For Euro Trip #2 this season, I flew into Zurich for what will be my very first visit to Switzerland. I've flown in and out Zurich several times, but it was always to head east to Austria. I was always driven away by horror stories of how expensive everything was, but with the Swiss Franc and the dollar converting at exactly 1:1 right now, I figured now was as good a time as any.
I've also skied in Switzerland a few times, but always while crossing over from a French or Austrian area that straddled the border like the Portes du Soleil, Ischgl, and Gargellen.
As everyone knows, there are literally dozens of top-tier Swiss resorts/ski areas to choose from, but I decided to try a region that's only an hour south of Zurich and is allegedly off the radar of most destination visitors: the canton of Schwyz (pronounced Schveetz), a gorgeous lake district.
Instead of flying out of my home airport Newark, I schlepped my skis and luggage into the city, worked all day at the office in Manhattan, and left that evening from JFK:
Following a seamless transfer to a rental car at Zurich airport (U.S. airports could learn a thing or two from that airport, wow), I arrived at my first stop, Sattel-Hochstuckli, a comparably small family ski area whose claim to fame is having the world's first rotating gondola. Yes, it slowly spins clockwise so that everyone in each gondola car gets a view of the beautiful landscape, of which I was unfortunately going to see nothing as it was snowing like hell the entire day, right down to the base. The usable vertical is 2,600 feet, but most people stick to the upper 1,300, the Hochstuckli sector (pronounced HOKE STOOHK LEE) which is serviced purely by old-school t-bars:
It's been snowing here all week and I arrived on a major storm day. Beautiful conditions with knee-deep powder off-piste, but due to the incredibly flat light and blasting snow (I had to stop every dozen or so turns to wipe my goggles), my pix aren't going to win any awards:
The famous rotating gondola:
Steep Upper T-Bar/you had to hold on tightly:
A t-bar bridge takes you over a ravine:
A nice day to play in the powder with my new-to-me Kästle BMX 98s. In addition to the tough sightlines, it was difficult to take any in-action photos because there were so few people around to use as subjects:
Time for Lunch:
Always with a de rigueur aphorism (you see a lot of these in public places throughout German-speaking countries). It basically says: "One's time on earth is valuable; only crazy people try hurry though it" -- in other words, take your time/no need to rush:
"Since 2005, all schoolchildren in the village of Sattel ski for free thanks to the generosity of these local sponsors"