With every big thing comes one big question: Who’s idea was this? Regarding winter sports, in Switzerland, almost every alpine holiday resort claims the respective answer for itself. Be that as it may, there is one mountain village, well known all over the world: St. Moritz. But what is it about this place? Can it live up to the high expectations? Or are you better off taking the trip to Aspen in North America, where the snow is said to be sparkling like Champagne?
But why take on the flight over the Atlantic, when the Alps are just round the corner? Honestly, when the Alps are once more barely touched by snow, while the Rocky Mountains are downright drowning in powder – who hasn’t at least considered the question. So let’s take on a duel of destinations on the most exclusive Jetset-level: Aspen in Colorado vs. St. Moritz in Engadin.
Regarding the pistes, comparing numbers does not make much sense: The means of measuring are quite different: Where Europeans count sections in kilometres, Americans calculate the overall resort area. Both places have their own unique charming character. At an altitude of a good 3000 meters above sea level. The differences can be found in the respective topography: In the Engadin you can find Backcountry-variations interspersed with edgy rocks and glaciers, whereas the Rockies offer slalom-routes through trees over concave slopes, called “Bowls” by the locals. Still, one thing is crucial when sloping: Not even the hardly overrun Engadin mountains can offer the amount of sheer vastness of snow covered landscapes and slopes that Colorado can. The extents are genuinely ludicrous.
Tradition, as one of the cradles of winter sports, has more to offer in St. Moritz. But also Aspen has history. From the former silver mine city with red brick houses emerged a sophisticated skiing resort – subtle and genuine, not built overnight by a major investor. Both areas are overall about the same size, sharing about the same altitude. In the elegant residential areas Suvretta and Red Mountain you can taste the glamour in the air. Like in the local art scene: St. Moritz entices with exhibitions of Nietzsche and Segantini – recently amplified by a gallery from former Heidi Klum – lover Vito Schnabel. Aspen hosts a sort-of artist-café at Anderson Ranch, where Hollywood frequently resides. Aspen might at the utmost have a minor advantage, because the Rockies seem to have a more liberal, a more “rocky”, kind of attitude. Notable, for example, at the changing concerts at Club “Belly Up”. Otherwise, it remains a question of mere personal preference.
The winter & surroundings.
Both locations praise themselves for 300 days of sunshine per year – that’s what the advertisements sell. With St. Moritz straightforwardly claiming the invention of alpine winter tourism. Just as all the other skiing resorts located around Austrian Arlberg do. And: St. Moritz praises its relative dryness over 1800 meter as “Champagne climate”. And quite naturally, Aspen has to counter-advertise: Here the clouds loose a lot of wetness traversing the deserts in the west. Bestowing Aspen with the famous “Champagne Powder”. This especially powdery snow is something to enjoy fresh and fluffy: It’s not built to last a winter season. A point for Aspen. However: the view in St. Moritz is unmatched. In the south lakes string together until they reach the Malojapass, the south-west featuring 4000 meter highlights, Piz Bernina and his neighbour Piz Palü. The valleys, carved by the rivers Inn and Flaz, are forming wide plains in between the mountain ranges. Aspen may have higher mountains, but due to the timber line at about 3500 meters altitude, it still sometimes feels like the Alpine foothills.
After all, it once more comes down to personal preference – and asset capacities. Although St. Moritz is considered to be expensive, Aspen charges triple for a skiing day pass. Nevertheless: A stay embedded within mountains and snow is priceless as it is. Especially with friends and loved ones – no matter where.