Trev here, for one of my rare contributions to the blogowick! One of the hardest things about leaving the Northeast US for me was the leaving the ability to get on my snowboard nearly every weekend in the winter. This was going to be trouble.
Well places like Engelberg have more than filled that void. Where there is less quantity there has been amazing quality and no-where better than Engelberg for an Alps experience.
Engelberg is a small ski-town just south of Lucern. I chose a long ski weekend there based on some googling for best snowboarding resorts in the alps. We flew to Basel on a Thursday night and were there in about 60 minutes. The trip started off immediately on the right foot when our rental car was upgraded to a range rover for free. The swiss are the kings of luxury, so it’s more likely they don’t even have the crappy little car I tried to reserve and were probably surprised when someone requested it.
We arrived in the town about an 90 minutes later and checked into Skilodge Engelberg for the weekend. The hotel was amazing it had a hot-tub and sauna at the foot of the alps and the charm and vibes of a ski-hostel represented as a 4 star ski-lodge.
While the town and the food and the Swiss alps culture was all amazing, what made Engelberg so special for me was THE RIDING. This place has some of the most inshredible terrain we have ever rode. The entire mountain is one giant off-piste playground that challenges you to ride it. I know Britt was feeling the same as the usually more cautious of the two of us was ripping off the course leading us through crevasses that I normally would have stayed away from.
We had a memorable dinner that night consisting of some traditional hearty swiss fare, but what made it memorable was when for dessert, they brought Britt a GIANT BUCKET of chocolate mouse. Then proceeded to use a small shovel to scoop it onto her plate. She did not complain.
The next day we decided to step it up a notch and hired a guide and some avalanche gear. Sidenote: we quickly learned that most of what we did the day before should have included that same gear, so we wont be making that mistake again. (Thanks Buzz) We were paired off into a group of 4 and linked up with another couple of skiers. Buzz and Chantal were the other two and we were lucky to have them as our partners for the day. We spent the next 8 hours with our guide being led down untouched descents of fresh powder. There were some major crashes by all parties as visibility betrayed us and our goggles with it. We pressed on and through some serious group motivation ended up after a serious hike on what was probably my most memorable single run of all time. The Laub is a famous off piste run that descends over 2k vertical feet down the back-side of the mountain. There are no trails and the only access is a hike up to the crest of one of the peaks. That was wicked. We tore down the Laub in near zero visibility in a fresh 2 feet of powder. Britt and I were screaming at the top of our lungs nearly the whole way down.
There are several runs like that around Engelberg but none as wicked as the Laub. One thing that also makes Engelberg amazing is that it’s lift system is totally modern. They have a huge investment there because they are on list of ‘see europe in 10 days’ trip that is VERY popular in China. SO busloads of Chinese tourists pay nearly twice the lift-ticket price to take one ride up to the top, and then ride back down without any interest in skiing. Awesome.
We spent the next few hours high-fiveing and telling war stories of the day with Chantal and Buzz over a couple beers before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Our last day there, we called a bit of an audible due to the battered state of our bodies and decided to go check out the town of Lucern and skip our last day of riding. Lucern is stunning. We arrived and walked across a beautiful medieval bridge across the river into the town center.
One thing I had always wanted to see was the ‘Lion of Lucern’ so we made the 10 minute walk over to see it. It’s breathtaking and currently acts as the background to my phone. The story behind it is:
The Lion Monument (German: Löwendenkmal), or the Lion of Lucerne, is a rock relief inLucerne, Switzerland, designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in Paris.
I spent the next hour or so snapping a few pics and walking around with a coffee and my best friend in the world. Pretty awesome weekend. We drove the short drive back to Basel hopped on the plan and it was back to London by dinner.