I have never been too much of a fan of skiing around the December holidays. Sure, the snow around Christmas time is magical, however, the longer lift lines and congestion often outweigh the magic.
I have wanted to ski the Swiss Alps for a long time, however, given the distance from the East Coast of the US, a weekend trip is impractical. Further, spring break in high school always fell around Easter, which can be too late for quality skiing.
With a new college schedule and a spring break during the first week of March, I took the opportunity to finally check off skiing in Switzerland from my bucket list. I was able to ski for a couple days, spend some time in Bern and Zurich, and fly home in order to spend more time with the family. This article will talk about my experience and thoughts.
This article is part of my Trip Report: Skiing in Switzerland including:
Skiing in Switzerland, or at least in Zermatt, is a lot like how I wish the US would be: you show up, buy a ticket and you are off skiing (rather than the US, which incentives planning and buying season passes in advance).
When we got there, all we had to do was enter the number of days we wanted to ski into the self-service ticket machine and decide if we wanted to add international access (ie, ability to ski into Italy). We purchased our 4-day international tickets for a few hundred dollars. It was quite expensive, but for sure, cheaper than skiing for 2-days in major US locations such as Vail or Aspen.
As for getting to the skiing, it was quite easy with the ski train within walking distance from our hotel in Zermatt. Additionally, gondolas to the Matterhorn ski area, which connects to Italy, was a short 5-minute taxi away. For the most part, Zermatt is very walkable so it was nice to not need to get into a car.
Further, there were rarely lift lines, nothing like the US, which often feels like Disney-esq lines to me. It was easy to walk up and get on. The longest we waited was about 15 minutes when trying to take the Gornergrat ski train, which is an amazing experience in and of itself.
One of the biggest highlights was skiing into Italy for the day. I actually found the skiing to be better on that side of the border, plus I can never complain about slope side Italian pasta (gluten free too!).
Getting around large ski areas can be confusing, especially when there are multiple countries, and independent ski areas involved. Sometimes it can take a matter of hours in order to get from one peak to another, so it makes a lot of sense to plan out your day in advance.
I think that the biggest negative of this ski trip was the overall lack of snow in Zermatt during our visit. Unlike California, which saw record snowfall this year, Zermatt was not as lucky. Unlike the postcard pictures, the village barely had any snow and a lot of the mountain was brown and green, opposed to the perfect white winter wonderland.
I wish more runs and the ability to ski off-piste were more widely available, but how can I complain… I was skiing in Switzerland whether in the best, or, in this case, the worst of conditions.
The Last Point
While I wish the snowpack was greater and there were better conditions overall, I had a blast. If you are in search of a magical experience, don’t shy away from Zermatt with or without snow, as they do an overall very good job at running the mountain. Skiing into Italy is a fun perk.
That said, if you were looking for perfect powder, this was not the year to be in Zermatt. However, I cannot wait for the day I get to go back and ski, whether or not it is perfect conditions.