As all of the snow on the planet seems to be falling in Alaska and Europe right now, it’s great timing to see the latest episode of Salomon Freeski TV featuring the Glacier Express. This is such a cool way to explore the European ski experience.
The Glacier Express is Switzerland’s most famous train route, running from the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt to the playgrounds of European royalty in St. Moritz. Between, it passes through a dozen of Europe’s “little areas that rock.” The train works it’s way through the Alps’ finest terrain, allowing passengers to hop off in prime spots to explore gems like Andermatt, Arosa, and eventually the famous endpoint, St. Moritz.
You can join us and Epic Europe ski guru Jack Shaw on the Glacier Express this season. Combining this kind of access with the right guides and the local knowledge to find the secret stashes is really one of the best ways to tour and ski Europe. Check out Salomon Freeski TV below and enjoy!
Happy New year from the Snowy Swiss Alps With the Holidays here in the Alps, we finally have to share all of the great powder with the crowds for the next couple of weeks. But December has been incredible, with several big dumps that have filled in all of our favorite runs, even the long ones down to the valley floor, offering the potential for up to 2000m descents! Christmas day was outrageous, with 40-50cms of fresh snow overnight, and the mountains were devoid of all but the most die-hard skiers. We lapped the forest and the meadows right around our house where visibility was good, rarely crossing anything but our own tracks. A quick stop into the mountainside café for a vin chaud and a Christmas toast with the owners and other patrons, then back into the storm for some more powder.
Boxing day broke cold and clear, and the hordes that were tied up in Europe’s airports seemed to all descend at once, so we found some more secret runs “off the backside”, steep trees, then open summer pastures, winding up in a quiet village, a train ride away from home.
It looks like we’re sitting pretty for snow conditions for the winter. If these kind of classic Alps ski runs sound like something you’d like to experience first-hand, please come visit this winter. We look forward to sharing the ambience of Swiss powder with you soon.
Ride the best descents, rest in comfort, and let the heli do the hard work.
Every serious backcountry skier worth their salt knows about the Haute Route; first skied in 1911, it has become a classic pursuit of thousands of ski-touring fanatics each spring. And the actual route, from Chamonix to Zermatt, crossing the Alps’ biggest terrain, under famous peaks like Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin, pigne d’Arolla, the Matterhorn, and Monte Rosa, is undoubtedly the most spectacular traverse in the ski world. But the possibility of crowded huts, marginal weather and snow conditions, and long slogs in a whiteout can make the experience less of a ski-tour and more of an endurance badge of honor. But by basing out of some of the Alps’ best resorts, throwing in a heli lift to reach the best descents, and relaxing in historic hotels and cozy chalets by night, we have created the ultimate Haute Route adventure, highlighting the best parts and doing away with the hardship. And thereby making it accessible to everybody, not just hardcore ski mountaineers.
You begin your trip based in a classic chalet in Verbier, Switzerland – a mega-resort with some of the Alps’ best lift-accessed freeriding potential. With nearby heli drops on the Trient glacier, first up, the famous Arpette Couloirs deliver 3000′ descents, and the ability to lap adjacent chutes. A stop for coffee or even lunch at the historic Cabane du Trient to refuel before the final run down to Champex-Lac, a mom-and-pop resort with the Europe’s best tree skiing. The next heli day, you’ll go to the Petit Combin, landing on top at 3800m, with a view clear across the Alps. An adventurous glacial descent follows, and in ideal conditions, with a short skin-up, we can also access Mont Rogneux, one of Verbier’s most aesthetic lines, a truly magnificent run that you’ll be able to admire your tracks on from your chalet across the valley.
One fundamental difference between European heli-skiing and that found in North America, is that you’ll be based in historic resort villages, with all the amenities and services you’d need; yet when you’re delivered to the top of a peak like the pigne d’Arolla, you’re about as far from civilization as you can get in Europe. Then, the ability to ski into yet another isolated valley, where the locals speak a different language than where you began your day, and experience a different culture, that’s what totally makes the skiing in the Alps. You’ll rarely make more than 2 or 3 runs in a day, but each descent will take an hour or more, as you move through the alpine, negotiating glaciers and seracs, powder fields, and winding up in these remote villages. it makes for a true all-day adventure. And when weather shuts down the heli-access, we can use the literally hundreds of lifts in our backyard to find the best powder, or visit a secret resort with incredible backside runs. So you’ll never have a “down-day” unless your legs need one!
After 4 days in Verbier, it’s time to make the move, and when you set off in the heli, we’ll transport your gear over to Zermatt, where you’ll next see it in a historic hotel like the Mont Cervin Palace or the Hotel Monte Rosa. In optimal weather, your second drop will leave you with an incredible 2000m descent under the Matterhorn’s imposing North Face, right into the postcard-perfect village of Zermatt. You’ll spend the next four days picking off classic descents on both the Swiss and Italian side of the border, culminating with the highest heli-drop in the Alps, from 4200m on Monte Rosa. Returning home each night to the comfort of Zermatt’s best hotels, complete with spa and fine dining, you’ll never look at a heliski trip the same way again.
Ever since we started using Mammut Packs and Beacons we’ve been completely impressed with their quality, dependability and well thought out options. We just had a chance to check out the new Nirvana Pro pack and can’t say enough about it. It’s compact but big enough to carry everything we need, tough, feature rich and obviously superior workmanship. Check it out:
U-frame 6 mm aluminum, adjustable
2-layer, high-density EVA back padding, hip and shoulder belts with laminated stretch fabric cover
Fully zipped access into the main compartment from the back
Front pocket for avalanche safety equipment
2-layer, high-density EVA back padding, hip and shoulder belts with laminated Soft Mesh cover
Ski attachment, can be used on the side or diagonally
EpicQuest was created by a handful of athletes and elite outdoorsmen to provide unparalleled adventures around the globe. We are a team that is dedicated to opening the door to a unique world of knowledge, access and experience ...