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Galen's 'Official' Ski Rankings

Galen’s ranking for best places to go. For further details, including lodging and dining, see the region notes below.

1
Zermatt (Valais) While definitely a big deal production and requiring advance planning and a decent amount of money, Zermatt is lots of fun and has the best skiing terrain we’ve found in Switzerland.
2
Gstaad (Bern) Full of flashy clothes, amazing people watching. Generally not crowded, stunning views, perfect for beginner/intermediate skiers.
3
Belalp (Valais) Lots of terrain, good lifts, very high altitude (3182m at the top) – making for a long season. Amazing groomers and wide open off-piste. Tunnel through the mountain! Bring big guns or powder skis.
4
Arosa Lenzerheide (Graubünden) In Lenzerheide you should begin on the Sesselbahn Scalottas as it has great groomed runs and amazing off-piste, shockingly in the trees, which is very rare for the Alps. The ski area on the East side of the valley is much more aggressive, as the mountains are higher. The West side of the valley has a lot of rolling hills that are excellent (plus the aforementioned tree skiing). On your second day, go to Arosa, which is similar to the West side of Lenzerheide, rolling hills, lots of terrain, and very large. Arosa is the most famous, but we found the skiing in Lenzerheide superior.
5
Saint-Luc (Valais) A new favorite. About 1:15 from the house, not crowded, lots of terrain, beautiful setting. Very high and pretty dry (so good snow most of the time).
6
St Moritz - Corviglia (Graubünden) Stunning views, great slopes, good on piste and off. Really big with a lot of diversity.
7
Klosters/Davos - Gotschna (Graubünden) The main Davos/Klosters ski area is pretty amazing, but it’s very crowded, very snow-board centric, and can take close to an hour to get from the valley floor up to the ski area.
8
Lech (Tyrol) Lech was amazing. One of the biggest ski resorts I’ve ever seen and with amazing conditions and extremely good infrastructure. It very much lives up to the hype.
9
Alta Badia (Dolomites) Perhaps not the best skiing in the world (though excellent), but the ***Sellaronda was very enjoyable and the views are epic (you can ski in either direction, takes about 3-4 hours).
10
Murren (Bern) Amazing views, longer season than most, fun historic runs to try. Great on-piste, would be great off-piste. Very steep, very fast.
11
Megève (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) Lower elevation with trees, usually good snow coverage after Christmas. Amazing rolling pistes, great grooming, our favorite place to ski in France (so far).
12
St Moritz - Corvatsch (Graubünden) Corvatsch has steep runs, lots of terrain, amazing views. The top is at 3303 - very high for Switzerland. Not crowded, for more advanced skiers than Corviglia. Not a lot of lifts
13
Tignes & Val d’Isere (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) Gigantic. Highest ski resort in Europe. Great on-piste, great off-piste if powder, all above tree line. 300 km of trails. Can be a little chaotic given the masses of people visiting who ski once a year or less. Would be a pleasant long stay, plenty to explore.
14
Jungfrau Ski Area (Bern) Beautiful views of the Eiger and the Jungfrau. Okay groomers, excellent off-piste. Very weather dependent, can get chopped up and fogged in.
15
Saas-Fee (Valais) If you want to get right up next to a glacier, this is the place to go. The skiing is excellent, but don’t go here for a ton of skiing time – you’ll spend much more time than you’re used to on trams and gondolas.
16
La Thuile - Espace San Bernardo (Aosta) The ski area is huge, including a link “over the hill” to the La Rosiere area in France. Very mellow groomers, all blue and red in the upper area. On the right hand side, towards Col Du Petit St Bernard, are the steeper blacks, with more off the front side down to La Thuile. Upper mountain is wide open, no trees, and the lower mountain has great tree skiing, which is uncommon in the Alps.
17
Les Arcs (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) Reminds Galen of Vail, and has big sweeping groomers with some steepness. Generally pleasant, not too fancy.
18
Arolla (Valais) A unique place – a backcountry destination with a little help from poma-lifts. Very exhausting and a big time waster if you want to do a lot of skiing (you’ll spend 2/3rds of the day in lines or on the lifts). BUT if you like backcountry, it is likely one of the best places around. And an excellent place to find untouched powder a week, even two weeks after a snow. This area is very popular for heli-skiing.
19
Seiser Alm (Dolomites) Absolutely incredible views, easy-intermediate, but lovely slopes. Large area and the Ronda is great. Not a place for snowboarders. Lots of huts and hotels to eat at. Great high speed groomers.
20
Chamonix (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) The skiing is steep, not for bad or new skiers. If you want the steep slopes - this is the place to go. Very limited amenities on the slopes (where’s the Vin Chaud!) and attracts an international ground of varying ability (which can be a problem). We’re not huge fans of the village. There are multiple areas - we have skiied at Les Houches, Brévent - Flégèrer (our favorite), and Grands Montets.
21
Valmalenco (Lombardy) obscure location, well above average scenery, very steep, long groomers. Fairly low with top peak at 2300m, no Pomas. Inexpensive (€48 day pass, 2023), tons of Milenese, no Americans. Very pleasant, and at the prices of the area a good choice for families or groups looking for a long ski weekend.
22
Marécottes (Valais) Not far outside of Martigny but far above, Marécottes is a hidden gem of a ski area. One chairlift + one poma lift. A steep narrow bowl surrounded by peaks, partially below tree line (unique for Switzerland). South facing. Reminds Galen of a small Squaw Valley. Lots of off-piste, short and accessible chutes. Good groomers with quite a bit of variety and terrain for such a small mountain. With new snow off-piste looks like it would be epic.
23
Villars (Valais) Part of Glacier 3000 and the closest “real” resort to our house (ignoring the kids-only places). While not my top pick, I prefer it to Port du Soleil and it’s excellent on a powder day. Big enough, well-groomed, lots of terrain for all skill levels.
24
Klosters - Madrisa (Graubünden) A lot of fun. It’s small (we had been on every run by noon), but it wasn’t crowded, has long and lovely swooping runs, good grooming, and a lot of just off-piste terrain.
25
Lauchneralp (Valais) Steep! No crowds, great views. Very high elevation (3100M at the top, mid-mountain is about 2000M). All above tree line, wide open, great off piste and multiple, very long, steep piste runs. It’s extremely secluded and it appears only locals know about it. Very good late season spot.
26
Schonried (Bern) Schonried is at a higher elevation, covered under the same Gstaad pass, but not actually connected with lifts. I like less than Gstaad, but it’s a very popular spot for snowboarders.
27
Savognin/Radons (Graubünden) Rolling groomers and great low angle powder. Exceptional vistas.
28
Port du Soleil (Valais) One of the closest ski areas near our house. Huge, and who doesn’t want to ski to France for lunch? Also the largest mountain biking destination (by trail volume?) in Europe. Very weather dependent, can get fogged out.
29
Adelboden–Lenk (Bern) Looks like it would be excellent on a powder day. Very speed groomers, use big guns. Popular and crowded when warm. Short season, pretty low, highest point is 2100 meters. The opposite (west) side of the valley has a small ski area. Less steep, more children, more low key. Covered under the same pass.
30
Diavolezza-Lagalb (Graubünden) Very few lifts, very long runs, high elevation. Very steep and very fast. Combine with St Moritz – it would be worth it as a combo trip.
31
Andermatt (Uri) Skiing was very good. It’s very large - so large that they offer a special on the “apre-train,” to allow people to ski from one end and train back on the other. The equipment is very modern, which is reflected in the surprising 89 CHF lift ticket, the highest I’ve seen in Switzerland. The on piste runs are long, very steep, wide open, great views. It’s above tree line in glacier scree and boulders, so any off piste would require significant coverage.
32
Engelberg (Obwalden) Very steep, amazing side country, very technical but not difficult, requiring avi gear for safety (and a group). Excellent off-piste, steep on-piste, do not go there for the groomers. There aren’t really any warm-up runs, everything, unless you’re skiing on the home run, is red or black and hard charging. It’s all above the tree line.
33
Verbier (Valais) Verbier is full of tourists, popular for the “once a year skiers” and generally feels unsafe. Very short runs, long lift lines, and reminds me of everything bad about Tahoe. If you have to ski here, and it happens to be a snow day, try Bruson, accessed from the Le Châble lift. When we skied it, it was empty, with long groomers, great off-piste through the trees, and you can do quite nice laps from the main lift to the poma and back.
34
Zillertal Arena (Tyrol) Part of the three resorts that make up the Zillertal (collectively the largest ski area in Europe). It has massive amounts of terrain, above and below tree line. 90% of it is intermediate to beginner, predominately low elevation. Lots of high speed quads and nothing but Dutch people. Very crowded. Good for families.
35
Grand Massif (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) Tons of Brits! Down market, but not in a bad way - not particularly pretentious. Very large, two thirds below tree line. Beautiful views. Lots of slope side restaurants, places to have drinks. Caliber of skier is the worst we’ve seen in Europe (very beginner), and pinch points can get quite crowded. However, given the size, and quite good lift infrastructure/coverage, we didn’t have problems with waiting in line. Because it’s low, make sure it’s cold and there’s a lot of snow, or go early in the year. Looks like it would be great off-piste when there’s good coverage.
36
Nax-Mont-Noble (Valais) Very small, but surprisingly good on-piste. Mostly above tree line. Three fixed lifts, the rest pomo-toe. Great vistas. No appealing place to eat - one cafeteria restaurant and one cash-only Vin Chaud/Burger place.
37
Crans-Montana (Valais) Big, with a lot of terrain. It’s a fairly advanced place, unfortunately attracting a not-advanced crowd, making for a lot of out of control people and a generally stressful experience. The backside on Mount Bonvin is a long and impressive ride.
38
Aletsch Arena (Valais) One of our least favorite ski destinations of recent memory. Fairly steep, and good groomers all over the place. Good off piste if there’s fresh snow. There’s a big investment in infrastructure. Far too expensive for what it is (the same as Verbier!) and not worth it. Bad/rude skiers and hikers everywhere, all over the mountain. No one is looking where they are going, extremely crowded, lots of kids, accidents waiting to happen on every run. Limited dining options, extremely down market.
39
Zugspitze (Bavaria) Zugspitze is adjacent to the Garmisch slopes - not connected - and higher, with a few runs up on the glacier. Beautiful views, fairly small area, if conditions are right ski Garmisch Classic instead - Sugspitze is more of a novelty than a ski area.
40
Leukerbad (Valais) Nice spot, but very small, not much to explore. See notes for summer trips, which would be better for Leukerbad.
41
Flims-Laax-Falera (Graubünden) We didn’t like the skiing at all - poorly laid out lifts, thin runs or cat tracks from one lift to another. All above the tree line. Could be good off-piste if there’s a lot of snow cover. Massively crowded, long lines everywhere, and the most expensive place we’ve skied in Switzerland. Popular with snowboarders.
42
Grimentz/Zinal (Valais) Not a huge fan of this area – Zinal side is a bit better. Very rocky terrain, needs a lot of snow coverage.
1
Lech (Tyrol) Lech was amazing. One of the biggest ski resorts I’ve ever seen and with amazing conditions and extremely good infrastructure. It very much lives up to the hype.
2
Zillertal Arena (Tyrol) Part of the three resorts that make up the Zillertal (collectively the largest ski area in Europe). It has massive amounts of terrain, above and below tree line. 90% of it is intermediate to beginner, predominately low elevation. Lots of high speed quads and nothing but Dutch people. Very crowded. Good for families.
1
Megève Lower elevation with trees, usually good snow coverage after Christmas. Amazing rolling pistes, great grooming, our favorite place to ski in France (so far).
2
Tignes & Val d’Isere Gigantic. Highest ski resort in Europe. Great on-piste, great off-piste if powder, all above tree line. 300 km of trails. Can be a little chaotic given the masses of people visiting who ski once a year or less. Would be a pleasant long stay, plenty to explore.
3
Les Arcs Reminds Galen of Vail, and has big sweeping groomers with some steepness. Generally pleasant, not too fancy.
4
Chamonix The skiing is steep, not for bad or new skiers. If you want the steep slopes - this is the place to go. Very limited amenities on the slopes (where’s the Vin Chaud!) and attracts an international ground of varying ability (which can be a problem). We’re not huge fans of the village. There are multiple areas - we have skiied at Les Houches, Brévent - Flégèrer (our favorite), and Grands Montets.
5
Grand Massif Tons of Brits! Down market, but not in a bad way - not particularly pretentious. Very large, two thirds below tree line. Beautiful views. Lots of slope side restaurants, places to have drinks. Caliber of skier is the worst we’ve seen in Europe (very beginner), and pinch points can get quite crowded. However, given the size, and quite good lift infrastructure/coverage, we didn’t have problems with waiting in line. Because it’s low, make sure it’s cold and there’s a lot of snow, or go early in the year. Looks like it would be great off-piste when there’s good coverage.
1
Zugspitze (Bavaria) Zugspitze is adjacent to the Garmisch slopes - not connected - and higher, with a few runs up on the glacier. Beautiful views, fairly small area, if conditions are right ski Garmisch Classic instead - Zugspitze is more of a novelty than a ski area.
1
Alta Badia (Dolomites) Perhaps not the best skiing in the world (though excellent), but the ***Sellaronda was very enjoyable and the views are epic (you can ski in either direction, takes about 3-4 hours).
2
La Thuile - Espace San Bernardo (Aosta) The ski area is huge, including a link “over the hill” to the La Rosiere area in France. Very mellow groomers, all blue and red in the upper area. On the right hand side, towards Col Du Petit St Bernard, are the steeper blacks, with more off the front side down to La Thuile. Upper mountain is wide open, no trees, and the lower mountain has great tree skiing, which is uncommon in the Alps.
3
Seiser Alm (Dolomites) Absolutely incredible views, easy-intermediate, but lovely slopes. Large area and the Ronda is great. Not a place for snowboarders. Lots of huts and hotels to eat at. Great high speed groomers.
4
Valmalenco (Lombardy) Obscure location, well above average scenery, very steep, long groomers. Fairly low with top peak at 2300m, no poma lifts. Inexpensive (€48 day pass, 2023), tons of Milenese, no Americans. Very pleasant, and at the prices of the area a good choice for families or groups looking for a long ski weekend.
1
Zermatt (Valais) While definitely a big deal production and requiring advance planning and a decent amount of money, Zermatt is lots of fun and has the best skiing terrain we’ve found in Switzerland.
2
Gstaad (Bern) Full of flashy clothes, amazing people watching. Generally not crowded, stunning views, perfect for beginner/intermediate skiers.
3
Belalp (Valais) Lots of terrain, good lifts, very high altitude (3182m at the top) – making for a long season. Amazing groomers and wide open off-piste. Tunnel through the mountain! Bring big guns or powder skis.
4
Arosa Lenzerheide (Graubünden) In Lenzerheide you should begin on the Sesselbahn Scalottas as it has great groomed runs and amazing off-piste, shockingly in the trees, which is very rare for the Alps. The ski area on the East side of the valley is much more aggressive, as the mountains are higher. The West side of the valley has a lot of rolling hills that are excellent (plus the aforementioned tree skiing). On your second day, go to Arosa, which is similar to the West side of Lenzerheide, rolling hills, lots of terrain, and very large. Arosa is the most famous, but we found the skiing in Lenzerheide superior.
5
Saint-Luc (Valais) A new favorite. About 1:15 from the house, not crowded, lots of terrain, beautiful setting. Very high and pretty dry (so good snow most of the time).
6
St Moritz - Corviglia (Graubünden) Stunning views, great slopes, good on piste and off. Really big with a lot of diversity.
7
Klosters/Davos - Gotschna (Graubünden) The main Davos/Klosters ski area is pretty amazing, but it’s very crowded, very snow-board centric, and can take close to an hour to get from the valley floor up to the ski area.
8
Murren (Bern) Amazing views, longer season than most, fun historic runs to try. Great on-piste, would be great off-piste. Very steep, very fast.
9
St Moritz - Corvatsch (Graubünden) Corvatsch has steep runs, lots of terrain, amazing views. The top is at 3303 - very high for Switzerland. Not crowded, for more advanced skiers than Corviglia. Not a lot of lifts.
10
Jungfrau Ski Area (Bern) Beautiful views of the Eiger and the Jungfrau. Okay groomers, excellent off-piste. Very weather dependent, can get chopped up and fogged in.
11
Saas-Fee (Valais) If you want to get right up next to a glacier, this is the place to go. The skiing is excellent, but don’t go here for a ton of skiing time – you’ll spend much more time than you’re used to on trams and gondolas.
12
Arolla (Valais) A unique place – a backcountry destination with a little help from poma-lifts. Very exhausting and a big time waster if you want to do a lot of skiing (you’ll spend 2/3rds of the day in lines or on the lifts). BUT if you like backcountry, it is likely one of the best places around. And an excellent place to find untouched powder a week, even two weeks after a snow. This area is very popular for heli-skiing.
13
Marécottes (Valais) Not far outside of Martigny but far above, Marécottes is a hidden gem of a ski area. One chairlift + one poma lift. A steep narrow bowl surrounded by peaks, partially below tree line (unique for Switzerland). South facing. Reminds Galen of a small Squaw Valley. Lots of off-piste, short and accessible chutes. Good groomers with quite a bit of variety and terrain for such a small mountain. With new snow off-piste looks like it would be epic.
14
Villars (Valais) Part of Glacier 3000 and the closest “real” resort to our house (ignoring the kids-only places). While not my top pick, I prefer it to Port du Soleil and it’s excellent on a powder day. Big enough, well-groomed, lots of terrain for all skill levels.
15
Klosters - Madrisa (Graubünden) A lot of fun. It’s small (we had been on every run by noon), but it wasn’t crowded, has long and lovely swooping runs, good grooming, and a lot of just off-piste terrain.
16
Lauchneralp (Valais) Steep! No crowds, great views. Very high elevation (3100M at the top, mid-mountain is about 2000M). All above tree line, wide open, great off piste and multiple, very long, steep piste runs. It’s extremely secluded and it appears only locals know about it. Very good late season spot.
17
Schonried (Bern) Schonried is at a higher elevation, covered under the same Gstaad pass, but not actually connected with lifts. I like less than Gstaad, but it’s a very popular spot for snowboarders.
18
Savognin/Radons (Graubünden) Rolling groomers and great low angle powder. Exceptional vistas.
19
Port du Soleil (Valais) One of the closest ski areas near our house. Huge, and who doesn’t want to ski to France for lunch? Also the largest mountain biking destination (by trail volume?) in Europe. Very weather dependent, can get fogged out.
20
Adelboden–Lenk (Bern) Looks like it would be excellent on a powder day. Very speed groomers, use big guns. Popular and crowded when warm. Short season, pretty low, highest point is 2100 meters. The opposite (west) side of the valley has a small ski area. Less steep, more children, more low key. Covered under the same pass.
21
Diavolezza-Lagalb (Graubünden) Very few lifts, very long runs, high elevation. Very steep and very fast. Combine with St Moritz – it would be worth it as a combo trip.
22
Andermatt (Uri) Skiing was very good. It’s very large - so large that they offer a special on the “apre-train,” to allow people to ski from one end and train back on the other. The equipment is very modern, which is reflected in the surprising 89 CHF lift ticket, the highest I’ve seen in Switzerland. The on piste runs are long, very steep, wide open, great views. It’s above tree line in glacier scree and boulders, so any off piste would require significant coverage.
23
Engelberg (Obwalden) Engelberg (Obwalden) Very steep, amazing side country, very technical but not difficult, requiring avi gear for safety (and a group). Excellent off-piste, steep on-piste, do not go there for the groomers. There aren’t really any warm-up runs, everything, unless you’re skiing on the home run, is red or black and hard charging. It’s all above the tree line.
24
Verbier (Valais) Verbier is full of tourists, popular for the “once a year skiers” and generally feels unsafe. Very short runs, long lift lines, and reminds me of everything bad about Tahoe. If you have to ski here, and it happens to be a snow day, try Bruson, accessed from the Le Châble lift. When we skied it, it was empty, with long groomers, great off-piste through the trees, and you can do quite nice laps from the main lift to the poma and back.
25
Nax-Mont-Noble (Valais) Very small, but surprisingly good on-piste. Mostly above tree line. Three fixed lifts, the rest pomo-toe. Great vistas. No appealing place to eat - one cafeteria restaurant and one cash-only Vin Chaud/Burger place.
26
Crans-Montana (Valais) Big, with a lot of terrain. It’s a fairly advanced place, unfortunately attracting a not-advanced crowd, making for a lot of out of control people and a generally stressful experience. The backside on Mount Bonvin is a long and impressive ride.
27
Aletsch Arena (Valais) One of our least favorite ski destinations of recent memory. Fairly steep, and good groomers all over the place. Good off piste if there’s fresh snow. There’s a big investment in infrastructure. Far too expensive for what it is (the same as Verbier!) and not worth it. Bad/rude skiers and hikers everywhere, all over the mountain. No one is looking where they are going, extremely crowded, lots of kids, accidents waiting to happen on every run. Limited dining options, extremely down market.
28
Leukerbad (Valais) Nice spot, but very small, not much to explore. See notes for summer trips, which would be better for Leukerbad.
29
Flims-Laax-Falera (Graubünden) We didn’t like the skiing at all - poorly laid out lifts, thin runs or cat tracks from one lift to another. All above the tree line. Could be good off-piste if there’s a lot of snow cover. Massively crowded, long lines everywhere, and the most expensive place we’ve skied in Switzerland. Popular with snowboarders.
30
Grimentz/Zinal (Valais) Not a huge fan of this area – Zinal side is a bit better. Very rocky terrain, needs a lot of snow coverage.

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