Top 6 Reasons to Freeride Switzerland at Engelberg and Andermatt

Robin Azer |

[this article is sponsored by Le Grand Adventure Tours]

Cable car at Andermatt leading up to the peaks of Gemsstock with access to off-piste terrain. Credit: Andermatt-Sedrun Facebook page
Cable car at Andermatt leading up to the peak of Gemsstock with access to extensive off-piste terrain. Credit: Andermatt-Sedrun Facebook page

The snow-capped mountains of the Swiss Alps are home to some of the best skiing in the world. Nestled in the heart of Switzerland, away from the crowds, the glitz and glamour you’ll find two noteworthy ski resorts flying under the radar: Engelberg and Andermatt. What makes these two resorts a must stop on your next ski adventure?

Here are the Top 6 Reasons to Ski Engelberg and Andermatt this year: 

#1 Freeride Mecca of Switzerland

Engelberg is the freeride mecca of Switzerland with some of the biggest descents in the Alps. Credit: Engelberg Facebook page
Engelberg is the freeride mecca of Switzerland with some of the biggest descents in the Alps. Credit: Engelberg Facebook page

Engelberg is the freeride capital of Switzerland. It offers up some of the biggest vertical descents in the Alps at a staggering 4,000 to 7,000 feet. Andermatt offers up plenty vertical entertainment of its own at 5,000 vertical. By comparison to some of the big American resorts, Jackson Hole’s vertical descent is just over 4,000 feet and Snowbird’s is 3,200 feet.

#2 Expansive Terrain

Miles and miles of rowdy terrain. Credit: Warren Miller Facebook/ Lucerne Tourism
Andermatt offers up plenty of rowdy terrain to explore. Credit: Warren Miller Facebook/ Lucerne Tourism

Andermatt’s expansive advanced terrain has caught the eye of Warren Miller who recently finished filming a movie here.  Stretching out across multiple valleys, this area’s crown jewel is the majestic Gemsstock. This north-facing mountain offers plenty of steep and deep terrain to get your heart pumping.

Engelberg has literally thousands of acres of off-piste skiing  along with legendary off-piste couloirs. These are best explored with a trusted guide who is well versed in the terrain and knowledgeable about conditions in the area. On such company, Le Grand Adventure Tours,  prides itself on hiring only the best touring guides in the region, helping guests to capitalize on this expansive, gnarly terrain.

#3 Best Snow in Switzerland

Best quality snow at two of the most snow-sure resorts in Switzerland. Credit: Engelberg Facebook page
Engelberg and Andermatt are two of the most snow-sure resorts in Switzerland. Credit: Engelberg Facebook page

The high altitude of the slopes make these two ski towns some of the most snow-sure resorts in all of Switzerland. Andermatt is on the northern side of the Alps, perfectly positioned to collect mounds and mounds of deep, dry powder. Engelberg’s formidable Titlus glacier is a north facing, deep freeze zone, chock full of so much deep powder it won’t be long before word of the secret stashes here spread to the rest of the ski world.

“Powder paradise”

Zhou S., Trip Advisor

#4 Big Lines

Le Grand - Europe-min

Engelberg and Andermatt are home to some of the biggest lines in the Swiss Alps. Beginning with Andermatt’s north-facing  main mountain, Gemsstock, where the views from its perch offer sight-lines to over 600 hundred alpine peaks, you can access the famous Bernhard Russi run. This area is also the access point to tremendous off-piste terrain such as the legendary routes of Giraffe and Geissberg.

Engelberg is home to five of the most iconic runs in the Alps including Laub, Steinberg, and Galtiberg at almost 7,000 vertical feet! These big lines are not for the timid.  

#5 Swiss Food/ Aprés Ski

Credit: Le Grand Adventures
The Swiss presentation with an eye on the details. Credit: Le Grand Adventures

Switzerland is the land of decadent feasts, particularly if you have a penchant for cheese. Woven into the very fabric of the culture is the Swiss version of bread and cheese – fondue. Perfect after a day on the slopes. Another cheese-based favorite are raclettes, cheese with potatoes. Numerous other tasty delights are on every menu delivered with an artisan flair. And of course, chocolates.

The aprés ski scene may not be as rambunctious as in neighboring Austria, but it’s still lively and distinct. 

#6 Easy Access 

Unlike some regions in the Alps, these two locations are centrally located, in the heart of the Swiss Alps, with easy rail access to both. Like their famous watches, the trains here run like clockwork. The views along the route are filled with  postcard ready images, as you wind through the mountains past quintessential Swiss chalets.

The Swiss village of Engelberg.
A towering monastery in the Swiss village of Engelberg.

The time is now: Explore new terrain and experience some of the best Switzerland has to offer. 

Trips departing to Engelberg and Andermatt are available March 5 – March 12, 2017 with Le Grand Adventure Tours.

Le Grand Adventure Tours allows you to make the most of your experience as they are accomplished guides who know the lay of the land. A trip begins and ends with an emphasis on you, the guest, based on their expertise in the region and the sport. They’ve done all the research, they’ve explored the terrain, they know the in-and-outs of adventure travel so you get to relax and enjoy every moment. In addition to their extensive qualifications, Le Grand Adventure Tours is committed to the greater good, supporting local communities in which they travel and a commitment to minimizing their impact on the environment.

“We have a dream, to explore & seek new adventures and to discover the full power of our potential. Live your dream & share your passion.”

Le Grand Adventure Tours


Expansive terrain of Engelberg ski resort.
Expansive terrain of Engelberg ski resort.

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9 thoughts on “Top 6 Reasons to Freeride Switzerland at Engelberg and Andermatt

  1. I had a chance to spend a month in Andermatt in the winter of 2000 doing an avalanche training and ski touring course at the Swiss Army’s Mountain Combat Training Center. It was a great event organized by the Swiss Army for the US Army’s 10th Special Forces Group. I have to say Andermatt is one of the best places for big mountain skiing and deep snow I have ever experienced. Whether on piste or off. And I have skied and ski toured all the Arlberg areas, Chamonix, Verbier, La Grave, Las Lenas, etc. I have gone back several times and it never disappoints with the full spectrum of gnarly to mellow terrain, lift access riding, train access riding, side country and full on touring as well as a an awesome hut network. Bring all the gear though. It can be super scary avy wise with a lot of snow even just outside the piste on the Gemsstock. But way fun with the right beta.

    1. Hi Jeremie, I could not agree with you more! I first visited Andermatt in 2001 and have been making ski trips there ever since. It is a known area but as you said the options are endless. Truly an eye opening experience even after being a places like Chamonix, Le Grave, South America, and more. The hut system is great and we do an Urner Hut tour every year. Amazing amount of terrain to ski! We are stoked to bring people to this area on our ski trips for Le Grand Adventure Tours. If you get this area on a powder which happens often, it could be one of the best runs of your life.

  2. Engelberg and Andermatt are not under the radar resorts, even among North Americans. And being close toa major population center (Zurich), Engelberg is packed on weekends.

    1. Hi Sam,
      Thanks for checking out the article. Yes, Engelberg attracts many non-skiers/tourists as well. Best to have a guide who knows the terrain, head off-piste, if possible. What else do you like in Europe?

      1. I’m no euro expert, but I’ve made 3 trips there, unguided. Verbier and St Anton are easy to get to by rail from Zurich airport. I’ve skied both the day I arrived. For Verbier stay in hotel in Le Chable for reasonable $ hotel.

        1. I’ve been skiing and guiding trips to Europe for over 16yrs. Engelberg and Andermatt are not only closer train rides vs Verbier and St Anton but are also much more affordable. Sure you can find cheap places to stay at each resort but you will also have the higher prices in Verbier which is a well known fact. It is a lot busier vs these resorts.

          In regards to Sam’s comments yes more people are finding out about the resorts after film companies like Warren Miller and others have added it into their movies. There were some published pieces about Engelberg in Powder last year and has had more photos appearing over the last couple of years. I think the main point of the article and why we guide trips here is due to the fact of what they offer as a lot of people will head to the Verbier, Chamonix, St Anton’s. These are great resorts and I have skied them for years but Engelberg/Andermatt will allow you to ski a lot more, hands down. I have spent a lot of time at these destinations and the amount of skiers are not that busy. Sure weekends can be busy but most resorts will. Once you leave the base area there is an enormous amount of terrain and backcountry to access where you will more than likely not see anyone!

          Glad to hear you have done some trips unguided as I did when I first started going over. However I can tell you that skiing with a local guide who is a 2nd-3rd generation guide in the area will offer you more untracked routes, a true local experience and a trip that you can not get unguided. Excited to guide our trips there in March, its going to be a great time as always!

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