The pristine slopes of the Gemsstock
Eric Zeller, ski butler at The Chedi Andermatt hotel and ardent freerider, has a good reason why he chose to make Andermatt his new home five years ago. “I’ve seen many things during the half of my life on skis, but the freeriding and the long, snowy winters here in Andermatt are unbeatable”, he rhapsodises.
As ski butler, he is the go-to man for the hotel guests when they need information on snow conditions. “In my role it’s of course helpful that I know the area like the back of my hand. I’m happy to share my knowledge and my weather assessments with our guests – and they appreciate that a lot.” What’s more, he knows all about the equipment, and he finds just the right skis for each guest. “We have a good assortment covering every requirement – not only for groomed pistes, but also an exciting range of wide skis which are perfect for freeriding.”
Eric Zeller is out searching for fresh-fallen snow every minute of his free time. “What I really like about Andermatt is that not every slope is made into a prepared piste. There are many ways to find a powder slope without first having to laboriously scale a mountain with skins on your skis. “This good accessibility and the sporting challenge of the Gemsstock make the mountain a mecca for freeriders. And as hunters do, they like to tell of their trophies and adventures. Eric does this with film: He and his friends have compiled his powder adventures into the movie “Pure Andermatt’ness”. “It’s the freedom and the beauty of pristine nature that fascinate me. Not even flying is better!”
But freeriding is not everyone’s cup of tea. “If you want to try freeriding, you’d better be in good shape – and be a good skier. As the film shows, the really most beautiful slopes are accessible only by foot. And if you want virgin snow you have to get up early. It’s also important that a freerider can assess the current snow and weather conditions in order to avoid accidents or at least minimise the risk. And he needs the right equipment.” This too is available from Eric the ski butler for guests in The Chedi Andermatt. He drops his guests off with the ski instructor at the valley station and drives back to the hotel with reluctance – because he would much rather accompany them himself, likely in the most beautiful couloirs along the steep slopes of the Gemsstock.
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