It’s a tricky one to narrow it down to my two favourite off-piste ski areas in Switzerland as there are so many worthy contenders! No doubt everybody has their own personal favourites, but here are the two I’ve gone for:
ONE// The Hidden Gem of off piste skiing: Klosters
Klosters has always made the headlines because of the Royal connection – being the winter holiday destination of choice for our King-in-waiting…Despite this publicity however, many people miss the real crowning glory of the place and that is the incredible off piste skiing on offer.
What’s so special about Klosters is that it has so much fantastic powder skiing. The typical off piste day in Klosters involves taking a few lifts up the mountain and embarking on a long (often 3 hour) run, starting in high alpine terrain and then ending up in these wonderful powder filled meadows that lead down to the valley floor. It feels like you’ve ended up in the middle of nowhere, but because the area is so well connected by train and bus, you’re never more than 20 minutes away from getting home to the resort. If conditions are right, Klosters can also offer some of the steepest tree skiing in Europe if you fancy it!
As it’s relatively unknown, you can ski fresh off piste tracks weeks after its snowed, taking advantage of the inside knowledge of the great local mountain guides. Klosters is a lovely, relaxed and friendly Swiss mountain village that oozes charm and welcomes you with open arms…
Why I like it: Huge amounts of varied off piste skiing which is never tracked out!
What’s not so good: Well, it’s not quite as accessible as the Chamonix of this world, in that it takes around 2 to 2.5 hrs to get to Klosters from Zurich, but I actually think that adds to the charm of the place and it’s one of the reasons it is unspoilt.
TWO// Zermatt: Big Mountain Skiing in unforgettable surroundings
Zermatt is one of those places that is seriously seductive; once you’ve experienced it, you just want to go back time and time again! The stunning Matterhorn awaits you at the end of valley as if to reward you for the relatively long transfer (2 – 3 hours from Geneva), but boy is it worth it!
In fact, the whole mountain vista around Zermatt is seriously impressive as there are a number of 4,000 meter plus peaks – and this definitely sets the scene for the off piste skiing. In Zermatt it’s all about big mountain powder skiing; huge glacier runs, long back-bowls and steep couloirs. The Zermatt off piste matures throughout the season and comes into its own in March when the snow has accumulated and the high proportion of north facing runs delivers glorious fresh powder. The icing on the cake being that Zermatt offers arguably the best mountain restaurants in the world, so what better way to relax after a great day of off piste skiing than to settle in for the afternoon for a late lunch and bottle of Fendant.
Why I like it: It’s a picturesque village with a magic atmosphere and great big mountain adventure off piste skiing
What’s not so good: There’s no such thing as ‘ski in – ski out’ in Zermatt. If you are used to the convenience of some French ski resorts you might be disappointed with the daily 10 min walk or bus to the lifts, but in my opinion the skiing more than makes up for it.