Three of the best ski safaris

Ski safaris are all the rage across the Alps. Chris Carter looks at three of the best.


A cross-country trek in Switzerland is hard work, but it's worth it
(Image credit: STST - STTP)

Off-piste in the Alps

The "ski safari" is an "increasingly popular style of Alpine trip designed to revive the spirits of the piste-weary mountain enthusiast", says James Pickford in the Financial Times."It rests on a simple but enticing concept: rather than stay in one resort, you make a journey on skis, using cable cars, helicopters, skidoos and anything else available to daisy-chain' across valleys and ridges, staying in different villages or mountain huts as you go."

Pickford's plan was to explore off-piste options Gornergrat, in the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, before catching the cable car to the Gandegghtte for the night. "After a day of mini-adventures including being occasionally thrown off-balance by the weight of rucksacks carrying avalanche airbags, shovels, probes and transceivers, as well as our night-time gear our windswept crew drew up to the mountain refuge, fixed limpet-like on a rock beneath the Breithorn."

The refuge, a relic of the Zermatt that was before it was developed into a ski resort, built in 1885, upholds "all the best traditions of the genre": the wood-fired stove, the fug of the dining room and the dinner served up by the "hut mistress", Andrea "a three-course feast of broth, macaroni with meat and cheese, then dessert".

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A fashionable hotel in the Dolomites

The Dolomites, in Italy on the Austrian border, have become known for their ski safaris, says Roger Toll in The Wall Street Journal. The mountain range covers the world's largest expanse of ski terrain under a single lift pass, not to mention 13 Michelin-starred restaurants.

"After a first night at the Cristallo, Cortina's most fashionable hotel, I skied Cortina's slopes", before reaching Rifugio Averau, which sits "on an 8,000-foot pass six miles outside of town, where we'd spend the second night", says Toll. "Owner Sandro Siorpaes and his daughter, Margot, greeted us in the bar/dining room, designed in the typical Tyrolean style with wooden beams and knotty pine walls." Due to the region's shared history, you will find yourself "jerked between Austrian and Italian cultures", so you never quite know whether to expect apple strudel or ricotta dumplings "truth be told, I was happy either way".


Cross-country trekking in Switzerland

"It's hard,' Peter, who runs The Hotel Castle in Blitzingen, Switzerland, warned us," says Kate Humble in The Daily Telegraph. "The people who do it make it look so effortless, but don't be fooled. You will fall over, your muscles will hurt, but it is a wonderful way to see the valley," said Peter. And it is, agrees Humble, who, together with her husband, Ludo, were up on skis after an hour's tuition, ready to go on a trek, not having skied in 25 years.

After the first day you can expect to be sore from using unfamiliar muscles and you'll wonder whether your legs will be working for the next leg of the trek. But a sauna will revive you, and "bolstering" soups will soon have you keen to get back out there, "revelling in your independence and the frosty, frigid beauty of your surroundings".



A ski safari for gastronomes

Each December, Michelin-starred chefNorbert Niederkofler hits the resortsof the Dolomites (see above) for theGourmet Ski Safari, says Chris Madiganon Niederkofler worksat the St Hubertus restaurant at theHotel Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano, AltaBadia, in Italy.

He invites his top friendsfrom the valley: chefs Matteo Metullio,Giancarlo Morelli and, from furtherafield, Esat Akyildiz of the Ritz-Carlton inAlmaty, Kazakhstan. They each cook aspecial dish in the mountain restaurantsaround the Alta Badia ski area, andteach the staff how to prepare itthroughout the season. For participatingrestaurants, see

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.