New Year’s resolutions provide a good opportunity to straighten out things: to loose weight, save more money and be nicer to everyone. To avoid excess, tip your waiter better and live within your means.
I had, like many, resolved to do much of this. To be less foolish and impulsive with my decision making. To spend more time this winter with my wife. To work harder and play less.
All of these are noble goals, of course. But they also translate into one grim reality. Working harder means skiing less. Spending more time with my wife means I have to forgo road trips to Jackson Hole with the buddies. To be less impulsive means that I don’t jump on a plane to Europe to catch epic conditions in the Alps.
So, with passport in hand, I’m saddened to say that the first week of the New Year is already a bust. Good intentions and noble goals will always succumb to passion and powder lust. And the latter two afflictions are, unfortunately, traits I’ll carry with me to my deathbed.
The passion is what got me into trouble this time. Passion for new mountains, big terrain, and travel to snowy places. I hadn’t planned on going to Italy to ski. But when someone at a holiday party brought up Alagna and mentioned that it was having an epic start to the year, I couldn’t help but Google the ski area the next morning.
When I finally pulled up the trail map, the reality hit me. I had to go. Alagna, you see, is a less then well kept secret. But the kicker is that the small resort makes up the easternmost point of a massive complex that spans several valleys. Called Monterosa Ski, it’s not the biggest resort of its kind in Europe. But when you look at a map of a place you’ve never skied, and the map shows the promise of endless off-piste, and the weather report says it’s snowing, well. . . .
Sometimes you just have to go take a look-see for yourself, wife and New Year’s resolutions be damned.
I relate this story not because I’m trying to justify a trip to Monterosa to ski (I can’t, well, justify it). And for those of you who find me guilty of being a bad husband, let me admit that Italy did not come without a price: One week on a beach in Mexico during prime February ski days at the side of my significant other was the negotiated settlement. But I’m telling you this because when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, maybe we have it all wrong.
Instead of trying to loose weight, this year, you and everyone else who skis should resolve to go someplace new. And I don’t mean to Idaho or Aspen. I mean really new. I mean Europe, Japan, or Chile or even someplace strange and wild, like Bulgaria.
For me, this year will be Europe. And Italy is easy to justify when you consider the fact that Monterosa Ski spans three valleys, has great Italian food and wine, it’s having an amazing season, and— better yet—it’s next to Switzerland.
Switzerland? Yeah, because after I go skiing in Italy, I might as well cross the frontier and see what the Valais region of Switzerland has on tap. After all, if you’re going to go skiing, you might as well GO SKIING!
So forget loosing weight, and I don’t smoke. This year will be the year that I sample the Alps. And right now that means two things, Italy and Switzerland. What’s your New Year’s resolution?
The Inside Line:
Want to ski Europe? Of course you do. And despite what you may think, it’s actually pretty affordable. This journalist’s flight from Denver to Milan was approximately $1000 round trip on Lufthansa, and includes a direct leg from Denver to Frankfurt. Also check out Swiss Air http://www.swiss.com, which has direct flights from cities like Los Angeles and Chicago to Zurich and Geneva, where it’s possible to jump on a train at the airport upon arrival and head to your final alpine destination.
Accommodations in both Italy and Switzerland can be found on the Internet. Check out Internet Holiday Rentals for self-catering options in both countries. Switzerland’s vacation web portal www.myswitzerland.com also has info on accommodations, and package deals including spur of the moment discounts at destinations ranging from luxury hotels overlooking Lake Geneva to spa and ski vacations in the Valais Region of Switzerland at the venerable resort of Crans Montana. You’ll also want to look at regional tourist office websites. The Valais site is particularly helpful, with information on accommodations, breaking news on events, snow, and weather reports, and special offers. You can also sign up for the Valais newsletter to keep informed. For Monterosa, check out the resort’s excellent site which gives a great overview of the area including accommodations, weather, and other news. And for general information on travel to Italy, you can’t go wrong by starting you research at www.italiantourism.com.
Finally, you can see a full array of webcams for both the Valais and Monterosa Ski at a cool website called Snow Eye. If these cams as well as the others on the site (from ski areas across the Alps) don’t get you to resolve to go skiing someplace new, then you should probably give your skis to someone who will.
You can read the rest of columnist Tom Winter's columns here.