Parsenn Gotschna Snowboarding
The 12th most popular snowboarding destination in Switzerland.
Thursday 7 March 2019 06:26 GMT
Southeast of Zurich and northeast of Davos Dorf, the sunny Parsenn Gotschna ski area is part of the Davos-Klosters ski region. The Parsenn Gotschna ski area has 25 pistes served by 15 lifts accessing a vertical descent of 1500m. It interconnects the towns of Davos and Klosters with lifts, and has pistes-only running down to the villages of Klubis and Serneus.
Located in the eastern Swiss canton of Graubünden (aka Grisons), the Davos Klosters ski region consists of six ski areas in the Rhaetian Alps spread along the Landwasser valley. Lining both sides of the Landwasser valley the six ski areas include: Parsenn Gotschna, Jakobshorn, Madrisa, Rinerhorn, Schatzalp-Strela and Pischa. Overall, there are 110 pistes totaling 318km that are served by 55 lifts (27 drag lifts) with a maximum vertical descent of 2,030m. The Parsenn Gotschna ski area is the largest and most accessible from both Davos and Klosters, Jacobshorn is popular for its freestyle options, and Rinerhorn is known for its off-piste freeriding. The Davos Klosters ski region is infamous for all of the off-piste freeriding opportunties. Many hardcore snowboarders feel that the Davos Klosters region would be ideal to spend an entire snow season.
Heading right out of Davos Dorf and Klosters Platz, the popular Parsenn Gotschna ski area is the main ski area of the Davos region. This massive ski area spreads over the Alps to directly interconnect with the villages of Davos & Klosters. It’s known for big descents and also a 12km pistes running from the Weissfluhjoch all the way down to the remote village of Klubis on the train line back to the Kloster lift. From either base town, it’s a production to get up to the ski areas each morning. From Davos Dorf, it requires 2 funiculars to reach summit station at Weissfluhjoch (train connect literally in same room so watch where you’re going). And from Klosters Plaz, takes 2 cable cars to reach summit station at Gotchnagrat. So, with 40+ minutes to get back to the top, you’ll probably not do a bottom run (1800m) except at the end of the day. Therefore, the typical practical vertical during the day is 1100m.
The Parsenn ski area may not have massive off-piste freeriding lines, but there are plenty of side-country freeride lines to explore off almost every lift. There are two short designated ski routes including Ski Route #8 off Weissfluhgipfel to the Haupterfali t-bar and the Ski Route #9 to Arosa. At Parsenn-Gotschna, there are extensive off-piste lines, but beware of small avalanche paths above you which can still have big slides even five days after last snowfall. The real backcountry line for splitboarders is that Ski Route #9 off the Weissfluhgipfel leading northwest through sketchy avalanche terrain to Arosa (guide recommended and it then takes 2 trains to get back). Also, look for the off-piste routes leading to Fideris or Jenaz.
In addition to the off-piste lines, there are some interesting deadend runs that you should be aware of. For example, both the #13 and #16 black pistes descend from the bottom lift stations down to Wolfgang, where you need to take a bus back to either Davos or Klosters. In addition, on the Kosters side, there are pistes from Schifer to either Kublis (#56) or Serneus (#53) which require a long walk to a bus to return to Klosters. Matter of fact, the 14km route from Weissfluhjoch down to Klubis descend 2000m. Lastly, there is a red piste (#49) from Schwarzeealp leading down to Seifranga on the edge of Klosters.
Davos Parsenn Gotchna ski area has an unusual mountain layout that takes a while to get used to. It doesn’t help that they have most likely the worst piste map in the Alps considering the size of the ski area. The map is only about 5 by 7 inches for a place with 16 lifts spread across 20 km. There are many confusing lift and piste intersections that don’t show on the small map. Inevitably, you’ll end up committing down the wrong run at some point. Unfortunately, the map also doesn’t do justice so some amazing pistes, which aren’t drawn correctly on the small resolution. For example, from the map it’s hard to realized that from the Weissfluhgifel summit down Piste #1 and #24 descends almost 1300m, let alone if you continue on to Küblus or Serneus for another 600m (both require a hike out to the bus or train).
After a long morning of ripping it up, you can find good on-mountain dining at the Chesetta Hutte off Piste #24 or Berghaus Alte Schwendl. Noteworthy, the valley village restaurants in this region are particularly disappointing especially compared to neighboring Tirol and Süd-Tirol. Their menus tend to have limited variety and are very pricey. The exception tend to be the lone Italian pizza/pasta restaurant. Luckily, mountain hüttes tend to be very good with traditional specialties at more reasonable prices. So plan on enjoying long late lunches up on the mountain.
If you do stay in Davos and are looking for some apres ski action, then check out the Postli Club, the Cabanna Club, the Ex-bar or the Piano Bar. In Klosters, stop at the Grastrochni umbrella bar on the final piste just before the Gotschnabahn cable car base area. Apres ski is a very tame affair and can be kind of hit-or-miss. Of course, it’s best on the weekend evenings, but that’s still not saying much.
A big question when coming to the Davos-Klosters ski region is where to stay: in Davos or Klosters. From either town, there are free ski buses that interconnect to all six ski areas in the Davos Klosters ski region. While families on long holiday may choose to rent a house in the inexpensive outer villages, most snowboarders will probably want to stay close to the lifts. So, that leaves Davos Dorf, Davos Platz or Klosters Platz. Combined, Davos Dorf and Davos Platz are a massive city with newer, concrete block-style buildings and high-traffic. It is relatively new in European terms since it was only settled about 150 years ago. There are plenty of modern amenities, but there isn’t that quintessential authentic Swiss village feel nor the quaint restaurants you may be seeking out of a Swiss vacation. The number of restaurants is limited and many are very expensive. But, the two best ski areas are accessible from Davos (Parsenn and Jakobshorn). A ski bus is required to get between those two ski areas, though, since Davos Dorf and Davos Platz are actually a long ways apart and isn’t really walkable. If you plan to stay in Davos, keep in mind the entire city is booked annually near the end of January for the World Economic Forum, so avoid coming then. Lastly, even with all its modern amenities, its still not really know for its party scene.
A better answer may be to stay in Klosters. Located further east, the smaller village of Klosters is much more of a typical quaint Swiss village that makes a great base for a longer snowboarding vacation. And, right from town you can access both Parsenn Gotschna (Klosters Platz) and Madrisa (Klosters Dorf) which are connected by a free ski bus. The challenge with Klosters is the lack of restaurants. There are two reasonably priced restaurants and several very high end restaurants. For the most part, unless you have your own kitchen, you’ll probably want to eat at your hotel restaurant.
Contrary to the usual recommendation, it is best to pick lodging based on a good halfboard plan (breakfast AND dinner). This will save a lot of money and convenience. It’s location won’t matter quite as much since ski buses and trains are needed anyways to access the spread out ski areas. Being near one of the three main train stations is a bonus.
And, now for the pro-tip. In light of the fact that there isn’t really an apres ski scene and little to see/do in the towns, Davos-Klosters is definitely the place to strongly consider staying up on the mountain at a gasthaus or hütte (not at a lift top station, but mid-mountain) where the food is amazing, there can be some apres ski and you’ll get first tracks.
To reach the snowboarding in Davos from Zurich, the best bet is by train. It’s a 2.5 hour ride with a single transfer in Landquart. This is the same train line that also services St Moritz, which is 30 minutes further along the line. If you are coming from the airport and don’t want to use the trains, you can always use the Davos Express transfer bus service.
To reach this area from Zurich by car, head southeast on Route A3 to Landquart, and then southeast on Route 28 into Davos.
Overall, Parsenn Gotschna is the 12th most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 81 snowboarding resorts in Switzerland. Several of the better snowboarding resorts are nearby Parsenn Gotschna including Jakobshorn, Madrisa, Pischa, Rinerhorn and Schatzalp-Strela.