Engelberg Titlis Snowboarding
The 2nd most popular snowboarding destination in Switzerland.
Saturday 24 November 2018 04:51 GMT
South of Zurich and Luzerne, the Engelberg-Titlis ski area has 82km of runs served by 14 lifts from 1,000m to 3,000m above sea level. Engelberg is a high-altitude basin-shaped valley with a glacier on Mt Titlis. The snowboarding is divided between two distinct areas: Titlis and the family-oriented Brunni area. Although not usually mentioned, there is a third ski area southeast up the valley called FurenAlp. FurenAlp has just one lift but it provides excellent access to hikable freeriding terrain. The more challenging Titlis ski area is accessed from the gondola or cablecar on the south side of Engelberg, and it has a spread of pistes from 70% intermediate and 25% beginner.
The base lifts for each of the areas mentioned are on opposite sides of town at the limits of comfortably walking (800m) at 15 minutes so most skiers don't even attempt it. There are free ski buses that lap town which you will find invaluable. There are plans to connect the train station to the Titlis lift system and there are a range of new/upgraded lifts for Titlis to speed summit access. Located in the canton of Obwalden, the village of Engelberg is an isolated and historic village that is centered around a twelvth-century Benedictine monastery. The town architecutre is a mix of grand old Swiss and new modern blocks. The original Swiss Confederation was founded near Engelberg.
For the most part, the groomed runs are pretty tame. There are plenty of strange lift layouts and numerous traverses to test your skating/hiking. While the summit is at 3,028m and the base is 1,050m, the maximum effective vertical is only about 1,200m, which will still require work to achieve. If you're an advanced snowboarder, you may be pretty bored in Engelberg after a day or so unless you are prepared to duck ropes and go off into avalanche and glacial crevasse terrain as many tourist do with reckless abandon. The longest piste starts up at the Titlis glacier and runs back down to the resort village (12km).
If you are looking for some off-piste freeriding challenge, try riding Engelberg's Big Five in one day for a total of 10,000m vertical descent. Luckily, these legendary Big Five don't require much traversing or hiking. The Big Five off-piste descents include Steinberg Glacier, Laub, Galtiberg, Steintal, and Kleine/Gross Sulz. First, check out Steinberg Glacier with its 1,220m crevasse-riddled descent from Klein Titlis (3,028m) to Trubsee. Up at the Klein Titlis summit, make sure to stop for the view where it is said you can see 80 percent of Switzerland. The start of the Steinberg is under thr rope to the left when coming off the Rotair. Second, check out the Laub descent that is a mostly shaded, half-mile wide wall dropping 1,120m down to Gerschnialp. The well-known Laub route is considered the biggest single face in the Alps with a sustained 35-43 degree pitch. The route starts from the top of the Lauberserat lift -- just keep heading far skiers right on the way down and you'll see the high track heading off-piste. The third, and most notable is the Galtiberg which is a giant run off the back of the Titlis summit. It begins as an alpine snowfield before hourglassing into a rocky canyon and winding through a series of hanging terraces. The upper sections usually have knee-deep pow. The middle is a 330m descent through a 8m wide chute which can challenge your skill (and nerve) when the avalanches are rolling around you. This is one of the most extreme routes in the Alps. It eventually ends 1,800m down from the summit at the valley floor and may require a bus back to town from Wasserfell. Along the way, you'll experience powder bowls, couloirs and scenic canyons. By the way, when up at the Titlis summit, before you head off-piste, be aware that there are glacial crevasses -- a guide is highly recommended.
If the Big Five aren't enough for you, there is also an off-piste route accessible from the top of the Brunni drag lift. It starts to skiers right of the red marked piste with a 2 hour skin up the Grosser Walenstock. At the summit, there is a great view of Engelberg below. A good freeride route down leads to the small village of Schwand where you can grab lunch at Gasthaus Schwald (Friday-Sunday only). Then just start hiking/skating southeast on the winter hiking trail which leads to Waldegg just above Engelberg.
By the way, when picking a freeride route, if you are counting on a hut on the way down, call the day before to make sure it's open -- several are closed on weekdays or if the weather isn't sunny!
For some freestyle action, you'll want to check out the Jochpass Terrain Park on the Titlis Glacier next to the Jochstock Xpress lift.
After a morning of snowboarding at Engelberg-Titlis, try grabbing lunch at the Barghaus Jockpass Stubli.
While Engelberg boasts to have one of the best apres ski and nightlife scenes in the Alps, you may find it to be quite tame with all the day trippers heading quickly back to the cities. This is especially true on the relatively quiet weekdays in town. At any rate, for apres ski, you can try The Chalet at the Titlis base or the Yucatan (check out the crazy food prices) across from the train station, but don't get your hopes up. For a more unique apres, try the old Gada Bar (plus they have cheap pizza). For nightlife, definitely check out the Eden Bar near the train station, Disco Spindle, the Cave Disco Lounge up at Hotel Terrace or even try the Bierlialp Club where the locals tend to hang out.
To reach the Engelberg snowboarding from Zurich by train, use the regional train from Lucerne into Engelberg (it's really convenient).
Tip - the hotels and restaurants in Engelberg are obscenely expensive. Plus, there is little compelling reason to stay in the town with the mellow scene and base lifts far from the town center. Renting a condo and buying groceries before getting to town is highly recommended. Also, with the unbelievable influx of day trippers during the weekends , it is highly recommended to try coming during the week. Even on weekdays, you'll need to get an early start to avoid the tourist crowds at Titlis.
Overall, Engelberg Titlis is the 2nd most popular snowboard & freeride destination of all 79 snowboarding resorts in Switzerland. Several of the better snowboarding resorts are nearby Engelberg Titlis including Engelberg Brunni and Wirzweli.