Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sunny with a 0% Chance of Downhill Skiing

When most people think Swiss winter, they think downhill skiing in the Alps. 

But what if anything even slightly vertical gives you vertigo? 

What if ice at an angle just gives you cold feet? 

Welcome to The Frau’s world. 

Although you might not guess it from her name, The Frau is a native of the very flat Chicago, USA. Sadly, she has endured many snide remarks from Swiss snowboarders for taking the ski lift with no equipment but a camera. But guess what? It’s possible to enjoy a Swiss winter sans downhill ski. Because Switzerland is made for cross-country skiers too. 

Below the Frau lists four amazing options for enjoying the flatter side of Swiss winter that she has personally tried, fallen down on, and approved. All trails listed are suitable for either classic or skating.

The cross-country trail between Disentis and Trun
In this fairytale Romansh-speaking area of Switzerland, you can enjoy a 15k prepared cross-country ski trail of medium-difficulty. It runs between the villages of Disentis and Trun, and you can ditch the trail at various intervals via train if you want to shorten it. Don’t be put off by the fairly steep beginning of the trail—it soon flattens out about 2k after Disentis. Bonus: this trail isn’t too well traveled, giving you a full appreciation of your Swiss winter wonderland.

Cross-country ski through 12 picturesque villages in the Goms Valley on an easy 18k prepared trail from Oberwald to Niederwald. If you get tired halfway though, you have many options for a hot chocolate break and it’s simple to take a train ride back to where you began.

Einsiedeln has a lot to offer cross-country skiers of various levels. There are many kilometers of trails in this area. The last time The Frau went here, she did a fairly easy 10k loop (although she was passed several times!). These trails tend to be busier than the previously mentioned ones because of their proximity to Zurich.

Take the lift up to Tannenboden with the downhill skiers. Ignore their looks of superiority. The classical and skating 4k loop at Tannenboden is short, but picturesque. As you ski in the clouds, dog sleds will probably race by you. Bonus: This trail is perfect for those with downhill skiing partners because you can both do your thing and meet for lunch at the mountain ski hut.

Anyone else have tips for cross-country skiers in Switzerland?


Unknown said...
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Hattie said...

I did cross country at Einsiedeln! It's a very historical place as well.
I tried downhill, but due to my build and less than average coordination was not able to get back up on my skis when I fell down. Blue pistes were OK because I could just lean on the mountain and stand up. The final straw was when I was on a t-bar, and the man I was going up with had to yank me up to keep me from falling under the chair. I was black and blue for days all along one side of my body.
My husband did downhill until he almost killed himself trying to keep up with his daughter on a steep slope. She and her sister "grew up" on skis and are very good.
One of them is now off skiing at Whistler. Both of her daughters are good skiiers, too.
Starting young is the key for downhill. Like learning to ride a bike.

Anonymous said...
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Pat said...

You sound so much like me when it comes to skiing. No surprise, since we are both flatlanders. Cross country skiing in the Jura and Alps feels like downhill to me. Of course I learned to ski on a golf course in the midwest.

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