Corviglia Piz Nair Snowboarding
The 6th most popular snowboarding destination in Switzerland.
Wednesday 6 March 2019 03:02 GMT
Southeast of Zurich, the St Moritz ski domain is a real paradise for serious snowboarders, but be ready since it is crazy expensive. St Moritz caters to upper-crust, ultra-exclusive clientele, but it's diametrically-opposed to the plentiful off-piste backcountry freeriding available to shredders. Actually, St Moritz should be on every freeriders bucket list. Spread throughout the Upper Engadin valley, there are nine distinct ski areas mainly interconnected by ski-bus along with a few lifts. Of the nine, there are four main ski areas frequented by most tourists snowboarding in St Moritz: Corviglia Piz Nair, Corvatsch, Zuoz and Diavolezza/Lagalb. These resorts offer 88 pistes totaling 350km that are served by 56 lifts (27 t-bar or tow lifts) with a maximum vertical descent of 1,500m. For strong intermediates, a popular route to explore is the Engadin Snow Safari, which follows a 99km route with over 6,600m of vertical descent.
Located just above St Moritz Dorf and St Moritz Bad, the Corviglia Piz Nair ski area is conveniently located on sunny south-facing slopes that are crowded with mid-day poseurs. It is mainly known for its busy intermediate pistes especially since it is so conveniently located with the main slopes accessible from St Moritz Dorf via a two-stage funicular. The slopes of Corviglia are mostly above the tree line in high alpine terrain. The lower slope region is a dense pine forest but is mostly an off-limit protected forest zone.
Corviglia does offer some pretty epic off-piste terrain, such as on the backside bowls of Piz Nair where the Corviglia freeriding can be found. Starting from the cable car summit at 3057m, there is some steep off-piste under the cable car line through rocky terrain that takes plenty of snow base to really open up. Alternately, look for the side-country lines off piste Red #16. The extensive side-country does get tracked out within 3 hours of opening on a pow day. Sadly, it doesn’t take much snow to close the upper lifts for a day or more. With a foot or more of snow, expect to find Piz Nair and the northern 3 back lifts closed for a day or more.
For the freestylers in your crew, the best bet is the Corviglia Snow Park (Mellow Snow park) which has three zones of varying difficulty with a combined total of 30 stunts. After a long morning of snowboarding Corviglia, grab an on-mountain lunch up at the Alpina Hutte.
While most of the Corviglia snowboarding is above St Moritz, it can be quite expensive to stay in St Moritz. A good alternative is the village of Celerina, which is more slightly traditional, has a train station and a high speed lift up into Corviglia. If you do stay in Celerina, there is a small nice apres ski bar at the base called Finale Bar. A more traditional Swiss village is Pontresina to the south, which is also on the train line and has good bus service.
Unfortunately, St Moritz doesn’t have much of an apres ski scene to speak of, which is surprising considering how many people are on the mountain every day. The apres ski scene in St Moritz is small. Literally and figuratively. The only action you’ll probably find is the dozen riders hanging around the funicular mid-station Alto Bar, which is built inside two side-by-side repurposed cable cars (if the outside grill is still on, get a burger - expensive but amazing). After it closes and before the last funicular train down, head to the base station and look to the right as you descend the stairs for the Gondola Bar, which is also in an old cable car. Make sure to try the “nageln” game in the middle of the bar. If you’re looking for a little more high-brow apres scene, continue down the stairs to Schulplatz and bare to the right. All paths lead past the outside Roo Bar at Hotel Hauser, which has insanely priced beer, loud bad music (alternative Soul just doesn’t seem to go with the Alps), and plenty of fur-wearing poseurs. If you’re getting hungry and looking for an authentic Swiss restaurant, try the Stuva Engiadina, the Chesa Veglia, the Veltliner Keller or the budget Arte Pizza Pasta.
Luckily, St Mortiz is known by poseurs for its late nightlife scene where you need to be seen. Around midnight, you will definitely want to check out the Stubli at the Hotel Scweizerhof, Diamonds at the Kulm Hotel, Kings Club in the Palace Hotel or the Vivai Disco in the Stefani. But, these are not open every night so check their schedules. Oh, and bring your gold credit card - you’ll need it. An alternate to the late night bar scene on Fridays is the night skiing from 7pm to 2am - the on-mountain huttes are open with music until close.
St Moritz is located in the far southeastern corner of the Swiss canton of Graubuenden near the Italian border. The wind currents through the Alps tend to bring cooler temperatures to the Upper Engadin valley and produce better snow conditions than other nearby ski areas. The main village is St Moritz Dorf, which has the train station. While there are numerous smaller and less expensive villages in the valley, the real action is in the pricey St Moritz Dorf. You’ll love seeing the high-end hotel ski valets in long over coats and caps that stand at attention waiting for guests at the funicular lift bottom station to carry skis back to the hotel for guests.
The main village is St Moritz Dorf isn’t known for its old world charm. Most historic buildings were torn down over 20 years ago. The current concrete structures are reminiscent of the urban American “projects”. And, the pistes don’t even come to town requiring a downlift to finish the day. St Moritz Bad isn’t much better either with most lodging a long walk or bus ride to the cable car. While it is normally recommended to stay at a centrally located hotel in the main village, in the case of St Mortiz, you may prefer the more quaint base village of Celerina, or even further out on the ski bus line at Pontresina or Zuoz. Should you choose to stay in St Moritz Dorf, be aware that even the high-end hotels have very small rooms that are smaller than prison cells (think 8 foot by 10 foot cell). And there is a very limited selection of restaurants. Plus, with the train station located well below town and the funicular lift above town, there is plenty of walking to be down. An alternate lodging option is to look for an on-mountain gasthof hutte where you’ll find more convenience and better food.
To reach the St Moritz snowboarding from Zurich by train, start with the hourly train to Chur. Then transfer to the Bernina Express train to St Moritz, which winds thru mountain passes past blue glaciers. The Bernina Express also extends further south to Tirano, Italy, to connect with trains for Milan Malpensa airport.
To reach the snowboarding in St Moritz from Zurich by car, head southeast on Route A3 and then south on Route A13 to Chur. Turn south on road to St. Moritz for 70km. Keep in mind that bad winter weather regularly closes the three high road passes, so taking the train is highly recommened.
Overall, Corviglia Piz Nair is the 6th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 80 snowboarding resorts in Switzerland. Several of the better snowboarding resorts are nearby Corviglia Piz Nair including Corvatsch, Diavolezza-Lagalb and Zuoz.