The Advantages of Skiing Europe
By Corey Hannum
Because of the associated glamour and elegance of a European ski vacation, many of the advantages of European skiing are often overlooked. A European ski vacation, regardless of the season, offers you many advantages which an American ski vacation cannot.
The primary advantage of skiing Europe is that you have more time-on-skis. This means simply, that the ratio of lift-time to ski-time is better than in the United States, perhaps 1:1, for every minute you spend on the lift going up, you will spend around a minute skiing down, assuming you aren't trying to set a record! This is due to a number of factors. First, lifts in Europe tend to be high-speed gondolas, at least those responsible for taking you to the peak of the mountain. This means that you can ascend 5000 feet, almost a mile, in about 25 minutes. This is much better than the majority of United State ski resorts, especially those on the east coast. Normal chair lifts and T-Bars exist of course, but run either parallel to the gondolas, or are a means to get from one ski area to another. The amazing thing about European skiing is that even the smaller, less well known resorts still offer high-speed gondolas! They aren't reserved for the big names like Kitzbühl and Solden.
The next advantage offered by European skiing is the large number of directly, or indirectly connected ski resorts. By purchasing a lift ticket at one ski-resort, you then have access to all of their partner resorts, either directly via interconnecting ski lifts, when the resorts are next to each other, or indirectly with local bussing or other means of transportation, when the resorts are further apart. In fact, at the largest interconnected ski area in Austria, there are over 150 miles of trails, more than 90 lifts, and over 70 bars and restaurants on the mountains. The best part is you get that all for the price of one lift ticket - which converts to roughly $40.
The next factor which makes European skiing so attractive is the affordability. In Europe, even for the ultra-trendy Kitzbühl, where the crème-de-le-crème of the world ski, you will seldom pay more than $40 for a lift ticket. This is nothing in comparison to the prices Vail and Aspen demand for a lift ticket, around $75.
Europe can also compete when it comes to off-trail and powder skiing. Off-trail skiing in Europe is as equally loved as in the United States and can be done at every ski resort in the Alps.
Summer skiing is perhaps the largest advantage offered by European skiing. In Europe, there are numerous summer skiing opportunities, many of them on glaciers, which offer a unique ski experience of there own. While none of the resorts guarantee that there will be adequate snow, a number of them skied continuously the entire summer of 2003, the hottest summer in recent European history.
The final advantage of European skiing is Après Ski. Après Ski just does not exist in the United States. There are arguably certain United States resorts which offer Après Ski, but it just doesn't compare. Starting at around 3 - 4 PM, Europeans ski off to the nearest Après Ski party, which are directly situated on the mountains, and drink a few beers while loud ski-music plays in the background. The spirit of a real Après Ski party can't be described, it has to be experienced first-hand.
The advantages of skiing Europe are many, and some more debatable that others. However, the largest advantage of skiing Europe can not be debated: if you ski in Europe, you will spend more time on your skis than you will in the United States.
Corey Hannum is the president of European Adventure Travel, a provider of guided luxury adventure travel tours in Europe, and authors the Adventure Travel News blog. He is also a certified paramedic, and has bachelors' degree in German. In addition, he is a dedicated skier and sports enthusiast.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.