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Andermatt verse Engelberg

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Iam undecided on a 4 day trip to either Andermatt or Engelberg in mid Dec - early/mid Jan, my first time always on my to do list.Both areas have good snow records,with a long vertical, lots of off piste potential.On face value for the main area they are on a similar par with the Grand Montee challenging skiing with lots of variation of routes an area I know quite well, from what I read they may have edge on the Grand Montee for challenge.Looking at photos of the Galtiberg,from Titlis, big cliffs, crevasses and big potential avalanche slides it does. so a guide is needed.
Both areas cater well for good skiers with a strong off piste background, so there maybe guided groups,if so a better option maybe than a private guide.
Being fairly close to Zurich the train seems the best transfer.For Switzerland comparing Verbier and Zermatt, hotel prices seem to be quite reasonable, on a par with say St Anton
Iam interested hearing from S/h for their views on hotels ,guides and the pros and cons. If there are any S/h wanting to join me they are welcome.
It maybe a bit premature to consider booking anything in these uncertain times. We will eventually come out of this crisis hopefully before the end of autumn, and the Swiss being who they are will get their act together pretty quickly.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I've done a couple of last minute 4 days trips to Engelberg in mid/late April before.

I was right at the tail-end of the season, so my experience isn't necessarily representative of what it's like during the main season, but I found it very quiet and cheap (for accommodation) and the skiing was excellent. Fresh tracks until last lift in the afternoon at that time of year. If you have experience and equipment (and depending on conditions) I don't think a guide is required for most of the main off-piste routes. It makes sense for a first time trip though as you won't know the area.

Access is very easy from Zurich airport via train (had to change trains once), and took about 2 hours.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hi there
I've skied in both resorts and both are excellent and I will return to both over time. Both were 'boys' weekends, which have previously included La Grave, Chamonix, Alagna. Definitely guides required for both. It's been a while since I was in Engelberg, but I can recommend Florian Tresch - Mammut Store/Imholz Sport Piazza Gottardo - 4179 601 45 08 for Andermatt. We stayed at the Radisson Blu (disclaimer: Switzerland Tourism paid for my accom), but there are better value options in the old town. Interview about Andermatt's history here:
https://audioboom.com/posts/7547116-52-the-aspen-ski-thief-graham-bell-s-hausenkamm-andermatt
I travelled by train to Basel and then on to Andermatt by train. Beautiful journey, perfect connections all round.
Have a great time whereever you go!
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Isn’t December a bit risky for off-piste, coverage wise?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Have done both a couple of times, but not for 5 years and generally later in the season than you are contemplating.
Andermatt has a great snow record given it's position. It has had a lot of development since I was last there but I expect most of the off piste will still be off the back of the Gemstock with a variety of routes down and back to base. Plenty of variety for 4 days with a knowledgeable local guide. Engleberg also great and marvellous off-piste - particularly the Laub - with lots of variety.
Both can be quite busy at weekends but much quieter mid week. Stayed at hotel Sonne in Andermatt which was pretty good (last time 2014).
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Both great for off piste but can be very busy at weekends when there is fresh snow because of the ease of access.

In Andermatt the Gemstock is still the most well known off piste area, however in recent years there has been a big investment in infrastructure on the Sedrun side, which has plenty of off piste potential albeit of the more gentler variety. Andermatt has a good snow record as I understand it gets snow from two different weather systems. There is no glacier skiing but I would always use a guide as like so many well known off piste resorts, the most accessible stuff gets tracked out quickly.

In Engelberg as well as the Laub which is easily accessible, the other two classic runs are the Galtiberg and Steinberg, the upper halves of which are on glaciers so a guide is essential. I would still use a guide anyway for the same reason I stated before. The accessible stuff gets tracked out quickly.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Fairly regular visitor to Engelberg for very late season skiing so can't comment on December.

Looking for a guide, this is a good place to start: https://www.engelbergmountainguide.ch/en/

Engelberg claims it has the Big 5 off-piste routes - the Galtiberg, Steinberg and Laub (as already mentioned above) and the Sulz and Steintal (https://www.engelbergmountainguide.ch/en/winter-2/off-piste/the-big-5/)

Stayed in lots of hotels in Engelberg over the years - liked the Hoheneck in Dorfstrasse (bit of a trek to the lifts) or the Sonnwendhof - closer to the lifts and very handy for the railway station.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Engelberg gets my vote. Laub and Galtiberg in good conditions are superb. They get quickly tracked so it’s easy enough to follow the hordes but are both avalanche prone. I didn’t warm to Andermatt as much but would like to go back
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Hard to go too far wrong with either - I think Engelberg pips it for stepping straight off a lift onto an amazing run; Andermatt seems to have a bit more potential if you're happy to get the skins on. Choosing between those two is a nice problem to have Cool
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Andermatt tends to get more affected by weekend traffic. I've been there a couple of times where on the Sunday you'd have to wait for 4 or 5 cabins up Gemstock, while you'd just stroll on on Monday; then again, this was before the new lifts on the Sedrun side, which might smooth it a bit. I've not noticed so much of a weekend issue at Engelberg; it may be a bit of a queue to leave the valley floor, but once up the mountain the lift capacity is better, and you only need a cable car for Galtiberg or Steinberg

In December at Engelberg there might not be enough snow cover for the Galtiberg or Steinberg to be safe, but you've still got the other runs. Andermatt should be pretty snow-sure.

Personally, I go for Engelberg if the trip covered a weekend, otherwise Andermatt, but I have a strong aversion to queuing
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
The queues for the Titlis lift in the valley can be pretty long on Fridays and weekends.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Many thanks for everybodys comments and useful advice, I have decided on Engelberg mid to late Jan Sun -Thur which should avoid the weekend crowds,flight prices cheaper, and hotels easier to book as well.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Coming to this a bit late, but you’ve made a good choice. I’d advise contacting the guides office in advance, given them an honest description of your ability and comfort level - the locals who use them are well used to skinning/touring, and some of the ‘easy’ routes may still require active use of harness/ropes - good skiing, but you need to be physically/mentally prepared for being lowered into couloirs on a rope...
they are happy to make up mixed groups of 4-6 - and we’ve enjoyed all our trips so far, def recommend this (unless you’re ok to pay 600 euros a day for your own guide...)
town is small/easy to navigate - some good guest-houses very close to the lift.
Ski Lodge (facing the lift, across a meadow) in the valley is the best place to start apres and swap off-piste stories... enjoy!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
BobinCH wrote:
Engelberg gets my vote. Laub and Galtiberg in good conditions are superb. They get quickly tracked so it’s easy enough to follow the hordes but are both avalanche prone. I didn’t warm to Andermatt as much but would like to go back


I have skied the Laub without a guide but I would not ski the Galtiberg without one.

Firstly the significant upper stretch is on a glacier. Then comes a tricky steep side slip for about a rope length, with a long way to fall beyond. You then traverse out to the right. Our guides usually checked the run personally the day before we skied it. For safety one guide usually stands at the top of that pitch and another at the bottom. I have probably been down there about six times. On one occasion they fixed a rope for us to hang on to.

Just before a frozen waterfall near the end of the run at the bottom is a fairly narrow sloping path, with a rock face to one side and a drop off to the left. Normally it's not too much of a problem, but one year there was a twenty metre stretch of blue ice on the path. The guides hammered pitons into the rock face and put a rope in for safety.

Having said that it is a fantastic run and I would say one of the best and longest that is accessible without skinning. If a guide says it is doable, once they know your ability, then go for it.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Many thanks for last two posts, very informative.It confirms my suspicions unless you one knows the area a guide is needed, especially as I'm likely to be on my own.
Doing stuff like this on ones own a strict no,no.what if something happens ?. The guides seem very thorough good to know, know their stuff as one would expect of the Swiss. Gives one that confidence one can always rely on the guides judgement.
As I have found out an experienced guide can be a lifesaver.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Forst, Glad to have been of help.

As you have never been to either resort I think I would recommend Engelberg.

Both resorts as others have said have plenty of off piste potential, however some of the runs in Engelberg we have mentioned such as the Laub and Galtiberg, as well as the Steinberg down the front of Titlis, I feel are more likely to remain in your memory for the drama of the scenery as well as the skiing.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@LOTA,
Hi iam sorry I did not get back to you earlier, your info was very informative, I have decided on Engelberg, the two hotels you stayed in, Hoheneck and Sonnewendhof . What in your opinion is the better hotel,the rooms in the Hoheneck look a bit cramped, explaining why its cheaper, what about the food comparing breakfasts facilities like spa etc ,I realise one gets what one pays for but its important knowing what one pays for. like most enthusiastic skiers Im not interested in room decoration and quality of furnishings. Things like good living space,food, relaxation facilities like spa, the nearness of ski shuttle are my priorities.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
The Hoheneck was an interesting experience. We had a very nice room initially but there was no heating or hot water which rendered it uninhabitable so we were moved to a smaller but acceptable room. Nice bar, old, rather ramshackle dining room, a small sauna only. (This was a few years ago). The ski bus stops nearby but it is a bit of a walk to the lifts, railway station otherwise. The Sonnwendhof is more modern but it was the very end of the main season so there were few guests and, apart from breakfast, no bar or meals etc. The sauna area is bigger and better equipped. You can use the swimming pool at another hotel. Much handier for the railway station and the main lifts. Have also stayed in the Hotels Central and Crystal in Dorfstrasse. Both similar distant to the ski bus stops and the lifts. Perfectly acceptable, nothing remarkable. Bed and breakfast in both and I have to say there's not a massive choice of restaurants and bars serving food in this particular town. Much as I hate faux-Irish bars, the Core does serve hearty pub grub at a reasonable price.
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Many Thanks for your advice
From what pictures I see of the Hoheneck,small cramped fairly old style cheap and cheerful,confirmed by your comments, seems to be run by swedes now.
The Sonnewendhof about £60 more but could be the best overall option,as you say handier for station and lifts the other +point the use of the main hotels facilities, a nice spa or swim at the end of a hard day is always welcome.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Forst, The Hoheneck was run by Swedes when we stayed there. Also Swedish run is the Ski Lodge which has a very good reputation; close to the railway station and reasonably close to the Titlis lift.
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Ski Lodge near the train station I can strongly recommend, the breakfast was really great too. I had a really good deal around £50/night for a single room in April 2016, but other times I've looked it's been significantly more expensive so I've ended up staying elsewhere. They were happy to let me check-out around 3pm on my final day for no extra charge.
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