Want to ski a World Cup Swiss ski race course where Bode Miller won Gold? How about feasting on Swiss fondue in an Igloo? Ever tempted to sled down a ski trail? For après ski, how does caviar served in a tropical sturgeon farm in the Swiss Alps sound? These are just a few of the attractions at Adelboden. Never heard of Adelboden Switzerland? That's yet another aspect that makes this ski region so special. Adelboden-Lenk isn't well known like Verbier or Zermatt, but Adelboden offers world-class, World Cup, skiing spread across six separate ski areas with a delightful Swiss village, located in the Bernese Oberland.
72 cableways and lifts serve Adelboden's combined 210 km of slopes, which include Adelboden Lenk, TschentenAlp, Engstligenalp, Elsigbach, Betelberg and Kandersteg. Don't worry, you don't have to pronounce them well to ski them.
Adelboden/Lenk is the largest of the six areas and where we skied first, riding a long 3-stage gondola from the classic Adelboden village up to the ski terrain featuring 80 kilometers of pistes (groomed trails), plus loads of untouched off-piste bowls, chutes and faces. Adelboden even has a fast and fun Audi ski cross park, and a measured speed run. Perhaps the craziest descent doesn't involve skis at all, hop on a sled and fly down the sledging trail (these alpine antics would never fly in the US)!
After a day of high elevation high adventure skiing, on and off-piste, and a superb outdoor lunch at a mountain "hutte" with raclette, RayBans and beer (sehr gut), we skied back to Adelboden village. Après ski pubs were brimming with skiers soaking up the sun, schnapps and strudel! The Swiss know how to live, and ski.
Lodging in Adelboden is plentiful, but we found the best at the Parkhotel Bellevue and Spa overlooking town with sensational views and a splendid spa. After a wonderful soak in the infinity edge pool, surrounded by snowy Alps, we strolled the pretty streets of Adelboden, visiting the 1433 church, the amazing ski museum, and the statue in Town Square to touch Bode Miller's footprints among Adelboden's World Cup winners.
Our next adventure was Engstligenalp, a high plateau offering a winter playground just up the valley from Adelboden. You can alpine or Nordic ski, from the 7,750' summit a dozen alpine trails plus limitless off-piste skiing are served by two T-bars. You can also try dog sledding, snow tubing, and ice skating inside an igloo at this snowy alpine amusement park. The "coolest" is Engstligenalp's Fondue Igloo - where fondue is served by candlelight inside a beautiful ice igloo. Picture yourself perched on a reindeer fur bench, savoring fondue and schnapps surrounded by illuminated carvings on the handmade igloo walls.
Traveling to Adelboden by Swiss Train, on your way to ski Zermatt and Saas Fee, Verbier and Aletsch Arena, you pass through Frutigen, where you will find the world's only high elevation tropical fruit, sturgeon and caviar farm. Leave it to the Swiss to hatch such a brilliant recycling of hot springs which were tapped when the mountain train tunnel was created several years ago. Dining on local fresh sturgeon with coveted caviar in the Swiss Alps... nice way to cap off an Alps ski day, even if we didn't bump into Bode Miller.
Swiss photos by Greg Burke