SKIING IN THE MORNING: THE ALLURE OF THE EARLY HOURS

At exactly 8.30, the barriers go up on the Pardatschgradbahn cable car and tourists are allowed up the mountain. Every minute counts, because skiing is never better than in the early hours of the morning. We know what we’re talking about.

The first one at breakfast, the first one in the gondola, the first one on the slopes: admittedly it sounds a bit nerdy, especially as you’re on holiday, after all. But then again, there is no better skiing than before nine in the morning. The snow is still as hard as a board then, the pistes are pristine, and you generally have the slopes to yourself, as well. Because other people are on holiday too, and might be a bit less nerdy than you.

But then you get to the gondola, and realise that a few other people had the same idea.

It doesn’t matter. The first one on the piste: there is no better feeling that throwing yourself down a slope which is not yet cut through with the traces of skis, and where the marks of the snow groomer are still fresh. Everything is smooth and even, the snow reacts to every pressure from the edge of your skis just exactly as you imagined it beforehand. There are no surprises, so you can really ski fast, you can even jump over hard-to-see crests, because there are no icy surfaces waiting on the other side, no bumpy places – and also no Dutch man collecting his gear together because he didn’t manage the jump.

But where should you ski? Our tip: go up with the Pardatschgradbahn cableway, then go down the black number 4 piste to the Pardoramabahn cable car. The piste has the ideal gradient for long carving turns, it’s really grippy in the morning at this time of year as well, and there are no people on the slope yet, so you can throw yourself down it as if it were early in the morning.

It’s round about 8.45 then. You’re back up at the top with the Pardoramabahn cableway in a few minutes (5.4 minutes, to be precise), and then you have to get a move on. Because after the warm-up, you have to go down to Idalp, and that’s only possible in a pack along with the other early birds, and then straight on to Höllboden (points for every skier you overtake on the way). Then we want to take the Höllkarbahn lift (5.5 minutes journey time) up to the Palinkopfbahn lift or the Zeblasbahn. Both open only at 9, and after the extra tour with the Pardoramabahn that should be the time right now. The slopes below both the lifts really are the reward for getting up early. They lie in the sun. They’re in perfect condition right now. And if you hurry up, you can get in three or even four downhill runs before the rest of the skiers get there.

It’s a feeling which you really shouldn’t miss. Even if you have to get up early for it.

And if it’s too full too early on, then just ski further to Val Gronda. You can’t go wrong there.