instructor there will be work at the busy times (New Year and Half Term) but it will probably be difficult outside of these times.

The best thing to do is contact the Britsh Association of Snowsport Instructors, BASI, and see the options. 

If you do a GAP course then do it in a country that will allow a Level 2 to teach as you will make contacts on the course and in the resort and this could lead to work.

If you do it in France and pass you will not be allowed to teach in France.

We have answered a few other questions about becoming an instructor so scroll down this thread to see them.

Hope this helps and good luck!

OK - I'm 65, reasonably fit - mountain and road biker - love Scandinavia but have never learnt to ski. So, can you advise on where I could get lessons in either Norway or Iceland. Norway in particular 'cos I'd like to travel by train in country and Iceland because it's just unique. Many thanks, Roger Lambert

Hi Roger,

Afraid we are not familiar with Iceland, but we are with Norway. 

Personally I would advise you to head straight to Geillo as the slopes are gentle, the village very attractive and there is also plenty of easy-cross country skiing if you fancy a go. 

The ski school has a good repuation too and my youngst son skied with them last winter.  They instructors will speak good English - as everyone seems to do in Norway.

The railway station is also in the middle of town and from memory it takes a couple of hours or so from Oslo by train (no changes) and is a pretty journey (especially at the end).

Last winter we also visited Hemsedal and Bietostolen, but Geillo would suit your needs better.  The tour operator Crystal goes there and you can find out more here.

Hope that helps.

PS I am off to Lillehammer and a few others resorts in April. Norway is a fabuous place :-)


Hi I'm a solo traveler looking to slot in a budget skiing trip between 1-5 November somewhere in Austria. I am of beginner level so I am looking at perhaps some basic classes. I will be in Munich before and travelling to Vienna after. Are any ski resorts open during the stipulated period? How should i get started into booking my trip? Any relevant advice are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance! Jing


Sorry for the delay in replying but we have been skiing in Austria and so can recommend first hand. See our reports form Stubai, Pitztal and Solden -

They will give you an idea of conditions. As a beginner I'd advice Pitztal and you can see its web site here for details of what is on offer....

Hope you have fun!



Afternoon folks! I'm after some recommendations from yourselves. I'm currently on a BASI Gap course which is due to end on 30th November and will give me my BASI Level 2 qualification. I'm emailing a lot of companies in various resorts throughout Europe for ski instructor work, to no avail, and was wondering if you can recommend any companies or if you've had companies approaching yourselves advertising vacancies. Thanks in advanced for your time. kind regards Karl

Hi Karl,

Passing the Level 2 is a fairly straightforward affair if you have the commitment and ability - getting regular work after, I'm afraid, is not so simple. The supply of instructors far exceeds demand, except in the busy periods such as half term. Also there are only a limited number of countries that allow a Level 2 to work.

The best way is always contacts and recommendations.  Where are you doing your Gap Course - is it in a country that allows Level 2s to teach? Have any of your fellow students got jobs - can they recommend you?  The best thing is to get some experience.  Can you get some part time work? Work in a snowcentre in the UK will put you one step ahead of your competitors.

Like all jobs you need experience, but without some work you can't get experience.  There is no easy answer except to persevere and plug away.  If you really want to work as an instructor then you WILL get work with effort and further training.

I hope I don't paint a too depressing picture but that is just how it is.

Can you go to North America?  I have no direct experience but am told Canadian resorts are after British instructors and recruiting at the moment.

Also check out the BASI members gtoup on Facebook as ski schools often ask for instructors there - Snowtraxx currently after some + slopes in UK. See here.

Hello, Just wondering if you knew of any good ski instructor training courses to do around Gstaad? Thanks! Raoul.

Hi Raoul,

It depends which qualifications you want.  I have little knowledge of the Swiss system but if you contact the ski school in Gstaad I am sure they can advise you. I am more familiar with BASI and it is best to have a look at its web site. You will need to do the Level 1 course first and there are not that many of them in the Alps, let alone near Gstaad. 

See here for the list -

Good luck!


Hi pretty new to skiing and I would love some advice on where to go for a ski holiday in December somewhere that is quite reliable in relation to good snow each December. I would like to get in early as I would be travelling as one person from Northern Ireland which means it aint going to be cheap. Thanks a mill. Jim

Hi Jim,

When you wish to go in December is the crucial question. 

If you go at Xmas it will be pricey and if you go at New Year it will be even more expensive. Here at PlanetSKI we prefer to go the week before Xmas when prices are lower and resorts less crowded.

Best to aim for a resort with some highish skiing (above 2000m) though recently December has had good snow cover in the Alps and even the low resorts have had good covering.  You will also need to decide whether you want ski-in, ski-out and whether you want pretty alpine charm or happy with purpose built.

I assume as you are on your own then you will be going with a tour operator so I would aim to a chalet or a chalet hotel so you will meet people.  If you want to take advantage of the ski hosting (great if you are going solo) then don't pick a French resort as the courts have just banned it. There are some great resorts in Austria and Italy that suit you requirements.

It is hard to us to recommend an individual resort with the limited amount of information but the largest ski tour operator is Crystal and we have always found its staff very helpful so maybe contact the company and it will advise -  or 0971 236 9501

If they come up with a few alternatives and you want further advice then do get back in contact.

If you are after a few deals and discounts then keep an eye on this page on PlanetSKI as we get some pretty good offers -

Have a great time.


Hello, I have recently finished school and I am looking to apply to be a ski guide/ski rep position this winter, I have already applied to some places and am not sure what my best options are. I would really like to make the most of my Gap year, so ideally i'd like to be in a busy/big resort to meet lots of new people. Could you suggest some companies or employers? Thanks, Matt

Hi Matt,

The first thing you need to do is be quick!  I see you have already applied but the other ones will be recruiting shortly.

Many jobs have already been filled and interviews are happening in the next few weeks - that said there are always some late jobs around as people change their minds.  I would concentrate on rep/chalet job as ski guide jobs are few and far between and no British companies are allowed to offer it in France now due to a recent court case.   

Take a look at the web sites of the tour operators you like and get an application in swiftly.  You may want to look at the web site as they specialise in recruitment and they hold a jobs fair in London next month.

I have heard that SkiWorld are a good company to work with and also Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski.  The jobs are great fun but be prepared for long hours and little pay.

Good luck!


Hi Planet Ski, A group of 4 of us (beginners to advanced & intermediate level) are planning on going skiing over new years in either France or Italy. We're not looking for massive, party nightlife - maybe 1 or 2 good bars, some decent aprés ski and restaurant options. We're also pretty set on ski-in/ski-out accommodation. Do any resorts immediately jump out as matching those criteria to you guys? Thanks Planet Ski Regards, Richard Hamilton

Hi Richard,

Given your criteria then Cevinia in Italy is a good bet.

Ski-in/Ski-out for most of the properties, easy wide slopes above the village and connected to Zermatt with its more advanced terrain. Great restaurants in both resorts. Night-life is good but not over the top.  And being in Italy better value for money all round - the joint lift pass is £70 cheaper than it would be in Zermatt but it still comes in at over £200.

Avoriaz in France is another one that seems to meet your requirements as it is at 2,000m and all ski-in/ski-out and ticks all your boxes with good beginner slopes and the huge Portes du Soleil to explore. Personally I prefer nearby Les Gets or Morzine - they are lower but there should be no problem with snow at New Year.

If you want something a bit prettier then try Samoens in the Grand Massif though it is not ski-in/ski-out. Flaine in the same area is.

In the southern French Alps Les2Alpes is good, with the beginner slopes at the top of the mountain rather than the bottom.

There are loads of cheaper resorts that you may not have heard of that meet your requirements and are much better value than the well-known ones - Peyreguides in French Pyrenees, Sauze d'Oulx in Italy and Soldeu in Andorra.  Then there is Serre Chevalier in the southern French Alps and La Thuille in Italy. The Italian Dolomites have some cracking resorts too - Alta Badia for one and Sestriere is ski-in/ski-out.

You have also ruled out Austria, that is about my favourite place to ski - Obergurgl, Maria Alm, Khutai and Zell-am-See. Not all ski-in/ski-out but fabulous places to ski.

I could go on but I hope this helps.

One thing you have not mentioned is budget which is the key question. 

There are hundreds and hundreds of resorts in the Alps to choose from (400+ in Austria alone) though the Brits only seem to go to a few dozen, so recommending is always tricky.  I find with resort recommendations it is often better if people give me the half dozen or so they are looking at and then I can advise.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Hi there, I have recently graduated from university and have decided to take a few years out to pursue one of my life ambitions and become a ski instructor. I trained after I finished school out in Canada, receiving my CSIA level 2. However i did not actually teach any students. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on the application process and CV writing that would beneficial when applying for jobs. I plan to apply for jobs in Austria, Switzeralnd and Japan. Any other advice about teaching my first season would be greatly appreciated Kind regards Matt

Hi Matt,

A word of warning first - it is a tough world out there with many more qualified ski instructors around than jobs/work available. Most schools will also be after higher qualifications that CSIA Level 2. Getting work in the few busy weeks of the season is possible but outside those it is difficult. The primary thing is to get some experience - are you able to teach in UK in a snow centre or dry slope to boost your CV?

Most ski schools will employ instructors with teaching experience in the first place.

Otherwise it is simply a question of getting your CV round and networking.  Do you know instructors who work at ski schools in the countries you mention? They can put in a good word for you.  Have you thought about working for Interski in Italy or others that specialise in the schools market?

How about teaching in Canada as there are more jobs there.  I see Lake Louise is after British instructors. Where did you do your CSIA? Are there opportunities there?

Despite the fact that it is difficult to get work it is possible if you stick at it and are realistic. Good luck.  It is worth it.

Does anyone know the latest situation regarding ski guiding in France? Richard Jones

Hi Richard,

Ski hosting has been ruled illegal by a French court in Albertville and no British tour operator will be offering it in France next winter.  There is an appeal to a higher court in Chambery that will be held in the autumn but it is unlikely to be succesful.  After that it may go to further appeal. We reported on it on PlanetSKI in this earlier story which should answer any other questions.  It also has links to other articles as we have followed the story closely.

There is quite alot of misinformation going round on the subject - one ski web site covered it recently and we counted 7 inaccuracies in the first paragraph alone!  Expect to see alot of press articles in the Autumn.  The ruling in France has no affect on ski hosting in the other alpine countries where it continues to be offered.

Many thanks.


Are there any EU resorts still with decent coverage? Thinking of a weekend of boarding in the next few weeks. Thanks Ryan Baxter.

Yes as long as you choose the right places - all the high resorts still have some good snow at the top of the resort after the huge snowfalls of December and January. 

At the moment though it is warm and it hasn't really snowed since the end of February in many places so slopes are bare low down.  There is more snow forecast for the middle of this week so things may change but then of course even if it does come it may warm up again and melt.

It is April after all!

Our current snow report, on the home page, will give you an idea of what things are like.

The basic rule is head for a high ski area and ideally one with a glacier. Don't forget that it is the height of the skiing that counts, not the height of the resort.

Here are my personal recommendations:

France - Tignes, Val d'Isere or Chamonix

Switzerland - Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Engleberg or Verbier

Austria - any of the glacier resorts + Ischgl, Obergurgl and St Anton.

Italy - Cervinia

After Easter I will be in Tignes or Zermatt and can thoroughly recommend them both at this time of year.

If you go then do have fun.


Help! My girlfriend has always wanted to see the Northern Lights and of course is an accomplished skiier....I would like to arrange a ski+northern lights week and also...propose to her under the Lights. Where would you recommend for this and how likely is it really (despite the marketing lingo) that we can catch the lights at this time of year?? Many thanks, D

Hi Darren,

From what I know the northern lights are supposed to be exceptional this year - however a PlanetSKI reporter was recently in Finland and only glimpsed them.  See his piece here.

The tour operator Inghams runs trips to Finland so I suggest you get in contact with them as they will have the correct information.  They are a reputable company and will not just try to sell you a holiday - here is the web site.

We wrote another feature about the northern lights here that may whet your appetite and give you a bit of useful information.

All the best and do let is know how it goes. 

She will have to say yes!

I'm going to Val d'Isére next week. Is there enough snow to do the Tarentaise Tour? The heatwave last week must've affected the base.

Hi AJ,

Sorry for the late reply and this may be too late - the temperature has been going up and down like a yoyo, but as always the best advice on all off piste snow condiitons is contact the local bureau des guides who will have accurate information about the snow.


What clubs and bars in Val d'Isere would you recommend? James Iredale

I am not an exert but I know a man who is. Steve Angus who is a resident, ski and snowboard insructor and runs the company, Fresh Chalets. Here is his answer...

Where would you start? Val d'Isere is famed for both its bars, restaurants and nightlife. Hot (or cold) off the slope head straight to the Blue Note which is near Snow Square. A real ex-pat locals favourite

with awesome nibbles to wash down fresh beer or yummy vin chaud. If you would like it a little more 'french' then Cafe Face opposite Dicks Tea Bar has an ascending price scale for drinks (although getting a seat and hearing much in their can be tough. The other pick of the bunch would be the Moris Bar which usually has live music playing and people often seen dancing in ski boots until.... well as long as their feet can take it.

Late in the evening everyone ultimately ends up at Dicks Tea Bar which is THE classic club in Val... however other clubs such as Doudounne are hot on Dicks head start.... for example Pete Tong is coming to play on the 23rd February. Fear not in the extreme cold most clubs will offer a free taxi home at the end of the night.

If you were missing a full stomach earlier then picking up a slice of take away pizza from one of the mainly vendors in town is the way to go before sleeping it off and starting again the next day!

My Daughter in tetrapelegic. She has previously been ski karting in sweden. She has more recently tried bi skiing at Tamworth which whe really enjoyed. She would like to self organise a holiday to France in the first week in April. She will need tethering because of lack of ability to use outriggers on her hands. Are there any regulations about who can do the tethering. Does it have to be an instructor or can other competent skiiers learn and be allowed to do this? Which ski resorts would be most suitable for this time of year and have has addaptive accomodation and equipment hire and instructors. Alan

The  best organisation for you to contact would be Disability Snowsport UK who would be able to give you much better advise than us -

There are decent facilities for people with a disability in Courchevel I am told and the holiday company Crystal is getting involved too which is an exciting development -

Hope it helps and the best of luck.


I'm recently in my 30s, and would like to get back into ski racing. I've done some competitive racing in years gone by, at University and then with the British Army, but where to go now? I've heard the Kandahar Racing Club hold annual racing - is this the only place, and how do you become a member? Ben Holmes

Hi Ben,

Are you thinking about some racing in UK or the Alps?

If it is at a snow centre/dry slope in the UK that is easy. Most have race clubs so just get in contact. Out in The Alps it is very different.

The Kandahar Club may be a good place to start but they only train children, however they hold races during the winter and have a section for older racers. Plus they will know a next place to contact for information. There are various more informal races run by organisations like the Ski Club of Great Britain but they are more for fun than serious competition.

The tour operator Crystal runs a great week of racing in Sestriere in Italy that we have been to a couple of times.  See here for further info + they have coaching from BASI trainers and race coaches.

For the Kandahar see here  -

Good luck!

I want to go skiing in jan but i am on my own can you recomend a tour opp. that can help me? thank you barry

Hi Barry,

One of the good tour operators  that offers holidays without a single supplement is Inghams.  You would probably want a chalet hotel so you can meet other people too.  They have recommended three to me - in Austria Chalet Alpenheim in St Anton or Chalet Hotel St Christoph in St Christoph or Chale Etoile des Neiges in Meribel France.  If you want to find out more the can be contacted on 0208 780 4447 or

You may also want to try the online travel agent, Iglu, that offers holidays from all the major operators and are really helpful.  If you say what you want they should find something.  They are on 0208 542 6658 or see them on line at

Hope it works and let us know how you get on.

All the best,


Hi Are ski helmets compulsory for children in Switzerland for Feb.12 skiing? Thanks, Guy

No.  Children do not have to wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding in Switzerland.  However many ski schols insist on them and usually provide one if needed.  If your child is in ski school it is probably worth checking in advance. Have fun!



Which resorts will be open for half term to ski? Have checked a few sites but no one offering skiing in October. Would like to make the most of this early snow. Any ideas? Thank you. Debbie Lewis.

Hi Debbie,

There are several glacier resorts open for the October half term. In France Tignes is already open and in Switzerland there will be Zermatt and Saas-Fee and possibly Engleberg (though its glacier area is very small so personally I wouldn't bother).  In Austria there are several resorts open including Stubai and Pitztal.  Very few tour operators are running holidays yet so you may have to go independently and book your own flights, transfers and accommodation, but one UK operator that offers holidays to Austria over the half-term is Zenith. 

I already know that several groups have booked up with them. Zenith is a great company and one we thoroughly recommend at PlanetSKI - you can contact them here or simply give them a ring - +44 (0) 1737 852 242. I have known the people that run it, Stuart and Katie, for a while and they are very good.

The snow of a couple of weeks ago fell mostly in Eastern Switzerland and Austria and there is more set to come this weekend so I would advise Austria as the best place to head for, though of course conditions change.

If you go then do go let us know what it was like as we always welcome readers's feedback and hearing how conditions are. Have fun!


hi my name is amuel dent. i am wanting to do a ski season some where in europe in november. i have been looking for a job as a driver/maintainence, but had no luck so far. would you be able to tell me what companys or websites you recomend to get a job. or would it be a good idear to get a flight to geneva and try and find a job there? thanks.

One of the UK recruitment sites well worth trying is or else I would advise you to contact the holiday and tour companies directly.

Check out the companies on line and then send in a coverng letter and CV showing them why they should give you a job.

The chance of turning up in a ski resort and finding a job is a great idea but rarely works in reality.  For a start there are the work permits, paperwork etc..... that need to be completed and unless you have good contacts the jobs may have already gone.

Of course people get sick, injured, leave or are fired so being on the ground can have its advantages.

It is a very difficult time to find work in a ski resort as the British industry is shrinking (25% in the past three years) so there is simply not the work around that there used to be.

Many resort workers have lost their jobs in the past few seasons and they will be the ones most likely to get casual bar work/driving jobs that are available as they are known in the resort and have contacts.

The very best of luck and if you really want to do a season then stick at it and something usually works out.

BTW I really hate to be utterly boring but if you apply for a job or send a CV in you ought to think about spelling, grammar etc and try not to make mistakes!! (there are 15 in your question). It is how people will make their first judgement on you.  Good luck.

I am thinking if going to Chamonix, well Argentiere actually at the beginning of April with my young family. I am thinking of it because it is high and has a glacier. My wife and I are intermediate skiers and like places like Courchevel with its big ski areas ad nice restaurants. We also like ski in and ski out but want to try somewhere different. Thanks in advance. Richard.

That's a tough one. I love Chamonix and the Grands Montets above Argentiere is one of my favourite ski areas, however I would not recommend it for a young family who want a stress-free and convenient holiday.

It pains me to say so as every skier should experience the Chamonix Valley at least once.

It is unlikely at that time of year that there will be snow in the nursery area on the valley floor (you may not even be able to ski back but you probably will).  So the kids will have to go up the mountain. The slopes of Argentiere are basically steep and difficult red runs and people go there for that type of skiing and the seemingly endless off piste.

My kids are now older (11,14 and 16) but I remember from past experience that if the kids are happy (good ski school, near to the lifts, good facilities in accommodation etc....) then you will be too. If they are not and it is difficult to get them around then you will not have a good holiday.

Argentiere is not linked to the other ski areas in Chamonix except by bus which you wouldn't really want to do with young kids. A car would make it easier but I am guessing that you are flying.

The village though is pretty and full of mountain history and that has great attractions over some of the high altitude purpose built resorts in the French Alps.

It is also about an hour from Geneva airport which is just what you want with young kids.

Personally I reckon that if you want France then Avoriaz fits your requirements (maybe Flaine) and in Austria maybe Obergurgl or Solden. Or Switzerland I would try Saas-Fee but it is a long haul from the airports and there is of course the dreadful exchange rate. However if you get an all-inclusive package that should not be too damaging. You could phone one of our partners, IGLU, and see what they say.  They are the largest online travel agent and are very helpful.

Obviously they sell holidays and want to make a sale but they offer good advice and offer holidays pretty much everywhere with over 90% of the British operators so they have a great choice.  It is not in their interests to advise you to go to a resort that doesn't fit your requirements but some of the small operators obviously want to sell what they have in perhaps a limited number of resorts.

If you want to check any other advice you get then just let us know.

Hope you find somewhere and have a great time.

I will be going to Les Deux Alps in February and was reading about the free day in alpe d huez which is on the lift pass??? I was wanting to know how to there get there and what to do as I have been before and would like to have a day there. thank you. James Iredale.

There is bus service, but it only runs a couple of times a week. I think Thursday is one of the days, but it is best to check with the tourist office. Transfer time is about 40 minutes to get down the valley and up the other side.

You can go by helicopter as a treat! It leaves from a car park just outside the town.  See our story on it here from last year.

Hi Here's a challenge for you! Whilst ski schools proliferate in La Molina, I can find no website links/contacts (other than phone number) for Masella ski school even though there are two! I have emailed via Masella website but had no replies. It's strange as the Alp 2500 area combines both resorts and whilst I can ski all of the terrain my family are complete beginners and I've decided Masella is better for them. Can you help? Thanks Mike Hall

Try these link that are direct to the ski school.......

Hope they work and good luck. We'd love to hear about the resort do let us know or send some pictures when you are there.




Hello planetski, ive just booked a holiday in Saas Fee, (and then found out about the dire exchange rate, oops) however my question is to do with my skis; last year after deciding i wanted to buy and not rent due to a renewed interest in skiing again, I explained to the man in the shop i was a competent skiier and would be covering a fair milage on holiday, I asked if they needed any prep done before i headed off to the mountains and my reply was something like "no they come with a factory wax which should see you through for the week". Day 6 in Serre Chevalier and it had snowed the night before and on fresh powder the skis felt like they had brakes attatched, it was so bad i was being pushed forward in my boots and ended up giving up and coming off the mountain, the friction was seriously bad. When i got back to the UK to have them serviced the tech guy said id skiied them down pretty far and he wasnt surprised Id had problems, so they were subsequently given a hot wax. Now nearly a year later (they havent been used since the service) and im debating getting another pair for my next holiday for fear of having skiied them beyond the point of service as it were, and having the same problem in that after a few runs id be back down to the base and going nowhere, susequently ruining the holiday, is there any advice you could give as to what to do in this situation, I appreciate your expertise and await your reply, Regards, (a frustrated skiier) James Burvill

Unless you have been skiing over rocks or a tarmac road there should be absolutely no problem with the skis.  A pair of skis will not be beyond the point of service after 1 week.   I had a similar feeling a few weeks ago in val d'isere when the snow simply accumulated on the bottom of the ski and thus acted like a brake.  One service and they felt like new again.  I probably hadn't had them serviced for 4-6 weeks continual skiing.

If you haven't skied on them since the last service then take them to Saas-Fee, put them on and go enjoy.

You should not need to have a service but if you do just take them to a shop in town.

Best of luck.

Hey there, I am thinking of heading to France for a 6 day break from December 12th to 18th. I am with one other person and we are thinking of staying in a friend of hers apartment in Vallorcine, France (near Chamonix). From checking around online the lifts/slopes in Vallorcine appear not to open until December 18th? However there is a an early season'mont Blance Unlimited' pass available from December 4th to 18th which suggests that some slopes around chamonix will at least be open at this time?? I am wondering if its usually possible to ski this early in December? I know that no one can predict the weather but has it been possible in previous years? Is it a case that the resorts just delay opening until they have ideal snow? Would we have to get the train to chamonix each morning and ski around there for the day then return on the train in the evening? Or are the lifts and slopes around vallorcine in fact open? Would the shops and ski rentals in Vallorcine be open? I appreciate that these are specific questions relating to a very small resort (I had never even heard of it until my friend mentioned it). I would greatly appreciate any advice that you may have. Kind regards, Brian

Some slopes will be open and Argentiere will open for weekend skiing this Saturday and Sunday (27 & 28) and then on a daily basis from December 4th. There is plenty of snow at the moment and I am sure it will be OK, though as you say it is impossible to predict the weather.

The lifts above Vallorcine wont open until the 18th according to the tourist office and so I doubt that rentals will be.  Perhaps if you send a direct email to the tourist office or one of the shops in Vallorice they wil be able to help.  Here is the link to the web site.

If the lifts above Vallorcine are not open then the runs will be closed from le Tour. If they do open a bit of Le Tour (unlikely) then do not attempt to ski back as it is dangerous and prone to avalanche.

You will be able to get to the other areas either by car or rail.  The train journey is beautiful and a great way to get to and from the slopes.

Hope this helps. Have a great time.

We are a party of 10 which includes a 18month old and a 3 year old a 13 year old and the rest adults. We are going to Kitzbhuel Austria in February and am looking for somewhere or a web site that we can pre book some husky dog rides and skidoos etc for a change to skiing can you help as the tour operator we are going with does not do them. Angela Hughes

Hi Angela,

I had a quick look at the Kitzbuhel web site but could find no mention of husky dog rides and skidoos - see here.

I find it hard to believe they do not offer these activities as pretty much everywhere does nowdays.  Perhaps you should simply contact the tourist office and ask. Their details can be found here

Good luck!


Hello, I've booked a snowboard holiday to zell am see, austria - 2 adults 3 kids, is it better to pre book lift passes, hire and tuition, or is it simple enough to book it all when we are there. Could you recommend any companies I can book through. Thanks Andy Thickett

If you are going with a tour operator you can book it all through them but if you are going independently I would simply get the lift passes when you are there.

Here is price list.

I would definitely book your equipment hire in advance, on line. It will save you a decent amount and it really is very simple + the equipment is good and will be waiting for you when you arrive in the shop.  Here at PlanetSKI we are partners with Ski Set who offer very good savings. See here for further details

With regard to lessons if you know exactly what you want I would book them in advance too.  If you are out over half term I would DEFINITLEY book in advance as ski/snowboard schools do get booked up.

Here is a list of them

I'm afraid I don't know the snowsports schools in Zell-am-See so can't offer a recommendation, but if in doubt I would go for the main Austrian one.

BTW if you are travelling independently from Salzburg it is a simple drive in hire car and a few years ago I took a bus but you would need to check in advance that the service still runs. 

Depending on your level and what you want to do the car could be useful - we used it for getting to Kaprun and we did a day trip to Saabach and Kitzbuel too.

Hope that helps and have a great trip.


Hi We are staying near just west of Strasbourg for New Year - where would the closest ski-resort be suitable for families to have a days ski-ing Thanks Mia

You are actually within striking distance of quite a few resorts but it is still a bit of a trek for a day's skiing.  Having spoken to a few friends, including one who lives in Basel, he says he would go to Adelboden. Here is what he said:

"Feldberg in the Black Forest in Germany just across the border from Switzerland, but only when there is snow (it's quite low). Fairly limited but very family friendly. Otherwise Adelboden is probably the nearest place of any significance."

It is a decent sized resort and is good for families.  If you want to travel further or wish to overnight then Wengen or Grindelwald are good for families but a bit more awkward to get to.




Can you recommend any women only ski weeks ? thanks jo

Sorry for the delay in replying - it has been a bit hectic lately at PlanetSKI.

There are several companies that run them, but the one I'd recommend is InspiredtoSki.

Simply because we know someone that has been on one of their holidays and she said they were great. I also know the people that run the company and I have been on a couple of their courses and think they are good.

If you want to go a bit more upmarket then Diva Ski run them in Verbier. Again it is a great company and they use instructors from European Snowsport and you can chose a male instructor for your group if you want one. Diva Ski is a great company too.

Redpoint also offer women only ski weeks but I am afraid I have no personal knowledge of the company and no-one else I have asked does either.  Here is their web site though if you want a look.

I think the Ski Club of Great Britain run a couple of holidays (I know they used to)  but you would need to check out their web site.

Hope that helps and let us know how you get on.

Hello, Not so much a skiing advice query (although I could do with heaps of tips to be honest) but I wondered if you know who I could contact re Altitude Festival?? Trying to contact the organisers or entertainment bookers as I represent several comedians and would be interested in seeing if I can book them onto the festival! SOrry for bugging you with this- I just noticed that you've previously reported on it! Any help would be grand. Georgie 07824707157

Try this guy- he used to run a comedy web site and knows all the people that run the festival - 

Just say you got his email from PlanetSKI.

I bumped into him for a beer last night at the Freeze festival and he is going to Mayrhofen.



Hello Thank you for all the useful information on your website. I am planning to take time off work this winter and go ski-ing for 5 weeks from the 7th dec to the 11th Jan. I was after some advice about which resorts to consider. Which are more likely to have snow in early December? budget is an issue so would be happy to try a less well known resort if there is enough ski-ing to keep people entertained for 5 weeks (i'm still really a novice skier but would really like to get good). I have friends planning to visit over that time so would be looking to rent a 2/3 bed studio for that time and wondered how i go about doing so. Any advice would be really appreciated. Many thanks Kirsty Johnson

Best to start with a process of elimination.

If you want to start skiing on 7th December then that gets rid of many.  It needs to be a high resort. Firstly because the lower ones may have no snow, and also because the resorts can keep runs closed at that time of year as they save the snow for the Xmas and New Year period.

You need to work out if you want a resort in a valley (Chamonix, Engelberg) that has links to high altitude skiing, but you will not be able to ski back, or whether you want the resort itself to be high (Tignes, Saas-Fee, Obergurgl).

Then there are the ones in between (Cervinia, Val d'Isere, Avoriaz, Ischgl).

Do you want it pretty (Zermatt) or don't mind purpose built (Val Thorens)?

If friends are coming then are they there for weekend/couple of days? If so then they may not like 4-hour transfer from airport.

Do you want lively après ski (Verbier) or something a bit quieter (Flaine)?

Perhaps you want a small resort that is liked to a bigger ski area at altitude (Samoens).

The choice, as you may have worked out, is still pretty vast.

Personally I often advise people to look at the Portes du Soleil area as it covers pretty much all tastes and requirements, from snow sure and high Avoriaz to pretty but low Les Gets. The Swiss resorts are good too.  There is nightlife in most resorts (though not too wild) and it is close to Geneva. Morzine is a pretty good all-rounder.

With regard to renting an apartment then the best bet is simply to try the web site of the resort's tourist office as many people will have their properties on there.

From a cost point of view it will be cheap at the beginning of December but the New Year week is the most expensive of the season and you should expect to pay double.

Good luck and once you have narrowed it down feel free to get back in contact if you want some further advice.

I'm off to Whistler in January , how can my wife and I reduce the price of our lift pass. I'm a qualified Coach/Racer in the Uk and also hold a CSIA L1 licence(expired). Is it worth buying a season pass ? and will this give my wife a big discount ? Regards, Andy

Hi Andy,

We have emailed a good contact of ours at the tourist office in Whistler and this is her response. Hope it helps and do let us know how the winter goes.

Dear James,

Lift tickets and season passes can be booked on-line ( at discount prices.  For season tickets the Early Bird prices are available until October 11th 2010.  For multi-day lift tickets, they must be booked at least 72 hours in advance directly from the Whistler/Blackcomb web site.    

There are no special discounts for UK coaches/racers unless it is pre-arranged through the Whistler Mountain Ski Club.  

If you have additonal questions, please let us know.


What is average annual snowfall in the Dolomite Mts. in Italy? John Riley

Hi John,

We just picked a resort at random and chose Cortina from the last 15 years. It will give a guide to the snowfall in the whole area though.

The depths are in cm and are weekly averages supplied by Tourist office statistics. Remember it is not snowfall, but depth on the slopes. If you want a figure of how much fell across a year then we'd advise contacting the tourist office of the resort you are thinking of. Last winter Cortina claims to have had a total of 210cm of snow. Hope it helps.


Upper slopes - 50

Lower slopes - 10


Upper slopes - 88, 89, 93, 101

Lower slopes 30, 27, 29, 33


Upper slopes - 108, 116, 125, 138

Lower slopes - 35, 40, 38, 36


Upper slopes - 130, 128, 126, 126

Lower slopes - 36, 36, 37, 39


Upper slopes - 125, 133, 24, 116

Lower slopes - 33, 30, 23 20


Upper slopes -118, 95

Lower slopes - 14, 5

Hi I was wondering where the snowiest ski resort was in the 2009/2010 season? (top 10 would be even better) Thanks Regards Fiona

Hi Fiona

We will be writing a piece on how much snow fell and where over the next week or so.  I will send you the link when it is up.

In the meantime here is a list of resorts in Europe that currently have the greatest snow depths from our friends over at skiinfo who provide us with some of our snow data here on PlanetSKI -

It obviously gives an indication of where it has snowed the most this past winter.

And here is one from the northern hemisphere -

Hope this helps....

Hi We are looking for the best places to ski end April/early May and was told that glacier skiing would be the best option. Could you please advise where we should go and wher the nearest international airport would be. I have never ski'd before, but my partner is at an intermediate level Than you so much. Elsa Grunslingh.

Most resorts will be shut as the Easter holiday period is over, but the high level glacier resorts will be open.  I would recommend either Zermatt or Tignes as they have glacier areas suitable for beginners.  Other resorts like Saas Fee do not.

In Tignes you head up the train and then go to the green runs off to the left (the lift is a T-bar though).  In Zermatt there is now a high speed chair and a small beginers area at the top of the cable car.  As a beginner it is not the best time of year to start or indeed the best area, but it is perfectly possible.

The 2 resorts are complete opposite. Zermatt is pretty with lots of alpine history, whereas Tignes is a purpose built high altitude French resort.  Do check the opening times but they should be open until at least the first weekend of May.

Both resorts are accessed from Geneva and have quite long transfer at over 3 hours, though you can now get to Zermatt in about the same time from Zurich now the new rail tunnel has opened.

If neither of these take your fancy Val Thorens in France will be open. It has a very small glacier but is the highest resort in the Alps and usually shuts the first weekend of May.  Austria has a number of glacier resorts of which Kaprun is a pretty good bet.

Personally I'd go to Zermatt!

I'm going to Kitzbuhel with work this week and would like to reserve some tables/space in a cocktail bar. Any suggestions of good ones? It's 17 bankers in the age of 22-50. Lina

I'm not so hot on cocktail bars I'm afraid, but you can't go to Kitzbuhel without a visit or two to The Londoner which is an institution and the automatic place to go after the Hahnenkamm Downhill.  It is loud and packed.  Stamperl is worth a look and the younger members of your group would like The Fonda.

I'm afraid I don't really know the nightclubs in Kitzbuhel as I have only been there a few times and each time just done the après ski.  There are several clubs and I'm sure you can find out the best ones by just asking at your hotel or in The Londonder.

I am sure you will have a great time as Kitzbuhel is a party town!

I'm watching the women's downhill "ski-cross" on CTV and I was wondering why they are NOT using their poles to push themselves faster as they are on the course? I would really like to know. So being a CANADIAN, I'll leave you with a cheer.....GO! CANADA GO! In have to go now the Olympics are back on. thanks in advance.....Paul Sauve from Kingston, Ontario

Hi Paul, Congratulations on Gold. 

I have just had a brief email exchange with someone who races ski cross and he says they do use their poles at the beginning to get speed but then it is better to take a good line and keep a good slipstream.  There is also the chance of getting a pole caught up with another skier and getting disqualified.

I have persuaded my partner, Judy, that next year is the time to get back on planks so can you please suggest where we might go for a family friendly week next Jan/Feb. Judy's convinced we should only go in half term so can you please give us an idea of the difference in cost. She's a novice and the kids will be 8 and 4 1/2 by then so we'll be looking to put them into ski-school. I've been before but not for a long time so can ski but will need some reminding. We do have the option of some pre holiday training at Bracknell's dry slope if that's recommendable. Cheers, Andy.

If you go at half term it will cost you a lot more than if you go at other times.  It can be up to double, especially as there will be no late deals around. I would suggest that if you don't want to take the kids out of school then go at Easter - it will be cheaper, the snow will be better (if you go to a high resort) the sun will shine more and there will be less people around. Try Avoriaz in the French part of the Portes du Soleil or Saas Fee in Switzerland.

Ask anyone who knows anything about skiing and they will tell you that March and April are the best times to ski. Lots of people though will try to tell you otherwise.

If you do take the kids out of school but want to go in Janaury/Feb then try the first week of the winter term - prices will be around half that than the price over New Year.

If you are set on going at half term next February then avoid the well-known resorts as you will be paying for slopes, restaurants, bars etc.... that you won't use.  There is no point in beginners going to the likes of Zermatt, Val D'Isere, St Anton etc..... Try La Rossiere, Cervinia, Pila, Serre Chevalier or other less known places.  If you nose through a few web sites/brochures and come up with some options let us know here at PlanetSKI and we'll say what we think of them. Les Gets was a favourite of mine when my kids were about the ages of yours.

I would put the kids in ski school for mornings only too so you can ski/toboggan with them in the afternoons. Also they will learn the same things in the afternoon that they learnt in the morning.Ditto your partner.

Finally going to a slope here in the UK for beginners is a really good idea - they will get used to the gear and equipment apart from anything else and will begin with a head start.

Hi James 
I hope all's well with you. 
I'm just planning my second skiing holiday of the winter... 
we have blocked the second week in March in our diaries -- do you know of any deals, cheap accommodation -- anything -- happening around that time? All the best Matt

You have done the first thing right - booked time off work and are prepared to wait and see where the deals are.  If you want to go to a specific resort you should probably book mid-february, but at the moment there is plenty of availability in March and prices will come down. Hold your nerve!

I recommend that you hang on to the last minute and see where the snow is and where the deals are.  You may not get your first choice resort but is your first choice resort necessarily the best one?  This winter many people are going to the less well known ones as they are cheaper and most are pleasantly surprised.

A couple of friends have just got back from Serre Chevalier in the southern French Alps after spending years going to the Trois Vallees etc.... and said they were bowled over by how good it was.

Drop me a line nearer the time and I'd be happy recommend a few places or give comments on what you have in mind + keep an eye on the deals and discounts pages on PlanetSKI where we get holidays at up to half price off from selected operators....



We will be skiing Saalbach End March and want to take our 20 month daughter with us. Is there an Au Pair service or baby sitters in Saalbach? Melissa

Yes. One of the team sent an email to the tourist office on your behalf and this is their answer...

"We do have a list of Babysitters which can be obtained at the Touristoffice Saalbach Hinterglemm - just mail to"

Alternatively if you are in a chalet just ask the staff as they often do babysitting etc..... to get cash or will know reliable people that may do as well.

Have a good time,


Hey! I want to go skiing in summer this year, and wondered if you knew the best value place to go? Ive looked at Argentina and that looks pretty cool...but wondered if you had any ideas on any slightly cheaper options?? thanks! X

For the southern hemisphere its either Australia/New Zealand or South America.

Personally I'd go for south America (closer, cheaper and better skiing with plenty of other places to visit) and I'd go for Argentina though Chile is good too I am told (not been there myself)

If you look in the blogs I have written on PlanetSKI (the first ones) there are some on Argentina and there's a short video in the video section on Cerro Catedrale that may give you a flavour of the place.  I loved it!!

I'm afraid I haven't been for a couple of years so don't know the exchange rate or cheapest place to go but when I was there a lot of people took the bus from Buenos Aires rather than an internal flight as it was much, much cheaper and the busses are really comfy - one person told me it was like flying first class.

How long you planning on going for?  My only regret was that I didn't nose round the country a bit more as it would have been great to see more of BA and other places. 

If you do go then let us know how you get on and send PlanetSKI some pictures.

Hi guys, me and my girlfriend are heading away boarding/skiing for two weeks at start of feb and are stuggling to decide where to go. My girlfriend is an intermediate and I am advanced, so looking for everything from challenging blacks to rolling reds. We are open to suggestions, and would quite like to possibly do 1 week in one resort and a second week somewhere else. We are just keen to do something different, a bit of an adventure. I am extremely keen to head out to North America as spent 8 months in Whistler a number of years ago but resort knowledge outside of BC isn't great. Have you any ideas, we are open for Europe or North America and somewhere close to a big city where we could spend a few days would be an added bonus. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards Michael Arbuckle

Hi Michael,

First of all many apologies for not answering earlier.  I completely forgot and just discovered your email again as deleting a load of stuff. Sorry and hope it is not too late!

In my personal and totally subjective opinion I wouldn't bother going to north America as we have one of the greatest mountain ranges in the world for skiing here in Europe, just a few hours away - The Alps. 

If you want an adventure why not fly in to Zurich (a very under-rated city with great bars, nightlife and cultural things to do) and then either hire a car or use the very efficient Swiss rail system to get around.

You could visit 2 or 3 different ski areas. You could try Wengen for your rolling reds and chocolate box beauty, Engelberg for steep off piste and stunning scenery, and then head over to Davos/Klosters for a bit of everything.  Davods/Klosters has it all and is very under-rated in my opinion.  It is on the boarder with Austria so you could dip over there too.....

There are of course many, many possibilities and this is just an idea.   If you go then do let us know how you get on and send us a few pictures and anecdotes of your travels....



Two options. Looking at visiting Dec 2010 Jan 2011 and am not sure which would be best. Ski in Spain or Austria. Ski package for about a week. My partner is an beginner/intermediate skiier/boarder, my son (15) and I are advanced skiiers. Partner suggested Andorra but not sure which field but want something fairly close to Barcelona, any other suggestions as will be visiting Madrid also. Another question want to look at Austria also. Somewhere near Salzburg. Have skiied Obertaurern before. Want a resort that has good variety of slopes including good off-piste skiing but not to dangerous! Thank you for your help. Nicole Cam

Andorra is a good choice though there are some ski areas in Spain like Baqueira Beret though, Andorra may be a better bet as wider choice of slopes.

The best off piste and advanced skiing is in Arcalis  (the highest resort) but it is a small ski station with no accommodation so best just to visit for a day (comes highly recommended by me!).

It is a 2-3 hour drive from Barcelona and probably best to stay in Soldeu as this is allows you to ski the main ski area and is prettier than Pas de la casa but you could stay in Andorra la Vella and then drive to resorts but it is a bit of a hassle especially for a beginner/intermediate.

As for resorts near Salzburg you are spoilt for choice.

I'd recommend Zell am Zee which is a pretty Austrian resort, by the side of a lake, with some good skiing and snowboarding - though not terribly extensive or challenging for experts. A short bus ride away is Kaprun that has a glacier and is good. Saalbach is also recommended and has some good off piste and tree skiing if the conditions allow.

Many of the resorts in Austria are on the low side so a trip in December may be a bit risky for the snow (Kaprun should be OK though).

Hope this helps and gives you a general picture.

If you need more about Spain let me know and I can get our man that lives there to give you better information as I have never skied there.




Hi guys, would you know if Aosta provides sit-ski rental and if Aosta is suitable for adaptive skiing - ie do they have suitable lift system. Hubby can walk slowly and has used one before in Austria - their moutain railway was brill for getting it up the mountain although unlikely to find that in many other places! Cable cars and gondolas are OK but we found a problem with one mountain as they said that with their new modern chairlifts they would not allow him to use the sit ski on it - said the plastic cover wouldnbt come down over it and it was a H&S issue. Many thanks in advance. Wendy & Bob

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for your email. The answer as a whole is, yes. Disabled skiers, if with a companion, can use the cable cars of Courmayeur and Val Veny, the gondolas of Dolonne and Chècrouit and all the chairlifts can be used. The resorts also offer disabled people a discount of Lift Pass prices. People in a wheelchair who ski with a companion can obtain a discount of 50% for both the disabled person and the companion. Monte Bianco ski school caters for disabled skiers in Courmayeur and the Aosta valley so it might be worth giving them a ring to find out about hiring a sit-ski. (+39 (0)165 842477). It's not an easy task organizing a ski holiday with a disabled person (I know from family experience), but the rewards are always great, so do keep trying. Hope this helps.


I'm going to La Plagne this weekend. Can't wait. I've dug my ski's out of the loft and had a quick inspection. The base of the ski's are fine but the top's of the skis are scratched and in one point a deep dig out of the resin. I see lots of web items about repairing the base of skis but what about the top. I assume it's epoxy resin on the surface. A bit wet and dry I assume but how would you seal the top again? Appreciate your help. Happy New Year and a great web site. Chris

Hi Chris,

It depends entirely on how deep the hole is and how wide.   I had a chat with a friend of mine out here in the Swiss Alps who is a ski technician and works for one the best  ski shops in Verbier.  He says that if it is small then just file it with aruldite (a good glue and good filler too apparently) and then file it down afterwards and all should be fine.

However if it is a large hole then it may allow both air and water to get in which is bad news as this will eventually weaken the ski’s construction.

Obviously without seeing it he could not comment.

So the best advice seems to be to fill it yourself if it is small or if it is larger then take it into a shop to get done properly otherwise it could cause long term damage.

Above all, he said, don’t just leave it!

Have a great time in La Plagne and do send us a picture and let us know what conditions are like as we are always keen to hear from PlanetSKI readers….


hi guys, can you advice of any resorts which would be open in late may thanks Peter

Zermatt in Switzerland.

It is open every day of the year (weather permitting) and its glacier beneath the Kleine Matterhorn  has guaranteed skiing all year round.  It is quite a decent size too.

We were there in October so you may get a feel for its size from this report.

Tignes in France used to open all the year but does not do so now.  Some of the Austrian glacier resorts also open but it depends on conditions, so check with the resorts nearer the time.

Most resorts close as soon as Easter is over which is always a huge shame to us here at PlanetSKI as often there is great snow.  The high resorts tend to shut in the first weekend of May.  

There is always the option if skinning or walking up - well worth it in our view.

If you go in late May do let us know what it is like.



Hi Guys. I'm an experienced skier from the US coming to Geneva next week, Thurs-Saturday to ski Europe for the first time. I was hoping to ski Verbier and I reserved a room for 2 nts in Chable. I am wondering what my best plan to see and ski lots of terrain during my 2.5 day trip. I would like to simply take the train to Chable so I don't have to hassle with driving. But OTOH, I am considering renting a car so maybe if there are only a few lifts open I can swing over to Chamonix for a day. Do you think there will be enough snow/slopes/lifts to keep an expert skier satisfied in Verbier next Thurs-Sat or am I better off in renting a car and going elsewhere? Even to France or Zermatt etc etc. This is my first trip to Europe but not my last, i know I scheduled early, but I had a free ticket and this is a good time for me to come, I will very likely be coming again in March. thanks. - Glenn Czulada/Pennsylvania aka Snowbird (Utah) Devotee

Go to Verbier - don't bother with a car!  The snow is great at the moment, though it is due to warm up a bit early next week.  Pretty much the whole resort will open next weekend and the Verbier Ride is on too so it should be a pretty good atmosphere/party in town.  A load of us from PlanetSKi will be in town (me included)!  Try the Roastbeef in La Chable for pizza and beer. 

Hope you enjoy it.

Is it possible to ski yet in the Portes de Soleil area form Switzerland to France..I see somewhere skiing season there begins Dec that correct and is there any skiing possible prior to that time? Will the lifts be working before Dec 12? Sigi

If I had answered this a few days ago I would have said not a chance - but that was before all the snow.  The resorts are not due to open until December 12th but there has been a trend this winter for some resorts to open early if they have enough snow.  I am actually on a bus at the moment on my way to Tignes and we have passed nearby the western end of the PDS and I can report that there is plenty of snow.  However it doesn't mean the lifts will open and it is due to warm up a bit as the week progresses.

Also Dec 12th may be the planned opening date but it does of course depend on the snow conditions. All I can advise is to check with the resort nearer the time.  Which areas in the PDS are you thinking about?

We are beginner to intermediate snowboarders and we are wanting to go some where cheap and cheerful but more quality runs than nightlife. Somewhere easy to get to without too much fuss and is likely to have snow in December. Any advice on where to look for? Cheers, jon

Hi Jon,

Try Avoriaz.  It was one of the fist resorts to embarce snowboarding all those years ago so has a good tradition of the sport and decent lifts. There's a good park too. It is high in case the snow is poor, close to geneva airport and the portes du soleil is a great area for riding.  it s a huge area and often overlooked.  It has decent nightlife though not over the top.  It is not the prettiest place, but who cares the riding is great?!

I want to take a ski instructors course in Switzerland. Am bamboozled by the amount of courses that are available. Would appreciate some hint or if possible, recommendation of a company. Have had some good dialogue from one company, based in the UK, in the North. Am looking at the course that starts in January in Gstaad (and I think they have one in Saas Fe in November). Feel positive about this one. It is a lot of money. I am not a young whipper snapper so have to get this right, as I have a 2 year old that I need to put into a nursery, get an Au Pair and provide my own accommodation. Would really appreciate any info., advice, etc. Thank you Julia Blackwell.

Hi  Julia,

You are right there are loads of ski instructor courses now available and the number seems to be growing by the day. I assume you want to do one of the gap year courses that take around 10 weeks.  In Verbier alone, where PlanetSKI is based, there are at least 4 different companies offering courses including Peal Leaders, Altitude, ES, Warren Smith.  All of which I would recommend.

Without knowing which company you are looking at I can't really comment but I assume they offer the course itself and then BASI examiners come along at the end and do the assesssments.  A word of warning is that not everyone passes and of course there is no gaurantee of work at the end of it.  Less people are taking lessons due to the the credit crunch and some ski schools saw a 30% drop in business last winter so that means less work around.  Also the pay is poor given the expenses you will have living in a ski resort.  It's a great life but don't expect to make any money!

The courses themselves though are great fun and you will learn alot.  I would suggest you chose a resort that you want to spend time in (both Saas Fee and Gstaad are lovely) and a repuatable company.  With the basic qualification you will only be abe to teach in a handful of places so I would suggest you do the course in a resort and/or country that you would then be able to teach in as you will no doubt make contacts on the course.

Hope that helps and do let us know how you get on.


Hi, can you ski in Romania in October, and where. thanks Roslyn Newburn

As far as we know the answer is no.  There are no glaciers in Romania so there will be no terrain available. However if it does snow then sometimes small resorts open a lift or two on an ad hoc basis.

We have checked a few ski areas and none are open.  Niether Poiana Brasov or Sinaia, the main reorts, have opened.  Sorry!

Hi I have a blind daughter and was reading your article about the disabled skier. We went skiing to the USA last year and my daughter had a fantastic adaptive ski instructor. However, due to cost/ long flight etc. we are looking at europe this year, possibly christmas time. Are you able to offer adaptive ski lessons? My daughter really loved it last year and we want to continue now she's got the

Hi Jackie,

I am not an expert so i asked a friend on mine, Gemma Gillam, who teaches people with disabilities.

Hello Jackie,

I am an adaptive qualified ski instructor and work as the adaptive director for European Snowsport ski school that is based in Verbier and Zermatt in SWitzerland.  We offer adaptive lessons and may be able to help.  Most of our clientele are after private tuition or want to ski as a family.  For more information take a look at or you can contact me at  Alternatively, you could try contacting disability snowsport on, they have a group of adaptive qualified ski instructors that work with a group of adaptive skiers.  They visit a variety of resorts in the US and Europe.

I hope this helps in your search and hope to hear from you soon,

Gemma Gillam

Hi, I was hoping you could tell me if there are any resorts open yet in Europe? Regards Tom

Hi Tom,

We will be putting up a story at the weekend about what is open at the moment so look back at the news pages then.  In the meantime we wrote this last week, which contains a bit of information.

I was speaking to a friend in Switzerland yesterday and it is still pretty warm so conditions are not great though there is a dusting of snow on the peaks above Verbier. Not enough to ski on though.

A friend of mine in the  Espace Killy in France, Giles Lewis from The Development Centre ski school, emailed me earlier today to say Tignes is only good for people doing courses and those with a serious snow addiction........

"There is a sprinkle of snow on glaciated terrain and on the very highest peaks above 3500m but there really hasn’t been any precipitation at all since the start of September apparently. The garden is all dry and although the trees are starting to turn it is a warm autumnal feel rather than any type of wintery vibe. The Tignes glacier is open however and there is skiing to be had for those who have a specific goal to train for or an unquenchable need for skiing."

I am in Sass Fee in a couple of weeks - been there at this time of year for the last 5 years or so and always good.



As I spend all summer in flip flops or bare feet ( i have run a beach business since 1983!), I have VERY wide feet (Flippers!). Can you tell me which ski boot make and models are the widest, please? Many Thanks,Geoff

I know nothing about boots, but I know a man who does.  Mark Wilkie from Surefoot in Val d'Isere.  He fitted my last pair of boots for me and Mark and the chain of shops come highly recommended by PlanetSKI.

"I am a kitesurfer all summer and am barefoot or flip flops to, so I can relate to the problem.Feet always change shape if they are not supported with orthotic support regardless of what foot wear you are wearing.

What I always recomend is to control the foot with an orthotic/footbed which will give the foot structure and a more uniform shape.

Now you have a foundation you can then chose a shell.

With Surefoot we measure the foot in mil which relates to the exact internal measurement of a suitable shell.For example a Lange Fluid is a large wide last that is suitable for high volume feet.
This can then be customised in two ways, first we can pre-expand the shell to accomodate extra width but keep the client in the correct size boot so performance is not diluted or secondly we can cutom build a liner to match the exact shape of the feet.

This will blance the pressure round the foot and improve the skiablity of the boot.

Ultimately I have to see the foot first hand, I never recomend a boot without seeing and measuring it first.

The best thing is to get into the London store or any of banches to get measured."

Dear James, I just read the article about dry land skiing during the summer by the racing and sports correspondent. My question is a kind of AskPlanetski and thought someone at PlanetSKi would be able to answer. If you can do Slalom on grass then why cant the British ski team, and our younger racers train on grass in the UK during the summer? Is it not feasible? I am sure there is some catch and you will prob know! PlanetSKI still going strong - I read daily. Frazer

Thanks Frazer. I have passed this on to my friend Amanda Pirie who knows far more about ski technique that I ever will.  She used to race in the British team for starters and is a really, really good coach......below is her answer.

This is a valid assumption when you look at the phycholgical and tactical side of alpine ski racing. Young racers could gain confidence, timing, balance and anticipation skills from the experience of travelling down a grassy mountain on rollers. There were some GB Alpine Ski Team members who participated in grass skiing in the 1980s. However, when you look at these two sports from a technical point of view, due to the major difference between alpine ski edges and grass ski rollers there would be nothing gained from training for alpine skiing on grass skis as you would be training a different technique. In addition there is a safety aspect to consider, grass skiing is extremely dangerous as there are no straightforward braking methods.
Safer methods of training alpine ski racing in the UK during the summer are on dry slopes and indoor slopes. Again you might ask; why can these not be a perfect training ground for young athletes? They are: almost every slope in the UK has a race club and there are some very popular UK indoor and plastic races series. However, indoor and plastic slopes provide training in a very regular environment, therefore developing closed skills. Whereas alpine ski racing is an incredabley open skill with constant changes in terrain, speed, slope angle, snow conditions, rhythm and weather that the racer must adapt to. Therefore our young athletes are best to combine their race training on indoor and plastic slopes in the UK with race training at alpine ski resorts.
Amadna Pirie
Ex GB Alpine Ski Team member, National Ski Team coach, Freelance ski coach and instructor.



Feb 2010 half term,that mad time when half of Surrey heads for the mountains and pays through the nose. I have been skiing with my wike and children over half term for the past eight years and had tremendous fun so I was wondering if you guys recommend , or have heard of anywhere new and different. We have rather stuck to the Three Valleys in the past and had some pretty good skiing. Unfortunately I missed booking the day train by 8 hours and it was full ! Any way would appriciate any ideas. Thanks Mike Hutchinson

It's always difficult to recommend resorts as there are so many out there and different people want different things.  I guess if you like the 3 Valley then you want a large ski area and are not looking for the cheapest option.  

My initial thought is to try the Portes du Soleil which is a huge ski area straddling France and Switzerland.  It has a good snow record, is near to Geneva and comes with a certain alipne charm.  Les Gets is a particular favourite of ours at PlanetSKi though there is nothing terribly challenging.  Next door Morzine is good and then there is Avoriaz which is a bit of an architectural eye-sore but is well positioned and high.  Some of the resorts at the Swiss end are good too.

I could mention dozens and dozens of resorts but why not focus on the Portes du Soleil as you will definitely find something you like.

Have a little nose through our section on resorts and that may also give you a few ideas.


I have a good friend in wheelchair, he is fully okay, just can't walk. We had a chat the other day and he would love to go skiing! I think it is great. Do you happen to know anything about this, and / or the issues involved? Is it hard to get started etc? He was a little scared about all that would be involved prior to him going so I thought I would try and give him a helping hand. Duncan

Duncan, I have handed this one on to PlanetSKI reporter, Ben Clatworthy who has a brother with disabilities who skis. Also if you have a snow centre near you in the UK perhaps contact them - the new one in Hemel Hempstead has very close contatcs with Disability UK.  In the next week or so we will be putting up a video about people with disabilities skiing so keep an eye open for that and I thought you may want to see this too.

Hi Duncan,

Thanks for your question. Firstly I must stress that skiing for the disabled is no way easy, both on the piste and off and I would strongly advise him not to go alone and to take at least one 'helper' to assist. Electric wheelchairs are not advised as the snow can damage the electrics and motors easily, leaving the user stranded. The wheels don't grip well on the snow.

Many ski schools including ESF France (Ecole du Ski Francaise) and European Snowsport (Veriber) have special handi-ski departments that can offer lessons and assistance.

It is worth contacting Disability Snowsport UK ( for more detailed advice. You may even wish to go on one of their special trips as they will give all the assistance needed, both before and during.

If you need more help then feel free to contact us and everyone at PlanetSKI wishes your friend the best of luck and we would love to hear how it goes!

Ben Clatworthy

"Are there any British ski schools anywhere in Italy? Or, if not any English speaking ski schools which take small groups of children i.e. no more than 8?” Jane Barrett

There are very few that I know of.  I have asked a few people and when they get back to me I will let you know more.  In the meantime this is what I have come up with so far.

Interski has been operating in the Aosta valley for many years and uses primarily British speaking instructors.  I am not sure on the size of the groups but I have heard good things about them.

Ski2 who operate out of Champoluc was recommended to me by the chairman of BASI as a good one.

You may want to look at this PlanetSKI guide about British ski schools, but none are in Italy.

Dear PlanetSKI, I have just read one of your articles named 'Christmas racing kids' by Ben Clatworthy after searching about ski racing. I have a son who would be very interested in getting into ski racing and I wondered if you would be able to give me any help as to how that would be possible. I also had a read of some of Ben's other ski race articles and both me and my son were very interested in everything about it especially the British Championships which look very professional! Your website is very good as well! Thank you, Frazer

Hi Frazer,
I would recommend starting out by looking at the Kandahar Club.  For the past few years my children have done the racing camps they run in Saas Fee over the October half-term and they run summer training camps too in France I believe.
If you live near a dry ski slope or indoor slope in the UK then many of them run racing programmes for children so check with one of them.
Below is the response from Ben to your question. 
Good luck and let us know how it all goes.

PS Glad you like the web site - please tell your skiing friends as we rely on word of mouth to spread!

Hi Frazer,
Racing and everything to do with it is amazing! I must just say that anyone starting racing must know that there is no holiday involved, the days are long and the mornings are early. I have been racing since I was 10 and have loved every minute, and so does everyone coming into the sport.
If you are looking for a ski team then I would outwardly recommend Kandahar ski team as I am a member. However there is a lot of choice in the matter. Last year Snowsport GB launched its ‘Talent Trail’ website and that has loads of information about the various options for entering ski racing. The website is
Hope your son does take up racing and enjoys it as much as me!!


Hi there I wondered if anyone could tell me if the Magnestick back vests for children were available to hire in Meribel. I know that ESF already use them there but we'd like to use them with our children in other lessons and when skiing with us. Thank you Shirley

Hi Shirley,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but a friend of mine in Meribel who I asked to find out has been racing in the British Championships so has only just had time to check it out.

At the moment the Magnestick back vests are only available through EFS Meribel, however this summer shops in the resort are going to start stocking the vests for both hire and sale.

It is also expected that in the next few years that the Magnesitick is going to be incorporated with many ski jackets for children. It has been a real success in Meribel this year and more lifts will be equipped next season.

Hope that helps.

I've heard rumours that Austria are making it compulsory for adults to wear helmets as from next year - is this true? Rachel Moore

Highly unlikely and just a rumour.

Such laws in Austria fall under the jurisdiction of each individual province and there is no talk of a blanket compulsion across the county. Helmets have been made mandatory in Lower Austria for children under 16 following the death of a 41-year old woman in January who died when she was skied into by a German politician.

Italy already makes it compulsory for children and some sources we’ve been talking to in Switzerland believe it may happen for the Swiss.

Personally I am not so sure as the Swiss tend to do things differently and have rules and regulations decided by each canton so it would take a while to put in place any blanket legislation.

On a general note many organisations such as the Austrian Ski School Association actively encourage the use of helmets.

If you are a regular reader of PlanetSKI you may already have seen these stories about helmets we have written.

Should helmets be made compulsory?

Helmets compulsory for children in Austria

I'm driving to Val d'Isere on Saturday and my sister is panicking about snow chains and all that. Any advice? Are they hard to fit? Matt

You may need snow chains.  I am in Tignes at the moment and it is chucking it down. See main story in news section.

Snow chains are a pain to fit the first time, but once you have done it a couple of times it is dead easy.

I suggest you practice in UK as doing it on a snowy road, often in the dark , for the first time is not recommended.

If you are hiring a car at the airport and therfore can not practice then here is some more detailed advice.

To fit chains in the dark make sure you have a pair of thin gloves and a torch.  Patience is also required and it is not as daunting as it might first seem.  There will be instructions so just follow them and you won't go wrong.

All chains are slightly different but you will need to find out if the car is front or rear wheel drive and put them on the driving wheels.  Most cars are front wheel drive but it is worth checking.

You then place the chain on the ground lengthways behind the wheel and pull the 2 ends up and join them.  You will then need to push the joined chain over the back of the tyre and then there will be a series of hooks to secure on the front.  You do exactly the same on the other wheel (it will also take you  less time as you have already done it once) and bingo it's done.

You should then drive for 50m or so and then get out and tighten them up.

The road up from Bourg has special laybys where you put them on and I would advise you to put them on sooner rather than later if you think they are needed.

If there is snow on the road up from Bourg the police often check you have snow chains on and if not they will not let you drive up.

That said they do clear the road pretty quickly but it is not worth the risk.  I have had to use them several times on the road up.

I have just looked at the forecast and it expected to be clear on Saturday so you will probably not need them.

I would get soem anyway just in case and of course you may need them for the return journey.

Good luck!

Dear Planetski, I am heading out to Morzine next week and I thought it would be a great idea to find and snowboard down a glacier by myself. Do you know any in the area, and do you have any safety tips for me - i'm not very experienced having just learnt to snowboard earlier in the year. Nick

Dear Planetski, I am heading out to Morzine next week and I thought it would be a great idea to find and snowboard down a glacier by myself. Do you know any in the area, and do you have any safety tips for me - i'm not very experienced having just learnt to snowboard earlier in the year. Nick

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to do it.

Glaciers are extremely dangerous places with many crevasses and should only be snowboarded on with a fully qualified mountainguide who knows what he is doing.

If you want to do it in the future you will need to improve your snowboarding skills so you are more than a beginner.

I have asked our resident mountainguide here at PlanetSKI, Nick Parkes, for advice on courses you might want to look at for off piste snowboarding.

There are no glaciers in Morzine, or the rest of the Portes du Soleil, but if I was you I would be extremely careful even if venturing slightly off piste.
Many people die off piste every season.  Usually about 100 in the Alps alone.

I’m planning for a ski holiday next year and hear that next year will be expensive. Is this true and why? Best wishes john

Sadly it is true.

All the prices are being sorted out now at the very poor exchange rate so the prices will inevitably go up.  Also this year the tour operators have been badly hit by the credit crunch with less people going skiing and snowboarding so they have much unsold capacity.   Hence the very good deals and discounts on offer at the moment as they just want to shift the holidays even if they are at a lower price.

The ski industry is very concerned about next year so there will probably be less holidays on offer but at a higher price.

My advice is to get one of the good deals on offer at the moment.  They probably won’t be repeated next season.

Where is the cheapest place to ski in Europe with 2 sporty boys aged 10 and 8, who have never skied before, and my wife who also has no experience. Thanks for you help. John.

If price is the most important factor then I would keep an eye out for all the various deals and discounts on offer at the moment.  Here on PlanetSKI we have a deals and discounts section which regularly features holidays that can save you £100s (some are half price), but you tend to have to book last minute. We update them every week.

If you are going over Easter holidays then make sure the resort has high skiing (above 1800m).  The snow has been amazing this season so there will be plenty left in April. There is absolutely no need to go to a well-known resort where the prices for lunch, beer etc will be high but select a less well-known one.

Generally Eastern Europe is the cheapest but they have not had a great winter so far and Andorra used to be cheap but is not any more, though they have had great snow this season. I would veer towards Austria or Italy. 

If you don’t want to wait till the last minute then checkout the tour operator web sites now.  Crystal Ski is as good as any.

My advice is look for a few good deals and then email me back if you want any further advice on what the resort is like and if it suits your needs.

We wish to ski a big high altitude resort March 28/29 for a week chalet or half board. When will the discounts kick in, if at all? Ray Bailey

Essentially the later you leave it then the  bigger the discounts will be if there is accommodation available.

Even though it is the first week of holidays for many private schools my hunch is that there will be some deals around but they will not be on offer until nearer the time as operators hope the good snow will encourage people to book up.

Keep an eye on the deals and discounts section of this web site as we have offers from all the main tour companies.  The ones for the end of March will probably be up in a couple of weeks time however ifyouski is offering 2 holidays for the price of one to St Anton that week though it may already have gone.

At the moment there is still plenty of availability 28/29 March.


My daughter is planning on doing a gap year course next season to become a ski instructor and then wants to work in Verbier for a season. Any recommendations? Thanks in advance. Mike

Peak Leaders! 

However I should immediately declare an interest as the ski school I work for in Verbier, European Snowsport, has close links with them.  We train their students for 6 weeks and then BASI examiners come to assess them.  Most pass, but not all of them, and then we employ some of them at ES.

Peak Leaders also do courses across the world and I saw one of their courses in Argentina last summer when I was there and was thoroughly impressed.  The students also get the chance to see an amazing part of the world and many go travelling before or after the course.  Peak Leaders also runs courses in Canada and New Zealand too.  Get her to take a look at some of my blogs from Argentina if she wants a feel of what it was like.

Check out the Peak Leaders web site for further information.

I would recommend she does the course before the season starts so she then gets as much time teaching as possible.

Peak Leaders do them in Saas Fee in October and I saw the course when I was there last October half term when my son was doing some race training up on the glacier.

I believe Phil Smith from Snoworks runs Gap Year courses in Tignes at around the same time of year too.  Phil is a great guy with massive enthusiasm and many years of experience so she wouldn’t go wrong with him either.

Another ski school in Verbier, Altitude, also run gap year courses with the prospect of work in Verbier at the end of it. So take a look at their web site.

If it is any help my 14 year old son is very keen to become a ski instructor and though he is a few years away I would like him to do it somewhere interesting like Argentina so he sees another part of the world.

As a note of caution just because she takes the course it does not mean she will pass.  Also there are many courses training ski instructors at the moment and quite frankly there are now too many instructors for work available so she will need to be good if she wants work.

Hi, I was hoping that you could offer some advice regarding late season snowboarding in Europe. I'm planing on spending a week in Tignes around April, but avoiding the Easter holiday crowds. How late in April would you suggest I could book, without risking bad snow conditions? Would the week after the 20th April be ok in your opinion? Thank you for your time and help, Alex

The week after the 20th April should be absolutley fine.  I normally end my ski season in Tignes in May and more often than not there is plenty of snow.  This year with the record levels we have had it will take a long time to melt. 

My favourite month to ski is actually April as there are the same levels of snowfall as February, the base is deep, the days longer, there are less people around and it's cheaper.  There are also plenty of blue sky days.  You do though need to go to a high resort and Tignes is certainly high enough.

It can get a bit slushy in the afternoon but you also get the chance to find some "spring" snow in the morning.

My advice is book up and go.





A couple of girl friends of mine were asking about all girl ski trips or a ski company that is for girls only. I know you are a bloke but do you know any? nikki

I am indeed a bloke but I know of a few

There is one in Verbier called Diva ski that started this year. It is top end of the market with prices to match, but I'm told is very good. It's run by a friend of mine, Annabel,who is great fun and knows the good night spots too if you like a bit of apres-ski.

There’s another company in Morzine that runs some girls only trips  that are cheaper and quite fun apparently.

If you want to improve your skiing too then Inspired to Ski runs clinics and courses for women only for short breaks. The company is run by Sally Chapman who is very well-known in the ski world and the company is great.

There's another company, redpoint, does them in the Ziller valley in Austria.  I'm afraid I don't know much about them but here is an article from a magazine.  Do remember that the journalist probably got a freebie so will write lots of nice things but you'll get an idea of it.

Hope that helps.  Personally I’m not sure why you don’t want to meet any men – we’re not that bad are we?

What video camera should I buy for making videos fit for the internet including sound quality? Tim

The choice in infinite here and I am no expert. 

However I use a Sony Handycam mini dv with a x40 optical zoom for most of the video I shoot for this site.  It is small and easy to carry and if you use a small fold-away tripod then it will make a world of difference.  It's shortcomings are that it does not have an external microphone but it picks up all ambient noise and if you need to do an interview and the person is right in front of the camera and looking at it then the sound is OK.

Here is a picture of me and camera in action (pocket size I think you will agree!) and here are the results.


I much prefer tape to disc (though the shop will undoubtedly tell you the opposite and try to sell you the more expensive camera). It means I have a backup of everything I have shot on a cheap format and I just download the shots I want, edit them on Final Cut Pro on my Macbook and then delete the material once it is on the server of the web site.  Simplicity is best in my opinion.

When shooting films for the BBC I use a Sony Z1 and this is pretty much the industry norm for broadcast quality footage.  It is light, relatively simple to use and takes amazing pictures.  For your purposes though it will be too bulky.  If you want something in-between the two then I would use a Sony PD 170.

All that said though the most important thing is not what camera you have, but how you use it.  You need to learn how to take a picture and that can take years.  Good cameramen are highly skilled individuals and they didn't pick it up overnight.  Most people think they can buy a camera, point it in generally the right direction and then take great pictures. Not so.

In the same way some people think that if they have a few ski  lessons then they will become great skiers after a few tips. Again, not so.  It takes years of practice and experience.

If it was easy to be a good skier then we'd all be experts - same with camerawork.






Hi James I am wanting to buy some skis for Eleanor. We are going to St Anton at half term so I need to get them by then. Kisia mentioned that Alex has Rossignol 9S slalom skis. Most of the skiiing she will be doing will be on and off piste skiing in resorts. She will go on some more Kandahar trips but that is not going to be that often so she does not need really aggresive down hill racing skis. We will also be getting her boots. Any suggestions? Any ideas on the best place to buy in London? Hope you are enjoying the snow in Verbier. Most envious. Many thanks Nicky

Hi Nicky hope you are well.

How often will Eleanor be skiing this winter?  If she is only going at half term I wouldn’t bother.

You can get very good rental skis and if you order on line you can get up to 40% discount.   Ski Republic is good but I am not sure if they have a branch in St Anton.  Otherwise try Ski Set.  Rental skis are good as you don’t have to service them, you don’t have to transport them to the Alps and if you want to change them you can.  Alex (my 14 year old son and a friend of Eleanor’s for anyone else reading this!) has his own 9S race skis, but then he also has some fat twin tips and borrows a pair of my off piste skis for powder days, so he effectively has 3 pairs!! (I have 5!)

If you are set on buying then the most important decision is not what make of ski (Rossignol, Salomon etc….) but what type of ski (race, freeride etc….).  For the Kandahar you will need proper race skis (slalom or GS) to get the most out of the course but they will not be good for off piste.  An off piste ski would not be good for racing. No ski is perfect for all conditions so you have to compromise a bit.

I’d advise an all mountain ski which does both well and then hire race skis for the Kandahar.  This type of ski will also be fairly good off piste but if she prefers a proper off piste ski you can always hire if the conditions are good.

In terms of what exact ski to get that is more difficult as there are so many out there.

I would advise hiring in St Anton and trying out some different ones to see which ones she gets on with.  You may be able to buy them out there and get a deal or purchase them in London at the end of the season when they may be discounted.

If you want to buy in London just go to High Street Ken where you have Snow and Rock, Ellis Brigham and several others.  I have never bought from these shops but Ellis Brigham and Snow and Rock have good staff that know their products.

I am not sure if you want any boot advice – if you do then let me know.  Personally I would never get boots in the UK but always buy them in a ski resort where if they don’t fit properly you simply take them back and they will make adjustments.

I hope this helps – there is no easy answer!  Don’t hesitate to give me a ring if you need any further advice.

What was the population of Verbier at the end of the War? Chrissy

The official count for residents in the Val de Bagnes was done in 1941 and there were 3,657.

The Deputy head of the Tourist Office in Verbier, Pierre-Yves Deleze, told me today that about 10% of those would have probably been living in the small farming community of Verbier so that makes it probably just over 350 inhabitants.

Out of interest why do you want to know?

Hi there Do you know of any english speaking 2 day first aid course in the Alps. I'm busy with my BASI 1 and I need a first aid course to move further ?? Thanks Neil

There's plenty back in the UK run by the British Association of Ski Patrollers, check out their link, and they are running one in Zermatt in April.  I don't know of any other organisation that run recognised ones in Englsh but maybe send BASP an e mail if April is too long to wait nad they can offer advice. 

Also BASI sometimes run them at the weekend during their 2 week courses out in the Alps if there is enough demand, so it's worth contacting BASI.  There's a 2 week ISIA course starting in Morzine tomorow (19th) and there are several others courses throughout the season.

Good luck.



Just bumped into Warren Smith in the Farinet bar (he runs and he says he may have places on his first aid course later in the week plus have a course this week which may have places on it here in Verbier.


Hi there, a group of 10 of us all aged 19-26 have just booked a cheep and chearfull week skiing for the 1st week in March in Krajska Gora and cant seem to find much about it on the Internet in particular what the après is like? Anything you know would be great thank you Lucy

Well, what can I say?  I have failed.  One person I know who has been to Kranjska Gora (and yes he is a party animal!) is in the Himalayas and not responding to emails.  I discovered from another friend that Pappa Joe’s used to be far and away the best bar but it has now moved to Gozd Martuljek.

The tourist office sent me a link to their rather dull web site which really doesn’t tell you that much.  I then asked the guy who answered where he went for a good night out and he sent me this answer;

Dear Mr Cove,
Since we are working in public service we are not allowed to give you any personal recommendations.
With kind regards
Ursa Kejzar

No information of any use comes from the travel web sites I looked at.

So there you have it!  However I will let you know if a couple of my friends get back to me and I would love to hear what the après ski is like and what you got up to when you go so send me some pictures and write me some words and I’ll put it up. The wilder the better!

We were thinking of going at Feb half-term but its so heavily booked and expensive that I am reverting to Easter.. We are thinking of coming to Verbier on 4th April and have seen a not-too-hideously expensive deal at the Chalet Hotel de Verbier with Inghams.. for me and two teenage kids. Is it OK? Do you have any alternative suggestions? Regards, Carole W.

Hotel de Verbier is great - good location right in the centre of town and if the price is right you can't go wrong. I have stayed there many times but usually in the resort worker rooms at the back! 

April is my favourite time to ski - there's usually plenty of snow, blue sky, it's cheaper and there are less people around.  There are a few other good places to stay but I wouldn't bother looking further than Hotel de Verbier.

Don't forget to keep an eye on the deals and discounts section on PlanetSKI - there are some great bargains in there. I have just put one up that is half price.


Great article on helmets with FANTASTIC pics ... My question: what was the resident population of Verbier at the end of WW2? Asked a few days ago ... but it didn't seem to get through to you. Chrissy.

Absolutley no idea.  I'm back in london for a few days at the moment but will find out when I am back out in the Alps at the weekend. Which date do you consider WW2 ended? End of hostilities in Europe or Pacific? Do you want only resident Swiss or all nationalities?

Hi there a group of 10 of us all aged 19-26 have just booked a cheep and cheerful week skiing for the 1st week in March in Krajska Gora and cant seem to find much about it on the Internet in particular what the après is like? Anything you know would be great thank you LucyHi there a group of 10 of us all aged 19-26 have just booked a cheep and cheerful week skiing for the 1st week in march in krajska gora and cant seem to find much about it on the Internet in particular what the apres is like? Anything you know would be great thank you. Lucy

Hi Lucy.

Can’t be much help at the moment as I have only been there in the summer and we camped in the middle of no-where for a few days as we were walking, climbing and white water-rafting.  But I know a couple of friends who have been there so I’ll ask them and get back to you.  I suspect it’s pretty limited but all you need in my opinion is 1 bar and a good bunch of people.

Some of my best après ski times are not in the bars of St Anton, Verbier or Val d’Isere but Arinsal (cheap, cheap, cheap), Fernie (let's just say whipped cream and underwear) and La Grave (the drummers kit was a suitcase and a chair).

In the meantime here’s a photo of us white water rafting in the summer in Krajska Gora – now that is fun!  Me front right and kids/wife behind. I'll see what I can find out.


Am off to Saas Fee in 2 weeks. I am a middle intermediate taking my first timer fiancé (although UK lessons have gone very well...)as well as one year old daughter and gran as carer. Any tips of any nature for the week? Are there a selection of mountain restaurants we can all meet up for lunch? Any suggestions for things to do in the daytime for Gran - she is reasonably mobile and will be chasing whatever sun there is....

Good choice -  Saas Fee is a personal favorite.

It’s car free and picturesque so good for non-skiers.  The main nursery slope is at resort level, off to the right as you look up the mountain, and is a self-contained slope so doesn’t have other skiers whizzing through. It’s a bit of a jump from there to the main slopes but the ones above the first gondola should suffice.

Up the mountain the terrain is not extensive as much is hemmed in by glaciers, but the scenery is stunning and the skiing great. In Saas Fee it’s more about variety of slopes than piste miles.

I made a video about Saas Fee that is in the video section, so take a look.

Don’t forget to ski in the Plattjen area that is often fairly empty and has a great mountain restaurant just down from the top of the main lift that makes excellent Rostii.  For the best mountain restaurants you need to be able to ski (the one at Plattjen and Gletschergrotte), but the self-service at Morenia is a good and has a great sun terrace for Gran.

The revolving restaurant at the top of the Metro Alpin Express is a bit of a tourist gimmick with matching prices, but it is worth a look at and Gran may like to visit the ice grotto that is dug into the glacier.

There’s another good one at the top of the cable car that heads up to the right (can’t remember name I’m afraid!) and again it has a great sun terrace for Gran and there is an easy long T-bar which you fiancé should be able to manage and then a gentle blue back to the restaurant.

There’s also an alpine museum in town and the church/graveyard are worth a look around if Gran likes that sort of thing. There won’t be that much sun in town in January as Saas Fee is surrounded by 4,000m peaks but if you are at the top of town you'll see some sun.

For après try Nestis or the ones on main street as you walk back, for the evening try the bar above Popcorn or Happy Bar and if you want to go on to the wee small hours then try Poison but I guess with a 1 year old that is ruled out.

Hope you have a good time!

Hi there I'm off to Les Arcs (third time) on 17th (can't wait). This year my wife and I are staying at Ski Beat's Chalet Edelweiss in Peisey. I suspect that it's actually in the lower village, but it's a bit un-clear on the website. My question is, do we need to take the bucket up to get to a decent lift? If so, should we lay in each morning and wait for ski school to get up the mountain before we start? If so, when do I need to get my wife out of bed (she calls me the "Liftwaffe" becaus I have an enduring urge to be on the first lift each morning). A trip without unnecessary queues might just get me a second ski trip as a married man! Also, do you have a recommendation for a restaurant to book for our chalet catering night off? Any other tips for the village always greatly received. Thanks for the help! Great site! Chris

I’m 99.9% certain that Edelweiss is in the old village so you’ll need to get the bucket lift up to Plan-Peisey.  With luck ski school won’t be too busy in week of January 17th as it is low season so the queues wont be too horrendous. Then once you are up you can connect to all the main lifts and you are of course ideally situated to get over to La Plagne as the Vanoise Express has re-opened.

The runs in the trees above the village are great.

The old village is lovely with its baroque church and sense of history.  The village dates back to the 11th century. If you like that sort of thing do pop into the church as its beautiful.
I’d play the long game if I were you and let your wife have a bit of a lie in rather than stand in a queue wondering why she is doing it and blaming it all on you (especially if you are trying to get brownie points for another ski trip).  I’ve just emailed a friend in Les Arcs about restaurants so I’ll let you know when she responds. I’m told the locals go to Cordee to eat in Plan-Peisey (always a good sign) and have heard the Ormelune in the old village is good.

Have a great trip. I was last in Les Arcs 1600 about 3 years ago and loved it.  Nightlife was a bit dull, but the skiing fantastic.

I am out in Verbier with my wife and 2 children on half board and eating out every night is burning a hole in my wallet. Where is good place for an evening meal that is not too expensive? The exchange rate is hurting!

That’s an easy one to answer – Chez Martin. 

It’s a personal favourite as it serves good food, at a decent price and has a good atmosphere.  It’s mainly for pizza and pasta but has other things too.  A pizza is 17sf (£10) and a child’s portion of lasagne is 11sf (£6.90).  The wine is pricey at 41sf (£25) for the house red, but a large beer is 5.20sf (£3.25).

If you want to keep the costs down try just getting water for the kids and if you order a fondue you get as much meat and chips as you want.  When I’m with my family I often order small pizzas for the kids and then give them some of my fondue and as many chips as they want.  The bread is also great.

The restaurant doesn’t seem to mind and it keeps the costs down too.

It's down past the main square on the left hand side just before you get to the Hotel Nevai and the Farm Club.

Quick question – Some friends and I are looking at Verbier for New Year. Would the queues be horrendous? And could you recommend any cheap-ish accommodation. Cheers, Toby.

I'm afraid the queues will be big if past seasons are anything to go by.  There is really only one way up the main mountain and that is from the Medran. However you can take the bus to Carrefour and then ski across to the Combe chairlifts.  This will probably get you up quicker and you will be moving too.

Accommodation too will be expensive but the 2* Garbo hotel is good value and fantastically situated in the centre of town. There are good value appartments in The Alba but I know that most have already gone. Worth checking though. The cheapest place is the Bunker, which is an underound shelter in the Sports Centre.  They also have rooms in The Summerhouse (above ground!) which are better.

You may want to consider staying down the valley in Le Chable, where the 2* Hotel Gietroz comes highly recommended.  I have stayed there many times.  If you are in Le Chable you will also miss the queues as once you are on the lift it goes straight to the top.

Good luck - Verbier on New Year's Eve is a great place to be!

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