A Guide to Off-Piste Skiing in Davos, Switzerland

Daniel DawsonDecember 17, 2018

Situated on the river Landwasser in a little valley encompassed by the Rhaetian Alps, Davos is a former mining town turned Alpine village.

The small city, which is located in the far-eastern Swiss Canton of Graubünden and home to about 10.000 permanent residence, now has two main claims to fame: it is the host of the World Economic Forum every January and boasts the best off-piste skiing in the whole country.

With more than 320 kilometers of slopes stretching across 61 different mountains, there is no shortage of skiing available and there are plenty of options for off-piste skiers of every level.

Off-piste skiers have been flocking to Davos since the end of the nineteenth-century due to the deep powder that was, and still is, perfect for freeriding. After the 1913 European Bandy Tournament was held in Davos, the former mining town subsequently became a popular ski destination for British and Dutch tourists.

Since then, Davos has remained a very popular destination for off-piste skiers and attracts about one million people each year to its scenic mountains.

With so many resorts and different spots to check out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best off-piste locations in Davos along a few facts that are good to know.

What are the best spots?

 

Due to its location along the eastern end of the Alps, Davos consistently receives plentiful and excellent snow for optimal off-piste skiing. Photo courtesy of Heidi Zimmermann.

Parsenn Gotschna

 

There are six main skiing areas around Davos. Of them, Parsenn Gotschna is the largest and most popular.

Connecting Davos to its partner city of Klosters, the resort is world-renowned for its long descents from the top of the Weissfluh ridge back down and on to the valley floor. The mountain offers plenty of other freeride options as well.

The spot is perfect for intermediate skiers as none of the slopes are too steep or technically challenging. The area’s longest run, which goes from Weissfluh ridge to the nearby village of Küblis, is 12 kilometers long!

Schatzalp/Strela

 

Located directly above Davos and privately owned by the Schatzalp Hotel, the Schatzalp and Strela areas offers the perfect combination of runs for newcomers to the winter sports and more advanced skiers.

Relaxed and decelerated slopes with views over Davos and into the mountains are perfect for beginners, just getting used to skiing off-piste. They’re also perfect for more advanced skiers looking to relax a bit before more challenging runs.

For more adventurous off-piste skiers, the option to go with your guide out onto the wooded slopes away from Davos is quite popular. While the skiing is tough, you will oftentimes be all alone enjoying the natural peace and quiet.

Madrisa

 

Located in the neighboring city of Klosters, the Madrisa is a mountain in the Rätikon range. It is best known for its excellent freeriding options, similar to those on Parsenn Gotschna with smaller crowds.

With one proper summit and several second summit, there are hours of off-piste skiing available. Some of these secondary summits are much farther down the mountain as well, meaning there are plenty of perfect slopes for novice and intermediate off-piste skiers.

At 2.828 meters high, there are gorgeous views from the top of the highest summit. The long run, back down through the forested slopes and into the valley, is an amazing off-piste experience for more advanced skiers.    

Take advantage of long and steep runs from the tops of the mountains back into the valley. Photo courtesy of John Hogg.

Pischa

 

Located a short bus ride away from Davos in the Flüela valley, Pischa is known as one of Switzerland’s largest freeride regions.

With only three marked runs, the rest of the area is perfectly suited for off-piste exploration. Beginning from the Weissfluh summit, there is a popular route that follows the 12-kilometer round trip that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took on his own visit to Davos.

There are also many other routes, including several to the summit of the Pischahorn, which yields spectacular views back into Davos as well as out into the mountains. Also from the summit of the Pischahorn is the best off-piste access to the even taller Gorihorn peak.

Rinerhorn

 

Sitting on the southern edge of the valley in which Davos is situated, the Rinerhorn boasts trickier terrain along with the most gorgeous views.

Due to its more remote location and difficulty, not as many skiers venture out here. This can give you relative peace in an otherwise crowded resort town. Enjoy long an undisturbed runs through evergreen forests and back into the valley from the Rinerhorn’s modest summit.

At 2.528 meters high, the Rinerhorn also offers impressive views of the surroundings. Enhance these views by heading into the backcountry, away from the resorts on the mountain’s southern flank.     

The Jakobshorn

 

Located in between, the Rinerhorn and hamlet of Davos, the Jakobshorn is the perfect spot for novice off-piste skiers.

With a cable car providing service right to the top, it is easy to enjoy some spectacular views before heading back down the mountain. There are numerous easier off-piste routes that take you through the scenic surroundings and back into the valley.

However, there are also tougher routes for more advanced off-piste skiers looking for a challenge. The most intrepid will head west down the mountain, taking on some tricky areas filled with forest and streams.

 

Enjoy plentiful powder from the end of December until April. Photo courtesy of Bernd Werner.

Best time to go there

 

From December to April is the best time to come to Davos for off-piste skiing. However, many guides also offer trips from November to May.

During the winter, average temperatures in Davos are -4°C to -6°C and get colder the higher up in elevation you go. December to February are the snowiest months of the year, with an average of 80 cm per month.

The World Economic Forum comes to Davos at the end of January, bringing many business and political leaders to the little town. As a result of this added traffic, it is usually pretty difficult to find somewhere to stay at this time. To avoid the hassle, it’s best to book your trip either before or after the event.

How much does it cost?

 

How much an off-piste skiing trip costs depends largely on how long you go for, how many people you go with and what you end up doing.

That being said, you can expect to spend between 250 CHF (Swiss francs, which is worth slightly less valuable than a Euro) and 600 CHF per person for a few days of guided off-piste skiing. These prices are likely to include only the guide fee and may decrease with larger groups of participants.

For longer week-plus trips in Davos, you could expect to spend closer to 2.000 CHF per person. This price generally includes accommodation at mountain huts, half-board meals and personal equipment rentals.  

Always check with your guide prior to booking for an exact price quote and what all is included.

 

Come and spend a winter skiing in Davos and make this moment yours. Photo courtesy of Bernd Werner.

How to get to Davos?

 

Davos is easily reached by road or rail once you have landed at the international airport in Zurich (ZRH), which offers plenty of direct flights from most major cities around the world.

Once you have arrived in Zurich, you can take the train directly to Davos. Trains leave every hour from the station directly beneath the airport terminal and the journey to the station at Klosters takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

It is also possible to reach Davos by road. You may want to rent a car at the airport and make the scenic two hour drive, which is fairly straight forward with well-signed highways.  

 

Surrounded by numerous mountains, Davos is a great location for sampling many different off-piste terrains. Photo courtesy of Heidi Zimmermann.

 

So what are you waiting for? Book your next ski holiday to Davos and enjoy the unbeatable combination of stunning scenery, plenty of variety and perfect powder!

 

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