Wow, what a gem of a resort Engelberg is. Having never been before but having heard so much I was intrigued. I was also a little sceptical as Simon in the office dislocated his shoulder skiing in Engelberg and consequently did not give it a glowing report.
Arranging a ski weekend in Engelberg could not be easier as flights to Zurich are plentiful and my SWISS flight went without a glitch. The two friends I was meeting up with had about a 45 minute delay so I got to experience Zurich airport, which is actually very impressive. Plenty of shops and restaurants to keep oneself busy for an hour or so. We picked up a car and the short transfer time of 1 hour 20 minutes makes Engelberg, one of the shortest transfer destinations from a major airport.
It was not love at first sight as we arrived in Engelberg with sub zero temperatures, in fact, none of us were too keen to get out and ask someone where to find our hotel. The long and short of it is that Engelberg is not that big so eventually we found THE SCHWEIZERHOF how could we miss it as it was right in the centre of the resort next to the Bahnhof! With the resort totally covered in snow and snow continuing to fall on our arrival we all knew we were in for a good weekend of powder.
Engelberg Skiing – Day 1
The next day after a hearty breakfast we got our skis and walked the seven minutes to the Titlis Gondola with the snow still falling. Please note we could have also hopped on the local bus for a four minute ride to the lift. OK, the visibility was not great but with so much snow around we were on a mission. After the two stage Gondola we hopped onto the cable car and arrived at 2428 metres which is actually not that high and with the final Rotair cable car still to take we decided we would start our weekend on skis at this point. The snow under ski was amazing and within a short time we found our perfect pitch to go crazy in the POW! The Laubersgrat area was perfect with powder up to our thighs on either side of the piste, we were soon getting in the groove. The visibility remained poor for most of the morning but after a spot of lunch every skier’s dream came true – a “bluebird” afternoon was in stall for us. We jumped on the Rotair Cable car, which is quite unique in that it revolves round as it ascends to 3028 metres. Now the heart was pumping as the views were amazing of the Steinberg glacier below us. We could see plenty of skiers and boarders in paradise skiing thigh deep powder. However, without a guide we were not going to tackle the glacier so instead we skied a safer itinerary route which was just as amazing. Having skied hard all day our end run was the famous bowl called the Laub. This is 1400 metres of off-piste North facing powder with a perfect pitch – a real thigh burner but we were in heaven! My tip on reaching the bottom of the Laub is not to walk out but take the taxi ride back. For 2 Swiss francs I can assure you it’s worth it. Day one was over and I was a spent force.
Days two and three in Engelberg were just as inspiring, as we went over to the Jochpass area and found plenty of excellent off-piste terrain. Wherever you look you’ll find tracks as this is an off-piste paradise given the right conditions. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time as I cannot remember skiing in such light and deep powder – just truly amazing! Next time I go I will be fitter and I’ll book a guide, well if I am being more realistic maybe I’ll just book the guide.
Engelberg Resort – Summary
The resort of Engelberg is situated in a box canyon as the Americans like to call it, and is typical in style of many Swiss resorts. The larger buildings being quite square and austere, mixed in with traditional wooden mazots, make for an interesting combination. Getting around Engelberg can generally be done on foot although the local bus service is frequent and reliable. There are plenty of good hotels and I can highly recommend the Hotel Schwiezerhof where we stayed. They offer a great breakfast; and the rooms are large, comfortable and clean. There is a small bar and lounge to relax in as well as a small wellness area. The hotel restaurant which we did not try does local fondues, so next time I will give it a go.
Please note as we only skied for 2 ½ days we did not have time to try the Brunni side of the resort. This is the family and beginner ski area, so don’t let the fact that I have recommended Engelberg to powder hounds put you off, there is something for everyone and Engelberg has an excellent choice of comfortable accommodation.