Bernhard Russi on Skiing in the Swiss Alps
Think back two weeks ago and Andermatt was a sea of green fairways. Fast forward to today, and what you will see when visiting Andermatt today is a snow-blanketed Swiss village. With the recent snowstorm predictions being spot on, residents and visitors woke on Sunday morning to a surprising amount of snowfall, widespread across large parts of the Alps.
The recent snowfall has honed our attention further on the winter season ahead and has got us particularly excited to hit the slopes for the first time. We look ahead to the 2012/13 season with a little help from Olympian and Andermatt local Bernhard Russi.
1.What are the first signs of Andermatt gearing up for the winter season?
You start to notice small changes in the environment, the colours of the trees start to change, the grass is frozen in the early morning and the air becomes crisp and clear. After mid October winter can begin at any time. The first snow will then start to settle and remain for the duration of the winter, particularly on the Gemsstock.
2.When is the first snow expected to fall? And when is the end of the season?
Traditionally the first heavy snowfall is expected mid November. Once it snows though skiers can ski right through until after Easter.
3.Can you explain what it is like to ski the first run of the season?
The first run is like meeting an old friend. You must start slowly, get a feeling for the environment, the snow and elements.
4.What is your favourite run in Andermatt for families and for experts?
For families I would recommend they visit the Nätschen site, they have sunshine all season and all daylong. There is also a great range of slopes, from easy to the more challenging black runs.
For the more experienced skier the Gemmstock is definitely where they should head, there is over 1,500m of vertical descent with challenging and changing terrain.
5.What is new for the 2012/13 winter season in Andermatt?
This season will see the start of the planned ski expansion with neighbouring Sedrun, as the new company Andermatt-Sedrun-Sportbahnen AG (ASS AG) will take over management of the ski runs. This will be the first stage regarding the connection of the two valleys.
6.Do you have a secret winter spot in Andermatt- either for skiing or just for experiencing the mountains at their best?
My favourite spot is away from the crowd, I like to go off piste down the Unteralptal, not for everyone though you need to be experienced skier/snowboarder. I would also recommend stopping at the Vermigelhütte for lunch, untouched snow, sunshine and silence make for an incredible experience, it is also an easy ride back to Andermatt.
7.What makes a slope state of the art?
The variety of terrain and length versus steepness and more importantly a ski run that strikes the right balance between being challenging and enjoyable.
8.What other winter activities would you suggest for non-skiers in Andermatt?
There is a huge variety of activities for the non skier such as walking (with or without snow shoes) and ice skating on the natural lake.
Andermatt continues to surprise visitors, recent articles published within the UK publications Ski and Board and The Financial Times Magazine describe Andermatt as being the destination for a skiing holiday with enough ‘long, off-piste routes to keep even the best skiers busy for weeks’.
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