Rigi, CH 03/10/16

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Rigi, CH 03/10/16

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Mar 13, 2016 6:54 am

For the second to last day of my trip, I drove 20 minutes to a well-known attraction called Rigi (REE-ghee) that I’d been looking forward to checking out. Nicknamed “Queen of the Mountains,” it’s geologically both a massive and a peninsula: almost completely surrounded by three different lakes. Moreover, Rigi was home to the very first cog railway in Europe, built in 1871. There are two different railways that provide access from the valley floor, so that was a big draw for me.

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I parked in the village of Goldau, where you catch hourly departures. Here's a family with their wooden sleds, which are hugely popular in German-speaking regions; in fact, they're a major profit center for ski areas:
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For those who've never seen a cog railway (I hadn't), this is what it looks like. A wheel with teeth pulls the train up the steep terrain:
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Just like in France, dogs are brought along on all sorts of outings:
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The regional ski pass that I bought includes the Rigi Railway, which was a nice bonus. Our train arriving:
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Sleds get their own car:
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Here's the dashboard -- the steering wheel is for controlling the speed:
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In addition to staring at the incredible surroundings, during winter you can also go snowshoeing, sledding, sleigh riding, and skating, along with cross-country and alpine skiing. There are three separate small downhill skiing sectors. I was warned by locals not to get too excited about them; that Rigi’s a place you go not for challenging or extensive terrain; rather, to ski through a stunning landscape.

40 minutes later, we arrived at the summit sector called Rigi Kulm. BTW, Wikipedia mentions that in Abraham Cahan's 1917 novel "The Rise of David Levinsky," there’s a resort in the Catskills called Rigi Kulm.

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Getting off the train and picking up our skis:
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Several hundred very chic, prosperous-looking Chinese university students -- all dressed like movie stars in training -- were already up there on what looked like a class excursion. Donald Trump would have slapped them with a trade tariff:
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Mountaintop view to the west:
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From there, I clicked into my skis and headed downhill to the trails.
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Throughout the day, you're always interacting with the trains and tracks/skiing alongside or crossing them:
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You have to be careful not to be too distracted by the views just to your right. This is the smallest of the three lakes surrounding Rigi:
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The vertical in this sector is only 1,300 feet and most of the trails were easy blues, but conditions were spectacular, with the blazing sun warming up the snow to a perfect buttery consistency in the cold temps:
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There are no signs or a crossing guard alerting you that you're skiing across active train tracks. You're supposed to know better (and not sue). An interesting sensation: to be treated like an adult:
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The bottom of a north-facing section with soft chop from the storm three days earlier:
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I lapped it about ten times along with this guy:
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Gorgeous groomers:
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And more jaw-dropping views:
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I went around a corner and here was this guy lounging in the sun:
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Nice tracks up top (everything's lift-served):
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Last run: racing downhill to catch this train back to the valley:
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jamesdeluxe
 
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