1. Big Mountains: the Swiss Alps are the most dramatic scenic ski mountains anywhere. Skiing in the shadows of The Eiger’s North Face in the Jungfrau Region is as breathtaking as it gets. The Schilthorn, Matterhorn, Titlis Glacier, Mont Fort, the list of abrupt alpine peaks goes on.
2. You can ski the world’s oldest, longest World Cup Downhill, the 1930 Lauberhorn race course in Wengen, almost 3 miles and 3,373′ vertical. See how close you can come to Bode Miller’s 2 1/2 minute Gold winning time (it was a 9-minute non-stop run for us). A short chair ride from the Downhill finish, and you are skiing the steep Slalom course where Ted Ligety won Gold this January.
3. Ski like James Bond, the scene from 007’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed at the spectacular Piz Gloria revolving restaurant at the 9,748′ Schilthorn summit. Enjoy a panoramic lunch watching the Jungfrau peaks pass by, the full rotation takes a leisurely 55 minutes. Skiing off the Schilthorn offers super exciting steep but oh-so scenic terrain.
4. Ride a spinning ski lift, the Titlis Rotair tram turns a full 360 as it ascends the ski slopes of Engelberg. So you get a perfect panorama on your lift ride up to the 9,934′ Titlis Glacier, amazing and ideal for planning your ski down.
5. Swiss ski lunch is an alpine event. Ski in to a mountainside chalet and enjoy Swiss fondue, raclette, rosti potatoes, delicious home-cooked food served by farmers who produce cheese from their cows who graze these same mountains in summer. When the sun is out, lunch is outside on beautiful wooden decks with spectacular views of the surrounding Alps. The Europeans know how to do lunch with a Stein of beer or a bottle of wine, way better than a quick greasy burger between runs.
6. Ski village to village. Swiss trail maps are no bigger than ours stateside. In fact they are confusingly small but cover miles and miles of terrain, even into neighboring countries – Switzerland to Italy, France or Austria for example. It’s a true alpine adventure.
7. The Swiss have a plethora of five-star lodging, Gstaad Switzerland alone has four fabulous five-star hotels. There is nothing as opulent or decadent as returning from downhill skiing to posh digs with ski concierge, spa, scenic balcony and sumptuous down duvets.
8. All these beautiful Swiss ski resorts can be reached by Swiss Pass which include trains, buses, boats and trams. The entire system runs with the precision of a Swiss watch. The Swiss Trains are clean, fast, and smooth, with big picture windows and ski storage.
9. Après ski – The Europeans invented “drinking in the alps” and continue to raise the bar – literally. By 2pm, there are more skiers enjoying an aperitif on a sun terrace above 8,000′ than skiing the Swiss Alps slopes. It’s still a long ski down from these high elevation chalets, but the Swiss seem to handle it heartily as they have for a century.
10. A sunny day in the Swiss Alps is the ultimate – a skier’s best day ever! If you get lucky like we did with six straight days of sunshine – it will surpass any other ski trip. Snow, scenery, steeps, glacier skiing, après ski, Swiss fondue, chocolate, need I say more…
Switzerland Photos by Greg Burke- Schilthorn, Wengen, Grindelwald, Engelberg, Gstaad