Freeriding in Switzerland


By TobyMcGreen on 7 December 2015 · 0

Switzerland has one of the most spectacular mountain views on Earth. Especially places like Zermatt and Engelberg are luring thousands of tourists to Switzerland because of this views. But the Swiss mountains have a lot more to offer than just a nice view. I'd like to point on some other factors and give you an overview of the best places to Freeride in Switzerland.

The Terrain

The Swiss mountains are offering some breathtaking freeride and backcountry terrain. My absolute favourites for the terrain are Engelberg, Andermatt and Verbier, but also places like St. Moritz and Davos don't need to hide at all. Switzerland ist more known for its steep highalpine terrain than for the best treerunns, although there are some great treeruns. An absolute must do in my opinion is the backside of Mont Fort in Verbier. The backside of Mont Fort is offering several routes that usualy last for some days after a dump.

The backside Mont Fort in Verbier
The backside Mont Fort in Verbier

The Snow

Maybe the most important element for a good freeride resort is the snow. There are big differences in snow between the different resorts of Switzerland. The most of the white stuff normally falls in the Gotthard region whilst there is a lot less snow in the canton of Valais where they have a lot more sunshine instead. I'd like to point out two real snowmagnets of Switzerland. First, the Säntis in the northeast of Switzerland. This is the highest mountain north of the main alpine ride so it usually catches all the snow that's comming from the North. In 1999 the Säntis had an impressive snow cover of 816cm. The Säntis has only one gondola and no pistes and it only opens to skiers when there is a risk of avalanches of 2 or lower so there is no powderstress like in Engelberg or Andermatt. Second, the tiny vilage of Bosco Gurin in the Valle Maggia in the canton of Ticino. During a southern stau it feels like in Japan here. You can easily get 1 meter of the white fluffy stuff overnight. Because there are not many freeriders comming across this hidden vilage, freshies stay for a long time here.

The Village of Bosco Gurin
The Village of Bosco Gurin

The Infrastucture

The Swiss ski resorts are normally quite modern. We have the first rotating gondola on earth going to the top of Mount Titlis in Engelberg and the so called Funispace between Les Ruinettes and Atelas in Verbier has a capacity of 2000 people per hour. Other highlighs are the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with one of the highest cablecar accesses on earth or the Schilthorn with its rotating restaurant. Not all the swiss resorts can compare with the modernity of the Austrian resorts but they're all working on it. Lift passer are somewhere between 40 € (Bosco Gurin) and 80 € (Zermatt)

Funispace from Ruinettes to Atelas in Verbier
Funispace from Ruinettes to Atelas in Verbier

The traveling

There's hardly any other country on earth where traveling by public transportation works that good as it works in Switzerland. Well, transportation is not only good, but also expensive. A daypass is 71.-CHF (65€). For that you get trains that are allways in time and bring you even to the smalest valleys. To allways have your timetable on you and even be able to buy your ticket where ever you are, I recomment the mobile app of the Swiss railways (SBB). If you don't want to travel by public transportation there's also the possibility to travel by car. Keep in mind that some some mountain villages like Zermatt are carfree. To rent a car you pay between 60 and 100€ for a station wagon.

Overnight

Particulary during peak season it can cost you a little fortune to sleep in a Swiss mountain hotel. Especialy in the glamour villages like Gstaad, Zermatt or St. Moritz. Hotels down in the valeys are often much cheaper and there is normaly a good transportation to the skifield. If you want and can affort it you might wake up with a view like this.

View out of a hotelroom in Zermatt
View out of a hotelroom in Zermatt

The Food

Switzerland is world famous for Fondue and Racelette. Especially in the canton of Valais this type of food is popular. But pay attention! The prices in skifield restaurants are normaly extremely high. Don't be surprised to pay 20€ or more for a schnitzel and fries. I usualy take some picknick to the mountain and go to the restaurant in the evening.

Swiss Chese Fondue
Swiss Chese Fondue

Conclusion

You can see, Switzerland has a lot to offer but also costs a lot. We have some real snowmagnets and the Skifields are usualy less crowded than the resorts of Austria and France excluding the most famous resorts like Engelberg or Verbier. We are not blessed with an abundance of treeruns, but if you search for it you'll find some first class treeskiing. And allmost everyone loves Fondue and Chocolate.

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